Saturday, September 20, 2014

Last Days in Bend, Oregon - Friends, Hiking and Living…

We have enjoyed our stay in Bend, Oregon and before we left there was one more waterfall hike we wanted to get in, Tumalo Falls. Tumalo Falls is a short drive west of Bend and upon pulling into the parking lot, we could hear the falls. The hike to the falls was short but we planned a longer hike so we could also see Double Falls. Total distance for our hike this day was about three miles, in and out. There is a loop trail here which we prefer but that would require us to cross a very cold creek so we opted to hike in as far as the crossing and simply return.

Another magnificent set of waterfalls on this nice hike as both Tumalo Falls and Double Falls are very worth the effort it takes to see them. It may be a while before we see any waterfalls again so we took our time to soak in their beauty and the roaring sound made as the water tumbled downward… From Bend we will be traveling east across some of the high desert in Oregon and Nevada as we plan to spend a couple of weeks in the Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks before heading southwest to San Diego for November and December.

Besides hiking to waterfalls we also found several hikes along the Deschutes River with some of our miles in the wilderness and some more urban as we hiked in the town of Bend along their nice series of river trails. As we did in Portland Oregon we stopped at several of the craft breweries and even took a tour of the Deschutes Brewery. The crafted beer scene in Bend is every bit as good as rtland and while Portland may have many more breweries Bend claims the honor of having the most breweries per capita. My favorite was Boneyard Brewery and Sharon’s was Crux but we really didn’t have a bad beer during our stay.

We are sure glad we spent some time in Bend since we were unable to the last time we passed through the area. Bend is a vibrant town with lots to see and do. It was also a treat to enjoy some social time with Pam and Vic, their friends the Hiss family and our friends BJ and Mike who flew in from Portland to visit Pam and Vic for a few days.  Our last night was spent at Pam's suggestion at Anthony's for dinner on the patio by the river in the Old Mill District.  It was a beautiful evening and we all had a great time. Had there been any vacancies at Tumalo State Park we would have surely stayed longer.

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We left today to head off into the desert as we amble towards Utah… see you on down the road of retirement!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bend Oregon and Newberry National Volcanic Monument

We sadly left Portland but were excited that I was able to book five nights at Tumalo State Park just outside of Bend Oregon. Luckily for us someone cancelled and we were able to snag these five days as Tumalo SP is difficult to book for any length of time at the last minute like we did. We began to set up at our site (an excellent back in site number 166) and realized that we must have lost (yet another) 50 to 30 amp converter. We spoke with the camp host who said that the best place to get one on a Sunday was Walmart so we headed over to the store where we luckily found one to replace ours.

While at Walmart we got a text from Pam and Vic who pen the blog The Big EZ.  They invited us to happy hour at their new townhouse.  It was great to see our friends and enjoy some local craft beer Pam had picked up in growlers from their local Fred Meyer store.  What a great visit we had and it was fun to hear all about their sale of the motorhome as well as their lifestyle adjustments to transitioning from the motorhome into their new home here in Bend.

The next day we decided to drive over to the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. We showed our National Park Access Pass and were given a timed pass to drive to the top of 5,020 foot tall Lava Butte to hike the rim trail around the relic volcano that last spewed lava some 7,000 years ago. It was a short hike but one with fantastic vistas of the old lava flow below as well as the Sisters Mountains in the distance. I found it interesting to ponder as we hiked around the rim of about this once violent caldera…

We then took a mile or so hike out into the old lava flow on the Trail of the Molten Land. They have built a really nice trail that took us out into the flow that to this day supports only the toughest of species as water in the lava flow is scarce at best. A few small bushes and an occasional pine tree have managed to gain a foothold in this extreme environment. We were hoping to see a pika in the lava flow but weren’t successful. We did spot a few rock wrens hopping about and saw some really fascinating basaltic rocks and formations.

     

When we were done with that hike we still had an hour or so before we were going to meet up with some folks that contacted us on RVillage. So we drove over to take a look at Paulina Lake which is one of the deepest lakes in Oregon as it fills an old caldera similar to Crater Lake but not nearly as magnificent. Near Paulina Lake we found short trail that took us to the foot of Paulina Falls. Paulina Falls is a beauty as the water falls over 80 feet as it rushes over the volcanic cliffs. We have seen lots of waterfalls on our western trek this year and this one is a must see in our opinion.

After the hike we headed back into Bend, Oregon to meet up with our soon to be friends at the Deschutes Brewery Public House for a few crafted beers. We had a fun time meeting up with fellow RV’ers from Texas, Robert and Diana and look forward to other RVillage meet ups in the future…

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cannon Beach and a Fabulous Dinner in Portland!!!

We left our friends house in Washington and since it was another amazingly sunny day I drove down the Oregon coast to Cannon Beach. As many times as we have visited the Oregon coast Sharon has never, ever seen it completely sunny there. Today was the day… Before hitting Cannon Beach we stopped by the touristy little town of Seaside, Oregon so we could walk on the beach which was expansive due to us being there during low tide.

Next up was Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach in all its glory basking in the rare Oregon sunshine. We walked around here and enjoyed taking numerous photos of this very cool stack in the cold Pacific Ocean. Checking out all the tide pools and wading in the frigid waters we had fun like we were children… At least until our feet started to hurt due to the numbingly cold waters of the ocean. What a wonderful day in the sunshine on the Oregon coast!

We then headed back to Portland and started to pack up for our departure. We didn’t have to make dinner that night as our friends Bret and CeCe of Portland had invited out for dinner as their guests. Not telling us where we were going to dine CeCe simply asked us the question “You aren’t picky eaters are you? Well everybody is a bit picky but we said we were in for anything and CeCe said that we were in for a treat…

We met at their house and walked over to Alberta Arts District to a restaurant in a non-pretentious building called the Aviary. The restaurant has an eclectic menu of small plates that focus on  locally sourced ingredients. I must also mention that this restaurant won the coveted honor of being selected as Portland’s 2012 restaurant of the year. So we were indeed in for a special treat!

As we sat I could tell that CeCe had that Cheshire Cat’s grin and said “Let’s get a cocktail first.” Perusing the drink list I was intrigued by the combination of ingredients in the drinks. We each selected a different one and since we are all friends we shared tastes of each cocktail. Each were delightful in their own way but I loved my “canicule.” A drink composed of Bombay Sapphire ‘east’ gin, ransom dry vermouth, sauvignon blanc, pineapple shrub, cilantro, jalapeno came out looking more like a vegetable smoothie instead of a cocktail yet it was so, so delightfully spicy and refreshing all together.

imageThen we saw the menu…let’s say simply that many of the items would put most people outside their comfort zone. We decided to be whimsical and let CeCe and Bret do all the ordering. The plan was to share several of their offerings on their menu. Everything we tried was perfectly plated and each of the selections had their own assortment of tantalizing flavors each very unique. We had everything from more standard table fare such as venison and braised pork rib to the more “out of the box” foods such as octopus, pig’s ear and sweetbreads… The foods here put Sharon more outside her comfort zone than me as I like to taste most anything at least once!

Sharon seemed to think the heirloom tomato French toast was the best while I thought the charred octopus won the best of show… After dinner CeCe insisted we have some coffee and we all shared a lovely chocolate dessert. The coffee we had was a decaf and was delivered in a French Press and once we plunged our coffee the dark elixir that remained tasted nothing like a decaf and we enjoyed it all to the last drop.

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We absolutely loved this gastronomic adventure and could never thank Brett and CeCe enough for this very memorable going away dinner… Aviary restaurant was truly a Road Treat!!! Yes we will miss Portland and our dear friends! Next up for us is Bend, Oregon…

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Serendipity in Long Beach, Washington

The night before we were supposed to leave Portland and move south an odd thing occurred… Sharon and I were sitting around the prior evening trying to decide where we wanted to go next. Such is our lifestyle as we were leaving in the morning yet still had no plans as to where we were going! We debated. .....Salem, Eugene, or Sisters? Oh, where to go…image

Then Sharon’s phone rang and on the other line were our friends Rick and Barb whom we met at Betty’s RV Park in Abbeville, Louisiana. We hadn’t heard from them since leaving Betty's but we follow each other on Facebook. Well Rick said that he and Barb were staying in their mom’s beach house near Long Beach in Washington state. He asked us to come for a visit if we didn’t have any plans! How did he know? They were only 125 miles north of us so we checked  with our park to see if we could extend and after paying for the next four days we planned our route to see our friends in Washington.

The next morning we left the RV in Portland and headed out in our Honda CRV for a pleasant drive through the coastal hills and forests. Passing through a favorite town of ours, Astoria, Oregon we then crossed into Washington on one of the tallest bridges we have ever driven on. Lots of repairs were being made on this tall and very long bridge so during a stoppage we had great views of the Columbia River on this clear, sunny day. Driving on into Washington we passed by Cape Disappointment and before long we were driving through Long Beach where eventually we found our friends place near Klipsan Beach.

What a great reunion we have had in reconnecting with Rick and Barb. We have enjoyed our walks to the beach in perfect weather for this area, sunny skies, no fog and little wind with daytime temperatures in the mid 70’s… perfect! We even took off on a nice long bike ride on the Lewis and Clark Discovery Trail. What a fantastic bike trail it was with the winding asphalt trail weaving its way through the dunes covered with tall coastal grasses as well as small fir and spruce trees poking their way up through the grass. Several stops were made to enjoy some wood carvings, information plaques and even a partial whale skeleton.

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We will be leaving our friends on Saturday morning but have rally enjoyed our visit to this peninsula and best of all Rick and Barb have been cooking the most fabulous and delicious meals.. We just love this RV lifestyle and the serendipitous events that have happened to us .  We look forward to even more serendipity awaiting us in our future…

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reflections on Portland Oregon…

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To say we have enjoyed our stay in Portland Oregon would be an understatement. There aren’t many big cities in the USA where I feel I could live in but Portland has that mix of big city amenities with the feel of small town in its neighborhoods. We have done a ton of walking in the northern half of Portland where we have strolled through the neighborhoods of Hollywood, City Center, The Pearl, Alphabet District, Alberta Arts, Concordia, Alameda, Rose City, Laurelhurst and several others I have probably failed to mention.

Each of the neighborhoods are like their own small communities, each with their own culture. One could live in one of these neighborhoods and not even feel like they are in Portland proper.Everything anyone would need is in these neighborhoods such as grocery stores, restaurants and pubs. A car isn't even a necessity as most travel via bicycle or public transport. This is a very bicycle friendly town with bike lanes seemingly everywhere. 

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Crafted Breweries are plentiful with more than 50 listed breweries in Portland alone which is why many know the city as Beervanah! Sharon and I have grown to love well made craft beers and set out on a mission to try as many of the top rated breweries as we could. We weren’t able to make it to all of them but we did put a dent in the list. Hopworks and Burnside have been two breweries we have visited more than once because we love the beer and the vibe at both places. I must say that I would be hard pressed to pick a brewery I didn't enjoy as all the beer here has been excellent (well maybe the gluten free brewery wasn’t all that great).

In addition Portland has some great parks for hiking such as Washington Park and Forest Park. with the International Rose Garden. And the scenic Columbia Gorge is close by for hiking and observing nature. Waterfall hikes we took there were like traveling way out of town and yet they are simply a 30-40 drive east.  There is also scenic highway 30 with all of its great vistas… Given all that there is to do around here we feel Portland is a great spot for a month or two in the summertime. The numerous waterfall hikes we took were like traveling way out of town and yet they are simply a 30-40 drive east. 

Our review of Portland wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t mention the people here. Fortunately for us we have friends in the area so we were able to meet up with them but the people in general living here are a very friendly group. We struck up numerous conversations with many interesting people. Portland is a young town by most standards especially nearer the city center. If I were in my 30’s there is no doubt this would be the place for me to live and work.

To end one of our last days we returned to Hopworks Bike Bar Brewery to meet with a friend of ours passing through town on her way home to Astoria for another round of beer. What fun we had reminiscing over good beer and their fabulous freshly made hot pretzels… Portland has indeed been a very good to us!