Monday, August 15, 2011

Beaches, Berries, Bridge Pedal

Sadly, I must now say goodbye to Oregon.  I could really see myself being happy here, yet I know I must come full circle to home.  That being said, Oregon will always be here if I change my mind. 

I've gotten closer to Andrea and Omar during my stay here and have gotten to know their group of friends better, who have taken me in with no questions asked.  We've had one final jam packed weekend and I've embraced every last second of it.

The Oregon Coast
Andrea and I started our beach cruise early, stopping in Tillamook State Park to wander in their incredibly modern information center.  It must have some wealthy donors.  We then popped out onto the coast first stopping in the town of Tillamook to check out their farmers market (yeah pigs in a blanket) and the cheese/ice cream factory.  They have the BEST ice cream and we definitely got our fill of dairy.  Thank God we're not lactose intolerant!

We stopped at a few beaches and had some good talks.  Suddenly, both of us were overcome with sleepiness, and luckily we just happened to be cruisin' in my new Honda Element, fully equiped with seats that fold all the way down.  We slept for an hour.

Refreshed and ready to eat, we stopped at Cannon Beach (where the famous Haystack Rock from The Goonies is located), got some grub and checked out the tide pools.  Then we headed home.  It was a great day.

Bridge Pedal
Portland is awesome in that it loves its bikers.  Every year the city shuts down its major roadways (including I-5) and lets the crazy pedalers take over town!  Omar's parents, Chelsea and I participated in the 10 bridge pedal and it was so much fun!  We got great views of the cities, tons of free clif bars and owned it all on our bikes.   I have to say that is one thing I will really miss going back home: commuting on my bike.  I tried to get a good fill of it while here in Oregon.

Berry Picking
So berries are everywhere in Oregon and it's a must to go berry picking at a local farm.  I was lucky enough to have the queen of berry picking, Andrea, show me exactly how it's done.  She picked twice as much as me in an equal amount of time!  Very cool to pick your own food.

So tomorrow I start my journey back east.  The plan: Olympic NP, pick up Matt Fay in Spokane, WA, Glacier NP, meet Matt's friend in Missoula, MT, Yellowstone, Tetons, Denver to meet with dad and attend a wedding, Kansas, Home.  The Element is packed (mostly) and I'm ready.  Really gonna miss Oregon though and all the awesome, incredible amazing people here.  


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge

Portland is a modern city with incredible wilderness well within reach.  My friend, Katie, came with me as we toured around with a car and a tent.

We first drove to Mt. Hood, a dormant volcano about 1 1/2 hours from Portland.  We set up camp and started on a hike that we think went for about 8 miles to McNeil Pt.  We had spectacular views of Mt. Hood, walked through fields of wild flowers, and even crossed over half frozen ponds.  We made our way to the top where there was a shelter for backpackers and beautiful views.  Katie and I were so elated to be outdoors.  Often you forget how simple life can be, and when you drive away from your tv, computer and cell phone service, you are suddenly reminded of what it's all about.  Camping never fails to help me remember what makes me happy.  Any Nature never fails to inspire me.

We built a fire at the site and chatted about life trying to see the stars, but they were blocked out by clouds.  We enjoyed the morning with a book and then set off for Timberline Lodge, a famous landmark up Mt. Hood.

Timberline Lodge was built as a ski lodge made of local timber and stone.  It's a beautiful work of architecture and serves its purpose even in the summer, as the ski fields are open year round!  Peak season is actually August!

Then we made our way into the Columbia River Gorge to Hood River, the wind surfing capitol of the world.  We met some other friends there, Chelsea and Scott, checked out the Farmer's Market and then headed over to the Washington side where Chelsea's friends had set up camp in a field in the middle of nowhere!

There were about 12 of us at this hidden dusty campsite and I was meeting all these people for the first time and they were an incredible group of friends.  We played whiffle ball and frisbee, cooked dinner and got a great fire going.  These friends made it important to get together and enjoy life by camping, canoeing, hiking and playing.  I hope I am never too busy in life to remember to get outside of it when I can.

The sky was clear this night and there were many shooting stars.  The next morning we played "bean bag toss" (or as us mid westerners call it, "corn hole") and then Katie, Scott and I took off for another hike.  There are tons of waterfalls in the gorge and we got to see quite a few.  Then we headed back home.

I am leaving Oregon in 4 days and although I am glad to be going home to finally feel settled in my life, I will miss these adventures that I know will be a little harder to come by in KY.  But I am so excited to be around the people I grew up with and to be with my mom.  When I think about my next adventure in life, I know I want to be home for it.