Sunday, July 27, 2014

Eagle Creek Trail to Punchbowl Falls… a Columbia Gorge hike!

It was only five days after that epic hike to Ramona Falls that we decided to take this shorter hike from the gorge on the Eagle Creek Trail to end up at Punchbowl Falls.  I was recovered from my 7 miles by Friday and had a new pack to try out so we had to go!

I had done some reading about the trail as I always do so I can have some sort of idea of what to expect.  One part of the reading really struck me and I thought it was weird coming after how I had just read that this hike is one of the most popular and easier trails and is a real draw to a lot of people living here and visiting Oregon and then I read that many people have fallen to their deaths from the cliffs that this trail is notorious for.  Yikes!  For some reason that really stuck in my head the whole time on the trail and so being extra careful was a no brainer.

Now this is the part where I tell you that I tripped and fell.  I am alive of course so no, I didn't fly off a cliff or take a nose dive in to that punch bowl to never return but I did however, take a nose dive or rather a head dive on the soil packed trail on our way back to the trail head after seeing the magnificent Punchbowl Falls.

I cannot even tell you how it happened.  I am fine now with some bumps and bruises and a purplish black eye that gets looks from people that see me every single day.  They laugh and tease but do so because they love me and are sure I am ok.  So… I am ok and have learned that watching my step on any trail is really important.  I will pay more attention to where my feet are and what I am doing and probably keep my mouth shut a little more too.

Let's talk about Eagle Creek and this trail.  It is an easy trail.  The elevation is only about 500 ft. over a few miles in and of course a few miles out which is mostly a slight downhill.  We saw many people on this trail and what I've heard is, is that the weekends in summertime is crazy!  Once we got to the falls, there were people sunbathing, swimming and even a few jumping in which is by the way against the law.  So, I highly recommend you don't do that!  For the most part, it was a warm sunny day and the perfect day for a hike in the Columbia Gorge so it was really no surprise to see this trail alive with smiling faces and fast treks to the water.

You will read about this trail and find that some of it is pretty dangerous.  There are cliffs and drop offs and in one particular area, the drop off is amazingly narrow and I'm surprised there hasn't been some sort of closure for repair here.  But, you will find cables to hold on to and that's all good till someone comes the opposite direction.  Someone has to back up or scoot around to get around safely.  If you're going to ask if I recommend this trail for small children… my answer will be no!  If my kiddos were smallish, I would choose a much safer trail.  Having said this, there were surprisingly many kids at the falls and so I assume their parents were very clear about the dangers and in complete control of their children's doings on the trail and in the water.

All in all, I'm glad I got to do this trail even with the little dirt pounding I received.  I'll heal quickly and be back on another trek soon enough.  I think I'll stick with Hoyt and Forest Park for the next week or so and enjoy my backyard hiking trails for a change.

To find out more about the Eagle Creek Trail and Punchbowl Falls, click on the link!  Once again some suggestions for hiking in Oregon…

wear comfy steady hiking boots or sneakers

bring plenty of water and snacks

wear and bring sunscreen

think about safety when bringing pets and children on trails with risks

read ahead so you'll know what to expect on the trail

always let someone know where you are and what your plans are

lastly… don't forget your camera.  There are some spectacular shots to be taken on the trail!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Enchanting, Romantic and Awe Inspiring Oregon… this trail is my new favorite! Ramona Falls!

The silty Sandy River near Mt. Hood!

Every now and then when I'm out on a hike or experiencing some new adventure in Oregon, I come across some place that just consumes my thoughts and my mind completely.  Yesterday, Ramona Falls was that place.  Enchanting and romantic and an awe inspiring hike with falls that will stun the seasoned falls hiker to no end, Ramona Falls in the Mt. Hood region is an unbelievable beauty and will always be one of my top favorite hikes in Oregon!

Me and my boots!  7 miles round trip!

Enchanting mosses, foliage and rushing water along the trail!
The trail is 7 miles round trip with an incline of 1100 ft. encompassing hard pack soil, some rocks and forest, streams and green covered topography for most of the trek.  I am a hiker however, had just been on a trip that exhausted me but this is exactly what I needed to unwind and regroup. Romping along this route, I couldn't help but compare it to the McDonald Dunn Old Growth Forest trail near Corvallis. That is my all time favorite because of the trees frosted in moss, the overgrowth of ferns and blooming foliage in which I have personally dubbed an enchanted fairy land.  The Ramona Falls Trail reminds me so much of that hike but on a much bigger level.  Much more of everything that makes me love Oregon even more every single day, more of the beauty that draws me and my fellow hikers to trek farther to see the places that are unbelievably one of a kind.  Ramona Falls is clearly one of those places.

I found this unbelievable display at the end of this trail.  I love Oregon!

Everyone resting  before trekking back enjoyed these falls!
One question I recently received asked how a young child would do on this hike.  I did see families with small children on the trail and again later near the falls resting on blankets or perched on flat rocks enjoying the cool air streaming toward them.  I would be prepared for a slower trek when taking small children.

We took our lunch along and enjoyed our peanut butter and jelly with a captivating view.  Some things I would do differently… take more water, take sodium replacement or salty snacks since it's summer and sweating was inevitable. And, I would probably take a blanket or large towel to spread out and sit and enjoy the view for a while.

Hard pack, rocks and an easy climb kind of trail.
On the return hike, we encountered areas along the stream where we were able to sit on soft ground where moss grew like weeds.  Taking off our hiking boots and soaking our sore feet in freezing water was like heaven.  I would suggest beginning this hike earlier than we did so you have more time for this type of relaxation on your hike.  There are lots of places to soak and enjoy such beauty along most of the trail.

Back over the Sandy River… heading back!
The bridge that crosses the Sandy River early on is accessible only during the summer months. It is removed around October for the season.  We did see campers and this very sweet small blue tent set among the tall trees at one point.  It was then that I wished we had camped as well. Too bad our version of camping involves a real bed and running water complete with a kitchen and bathroom.  It did look like fun though.

Some more suggestions include that you be sure to wear good supporting hiking boots.  Taking lunch and snacks with extra water as I mentioned is a must especially in the summer months. Take time to enjoy every part of this trail.  The topography changes along the route along with the scenery of course.  Be sure to stop at the Zig Zag Ranger Station to get a map of the area and ask questions there if you have any before heading out.  Seven miles doesn't sound long to the avid hiker however, I found that I wished I had begun earlier in the day so I could dawdle longer on the return.  As it was, it took us almost four hours to get to the falls and back.

I am a slow hiker, a photographer of my adventures and a lover of everything Oregon wants to show me.  Ramona Falls and the hike there will always have my heart and I suggest you get up there and enjoy it too!

Short trek on the Pacific Crest Trail!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

NE Portland… finding out what it's all about!

Just because!  Finding these odd and fun pieces along Alberta Street is not unusual!

This is going to be short and very sweet.  I believe photos speak thousands of words so seeing my photos here on this blog will give you just an inkling of what my life has been like since moving to NE Portland!

Living in the Willamette Valley for about six years and then moving to our loft in Portland's Pearl District was life altering, fun and culture shockish for a bit till we settled in.  Once settled, we decided it was time for a house in the Alberta Arts area of NE Portland.  He wanted brand new, I wanted 100 years plus but he won this one as we both fell for something pretty sweet on 29th Ave. just one and a  half blocks off Alberta St. in the Concordia District of Portland.  That's where this short story begins!

Found this garden art not too far away… it's on Williams!

I was recently asked what the differences are between Hawthorne Blvd. and Alberta St.  I really had to think about it for a minute or two and then came up with this… I deduced that Alberta Street is really like Hawthorne Blvd's little sister!  Think about it.  Hawthorne is hip, busy, fun, delicious, funky, quirky and more.  The Alberta Arts are all of these with one small exception… it all happens on a much smaller scale.

Alberta Street offers that small city or town vibe with all the deliciousness Hawthorne has but once again, on a scaled down version.  All of this doesn't mean of course that Alberta St. is less desirable or not as much fun, it is as much a part of what Portland really is as any other area in the city!  It has a heart the size of all of Portland, it has the convenience of being one of the first areas a visitor to Portland sees due its proximity to PDX, it offers so much in the way of delicious food, shopping, art and all that quintessential moxie a place can possibly provide.  So, you see, all of this is why I chose the Alberta Arts for my home.

Back to Eden… a vegan bakery and small restaurant just a few blocks from me… yikes, that's dangerous!

A neighborhood filled with homes that are truly Alberta Arts!

Whether you are just curious, just wanna know or are in the throws of planning your trip to Portland, check us out over here.  You might just fall in love with our little pocket.  We don't boast many hotels for lodging but you may just find that perfect spot via AirBnB or other sites for short term rentals.  Then… read through my blogs and find photos that will draw you to some of my favorite places here in NE Portland and beyond!  The city lives to entertain so you may not ever want to leave!


Only 1.6 mi from where I live… Pips makes a morning trek so tasty!

Seasonal flavors… cherry!

Gardens left and right and filled with flowers and edibles seen from the street.  A great place to garden and walk!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Waterfalls in Oregon… two trails on the Oregon Coast! One of the Seven Wonders!

Go to the end… the whole 1.5 mi to see the falls from the base!

We had a day this week where we had nothing planned.  That doesn't happened very often so we took advantage of this gorgeous weather and headed to the Oregon Coast!

I had seen the suspension bridge at Drift Creek Falls on line years ago and finally put it on my Oregon List of Things to See and Do.  It got marked off quickly as we planned our escape from the city.

Only 1.5 miles to the very end, Drift Creek Falls is a simple trail with only a few steps, one slightly rocky area with an incline only at the very end on your way back to your car.  We saw lots of families with young children and some with the Bob Strollers too.  I was very aware of the whole terrain and wondering if a wheelchair would even work but some of the areas were too narrow and again, a little rocky in one section.  The suspension bridge is a highlight of course however, getting to the end, to the falls, was a little more exciting.  I'm not one for bridges like this one but I will admit that it was quite gorgeous and when I stopped for a second to take a photo and sucked in a deep breath, I was able to bravely and quickly walk to the opposite end!

Again, this trail isn't long but you could certainly spend an afternoon here.  We saw folks enjoying a picnic along the way as there are areas where you can perch on a log near the water or even up on a rock near the falls themselves.  Gushing waters and the river eventually pours over rocks, limbs and the shore line.  I wouldn't suggest a swim but if you are very careful in the still areas a nice foot soak could be done.
Drift Creek Falls!

Munson Creek Falls near Tillamook!

One great thing about both Drift Creek and then Munson Creek Falls, near Tillamook, is that you could easily do both in one day.  Munson is even a shorter trek and years ago because of some fallen logs, the end of the trail is closed off.  Kind of a bummer but hopefully some day this will get cleared and getting to the base of the falls will be doable.  We still had some great views anyways.

The waterfall at Munson Creek is touted as one of the tallest in the state.  Still wondering and watching as we compared it to Multnomah and Salt Creek near Oakridge but it doesn't really matter, they are all beautiful and amazing to see and probably pretty close to same the same size all in all.

It's one great thing to be able to enjoy a day on a trail in Oregon.  It's another thing to enjoy it in such gorgeous summer weather and yet another to find the beauty of a very large waterfall at the end of each trail.  We are so very lucky to live here and be able to see this any time we wish or when time allows anyways.

If you get a chance and want to escape to the Oregon Coast this summer, check out both of these hikes.  Don't forget to make it to the shore line as well.  There's lots to see and do on the coast and with the sunshine promising to hang around for a while, there will never be a better time to get out there!

Suspension Bridge to Drift Creek Falls!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Portland Street Fairs, Street Food and Street Entertainment… this summer is filled with all of it!

Fox 12 news filming Last Thursday, Alberta St. 
I moved to the Alberta Arts area of NE Portland a few months ago.  We missed the first few "Last Thursday" events but this first of the summer 2014, we weren't going to miss!

One of the many food carts open for Last Thursday!
Not only was Alberta Street filled with arts and crafts and food and music last Thursday evening, the food cart pods were doling out goodies left and right!  Typically open and doing great business in this area of NE Portland, street fairs seem to bring the people in hoards to these tasty stops and it seems the carts do a bang up business!  It's easy to see why when they are offering delicious food and drink. I especially enjoyed the carts on west Alberta Street where live music filled the pod and people of all ages danced and who couldn't… Prince was on stage!

Finger licking good churro from Imp and Nada!

"Prince" stage entertainment in this food cart pod on Alberta St.

The day had been rainy but the weather always seems to cooperate in the late afternoons and evenings here in the PNW bringing sunshine and gorgeous cloud configurations.  Donning a light jacket and sunglasses many folks came out to enjoy this first of the summer street fair.  I especially loved walking past the many food stands and this one below offered BBQ'd corn with a delicious cheese sprinkled all over the outside.  The scent wafted heaven bound and over the crowds and brought long lines for a taste!

BBQ'd corn that smelled heavenly!

For many people, these kinds of street fairs bring out the most fun in them.  Doing things they may never attempt in real life.  For example, games like this one below where you have to hit the mark to ring the bell.  A truly old school circus game and it made everyone laugh as it seemed only a few could really hit it just right.  Watching this, watching the dancers, more musicians, and seeing the people that were truly enjoying this evening was priceless.  I love living here and watching this area of NE Portland grow and change however, I hope it does grow kind of slow. Simple, wonderful and interesting only comes if you are patient enough to wait for it.  Streets like this one, like Mississippi Ave., like Belmont, like Hawthorne and more can only be as wonderful as the people that live in those areas.  Each personality within walking distance brings a little something to the growth and the kind of amazing street each will be and become.

Games for the whole family!
If you are interested in a little fun this summer, see this link for a listing of street fairs and monthly
street activities for your family.  And, thanks to Alberta Main Street and PDX Pipeline for keeping me up on all the great things happening this summer in Portland!

Info:  PDX Pipeline Summer Events! Festivals, Concerts, Movies, Street Fairs and Farmer's Markets!

Art and Artists in Typical Portland Style!

Street Band!

This is real Portland Street Music!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

St. Honoré Boulangerie… A Portland Patisserie for the Summer!

Summer Cider Cocktails at St. Honoré!
I have loved St. Honoré since I walked in the doors at the Thurman location almost one year ago. Moving to Portland has spoiled me rotten and I am loving finding these great little places all over town.  St. Honoré opened it's Division Street location several months ago so now spoiling "me" gets even easier!  A place I can go to unwind, regroup or just relax and enjoy a lovely pastry or flambé, St. Honoré fills that space inside that says a good coffee and flaky treat would really make my day perfect!

With three locations, this patisserie is where you will want to be this summer!  Finding the summer CIDER COCKTAILS on the menu when in need of something refreshing, think St. Honoré on the patio.  Served with a Lardon et Oignon (Bacon & Onion) taste flambé or my favorite, Fromage et Pomme, this pairing works well together with the cider cocktails as I found out last night!

Taste this… Cider Sangria Blanc!

Serving flambé!
Sitting pretty on the bustling Division Street area of SE of Portland, this location of St. Honoré is situated on a stretch of road where some of Portland's most notorious restaurants rest and serve the hoards that have heard of this area via all sorts of media.  Pok Pok is just across the street with Ava Gene's and Roman Candle just a block away, this patisserie is the place for a meal, dessert or just a stop for coffee and light pastry but now… it's the place to hang out and enjoy the delicious list of summer CIDER COCKTAILS amongst some of the other greats of Portland!

Grille Aux Pommes, (apple butter tart)!

Summer begins in a few days but for those of you that know the PNW, it truly depends on our weather and not a date on a calendar!  But, no matter the weather, the time of year or whatever, this patisserie will become your favorite stop anytime this year for that refreshing bite, summer cider cocktail and the respite from your busy day.  A perfect pairing at St. Honoré!

Nice pairing for a summer evening!

Macaroons made with cider and Chef Dominique!
Note:  Thank you Little Green Pickle for the invite.  

Though I did not pay for this event, my thoughts are my own!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Simply a book club filled with interesting, lovely and intriguing women! Planning, prep and presentation for that small gathering!

Simple Black & White Table.. leave room for the books!

Several years ago, we were huddled around a dining room table with our books stacked high, our tea cups topped off and our dinner plates filled with something delicious.  This book club I began at my former BnB in the Willamette Valley has grown, changed and become in my opinion a wonderful gathering of women that not only love to share their books and stories, they love to make each meeting very special.

Each month a different member hosts our Chick Lits Book Club.  This month was my turn and since moving to Portland from the valley, I've been itching to show the girls my neck of the woods.  So, last Saturday, we huddled once more around my table in my new house in the historic Alberta Arts neighborhood in Portland's Concordia District and did what we do at every meeting. We dined on a simple lunch, drank an herbal tea I brought home from my recent trip to London and then we shared our books and our stories.

My story begins a little early since I was the host.  So here's a short recap of how I prepared for this small gathering of women, a prep of sorts to make the day go a bit easier and few tips for you if you want to plan a little something for some of your girls this summer!

My new cookbook from Whole Foods Kennsington, London!

First of all, I picked up this picnic cookbook while in London at the Kennsington Whole Foods.  I found many cookbooks there but this one looked like something I could manage. I picked out a few salads I wanted to make and here's the recipe for the one I liked the best:

Rainbow Salad:

Mix:  3 tablespoons plan Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon orange zest, 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice, 1 fresh lemon juice and a handful of fresh dill, finely chopped.  Pour this over:

1 grated carrot, 5 cooked and cubed beets, 1 cored and chopped apple, 1 fennel bulb, halved, cored and thinly sliced, sea salt and pepper to taste and garnish all with 1 teaspoon poppy seeds.

See photo below!

Simple is good and so are stolen flowers that hang in to your garden!

When preparing for a gathering, I find that deep cleaning the house beforehand is a huge waste of time.  Pick up the things that clutter and tidy up for sure but leave the deep cleaning for when guests have gone home!  Also, I set my entire table the day before as well and picked some flowers from the neighbors garden and used some of my creamers as vases.  By the way, those flowers were hanging over in to my garden so it's not really stealing… right?

You don't need to spend a lot of money on table garnishes when it's Spring and there are flowers blooming all over the place.  If you aren't sure about clipping errant flowers, ask if you may do so. Most gardeners will take that as a compliment.  My potpourri came from lupins brought home from a trip to Mt. St. Helens.  They dried up and became the perfect compliment to my simple table scape.

Prep is the trick!  Do as much as possible the day before, the night before, etc.

I had planned to get up early to get the rest of the prep work going but my husband talked me in to staying in bed just a little longer.  It actually worked out great because I did get so much done the day before that I was able to slowly work my way around the kitchen as I drank coffee and piddled away the morning in my kitchen doling out tea cookies, making the cucumber water and planning which tea to serve.  It's always a good idea to go over your recipes once more too just in case you forgot an item and need to run out and get it.  In this case, I had perused the recipes a few times the day before as well.  I had everything I needed!

Always have a few different types of tea on hand.

I had already prepped my veggies and fruit for the last minute put together of salads and had about an hour to go so that's when I opened this Mendocino Red Table Wine and cut the cheese! Both wine and cheese are so much better when opened about an hour before consuming as it mellows out the flavors, gives them time to ease in to the exposure of air and kinds of softens their moods so to speak.  Adding this board of cheeses and almonds to the table is fine at this point as it's one more thing done, placed and then you can move on.

Try to serve local whenever possible… Napa wine, Vermont Cheese and  Oregon Goat Cheese!

This photo is of the Rainbow Salad I told you about above.  I loved the flavors and I have never used fennel in a salad before and I really loved the licorice taste of it.  I also love using apples in almost every salad I make for the crunch and natural sweetness so this was something I enjoyed making and eating!

Rainbow Salad!

No small gathering has to be difficult, time consuming or stressful.  This simple menu was fun, delicious and just enough to munch on till dessert which was spent at The Sugar Cube by the way.

My sandwiches pictured here were made of Milk and Honey Bread with Rosemary ham made with butter and mayo which I find so vintage and old fashioned and sweet and who doesn't love this combo?  The cucumber, cream cheese and fresh dill sandwiches were made on a local walnut bread I found at New Seasons.  Two simply sweet choices of sandwiches and so easy to make and they went perfectly well with the other dishes.

Simple sandwiches… it doesn't have to be that hard to be delicious!

The second salad I made really needs no recipe.  I used red beets, grape tomatoes, cooked couscous, rocket/arugula oranges bits, sunflower seeds and a little rice vinegar and some really good olive oil.  Layer all this in a cute cookie jar and look what you have made!!!

Cookie Jar Layered Salad!

I also bought this little Italian cake to put on my vintage pink cake stand but no one ate it but that was ok… I did tell them about The Sugar Cube so I think we all just held out for that!  We did munch on tea and little thin cookies and some great gelato that is so freaking good by the way, I have to mention it.  It comes in these little plastic containers and my favorite is the Salted Caramel but now I love the Apple Pie Gelato just as much.  You can get both at New Seasons!

It's ok to not make everything from scratch by the way.  Pick the few things that you love making and do that.  Store bought items can be just as much fun plus you won't have to stress about every little thing that way.  I could tell you that your friends don't come to see you for the food, they come to see you but that may be a little white lie.  Friends like good food too but they also come to see you so don't be frantic or crazy or too busy to enjoy the time with your girls.  Life is also about friends and sharing good and fun times so be sure to make time for all of that.

Discussing books!

The one question I always get when I tell people I have a book club is, "what book are you reading?"  This is how it works:  You read what you want, as much as you want and then you bring the books you have read and share just enough with us to intrigue us.  Give us just enough info so that we will want to read those books too!  Our books are often shared with each other as they make the rounds from gal to gal and eventually get back to the owner!  Sometimes when life gets in the way, we may only have time to read a magazine or even share a good movie or two we have enjoyed.  We welcome any and every form of media from serious mysteries, historical fiction, comedy, non-fiction to full on novels and even a cookbook now and then.  It's all good, it's always fun and yes, there's always good food!  So, you see, with a little prep, a little help from friends and New Seasons and The Sugar Cube, a gathering doesn't have to be hard.  Simple is good and delicious and then it's somebody else's turn next month… thank goodness!


The Sugar Cube on Alberta St.