In the end of July of 2008 I did my first trip to the Columbia river Gorge, and this is what I saw.
Airplanes: The trip started with a plane ticket Providence-Portland ($500) bought one week in advance.
Getting to Portland on a multi-stop flight can be an adventure on its own. Anyway, this is my tip: avoid multiple connections: Providence, Charlotte, San Francisco, Portland is an example; the chances of getting delayed are huge, and you can waste on precious day.
Car rental: I rented the basic car ($210 per week, Dollar). The car was a small car with no rack, they asked me if I wanted to upgrade, but I said no... then the lady at the desktop gave me a RAV4 for the same price. This might sound as a bad deal in times of G.W. and his quest for the highest gas prices ever, but for me it was a blessing. The RAV4 has plenty of space for 5 sails, 3 masts (inside), and a sweet rack for boards. not to mention the rest of the space in which my girlfriend managed to fit sleeping bags, tents, chairs, wood, cameras, and herself. So, tip: rent big, a few more bucks in gas will go a long way.
Gear: After looking at some posts on the internet, I decided to rent my gear from Windance. I called them and reserved a Goya One (85L) and a Ezzy Wave sails. Here in New England, I use a Goya FXR, and Ezzy Wave, so I thought to minimize the surprise factor my renting stuff I was familiar with. When I got there, I realized that the surprise factor is inherent to the Gorge...
The first day, my board was given by mistake to another guy, but Dave, the owner of Windance, provided me with a quiver for the day, AT NO COST... Board Angulo Super Gu 93L, Ezzy Wave sails and masts... So... TIP: call one day in advance to make sure that your stuff will be there, but don't panic, costumer care at Windance is excellent, and those guys will make sure that you windsurf every day possible.
Day 1: Event Site - great place for a first day. The beach has a flat water segment for speed freaks, and as you get to the Washington side, increasing swell perfect for bump and jump, and to test your skills and get used to the Gorge...
Day 2: Skunk! This can happen even in the Gorge, but you should not stress at all about it, since there are plenty of activities to do around the Gorge, from shopping compulsively at the windsurfing stores to hiking the numerous trails near Hood River. We choose Dog Mountain, a 5 mile stretch, which picture is shown below... mind blowing!!!
OK... I will keep posting, if you find this helpful or enjoy reading it, please let me know! See you soon,