Under a new moon in October, all but deserted Viento State Park on the Columbia River is atmospheric and eerie. Even on the first day of modern firearm hunting season there were only a handful of campers, likely due to the park’s most distinctive feature: the train that thunders by at all hours of the day and night, blasting its earsplitting whistle scant yards from the campsites.
Saturday morning drizzle turned to a downpour as we passed the local purveyors and their lavish bins of pumpkins, squash and a dozen apple varieties on our way into the Hood River Valley Harvest Fest. Having been there before we knew to make an immediate beeline for the beer and brat tent. This year, to the delight of hungover Ralph, an amplified teenage battle of the bands was taking place.
“Sunderland” was on when we ducked into the tent: three pale boys sounding reminiscent of Offspring, their moms near the stage on folding chairs. Tiny children pogoed on the makeshift dance floor while adults in their Northwest uniforms—wet wool and Goretex—huddled over beers in the corner. At the tent entrance we passed another couple leaving; the portly oldtimer selling tickets at the door said “We’re gonna be having some good music in about fifteen minutes, so you come on back.” He was misinformed. The relatively apt Sunderland was followed by more adolescents—four this time, not so apt—then something called “Showtune Singalong” which I thought might be an ironic name for another rock act but was a Trapp-family style group of children. We hit the exit.
We ran into Leroy (!) on our way out, and spent the rest of the weekend pleasantly enjoying the Airstream, eating takeout pizza and listening to the rain on the aluminum and the train roaring by.