A memorable Memorial Day

You've heard the phrase 'something for everybody'? We put the promise to the test



The old adage that you can’t please all of the people all of the time takes on added significance when family members get together for a three-day Memorial Day weekend.

How do you entertain your beer-loving cousin and your wine-sipping aunt? Your high-culture uncle and your adventure-minded in-laws? Fortunately, Clark County offers an abundance of options that should allow you to customize your weekend plans to the nuanced needs of your loved ones.

We turned to two very different Columbian reporters to help us navigate the options, whether you’re looking for outdoor adventure, quiet screen time or a cultural encounter.

Mary Ann Albright is a fitness enthusiast who loves small dogs, wine, musical theater and argyle. Sue Vorenberg describes herself as a gamer and computer nerd, and she prefers cats, beer and horror movies. If they can see eye to eye, then perhaps there is hope that you can please all of your Memorial Day guests at least some of the time.

Together time

For all their differences, Albright and Vorenberg said they both enjoy backyard barbecues when the weather cooperates.

An outdoor potluck will ease the burden on the host and guarantees a wide array of options for your disparate guests.

You can offer red sangria and turkey burgers on whole-wheat buns for the Albrights in your life, and a summer wheat beer and Lipton onion-soup burgers on onion rolls for the Vorenbergs.

Cloudy skies make a barbecue less appealing?

Albright and Vorenberg say Big Al’s in east Vancouver offers enough entertainment options that they both could find a good time. Albright likes bowling, though admits she’s yet to crack the triple digits. Vorenberg prefers arcade games, especially air hockey and skee ball. Big Al’s offers both, as well as beer, wine, mixed drinks and a full menu. For more information, go to http://ilovebigals.com.

For more options to fill your Memorial Day weekend, we asked Albright and Vorenberg to go head to head with their recommendations.

The outdoor adventure

Hiking vs. kayaking

• Albright says: My outdoorsy buddy and I like packing sack lunches and striking out early for a full day of hiking. One of our favorite day trips is to Beacon Rock and Hamilton Mountain.

Located along Highway 14 on the Washington side of the Gorge about 45 minutes east of downtown Vancouver, Beacon Rock is an 848-foot rock overlooking the Columbia River. It’s a fairly easy-to-moderate hike, totaling 1.8 miles. I recommend stopping for a picnic lunch at the top before turning around and heading back down.

You could call it a day at this point, or drive about a quarter of a mile east on Highway 14 to Hamilton Mountain.

The Hamilton Mountain hike is longer and more rigorous than Beacon Rock, at 7.5 miles out and back, with an elevation gain of 2,100 feet.

For more information: http://portlandhikersfieldguide.org.

• Vorenberg says: I don’t have the stable footing for long hikes, but kayaking is excellent low-impact exercise that lets you explore calm lapping waterways and see the wilderness from a different angle.

Ridgefield Kayak LLC has about 30 kayaks available, and the small store will be open all weekend, including on Memorial Day.

Gayle Alexander, one of the owners, said experts there can get folks of any skill level set up for a trip along the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

Keep an eye out for river otters, water birds and maybe a black-tail deer on the shores of the 12-mile Columbia River tributary.

The store also offers kayaking classes, tours and family outings. Alexander suggests that renters call 360-727-4520 before coming to ensure that they get a kayak.

For more information: http://ridgefieldkayak.com.

Grown-up screen time

Movies vs. Video games

• Albright says: If you want a luxury movie-going experience, I recommend the Living Room Theaters at Cinetopia in east Vancouver (http://cinetopiatheaters.com). Living Room tickets are spendy ($15.50 for evening shows on weekends), but the posh, intimate spaces are especially designed for those ages 21 and older. Patrons can even enjoy food and drinks from Vinotopia, Cinetopia’s restaurant, during the movie.

“The Hangover Part II” is now playing, and that’s what I’d go see this weekend. After witnessing the aftermath of the ultimate bachelor party in “The Hangover,” it’s time to check out what the sequel has in store.

• Vorenberg says: There’s a time in every gamer’s life when you suddenly find yourself at the head of a large army of Viking Berserkers, swords held skyward in preparation for a massive invasion of the English countryside.

For those of us who play Sid Meier’s Civilization V (http://civilization5.com), that time is now.

The game’s Denmark expansion pack, which came out May 3, includes a Viking scenario that puts you and your invading hordes right off the coast of the British Isles in 1066. Your mission: Take the throne of England and make it your own. The main part of the strategy game can take several hours to play, but the scenario packs, which put you in the historic place of Vikings, Mongols and Hawaiians, among others, take only about an hour each to get through.

Adult beverage time

Wine vs. beer

• Albright says: A number of Clark County wineries will be participating in this year’s Memorial Day Weekend Wine Tour. Many will feature food and live music in addition to libations. Be sure to designate a driver. For more information, go to http://clarkcountywine.com.

• Vorenberg says: Clark County is home to two locally based and owned microbrew pubs: Salmon Creek Brew Pub (http://salmoncreekbrewpub.com), at 108 W. Evergreen Blvd., offers a selection of ales, IPAs, stouts, reds and a Belgian dubbel, among others. Hazel Dell Brewpub (http://hazeldellbrewpub.com), at 8513 NE Highway 99, offers a golden, steinweizen, red ale, IPA and steinbock, among others.

In touch with culture

Charm vs. cannons

• Albright says: I find historic downtown Camas to be quite charming, and was excited to learn that the Liberty Theatre recently reopened (http://camasliberty.com). The venue shows second-run movies, and tickets are only $3.50.

While in the neighborhood, I suggest stopping at Twilight Pizza Bistro (http://twilightpizzabistro.com). This restaurant has a sleek vibe but also homey touches, such as a collection of board games diners can play.

Twilight Pizza Bistro has all kinds of tasty, creative signature pizzas, but my favorite is The Trifecta. It’s the perfect combination of pepperoni, black olives and creamy goat cheese.

• Vorenberg says: The long weekend offers a few chances to learn more about Fort Vancouver’s history — with a bang.

The fort will hold an 1860s cannon salute on Memorial Day to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. The event, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. May 30 at the west end of the Parade Ground, promises big explosions and insight into the distant past.

Before the cannons roar, the site will hold its annual Memorial Day service, from 11 a.m. to noon May 30, in conjunction with a blood drive at the historic Red Cross building nearby. For more on the Fort Vancouver events, visit http://fortvan.org.