Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Florence, OR to Newport Beach…


Oregon landscapeThe Siuslaw River (sy-YEW-slaw) is adjacent to a little gem of a park near Florence Oregon, Harbor Vista, a Lane County Park.  It sits along the coast where some site have views of the river and the coastal shoreline on  the other side of the river. For those of you who have not been in this part of Oregon the water is cold… no I mean real COLD!!! The ocean here is in the mid 50 degrees F,so needless to say most people here are in shorts with sweatshirts, hoodies or jackets!

Hidden BeachHarbor Vista park is a small park and some of the sites, including ours, are very tight. There is no sewer and they only have 30 AMPS but for $25 per night it is bargain along the Oregon coast. It was a whopping 60 miles or so over here from Eugene and the state road 126 we took was not too bad but is in need of resurfacing. We will stay here until Friday and then we will hope to be able to find a place to stay not too far away south of here for the weekend.

StackMonday we drove north to Newport to see the famed tsunami dock that floated in from Japan. It is supposed to be torn apart and removed from Agate Beach this week so I thought it would be interesting to see it  before they destroyed it. My thoughts were that the state of Oregon should have left it there and put up a memorial nearby to acknowledge the thousands who perished in the tsunami. Ahhh, but instead they will spend countless dollars to tear it apart and haul it off… A portion will be saved for a memorial somewhere.

Tsunami debrisThe 50 mile drive north to Newport and back on highway 101 was a treat as expected. Each bend of the road revealed yet another postcard view along the Oregon coast. We passed through several small towns with small ports that showed the signs of former fishing villages that morphed into tourist towns over time. We stopped at many pullouts and were treated to wonderfully scenic coastline views and even spotted several whale spouts out in the Pacific. Large rocky land masses were slowly being Oregon Bridgetaken over by the ocean and populated by pigeon guillemots and lots of gulls… but no buoys!

Heading back into the town of Florence we stopped in “old town” and checked out the local flair… nice little town that is a bit more touristy than I like but that is to be expected as we travel south on highway 101.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Urban Boondocking at its best…

Eugene Saturday Market

view out of door overlooking the river…Having read other blogs over the past several years I always figured we would be boondocking more than we do. Other than boondocking for 7 weeks in North Carolina last year we have only sparingly boondocked elsewhere. A few Harvest Host stays account for most of the rest of our experiences. I knew one day we would be traveling in Oregon and recalled several different bloggers mentioned a spot in Eugene that sounded almost too good to be true…

Ninkasi breweryI knew if we were ever in Eugene we would have to try it out so I referred back to Laurie and Odel’s blog of park reviews and found the one describing Valley River Center Mall. As it turned out we had a weekend that we had un-booked so we set out to try it. A long travel day of a little over six miles (long day, huh?) and we found the Mall.and proceeded to the back corner where we had read boondocking was allowed.

We noticed a security truck on patrol and stopped him to inquire about staying there. Not only did he say yes and help us fill out the necessary paperwork but the friendly guard also handed us a discount coupon booklet for the mall. So we are nestled up against the banks of the Willamette River adjacent to the hike/bike trail on its banks. We are within walking distance of downtown Eugene and all that it has to offer. And did I mention there is all you can eat blackberries to pick all along the river bank? The picture above is a view out of door overlooking the river…

Occupy EugeneFriday we walked into downtown and found a nice little pub called the Horsehead and lucky us we stumbled in upon what they call super happy hour. From four to five o'clock all their microbrews are only $2.50 per pint. Score! Several pints of Ninkasi later we left Horsehead in search of place to eat. After leaving the pub w noticed that the occupy movement is alive and well in Eugene.

Occupy EugeneWe discovered a place to eat on Yelp that looked interesting and yet budget friendly. On Fifteenth and Willamette Street there is a fish market called Newman’s Fish Market that has a side window where they serve fish and chips along with a few other dishes.

A long line at the window attested to the fact we were in for a treat. We ordered one order cod fish and chips (they have salmon fish and chips too), clam chowder and a side order of fries all for about $11.00. The fish and chips were great but (three to an order) and the chowder Eugene Marketwas very flavorful with lots of potatoes and clams, albeit a little thinner than I prefer.Two big pieces of French bread came with the chowder. Feeling satiated we headed back to the Valley River Center Mall. This 5.5 mile loop hike took us through the heart of Eugene but did leave us bit tired.

We rested up and Saturday we headed out to the Eugene Saturday Market and did  the “market thing” where we listened to music, people watched, Steelhead brewerybought a few veggies and looked at all the neat artisans booths. The rest of the day we walked around the river paths, visited the ponds, shopped for a camera and just took it easy. Tomorrow we will leave the Mall (there is a two night maximum stay) and head west to the coastal town of Florence for a while. Hopefully the fog will not linger too long while we are there…

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hiking Mount Pisgah near Eugene, OR…


Armitage campsite

Nestled here in Armitage, a Lane County Park, we are enjoying ourselves. Cable TV, blazing fast WIFI, large lots and full hook ups inside the city limits of Eugene Oregon… Perfect!!! So what to so…

mmmmmmm bkackberriesMount Pisgah is just a few minutes from downtown Eugene near Springfield, OR. Part of the Howard Buford Recreation Area, Mt. Pisgah's is comprised of wetlands, prairies and savannahs that are typical for the Willamette Valley. There are over 16 miles of trails on this 2,363 acres maintained by the Lane County Parks Department. The various trails attract more than 100,000 visitors a year.

The summit is accessible by a pretty steep 1.65 mile trail from a gravel parking lot near the base of the hill. If you park just outside the entrance of the adjacent arboretum parking is free (or so it seems), otherwise there is a $3.00 parking fee. Mount Pisgah rises 1,060 feet above the surrounding Willamette Valley to a maximum elevation of 1,531 feet. Poison OakAlthough it is a short hike to the top the slope was relentless and it made for slow climbing. Thankfully the trail was lined with ripe berries so our rest stops yielded treats… but watch out for the poison oak. Remember… leaflets three… let it be!

Once we made our way to the top we were not only rewarded with panoramic views of the Willamette Valley but there was also a bronze memorial sculpture illustrating the surrounding topography and identifying some nearby geographic Sharon atop Mt Pisgahfeatures. We were happy to see some benches nearby allowing us a slight respite from our very tiring climb to the top.

Making our way back down was much less painful but the trail down consisted of loose gravel slowing our descent. And once we made our way back to the car we were pretty thirsty. A quick search on the GPS showed where the Ninkasi Microbrewery was and off we went following Alice’s directions…

The Ninkasi Brewery is located just west of downtown and is housed in a funky little building in what appeared to be mostly a neighborhood. The first thing we noticed walking in was the interesting lights above the bar made from upside down beer bottles. We ordered a pint of Tricerahops IPA and one of the Double Red. The IPA had a bit of a bitter taste but was very good to me whereas Sharon thought her Red was a little too hoppy. Nonetheless this stop did quench our thirst and we were glad we went.

Some have asked how Sharon is doing… quite well considering she still has a broken bone. She is healing slowly and doing her PT exercises and wishing that everything would heal faster than possible. But as we all know, patience is a virtue…

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Strolling through the land of Ducks…

University of Oregon 004

University of Oregon 005We have mentioned before how much we enjoy walking around the many college campuses in our great country. While here in Oregon we had only visited Portland State and Oregon State so Sunday we decided to drive the short 20 minutes south to the land of the ducks… the University of Oregon.

It took us a while to find the heart of the campus as it is smaller than we had thought it would be. Also our GPS, Alice, had no clue where it was and the signage along the highway didn’t help us new visitors to Eugene. But persistence paid off and we found a parking spot by what appeared to be what we refer to as “the strip.” Found near most campuses the strip is usually a small retail area of eateries, bars, bookstores and usually has banks or ATMs frequented by students and staff of the nearby campus.

University of Oregon 001   University of Oregon 002

The Oregon campus looks to be comprised of an older central campus that is seemingly landlocked by Eugene yet it seems to have grown on the edges through more recent land acquisition. The newer buildings around the edges attest to this hypothesis but I am sure the loyal Ducks will chime in and correct me if this is untrue. The football stadium and basketball arena are quite stunning due to a recent benefactor thus elevating the level of athletic facilities here to being some of the best in the country. However, the women's softball field is a bit run down and aging considering the Ducks belong to the prestigious PAC 12, a powerhouse in fast pitch softball. Hopefully they will remedy this in the near future and the Lady Ducks will have a better home…

University of Oregon 008But let me talk about the older part of campus… stunningly beautiful is all I can say… The collection of giant stately trees found in this part of the campus is as good as any arboretum we have been to. Some of the historical buildings here also contribute to some landscapes one might picture in novels. If you find yourself in this area you really must visit this part of campus and the parking on Sunday is free; so why not visit?

We just love visiting college campuses and get asked occasionally why we do? The reasons are simple for us:

  • the architecture
  • the landscaping
  • I use to work for Texas A&M University
  • but most important to us is the energy we find and feel on campuses
  • our daughter played Division I softball in college

All these reasons appeal to us… reenergize us… it is our fountain of youth…

Upon returning home, our friends Pam and Vic invited us to dinner.  Pam’s son had caught fresh Tuna on Saturday which Pam marinated then grilled to perfection.  She plated the tuna atop balsamic infused onions, potatoes and olives, with a side of locally grown peppers sautéed in olive oil. We brought broccoli salad and bread so this dinner was truly a feast.

Today we move to Armitage Park in Eugene as we were able to switch our reservation in Richardson with this much preferred Lane County Park that also happens to be much closer to Eugene.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Corvallis and Eugene OR…

Corvallis farmers market

The trip south on Interstate 5 and then on state road 99 toward Eugene went smoothly as we pulled into our space at Riverbend RV Park in Harrisburg, Oregon. Again we primarily chose this park so we could visit Corvallis and Oregon State Wallamette RiverUniversity as well as catch up with our friends Pam and Vic. Riverbend RV Park is a rural park but has some nice sites (if you are nearer the river) with full hookups for $25 per night when booking a week stay. The scenic Willamette River skirts the park and there are nice views of it when visiting their large hot tub and pool.

We made a trip over to Corvallis and drove through the campus just as they were Harrisburg OR 002preparing for a huge annual fair called Da Vinci Days. So we decided to simply buy some groceries at a nearby WinCo (excellent place to get bin products if that is your thing) and headed home. We figured we would make another trip later to check out the town more thoroughly.

We also made a road trip with Vic and Pam over to Eugene to participate in the Bite of Eugene. A quaint little gathering of tents offering “bites” of their wares at a discounted price. I did have a chance reacquaint myself with a Ninkasi IPA and sample some fabulous catfish with a dill aioli sauce – very yummy. Sharon enjoyed her veggie burger as well. A sample of some locally made ice cream made with coconut milk (non-dairy) was also very good. The fair had some bands offering up some lively music but the fair overall was a bit toned down and was not as heavily attended as we thought it may have been. We did have a great time visiting with Pam and Vic and Sharon had the chance to chat with and have her picture taken with the Slug Queen.

Musicians at the farmers marketWe made an additional trip back to Corvallis on Saturday morning to take in their farmer’s market. We followed Pam and Vic to the market and what a great little farmer’s market Corvallis has. The diversity of produce and food products was amazing! We purchased local raspberries, loganberries and cherries and certainly would have purchased more but we really didn’t need a lot of produce at this time. After the market Pam and Vic took us on a walking tour of the riverfront and the downtown area. There was a lot of activity in town since the Da Vinci Days fair was in full swing. People were everywhere and we stumbled onto a small parade that was a part of the fair festivities.

Harrisburg OR 013 After enjoying our stay here at Riverbend RV Park we will leave on Tuesday and head south to stay at the Lane County Richardson Park on Clear Lake. I planned to stay at Armitage Park but we were able to stay longer at Richardson. We are not able to stay through the weekend so we may boondock at the Mall for a few nights before heading west to Florence and the Lane County Harbor Vista Park. We are finding it is easy to get spots in parks for weekdays but weekends are going to be a problem as we hug the coast going south…

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Finals Days in Portland…

bee on flower

Last Day in Portland 042On our last few days in Portland we still had several items on our to do list and we thought the best way to get things done was to spend one day driving along the old Columbia River Highway and then the next day we would take the Portland mass transit into the City Center.

The drive from our RV park to the exit just past Multnomah Falls and back meant we would be driving a little more than a 50 mile loop. We drove up Interstate 84 and then back along the Old Columbia River Highway. This drive turned out to be even better than we had hoped as there are several pull outs where you can take short hikes of a mile or less to see the various waterfalls.


Columbia River Valley Vista House

Some of the places we stopped to see were Horsetail Falls, Oneonta Gorge, Wahkeena Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and lastly the Vista House. Each of these stops gave us a slice of the scenic Columbia River Valley and all its splendor. None of these falls are as grand as Mulnomah Falls but each had their own charm and beauty. And to finished the day we stopped once again at the McMenamin’s Edgefield Poor Farm for the special wheat beer of the day.

Our last day in Portland we took the number 12 bus into the City Center. A normal 20-25 minute drive was a bit over an hour by bus but as retirees we have nothing but time so the extra thirty minutes were worth it to not have to look for parking and deal with the inner city traffic. The main reason we headed into town was to visit Portland State and to walk around the campus. It is a quiet inner city campus that greens up the downtown area.

Last Day in Portland - Alberta StreetWe caught the tram back north and got off near Voodoo doughnuts so that we could finally try it out. Fancy doughnuts and always crowded but really nothing special other than the quirky ambiance and the unique names and shapes of some of their doughnuts. After having a pretty good (huge) apple fritter we caught the number 8 bus over to Alberta Street as we thought it looked like a fun street to check out. Lots of restaurants and pubs on this block made us believe it is probably a hot spot after dark.

Last Day in Portland - downtown We walked down several blocks and headed north to go to the Concordia Ale House to meet our friends Bret and CeCe and a new friend we made here in Portland, Julie. After sharing some parting stories and beverages it became time to say our goodbyes and catch the next bus back to Fairfield RV Park. We really enjoyed the bus and tram rides to city center!

The next morning we packed everything up and headed towards Portland on Interstate 84 till we merged on Interstate 5 south toward Eugene. The drive was 110 miles down to Riverbend RV Resort where we will stay for the next several days so we can visit Corvallis and Oregon State University as well as catch up with our friends Pam and Vic. Hoping to find a park near Eugene so that from here where we can visit the University of Oregon.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mississippi Avenue Street Fair…

Mississippi Avenue Street Fair

Sharon at the Mississippi Avenue Street Fair With the minor setback of Sharon’s injury we have replaced bicycle riding, rough trail hiking and Frisbee golf with becoming “citified” in a sense.Time for getting out and about in the wilderness is limited due to Sharon’s new 4 times a day regimen of heat packs, physical therapy exercises and then icing. We are spending less time doing the more physical activities we enjoy and replacing it with more laid back activities such as visiting farmers markets, breweries and street fairs.

While Sharon is busy doing her assigned physical therapy,I am getting some routine things done that have been on the list of items to do… Such as washing the motorhome and CRV, cleaning the windows, flushing the hot water heater, making minor repairs to loose items and of course sampling all the wonderful crafted beers that Portland has to offer. It is amazing that after less than a week they have Sharon doing physical therapy but it is also great because I know now she will be back to full speed in about 5 weeks..

CeCe and Brett taking on Forty Licks Maple and BaconIce CreamWe have also been enjoying the company of our friends Brett and CeCe and they even held a party in our honor to introduce us to their friends. We met some great people here in Portland and have really enjoyed our stay. After the Friday night party there was talk of attending the largest street market in Portland – the Mississippi Avenue Street Fair.

There are lots of neighborhood fairs held in Portland but the Mississippi Avenue Street Fair has over 25,000 visitors attending its fair annually. We caught the TriMet Bus over to the fair to avoid the traffic and parking hunt that surely would have been stressful. Musicians were playing all day on five stages Amnesia Brewing Artand over 275 vendors were on hand as well. Mississippi Avenue is closed to through traffic for this annual fair and as a result there is a sea of people going from one end of the avenue to the other.

One memorable stop on this day was a visit to a nearby brew pub called Amnesia. We stopped to try one of the drafts and ended up staying and trying several of their beverages. There we met another of CeCe’s friends who was a total delight to visit with and get to know a bit.

This fair has every handmade craft imaginable.The eclectic crowd made people watching fabulous and the weather was just perfect. After the fair we caught the bus back and bid our friends farewell after sharing some great burgers and salad with them

Mississippi Avenue Street Fair shadowsSunday was a rainy day so we fulltimers take advantage of those days too. It was time to do laundry and clean the inside of the motorhome. Fortunately for us it was also ice cream social day at Fairview RV Park where we enjoyed a nice ice cream sundae on the house. After wrapping up our last weekend here we will be leaving Portland on the 18th and heading a little bit south to Harrisburg and stay at Riverbend RV Park for about six days where we hope to visit with our friends and fellow bloggers, Pam and Vic…

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hiking near Portland…

Mountains Out over Columbia River

Sharon in the rose garden with new splintWith Sharon sporting her new splint and out of the sling we felt it was time that we get back on the trail and do some hiking. She is prohibited from biking, lifting, and any activity jarring the arm so hiking is one of the few things we can do to stay in shape.

Two places we enjoyed  hiking in the city of Portland area were the Marine Drive hike and bike trail right near the RV park and trails found in Forest Park on the west side of town. We also liked roaming the many McMenamins to check out the restoration of the always interesting, eclectic facilities that house them.  Of course there is the added benefit of partaking in frosty crafted beverages there. I mentioned McMenamins before but we feel is really neat that they take over what would otherwise be condemned properties and restore them into hotels, pubs and breweries. They have even converted elementary schools and churches into McMenamins Kennedy Elementary SchoolMcMenamins. Because of their attention to detail with regard to restoration and complimentary art, we  always find upon revisiting something we missed the first time.  We would really like to visit each of the 56 they have in Oregon and Washington but alas, I don’t think our livers would survive.

The Marine Park Trail we hiked is a forty mile loop that is paved and a great deal of the trail runs directly along the Columbia River, the river that separates Washington from Oregon. We didn’t do the entire loop of course but Mountains Out over Portlandthe part of trail we did do offered wonderful views of Mount Hood in the eastern skyline. It is visible on clear, cloudless days when” the mountain is out”.. We have been having fun with that Portland expression, “mountain is out”, and use it often during these warm and sunny July days.

Forest Park trail is near the downtown Portland area and is a haven for those who like to hike and bike but can’t get out of town. The park is adjacent to many other Portland Attractions such as the Hoyt Arboretum, the International Rose Garden, the Zoo and other interesting sites.

 Various HostasCool Outhouse

Parking slots at the trailheads are plentiful and free if you don’t park too close to the Children's Museum of the Zoo.. The main trail is very wide and although you Hoyt Arboretumwill have some climbs in elevation there aren’t any nasty switchbacks.  There are multiple side  trails as well where one can hike into the arboretum or the rose garden, both of which we enjoyed.

The Arboretum has a very nice collection of trees and the Rose Garden has many flowers in bloom this time of year. We liked hiking on the redwood trail where they actually have a few nice redwood specimens. The diversity of conifers here is extensive and they are well labeled to offer the opportunity to learn to identify the more common ones.

So if you are in the downtown area of Portland there are numerous attractions and hiking trails right within reach without even having to leave town…

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Multnomah Falls Trail in Oregon…

Multnomah Falls boulder

Multnomah Falls birthWith Sharon now on the mend we needed to get out and about and not just sit around in the RV waiting for her to get healed. She was telling me that she was a bit worried that she may have some trepidation when hiking along steep trails and along a creek. So to provide her some mental therapy to go along with her physical therapy we decided to take in a trip to nearby Multnomah Falls.

Multnomah Falls is about a 20 minute drive from our park and about 30 minutes from downtown Portland. We headed east on I-84,along the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Neat geology here, exposed by floods, of the Yakima basalt which is visible in the cliff face near the falls.

Multnomah Falls bridge

Parking is different here in that you park right in the middle of the Interstate. Exiting left off the freeway you park and walk through a cool tiled tunnel toward the fall’s trail. There are restrooms and a restaurant/snack bar conveniently located at the base of the falls.

Multnomah Falls The 620-foot high Multnomah Falls are fed by underground springs via Larch Mountain. The first set of falls are slender and graceful as they cascade over 500 feet down the cliff face into a placid pool. Then a secondary set of falls is created below a picturesque arched stone foot bridge that was constructed in 1914. According to Native American folklore Multnomah Falls was created for a warrior to win the heart of a beautiful young Indian princess who simply wanted a hidden place to bathe.

signThe hike is fairly steep with 11 switchbacks, each marked, that wind your way to the birth of the falls.  The trail is 1.2 miles in length (one way) but will be more like 1.3 to 1.4 miles depending on where you park.  You will want to wear good shoes since you will climb approximately 600 feet to the top of the Multnomah Falls overlook. Fortunately for us the Multnomah Falls Overlook had just re-opened after being closed for a landslide so we were able to hike to the top.

Sharon at Multnomah Falls The views  of the Columbia River and the surrounding landscape are nearly as breathtaking as the falls themselves. As the water continually wears away the rock face the look and shape of these magical falls will change in much the same way as it does in the different lighting of the morning and evening.

I don’t know if it is true or not but there is a story about an event on “Labor Day 1995, when a 400 ton boulder from the face of upper Multnomah Falls dropped into the upper plunge pool.  The impact Scene at Multnomah Falls from this fall created a huge splash that spewed water and small rocks over the Benson bridge. A wedding party just happened to be on the bridge for photos when the boulder fell. Several people had minor injuries from the flying rock, including the groom who was struck by flying rock in a particularly delicate part of his anatomy. His bride reported the next day in that, despite his injuries, he had still been able to bravely perform his conjugal duties.”

The falls are ethereal in many ways but our main task was to not only enjoy the falls but to get Sharon more comfortable on the trail after her spill. I hope this 2.5 plus mile hike up and down the Multnomah Falls trail was the start of her mental recovery of hiking in the woods…