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One of our greatest trips yet – The Painted Hills near Mitchell, Oregon.The Painted HillsWhen we moved from Seattle to the Portland area, I knew we wouldn’t lose out on exciting weekend trip opportunities. The Painted Hills has been on my list for quite some time, the photos of the hills that I had seen were always so mesmerizing, a geological beauty that you instantly accept for what it is.The Painted HillsWe left early on a Saturday morning and drove through the pass at Mt. Hood. The drive is beautiful. One of the things I love about the Northwest is how quickly you can seem to get yourself in the middle of nowhere. Driving along, you feel like you and your companions are the only ones in the world. It’s an amazing and calming feeling…until you start wondering if maybe the zombie apocalypse happened, and you just don’t know it yet? This is also when you realize you really need to stop watching tv, and it’s a good thing you are getting in touch with nature for the weekend.Painted HillsOur first stop was in Prineville, where we stopped for lunch at Solstice Brewing. The beer and food were good, and there was a perfect back patio where Otto was able to join us. Anything dog-friendly is always a priority for us and we lucked out big time on this trip.ChipmunkWhen then left Prineville behind and headed for a hiking spot that was on our way to the Painted Hills. We turned off the main road (which was already in the middle of nowhere) to an even more remote gravel road, and headed up to the trail head. We knew we would end up seeing something called “Stein’s Pillar.”Otto Hiking!The hike was gorgeous and well worth the pit stop. It was Otto’s first big off-leash hike and we were so proud of how great he did! We past several different groups and the worse thing that happened was him licking a girl’s leg (he was happy she was saying hi to him, she was not happy about the slobber). You end the hike rounding a corner, and boom – there’s Stein’s Pillar…a Giant’s huge dagger that he just stabbed into the earth.Stein's PIllarAfter our hike, we drove to the tiny town of Mitchell and decided to grab dinner at The Little Pine Cafe. Again, we lucked out and were able to grab a table outside and have Otto sit with us. The town felt like you had stepped into the Wild West…Maybe this is because we overheard something of a nearby rodeo, but that doesn’t change the fact that the town is 1 road and everything there seems old and Western. We had some damn good people watching (the tourists we saw may have been more interesting to watch than the locals). And apparently they were scouting for a movie down the street.Little Pine Cafe

Mitchell, ORAfter our dinner, it was finally time to go to the main attraction – The Painted Hills! I heard they were best at dusk, I am relieved we made it there before the sun went down, but man, I could have stayed at this place all day!The Painted Hills

The Painted HillsIt was pretty much dark by the time we left, and our evening ended with some wild horses blocking the road!Horses at the Painted HillsThe next day we decided to drive home a slightly different route, we exited off the pass and drove through Hood River for some WINE TASTING!The Gorge White HouseI intended to visit several wineries and breweries in Hood River since there are tons of places to choose from. Our first stop, just right outside of Hood River was a place I had read about called the Gorge White House.

Not only did this place have wine tasting…But beer tasting…AND cider tasting…AND u-pick flowers and berries! And best of all…awesome food!The Gorge White HouseJordan got a burger and I opted for the caramelized-onion-pear pizza (adding bacon per the chef’s suggestion, as if he had to suggest it). There was more on the menu, including pizza with cherries, one with blueberries…I need to go back and try them all!

After going to this one-stop adult playground, we figured our trip couldn’t get much better and headed home. We will definitely be back to Hood River for round 2…Stay tuned!