Archive for the 'outdoors' Category

Lost Lake

This is where David, Chloe and I went on Saturday. It was about halfway between Portland and the coast, high up in the mountains. After turning off the highway, the first dirt road we tried was snow covered, slippery and very steep. It made me nervous, especially with the baby. Finally I asked that we turn around. If something happened, it is possible that no one would know for a long time.

Before the baby, I probably would have viewed it as an exciting adventure. But now, her safety was foremost in my mind. I had visions of us sliding down the snowy mountainside and her helpless and freezing, if we didn’t survive. That was just too much.

So we turned around, and David found another way, an entry closer to the west that started at a lower elevation. Luckily, it was a beautiful drive that followed a river. The final climb was no less steep, but had much less snow until we reached closer to the top. It was breathtaking to see the miles of the tree covered mountain range. David stopped to re-check the map, thinking we should be there, and then looked up to find we were there. Through the trees the lake glistened, patiently waiting.

We thought we’d be completely alone (after all, who would make this kind of trek in the winter?), but it was Saturday and there was one small family already fishing, though they didn’t stay long. And finally we had this incredible place all to ourselves.

The thing I remember most was how quiet it was. At one point all I could hear was my heartbeat and Chloe’s breathing, despite being heavily bundled up against my chest. I sat with my back against a tree near the lake’s edge to nurse her, when other sounds came to my attention – a woodpecker that I spotted nearby, the faintest rustling of leaves, and the soft thudding of Barkley’s paws as he ran between us and where David was fishing father out. It felt magical, and I was again thankful to live in an area where such beauty could be experienced so peacefully.

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Collecting Chanterelles

While we were at the coast this weekend, we also went mushroom hunting for Chanterelles. It is a surprisingly fun past-time, especially with friends. You get to spend time outdoors, hiking in the deep woods, keeping your eyes peeled for little spots of color along the ground. Then you get the thrill of the find, sometimes falling upon a whole group at once. And later, once the little beauties are all checked over, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced, they get cooked up for dinner. We had them sauteed in butter and parsley this weekend, but the leftovers will likely find themselves into omelets, mushroom risotto, and other tasty dishes (like maybe mushroom turnovers with sour cream, a recipe from my new copy of Everyday Food).

Another cool thing about mushroom hunting is that you see things that you might have missed if you weren’t trying to look at everything so carefully. I’ve seen these little snails along the ground before, but I’ve never seen this little red woodland lizard that Marcy found. They are tiny things, and easily overlooked, but they all share the forest. It is cool to think about.

On our way home from the coast, we stopped along a side road off the highway, in an area that looked to be promising. We pretty much came on several batches right away, and stayed for maybe an hour. I was pretty exhausted and sore after hunting around the day before (imagine me for a moment, 34 months pregnant, clumsy and awkward, climbing over fallen logs, and up steep hillsides. Then imagine Marcy doing the same thing with a 6-month old strapped to her chest. At least we survived unhurt, unlike my poor husband who actually sprained his ankle). At this new place, however, it was almost like they just popped up on their own. I was hardly trying and there they were. So we borrowed Alex’s dehydrator and are giving that a whirl. After a few more harvests like this one, we’ll have mushrooms to last the winter.

Sahalie Falls & Fishing


Sahalie Falls, McKenzie River, Oregon

This is one of two breathtaking waterfalls we saw this weekend. I only got a couple shots before my camera died, and I didn’t have a spare battery with me. The other falls, not far down, was called Koosah Falls. We were in the area so David could do some fly fishing on the McKenzie, which is 2+ hours south of Portland. If my camera had been working, I would have taken some great shots of David reeling in his catch. I’ve been trying to convince him lately that we should start keeping the big ones for dinner (instead of always releasing). He came so close this time, but in the end the beauty of the fish overwhelmed him and he had to let it go. That’s okay, honey, maybe next time.

Postscript: David just showed me this video on how to clean and cook river side trout “McKenzie Style.”

One Hot Weekend


A kid on the pier holding a crab

Holy cow it has been SO HOT these past few days. I have never liked really hot weather, and that goes double for pregnant me. Thank goodness it is finally cooling off.

On Friday, David and I drove to Hood River for a summer party with the company he’s working for. We were SO excited because we’d be getting our choice of windsurfing or kiteboarding lessons, which we’ve always wanted to do. Turns out it was so freakin’ hot that there was zero wind (which is what Hood River and the Columbia Gorge are famous for), so we couldn’t have lessons. Very disappointing. Otherwise, it was a nice time, although in the thick of the day I had to leave the riverside to spend a couple hours in the nearby air-conditioned library.

On Saturday, to beat the heat, we headed for the coast (along with a mass exodus of other Portlanders). After a short stop along the Wilson River for David and Alex to do some fly fishing, we continued on to the pier at Garibaldi to throw in crab rings. It was so blissfully cool there on the ocean. We caught some good sized crabs, but none quite big enough to keep. It was fun though. We saw sea lions and pelicans, and David and Alex caught little ocean fish off the pier while I did some reading.

In baby news, I went in last week for a regular check-up with the mid-wife. She listened to baby’s heart for a while before suggesting that I come back later in the day for a fetal non-stress test. Turns out baby has fetal heart arrhythmia. I’ve read that 1%-2% of all pregnant women have babies with this problem, and that it can often resolve itself, although it may also indicate health complications. Tomorrow we’re scheduled to see a perinatologist, who will hopefully be able to tell us more about our particular situation. Of course I’m hoping that it is really nothing to worry about, although I’d appreciate any prayers and health-giving thoughts our way.

Our Weekend on Anderson Island


David rowing me around Lake Josephine after dinner at the Riviera Lakeshore Restaurant

David and I spent this past weekend on Anderson Island, the southernmost island in the Puget Sound. A little over two hours from Portland, it was close enough to drive, and yet far enough to feel like we were really going on a little vacation to celebrate our anniversary.


The trail down to Andy’s Marine Park

Mussel shells that look like hearts and a view into the ocean. Those black specks are tiny snails.

The pretty inside of another shell and the tiniest little crab I’ve ever seen.

Anderson Island is quite small. I think I heard it measures a mere 4 miles across. To get there we drove north of Olympia to Steilacoom where we took the 20min. ferry to the island. Being small, it is really a place to getaway and relax. There is just one general store (with actual bins of 1¢ candy!), one coffee shop, and one very good restaurant (delicious fish ‘n chips). There are also two fresh water lakes with swimming holes and a couple of nice public parks. Everyone is pleasant, and it is interesting to imagine what it must be like to live in such a tiny, somewhat secluded community. I also couldn’t help but notice there seemed to be a lot of churches, and I’m guessing they provide services beyond religion where people have an excuse to get together to socialize and whatnot.


August Inn Bed & Breakfast and the view from our room, nicer than we expected.

If we lived here, we’d definitely want a house on the perimeter by the ocean (versus inland, by the lakes). We’d have a small boat and buy crab traps and go fishing for our supper, have a large vegetable garden (all covered by high fences to keep out the deer) and then, when we felt the need for bigger things, we’d just hop the ferry and drive into nearby Tacoma or Seattle. Not a bad life at all. Of course, there is always the question of jobs…


Photo of the single general store. Our ferry home to the mainland.

Here is the Sunset article that inspired this trip.

Diary of a Day Trip to the Oregon Coast


A Photo of Manzanita from Hwy 101, taken last year

David and I spent the lovliest day at the coast on Saturday. This entry is an overview of our day, as both a reminder for myself and to anyone who might want to travel this same Portland/Oregon Coast loop. My only regret is that I forgot my camera (and phone), but in a way, it may have freed me up to experience the day in a way that I wouldn’t have normally. Who knows. But it sure was wonderful.

After a leisurely Saturday breakfast at home, David, Barkley and I left Portland mid-morning and headed toward my favorite, Cannon Beach. If I had pots of money, this is where I would buy a vacation home. Yes, it is super-touristy (more so every year), but it retains lots of its original small beach-town charm. We walked north through town, peeking in various shops until we reached Pizza à Fetta. We ordered two slices of pepperoni pizza and a coke and from the to-go window. (Our other favorite lunch spot is Ecola Seafoods, but neither of us felt like fresh halibut fish ‘n chips today). We ate our slices in the little courtyard, and enjoyed some entertaining people and dog watching.

After lunch we perused a few more galleries on our way to Bruce’s Candy Kitchen. We love to watch them pull fresh saltwater taffy on their old-timey machine, but we must have arrived between showings. I picked up some hard-to-find watermelon and cherry zotz, some sweet and sour Haribo fruit salad, and a nugget each of semi-sweet chocolate seafoam and haystack (my sweet tooth existed way before pregnancy). David decided on a small handful of Atomic Fireballs and his favorite fresh taffys out of the individual flavor bins.

While heading back to the car with our pink and white striped goody bag, we were surprised to find a hole-in-the wall I had never seen before called The Center of the Elephant Ear Universe. It specializes in a while-you-wait deep fried, thin & crispy pastry with your choice of toppings (similar to funnel cake – see side story). We opted to split a half classic (butter glaze with cinnamon sugar) and half dutch baby (butter, sugar and lemon). It disappeared off our plate in seconds, licking our fingers afterwards.

Side Story: one of the things I had been craving since getting pregnant was funnel cake. For some reason I have never seen them on the west coast, so I thought maybe this was one craving that wouldn’t get satisfied. However, while in picturesque Manitou Springs, Colorado, a few weeks back, Marcy noticed a place that did make them called Patsy’s. Mmmm! We even went back a few days later for a second round, no matter that it was a half hours drive away)!

Back at the car, we drove a short way down scenic hwy 101, turning into the smaller beach-side town of Manzanita. Much less crowded here, but just as sweet. David noted that he would much rather have a vacation house here, and after thinking about it I had to agree. The sun had finally come out, but it remained cool and windy. There were more kite boarders and windsurfers than I had ever seen dotting the horizon with their colorful equipment, enjoying the waves. We stopped to check out a few of the shops here and I’m glad we did. At Overboard, we found a christmas gift for our nephew (shopping early this year, due to our baby on the way) and found several goodies for ourselves at eco-conscious Unfurl. We walked out with a cool new hat for each of us, 6 postcards for the new nursery frames by one of my favorite Portland artists, Trish Grantham (love her website), and a bar of Coastal Sage soap. I was this close to also walking out with the sweetest Kate Quinn Organics Baby Kimono Bodysuit and pant set in hibiscus, but then put it back at the last minute. I don’t know how I resisted. The other shop I liked in particular was Four Paws on the Beach. It was fun to check out over-the-top dog goodies like organic frozen yogurt and ‘doggles’ (eye goggles for dogs).

Again we headed back to the car to continue down hwy 101. The little towns and scenery are really beautiful, and there were many places we could have idled away the day, but decided on Rockaway Beach for our third stop. This long stretch of sandy beach had a lot less people, perfect for playing fetch with Barkley and allowing him some wave crashing fun. It was here David found a perfect whole sand dollar, but we left it for some other lucky beachcomber to find.

Driving south again we entered the town of Tillamook (known especially for it’s famous dairy). The factory makes a fun tour for those who haven’t been their before, with a nice sampling of their cheeses. We passed through town after a brief look at some crab traps for sale, and headed partially down the Three Cape Scenic Loop Drive to the Bay Ocean Spit. From the parking area we walked along a sandy path until we came out to the ocean, basically having the whole beach to ourselves. It is hard to believe that places like this still exist, pristine and beautiful with nothing man-made on the horizon to mar its remote beauty, and still be so close to civilization. Eventually, happy and hungry we headed back into town for a hearty mexican dinner at La Mexicana, situated in a cute pink house on the way to hwy 6, our route back home. Hwy 6 follows the Wilson River, so we stopped a couple times to look for fish, and for David to try his luck before eventually making it back home by 10pm. Wow! I think I’ll be remembering today for a very long time.

Footnote: It would be easy to spend all day at any of the areas listed above, but because we’ve been to some of these places many times before, we opted to keep on going, stopping at more places. These visits could easily be broken up over a long weekend or more, with lots more to see and do than just listed here.

Here is a map starting from the Oregon Zoo and following the individual destinations listed above.

Driftwood

This is a piece of driftwood that David found while we were fishing along the Wilson River. We both could see right away a strong resemblance to a bird skull in its formation. Too bad neither of us work in sculpture, because it would make quite a focal point.