This may sound silly but one of the reasons why I thought it would be neat to live in Portland was because we would be SO close to the Redwoods in CA. I remember seeing pictures of cars driving right through those magnificent Redwoods when I was young. It’s pretty silly that humans cut a whole through a tree for a ROAD, but even against the odds, the redwoods that were practically gutted still stood as strong as ever. –Pretty incredible!!
We didn’t see any roads going though Redwoods, but we did get to go on a short walk through a preserved Redwood Forest in CA. I could have stayed there all day!! The Redwoods were ginormous and gorgeous! It was almost as if every tree was showing off it’s own unique artistic style. Each Redwood’s roots and bark were twisted or rippled just so. If you looked closely, you could even find faces within the tree’s burls.
There were also so many interesting facts about the Redwoods that we discovered. For instance; the Redwood tree’s bark has a high tannin content level which acts as flame protection against the frequent forest fires that naturally occur. It was amazing…we saw trees there that were over 180 years old and wore the scars of past forest fires yet were still standing healthy and tall. Many times other trees will grow right on top of dead or living Redwood. Not only do the host trees share their root system which gives the new tree nutrients but the Redwood also provides additional strength for the new tree. What a neat community
It was phenomenal! There were so many nooks and crannies to explore in the forest it was impossible to see it all in one trip. –We’ll just have to go back!Read More
Over the past few months I’ve been picking up a new
obsession hobby. It all started on a weekend back in May, when we were travelling up the coast and stopped at the Rockaway Beach Kite Festival. There I picked the Prism Nexus two string kite, which I flew a number of times both on the beach in parks around Portland. Somehow, something that I once thought was completely boring and only for kids had suddenly become exciting to me!
Here’s a short list to try to rationalize why I’m having so much fun flying kites:
- It’s relaxing
- Things that fly fascinate me
- It’s actually quite challenging, and it takes a lot of practice to refine the skill
- It gives me something to do on the beach besides just sun bathing
- There’s an element of high-tech, as the materials that go into kites need to be strong and light
- There’s a do-it-yourself aspect, as even the most high end kites can be made at home with very little in the way of tools
Two weekends ago we drove down to Brookings, OR (near the California border) and went to the Southern Oregon Kite Festival, and there I picked up a Revolution Kite. The first kite I bought was a 2-string kite. Pull the left string and the kite turns left, pull the right string and the kite turns right. Pretty simple. It’s easy to do loop-de-loops, and with a little practice you can stall the kite at the edge of the wind window, or land and take off again … but there is a limit to how much control you can have over a two string (although some of the pros can do some pretty cool things with them). The Revolution kite is a 4-string kite, which has more dimensions of control than a 2-string– forward/backward, slide left/right, turn left/right. My first attempts to fly the thing were pretty pitiful, but I’m starting to improve.
One of the challenges is finding good wind. Gusty wind is pretty terrible. Sarah and I hiked to one of the highest points in Washington Park where the wind seemed strong, but it was fluctuating between high gusts and dead still air. In those conditions, I really couldn’t fly at all. The best kite flying seems to be on the coast (plus it’s just nice being next to the ocean). I’ve been hunting around Portland trying to find open fields that have good winds, but most inner-city parks have too many tall buildings around to have steady breezes. The best two places seem to be West Delta Park, which is up in North Portland, close to Vancouver WA, and the beaches on Sauvie Island (one of which is ‘clothing-optional’, so if I ever decide to get into naked kite flying, that’s an option ).
My latest adventure in kites is an attempt to build one with Sarah. I’ve ordered some parts online, and we’ve found a cool fabric store nearby that sells high tech fabrics like ripstop nylon, goretex, etc. If we can succeed in building one using plans from the internet, then perhaps I will try to design one myself. I’m no aerospace engineer like some of my friends, but I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to make something that will fly!Read More
We have found that Oregonians take camping very seriously! Justin and I wanted to go camping this weekend and not only was the campground that we wanted to stay in full, but EVERY SINGLE state park in the western and central part of Oregon was also full!! That’s about a 3-4 hour radius! Even sketchy KOA campgrounds were full! Desperate times call for desperate measures I guess. –There’s more…I’d say 95% of the campgrounds are booked into Oct already!
Luckily there is a small number of sites that the campgrounds save for first come first serve campers. Plus, there are always trails you can backpack into that have clearings where you can camp.
Over this past weekend Justin and I ended up getting really lucky and finding an open group site at one of the camp grounds in the Mt Hood area. The fact that the site we stayed in looked kind of like a picnic area and was $34 was probably what kept people away long enough for us to snag it. We ended up leaving up the “open” sign on our site so that if someone wanted to share the site with us they could pay half and camp with us. It really was a “friend trap” We were hoping a nice couple would come by and want to stay with us…it’s lonely with no East Coast friends or family here!
Unfortunately, instead of a nice couple we ended up getting two disheveled, shy, awkward boys. It took the poor things at least an hour and a half to “set up their tent.” I use that phrase lightly because the end product was a saggy, half staked, leaning pile of poles and material. It was quite a show! I wanted to tape it but Justin said that wasn’t nice…too obvious I guess anyway. Sharing the site turned out to be fine. We got half of our money back and the boys were scared of us so they didn’t talk unless we prompted them.
We went on a lovely hike past Mirror Lake to the top of Harry Mt of the Tom, Dick and Harry triplet mountains. Tom and Dick Mts were blocked off to hikers because they are natural falcon preserves. The trail was lined with rhododendrons and beautiful outlooks to Mt. Hood. Another neat thing about this trail was that it was a little wider making it so that two people could walk side by side. It seems like a small luxury but it’s nice to have scenery other than the butt of the hiker ahead of you…Justin, that’s you
There were a couple really beautiful spots to camp at along Mirror Lake that Justin and I plan on coming back to. At the top of Harry Mt. we could see Mt Hood in it’s honkinness –crazy huge–, Mt Adam, Mt St Helens, Mt Rainier, Mt Jefferson and another one which I don’t know the name of. It was pretty incredible! Everywhere you turned there was a ginormous snow-capped mountain. At the top there was also a rock facing Mt Hood that was just begging for people to sit in it. The rock was carved out in the shape of an armchair and gave you the best seat in the house to view Mt Hood. Incredible!
In our adventures on the way back home we found the most amazing lodge, Timberline Lodge, right at the base of Mt Hood. All I will say is that is was phenomenal…really a work of art!! Every smidgen of the building was filled with artistic style and detail.
The weekend was a success! We’re finding new fun places every day.Read More
Over 4th of July weekend, Justin and I went to a rodeo…which was Justin’s first time…ever! Can you believe that? As we first walked in they had the classic ‘kids riding sheep like bulls’ arena. It was so cute to see the sheep take off while the kids held on for dear life and then are snatched up by the rodeo workers just before hitting the fence. Good old clean fun is what that is.
They also had lots of yummy food booths. They call their “fried dough” an “elephant ear” and boy is it the size of an elephant ear!! You could have your elephant ear balancing on four paper plates and still have all the edges hanging off! In Oregon in addition to the regular “fair food”–fried anything, hot dogs, burgers, fries, bloomin onion… they also have a taste of their “food carts” there. They had a little Thai, some Mexican, and Greek food!
The rodeo was a pretty good size. We saw bucking bronco riding, bareback riding (which I think is a stupid thing to do when you’re on the back of a maniac horse…ouch), steer wrestling and calf roping, which aren’t my favorite events because it looks so mean! Those poor little steers having some 200+ lard man jumping on it’s back and twisting it’s neck around so far it has no choice but to flip on it’s back
We also saw bull riding and barrel racing which are two of my favorite events! There was only one close call when a bucking bronco rider’s hand got caught in his tie-in strap (because he got bucked off the wrong side) and was dragged for a bit until the bronco could be caught. The bulls, however, were as a whole not very rowdy. The judges let a good handful of riders have the option of a re-ride because their bulls were so docile!
I almost forgot to mention our seats. We were sitting on a set of bleachers just in back of where the riders were being let out of their gates and just ABOVE the bulls!! We heard all sorts of banging and ruckus going on somewhere under the bleachers. We looked down to see what it was and found that there were a heard of angry bulls being kept just out of reach of our feet! Yikes!
Overall great show!!! I definitely want to go to another rodeo sometime soon. It reminds me of homeRead More
As we found out after attending a Beavers game, Portland isn’t exactly a baseball city like Boston– it’s much more of a soccer city. So much so that one of its nicknames is actually ‘soccer city’. I find this odd, because I’ve never been anywhere else in the US where people actually watched soccer games on TV or cared in any way, shape or form about the professional sport. Like it or not, people here are pretty crazy about soccer (and especially the World Cup!) Our own team, the Timbers, have one of the largest fan followings of any US team (not that there are many US soccer teams of significance, but still…)
So last Saturday we attended a Timbers game— Portland Timbers vs Vancouver
Wildcats Whitecaps. I thought Vancouver meant Vancouver Washington, but it turned out to be Vancouver Canada The first 2000 people to enter the stadium were supposed to get a ‘poly-resin log slice’ with the Timbers logo on it, which I thought meant a real honest to god wood slice with polyurethane or something on it … but turns out poly-resin means fake plastic log. Worse even, the Timbers slogan is ‘You can’t fake this’, which is printed on the box that the fake log came in!
The game itself was fairly entertaining. Although it ended in a tie, the Timbers played well— you could say they really used their heads (I think the ball bounced off of as many heads as it did feet . More entertaining than the game itself, however, were the fans. We sat near section 107, which is the section that the crazy fans known as the Timbers Army sit in. These guys had a tailgate event before the game, so they were nice and fired up (we almost went to the tailgate, but I felt I wasn’t really enough of a fan yet to show up at an event like that!) The Army had not one, but three leaders (Sarah called them cheer leaders– and I suppose in a way that’s what they were) who stood up at the front of the section and directed their group on their various songs and chants. Scarves are to soccer what caps are to baseball, and section 107 used their scarves as props during their cheers– throwing them, spinning them, holding them up. Perhaps the most amazing part of their ‘show’ was when they pulled a giant flag over their heads and covered the entire section of the stadium with it (although I have no idea what the flag was for). They even had their own band– a drummer and a few horn players. These guys went nonstop the whole game– amazing team spirit!
The team mascot is also a sight… Timber Joey. Near the end of the game, I was startled by a loud engine sound– then I saw a guy running through the stadium holding up and revving a chainsaw! I thought it was a random maniac fan (fan slash murderous psycho), but turned out it was their mascot and there was no need for alarm. Each time the Timbers score, Timber Joey cuts a slice off of a log at the end of the field … they didn’t score while we were there, but he cut a slice off the log at the end of the game anyways and handed it to the players.
It’s going to take me a while to become an actual soccer fan— but I did succeed in becoming a baseball fan in Boston, so it might be possible Sarah and I are going to keep going to the Beavers baseball games here while we still have them, but next year it will only be soccer at PGE park, so I better start liking it!