Friday, January 26, 2007

Tips for Planning Your Winter Weekend Getaway

If there's one thing all the locals know, it's the patterns of tourists, skiers, snowboarders, and outdoor enthusiasts that frequent the area. We know when the traffic will get heavier, we know what types of trouble travelers end up in, and the common mistakes that they make - because we've seen it all before. Now it's time to share the knowledge!

First thing, and most common, is that many people drive too far to be able to get their snow-parks passes and fishing licenses, and then find themselves having to drive back down the mountain to get them, wasting valuable fishing, hiking, and snow time. Although you can get them many places throughout the mountain area, high traffic weekends can cause many local vendors to run out. If you know you need one before you leave, stop at the first place you see that has them advertised. You can buy a snow-park pass at Hoodland Thriftway, but the fishing licenses are sold at the local fly fishing shop just west of the grocery store. However, your best bet is to buy them in Sandy, because if for any reason there is a shortage of passes up on the mountain, you certainly don't want to have make a 15 mile trip back to Sandy from Welches. If you make it all the way to Government Camp without your passes, and if you can't find one up there, you'll be forced to drive nearly 30 miles back to town.

Fred Meyers is the last stop for guaranteed clothing, although there are a few stops along the way that may have a few t-shirts and sweatshirts on sale as souveniers. Although there is also the occasional deal on pajama bottoms, throws, and jackets for sale outside of Hoodland Thriftway, but don't forget your underwear or shoes - because you just won't find those on the mountain. The thing is, Sandy is considered the gateway to Mt. Hood, and for good reason. It's not that you can't get to the mountain using other routes, or that Sandy is trying to promote itself as a city, it really is the last stop before you get out into the national forest areas, and there just isn't much in the way of shopping on the mountain. Let's face it, most people don't go up to Mt. Hood to shop.

Getting a place to call home for the weekend can present a whole new challenge on busy weekends. Many places are booked up in advance, but even if you plan to stay in one of the resorts, you will end up paying a pretty penny for your stay. If you're skiing or snowboarding, you might be able to find a few packaged deals, such as your room and lift tickets combined into one good price. But if you have other plans, and aren't going to use the lifts, you may wish to cut costs, and to add to the experience of staying up in the mountain area by renting a cabin for the weekend, or even sharing one with other travelers to save money. Many of them are beautifully furnished to sleep six to ten people comfortably, separate rooms, and a large number of them feature jacuzzis or hot tubs for those who love to snuggle up on those cold winter nights. Most of them are about $99 a night, but that's a steal compared to some of the prices to stay in the resorts or the typical hotel-type visit. For some really great deals on cabins last minute, check the vacation rentals on Craigslist or Mt. Hood Info.

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Blogging the local Mt Hood area of Oregon. With skiing, snowboarding, hiking, shopping, wind surfing, live bands, resorts, movies, and much more to do, you'll never be bored in the Mount Hood area.