Other after-the-snow choices for brewpub tours and noshes include Double Mountain Brewery, 8 Fourth St. (with Fa La La La La winter ale), Big Horse Brew Pub, 115 W. State St. (with MacStallion Scotch Export) and a 2012 addition, Belgian-influenced Pfriem Family Brewers, 707 Portway Ave., near the Columbia River shore.

Sidwell, who came at age 20 from New Hampshire for the skiing, works the terrain-park crew at Mount Hood Meadows in winter. She calls Hood River "an ageless town."

"I'll meet some 50-something guy who parties way harder than I do, and I'm 25. The old windsurfers are amazing! With biking, kayaking, windsurfing - all the extreme sports coming together - you can't be bored here."

With a choice of good restaurants, I end my day in the firelit, red-and-black dining room at Brian's Pourhouse - couldn't resist the name - with a platter of tilapia tacos and a pint of pumpkin ale in a comfy old house at 606 Oak St.

When morning comes again, it's time to stop by a bakery called Knead, 102 Fifth St., with a hardworking young crew rolling dough in the front window, to pack a knapsack with warm cinnamon rolls, then blaze the way back up Highway 35 to the snow.

It's how winter works in Hood River.

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IF YOU GO:

WHERE: Hood River, Ore., is 228 miles from Seattle, via Interstate 5, I-205 and I-84.

LODGING:

Hood River Hotel, circa 1911; 102 Oak St., downtown Hood River. Winter rates start at $99. Light sleeper? Book a room away from the railroad tracks. 800-386-1859 or hoodriverhotel.com.

Best Western Hood River Inn, on the Columbia River waterfront (a short drive from downtown); ski package includes room, breakfast and Mount Hood Meadows lift tickets for two, $189-$229 (depending on dates). hoodriverinn.com or 800-828-7873.

Columbia Gorge Hotel, circa 1904, overlooks the river, a short drive from downtown; winter weekend rates from $149. columbiagorgehotel.com or 800-345-1921.

Next door, Columbia Cliff Villas are modern suites above the river; winter rates start at $129. columbiacliffvillas.com or 866-912-8366.

NEARBY SKI AREAS:

Mount Hood Meadows, skihood.com or 503-337-2222.

Cooper Spur Mountain Resort, cooperspur.com or 541-352-6692.

Timberline Lodge, timberlinelodge.com or 503-272-3158.

SKI AND SNOWSHOE RENTALS:

Doug's Sports, 101 Oak St., Hood River; 541-386-5787.

Second Wind Sports, 210 Oak St., Hood River; 2ndwind-sports.com or 541-386-4464.

Each has cross-country ski rental packages for $20 a day, with alpine skis and snowshoes, too.

TRAVELER'S TIP: Show your Mount Hood Meadows lift ticket at Hood River businesses for discounts and special deals.

MORE INFORMATION: Hood River County Chamber of Commerce: hoodriver.org or 800-366-3530

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Brian J. Cantwell: bcantwell@seattletimes.com