Oregon Summer – Tillamook Forest & Neskowin Beach

                                      Blazing hot.

That’s what it has been here in this part of Oregon lately.

Last week we saw temperatures of over 105 degrees Fahrenheit here in Washington County. On top of that we were seeing our air pollution levels rise from smoke coming down from the wild fires 350+ miles north in British Columbia. It made for a hot, muggy, hazy and rather bleak couple of days. While the heat wave and the hazy air are still here, it has cooled and cleared considerably.

Because this part of Oregon does not usually see such temperatures, many homes do not have air conditioning nor are people ready or accustomed to such elements. I have a friend who moved here from Texas a few years ago who was shocked to discover that many cars do not have air conditioning here in Oregon!

Last Thursday, to escape the heat, I went and joined my mom and family friends out in the Tillamook State Forest. Our family friends were camping out there at Gale’s Creek Campgrounds.

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A small rustic campground about 15 miles from Banks and Highway 26, it is a no reservation and low amenity (it has trash pick up and out-houses, but no showers) campground. It is first come, first served, and once the 23 campsites are filled, they are filled. Our friends got lucky and got a site right on Gale’s Creek.

The creek isn’t very large, but in places people have dug out rocks and have hand built rock and log dams to make for small, but deeper “swimming” holes. My young friends (ages 6 & 7 ½) think they are the best!

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As we sat on boulders in the creek, the younger kids swimming while the older kids threw rocks and Frisbees, we could see the haze above the cedars and pines. Thankfully the air in the forest, especially by the water, was cool and clear.
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Portland, Oregon – Part Two

Late in the afternoon Tina and I again made our way into Portland. Just as we entered Multnomah County, we made our first stop – Cornell Farm and Cafe. Here we enjoyed hot drinks (despite the warmth of the day) among the pots of plants and flowers for sale. The chamomile and lavender tea pleased me and the Monk’s Coffee latte apparently pleased Tina just as well.

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Refreshed, we proceeded into Portland. Tina and I never run out of things to talk about, which is good thing because traffic into Portland seemed especially backed up this particular weekday afternoon. After creeping along for several miles and getting to point where we joked about climbing the rocks and cliffs along the road during the long minutes we waited for our turn to creep up a few feet, we came upon the reason for decreased speed – a downed power line. The police were there with flares and soon after passing the spot, the flow of traffic picked right up.

Once in Portland, we hit a couple shops – the World Market and Zupan’s. Eating our Digestives from the World Market, we walked up Burnside Street a short distance and caught a couple shots of Mt. Hood. Yesterday we passed up all three of these things because our driver had been determined to go straight to Wailua Shave Ice.

 

Then we visited Powell’s just long enough to find the spot in the Pink room where we once ate Voodoo Doughnuts (also the second and last time I ate them because I dislike them, despite their fame). That last visit together to Powell’s, we figured happened seven years ago.

We also found the foreign language section. I became really excited when I found Enid Blyton books. Fond and slightly forgotten memories of reading her Famous Five and Secret Seven books (which most likely – but subconsciously – inspired our self-titled Fabulous Five moniker) came back immediately. Originally written and published in Great Britain, these particular books had been translated into German. Tina found a childhood favorite, a Dr. Seuss book, translated into a Middle Eastern language. The scripted font, so different from the alphabet we’re used to, and the right to left layout of the book made it seem like new book. After hanging out in Powell’s, we had one more stop to make.

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Unable to go off to a foreign country, we thought visiting an embassy might be the next best thing. However, Portland doesn’t have any foreign embassies. A handful of foreign consulates reside here however. Through Google, we found the address for the Royal Norwegian Consult, but we didn’t know if it was an office or home address. After turning right too soon twice, driving by the building twice and accidentally running a red light, we finally found the building complex, one with a mix of business and residential units. As late in the evening as it was, the shops had closed for the day, and we still don’t know if we were creepy and wandering around the base of someone’s home or simply weird, walking by an office.

We stumbled on a lovely walk along the Willamette River though. The Cottonwood Bay Trail, as the name implies, has many Cottonwoods. Recently released fluffy seeds paved the trail white. After pausing to take in the River, we headed home.

Portland, Oregon – Part One

I love traveling. I love finding new places, experiencing new tastes, sounds and sights, and learning new things. Generally I find these things are even better when I experience them with friends who appreciate the traveling experiences as well. Some of my best friends are those who see each day as an opportunity to explore – to go down new side streets, never fearing “getting lost”, to eat at new restaurants and find new favorite dishes, to stop to take a photo or to drive down a country back road, eager to see where it leads. Unless you are a hard-core solo traveler, I hope you have found a few travel friends as well!

One group of my friends in particular really enjoys traveling and exploring. The five of us jokingly refer to ourselves as “the Fabulous Five.” These are friends with whom I have shared in person many of the adventures I’ve shared here on this blog. Seattle, Columbia Hills State Park, and the Saint Paul Rodeo are just a few of the adventures we’ve taken together.

Well, the cookie crumbled and two of the Fabulous Five split off for the summer. One traveled up into Canada for a summer semester studying linguistics, while the other journeyed to the Czech Republic teaching English. Honestly, I’m a little jealous. The remaining three of us, balancing work and other responsibilities, are facing a summer of local adventuring. We determined we would enjoy it anyway.

We three decided and planned to “do something together“. We had ideas, but nothing set. Over a homemade lunch we tossed around ideas and finally decided to drive into Portland, try Wailua Shave Ice and visit Powell’s City of Books – something new and something old.

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Wailua Shave Ice is located in a small pedestrian only mall, Union Way, across West Burnside Street from Powell’s City of Books bookstore. Among the handful of small neighboring shops, Wailua was definitely the most popular spot. We joined close to 20 people in line and tried to decide which delicious sounding shave ice to buy. Eventually I decided on the Almond Joy.

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As we slowly shifted down the line, I got a bit bored, so leaving Anna as a delegate in line, Tina and I set out down the corridor and out the other end of the mall. We made our way around the block and across the street to Powell’s. I sure love that store! Living outside of Portland, I dread going in to the city, but I’ll go if we’re going to Powell’s. The huge bookstore with its warm charm, mixed shelves of new and used books, concrete split-level floors, color-coded rooms, coffee infused air and absolutely necessary information desk, always offers an enjoyable experience.

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Planning on coming back after eating the shave ice, we made our way in one entrance, skipped through one level and up to another and out a different exit. We then made our way back to Wailua where we discovered our held place in line had not made as much of an advancement as we had hoped. Even so, everyone seemed in good spirits and the three of us speculated about the treat we would soon try.

Once we got to the counter and ordered, I saw why they call it “shave ice” and not simply “snow cones”. The light fine ice base reminded me of powder snow; it was not the pebbly ice of your typical snow cone. The drizzled full flavored coconut syrup left no question of its good quality; it was not the typical snow cone cheap sugary artificial color and flavor. It turned out to be one of those treats you can justify and feel good about indulging. The Nutella, toasted coconuts and almonds popped with the coconut ice and fully justified the $6.

By the time we got the shave ice, our paid time for parking was almost up. We decided to forgo Powell’s to instead stop at Scrap PDX. The shop, resembling a thrift store and a discount store merged into one, sells only goods geared for art projects. In a rather over whelming fashion, bins of yarn, cloth and sewing filled one corner, chests and drawers full of beads filled another, along with poster board, plastic of random shapes and colors, paints and all sorts of other things filling in the middle. It made me think of my aunt, an elementary school art teacher of 40 years, and her house. Materials to make all kinds of fun art projects along with half finished demos of the projects lie strewn all over her house. This store was like that. I could see this store as being a go-to spot to find random material you may need for this or that project, but then again, you might just want to go with an open mind…

With dinner and evening time constraints, about this time we headed home. However – we didn’t quite make to a few places, and Tina and I decided to extend the adventure to the next afternoon after work.

Hillsboro Oregon Parade

According to the Hillsboro, Oregon Chamber of Commerce website, Hillsboro has the largest 4th of July parade in the state of Oregon. Considering that Independence Day is such an important U.S. holiday and is celebrated with parades all over the state, I have been to my share of them over the years. I was pleased with the representation and enjoyed this one!

Scoggins Valley Park/Henry Hagg Lake

At the end of last month, the end of May, I spent a Sunday out at Henry Hagg Lake with a friend. With all the early warm weather we had here in Oregon, the park was busy with boaters, fishers, swimmers, hikers, dog walkers and those generally looking to enjoy the outdoors. It was such a nice warm day, with blue sky and everything.

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Scoggins Dam and Henry Hagg Lake

Partly because I didn’t take many photos or explore the park much, I realized I failed to post and share the location. Instead of using my camera, I read a book, ate food and dozed in comfy camp chair, all while in the warm shade of an old large tree, within earshot of Scoggins Creek and the shrieks and laughter of the children playing in it.


The 1,113 acre man-made lake is part of the Washington County Parks system. Being out in the county, just outside of the towns of Forest Grove and Gaston, there is only one road in to the park, Highway 47. The day access cost is $6, which can be paid for at the Ranger’s station and self-serve kiosks as you enter the park. From there the road loops around the lake, with side roads taking you to various recreation spots and lake access points.


With the northern half of the lake designated a “No Wake Zone”, along with motorboats, many kayaks, canoes and SUPs share the lake. At the Sain Creek Recreation Area there is even a nice open beach area for swimming, which on that particular Sunday was a little on the crowded side. It was along the northern shore of the lake, at the Scoggins Creek Recreations Area, that my friend and I found our “chill” spot – right beneath the sprawling limbs of an old coniferous tree, by a sturdy all-season picnic table and benches. Despite the park being quite popular and well visited, I appreciated the layout of the recreation areas. They made it easy for a large number of people to be there and be able to enjoy their own space.


On the way home, we drove through Aloha, and that is where I got this shot
of Mount Hood. Looking at the photos later, I realized I really should have asked my friend to pull over so I could take a better shot and should not have taken it through the glass. (*sigh* Live and learn…) Nevertheless, Mount Hood was out and certainly breath-taking.

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Mount Hood

 

Cannon Beach, Oregon

The Oregon Coast – far enough away that I don’t get there as often as I would like, but close enough to get there every so often.

This particular spring day was warm enough that I, along with many other beach-combers, felt comfortable walking barefoot in the surf! It was amazing. I forget how the lovely the salt breeze, the sparkling soft tan sand and cool glittering water revives me. I forget that is, until I get there. Then I am surprised I don’t make the short trek more often.

Centralia & Chehalis, Washington

Two hours and fifteen minutes– that’s it!
 That’s all it was? Wow!
Yep – not far, huh?
No – not far at all!

Now you have a mini recap of the conversation I had with myself as I pulled up behind my old friend’s car in front of the house where she has been living for over a year now. With her extended family living relatively close to me, over the past year or two we had been occasionally meeting up when she came by to visit them. This time, my sister and I were visiting her!

With a couple 5 to 10 mile stretches of pouring rain, the trip seemed longer than the actual time it took. Oregon speed limit on I-5 caps at 65 miles an hour. In Washington it increases to 70 miles an hour. Even though I tend to push the speed limit, with the pouring rain, unfamiliar road and 5 mile an hour increase, at times the short trip north was a bit stressful.

I don’t think I’ve ever stopped in either Chehalis or Centralia beyond briefly stopping for hot chocolate (Dutch Bros or Fiddler’s) or to eat a couple of times (Country Cousins) on the way up to Bellingham. These two towns are very close and together had more than I expected or ever noticed from I-5.

After chatting a bit, my friend took us to her favorite area lunch place – Once Upon A Thyme. It was a quaint restaurant with down-home, antique charm. The kitschy covered high walls balanced the large open eating space with a warm country home appeal. I totally recommend the pesto and olive pizza! Thickly spread with pesto and generously covered with greens, feta, dried tomatoes and olives, on soft multi-grain crust, the slice made quite an impression on me!

After lunch we headed off to the Rails to Trails. I was told it is a fifty mile paved trail that runs where train tracks once ran, and it runs all the way to the coast. Apparently it is a favorite trail for bicyclists, walkers, dogs and their people, and blackberry pickers in the summer. Sadly, we had not gone far before the weather decided to shift from being merely overcast to down pouring with both rain and hail. As we hurried back to the car, we laughed about how quickly our Pacific Northwest spring weather can change. It’ll probably pass in a few minutes and be sunny the rest of the day we speculated, and we surmised correctly.

We went back to our friend’s house and enjoyed her homemade coffee cake and tea. As we warmed up, so did the weather. Even though we did not walk in it, it made for a nice, relaxed drive home for dinner. I should have stopped to photograph some of the bright green hills, blue sky and warm sunshine, but they will have to live on in my memory.

The road to a friend’s house is never long!
Danish Proverb