Saturday, October 25, 2014

Chasing Autumn in Oregon! Portland, Eugene, the Aufderheide to Oakridge and Albany… then, back home!

Heading out! 
Sweet Life in Eugene!

Not to break with tradition, I made my third trip out to the Aufderheide Scenic Byway this week.  I loaded up the trunk with picnic baskets, teacups, snacks, blankets, girlfriends and an overnight bag.  It would be a two day trip this year.

Driving from Portland to Albany, I headed out Wednesday afternoon and stayed with a friend over night.  It would save a bit of driving the next morning since I was the tour guide on our trip even further south on Thursday first to Eugene and then on to the Aufderheide Scenic Byway ending in Oakridge.

Every year I take this route, the trip gets better!  Last year we took the boys and picnicked along the route next to a rushing stream under the cool sunshine and lichen covered trees.  Making this year even more interesting, we took it as far as we could and packed up a true tea party for this trek just east of Eugene. We began our drive from Albany about 9am with plans to stop at the Sweet Life Patisserie.  We stopped and as you can see from this photo above, we didn't make it very far before loading up on provisions.  Those provisions included lovelies like baked apples, cinnamon rolls, macaroons and more!  This place is a "must stop" if you are anywhere near Eugene.  The coffee is great too by the way and is of course roasted locally.

Back in the car we headed east to the Aufderheide Scenic Byway!

Christmas Treeasures on the McKenzie Hwy!
On our way, on the McKenzie Hwy, we happened upon the Christmas Treeasures shop.  An unexpected treat and so close to the holiday itself, we were drawn inside to shop and enjoy the sounds of Christmas and those things that reminded us the holiday really isn't too far away.

Back in the car and on our way once again, we took the turnoff for the Aufderheide and sat back to enjoy the ride.
Constitution Grove on the Aufderheide!
The oldest scenic byway in the country along the cascades, the Aufderheide, banks the McKenzie and the Willamette Rivers and provides not only those views of Autumn, it provides a recreation area befitting the most avid hiker!  We have done a few trails along this route and have found the colors during this time of year get deeper and more vibrant the farther we delve in to the forest. Finding many varieties of trees, foliage and wild life, this drive offers everything to make your Autumn drive complete!  If you are looking for a guided tour, you can borrow the CD which takes you through this byway with stories of the past, signs of the historical significance of this road and what you can find now to enhance your ride.  Pick up that CD at the McKenzie River Ranger Station.

Lots of hiking!
Some things to mention... take your time!  Especially during the week, you will not find this byway crowded during the Fall season.  We felt like the only ones out there on Thursday which afforded us a chance to explore slowly all the color and sights.

Be sure to pack a picnic or at least some snacks.  We took the packing a picnic to a whole different level by breaking out the chintz, Stash tea and other treats.  Finding a few fallen leaves some lichen dripping on the trees nearby, a few candles and some local wine, we laughed ourselves silly at just how silly this must have looked to the outsider or others at this horse camp we pulled in to.  In the rain, we barely noticed the drips as the tall old firs acted as our canopy and umbrellas and we sipped and ate and laughed some more and enjoyed this special time, memories shared on the Aufderheide Scenic Byway.

Yes… we had a tea party on the Aufderheide Scenic Byway!

That's me sipping tea at a horse camp on the Aufderheide!
Driving the byway is truly very easy.  There's lots of places to pull out and stop for photos or an easy stretch if needed.  I have read that this drive takes about two hours to complete from end to end however, I find I take about 3-4 hours to enjoy it completely.  Again, I stop many times, not wanting it to be over, I want to take in every breath and scent of Autumn in Oregon before it's gone too soon.

We finally tootled in to Oakridge and stayed at the hostel there.  Dining at the new bistro in the hostel dining room, it was delicious but you can't go to Oakridge without a stop at Union Brew Pub.  So, we headed that way on foot a few blocks down for a beer and a few berried ciders. Retiring soon after, we droned on, four of us snoring away in our bunks.

Thistledown Farms!

Pumpkin Hollow, Albany, OR!
We headed up to Salt Creek Falls and Odell Lake Lodge Friday morning before leaving the area. The gate was locked at the falls but we stole a peek of the rushing waterfall along hwy 58 and swore to go back next summer to see for ourselves Oregon's second tallest waterfall up close!

Odell Lake Lodge was quiet but we walked around and ducked in out of the rain for a quick tour around and view of the lake itself.  We jumped in the car out of the weather and drove on back through Oakridge and on into Eugene stopping for a bite and some antique shopping in Coburg before a pit stop at Thistledown Farm in Santa Clara.  Cookies, apples, jam and caramel corn were found and shoved in to our bags and again, we hit the road back to Albany to drop the gals off.

Saying good bye and I had one last stop to make alone.  Pumpkin Hollow is just a short drive drive from downtown Albany, Oregon.  Looking for honey, jams, candles and prims?  You can find all of that at Pumpkin Hollow!  Recently sold and then purchased by a local Salem couple, this Salt Box replica home and shop are something out of an eastern United States era.  Complete with a buttery and water mill surrounded with gardens, pumpkins and decor that exudes Autumn, this place is also a "must see" stop on this route.

Near the Terwilliger Hot Springs!
Hope you get a chance to CHASE AUTUMN in Oregon.  This byway does close during the winter months so check with the rangers at the ranger station before you head out for the day or weekend to be sure that it's open.  A few more pointers:  Besides taking your time and a snack, be sure to pack water too.  Wearing or taking along some good sneakers or hiking boots is a good idea as well.  You may want to trek out on an impromptu hike and good shoes really come in handy especially this time of year when it's wet out there.  An umbrella or rain coat is a good idea as well.

Have fun, drive safe and enjoy the rest of this Autumn in Oregon.  Let me know if you go on the byway.  I'd love to know what part you liked the best!

The Aufderheide Scenic Byway!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Another trip to Ned Ludd with a party in the back… it's called Elder Hall!

At Elder Hall… Monday night!

This evening I went over to Ned Ludd for pizza and hip hop music.  I've been before on a Monday night when the dining room was packed with the likes of other pizza lovers, Ned Ludd lovers and Karen Brooks, food critic for Portland Monthly Magazine.  She and I sat at opposite sides of the dining room but I knew who she was even though she had no idea who I was or that I was the one person in that room that loved pizza more than anyone else there.  With the music and that pizza oven popping out one pie after the other, I could hardly contain my excitement for my pizza pie.  It came, I ate it and it was delicious.  Karen and I both agreed via Twitter that it was probably the best pizza we have had in Portland and so it was… Ned Ludd serving a simple menu on Monday evenings for dinner in NE Portland was a good idea!

Sausage Pizza!

Dessert with apples and caramel!


A place for family gatherings, parties of sorts and a nice sit down on long tables with strangers that soon become friends, Elder Hall behind Ned Ludd came to be and now is open to serve your gathering needs!  We had the choice this evening to dine there or in the main Ned Ludd dining room and chose this new gathering space, Elder Hall.  Born from the Kickstarter program, this dining hall exudes a closeness, a sense of family and friendship that is perfect for any type of gathering including business meetings, dinners and receptions of any type.  The decor of dado, walls of natural wood, a fireplace filled with logs and shelves all around lined with old things found in someones kitchen, cute things that make you feel at home as soon as you walk in to the room make this space just right!

I am sure Elder Hall is one of the most perfect spots in Portland for those gatherings this season and on in to the new year.  I am sure you will feel at home and happy while dining here and enjoying the delicious food that comes from Jason French's small kitchen at Ned Ludd.

Be sure to go check out pizza night on Mondays this season and enjoy the warmth of this place and the wonderful scents of that wood-fired oven baking your pie.  Best place to be in Portland on a cold Monday evening or any other night of the week for that matter.


Ned Ludd Dining Room!

Pickle, warm olives and nuts!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Honeybees and other Pollinators in my wee garden!… an Oregon garden in my backyard!

Woodlawn Cafe flowers on the patio!
Moving into our brand new home off Alberta Street this past Spring was an exciting time for us. We spent three weeks soaking up the NE Portland area, unpacking boxes and then packing our luggage, finding our passports and heading abroad for one month.  From Scotland to London and Whisky tasting and exploring the UK, we took time to enjoy this leisure life because we knew we had a lot work waiting for us at home.

Although our home is gorgeous and comfy, our garden and yards were just awful when we moved in!  Starting over, we hired some tilling to be done and then some bark to be laid down and the rest was up to us!

Scotland this past Spring just out of Edinburgh!
It was important for us to find plants that worked not only in our small yard and garden areas and we also wanted to be sure we were being kind to the insects and other little creatures that wanted to live in our garden or at least come for a visit now and then.  Mindful of what we wanted and what was good for our garden, we set out planning and planting and then we sat back a have been watching amazing things happen around us.

Plantings of flowers that bloom several colors and perennials that blossom unusual blossoms and setting  veggies and digging big holes for trees and more trees has really panned out well for our garden visitors and for us.  We don't use any pesticides or anything that comes out of bottle to keep our garden pest free.  In not using these things, we have found that the insects and birds have been doing a great job keeping the garden up with minimal insect damage or infestations. We have truly enjoyed watching the bees the most and carefully deadheading blooms and keeping things watered and green have been our jobs this whole past summer.

So, I have included an article below in this blog that I loved reading from  It talks about all types of pollinators and keeping your garden for them to enjoy as well as for yourselves. Have fun reading the article and keep planting!!!  Autumn is the perfect time to keep up your gardens and for planting new things too!  I have to behave and I promised Ray… no more trees but I am enjoying adding new bushes, more flowers and grasses to my garden and yard this season and all the while convincing myself it's for the bees and birds and their friends.  I'm not sure Ray is buying it but it sure is looking nice out there.

Happy planting and just an FYI… some of my favorite places for plants and other things for my garden:

Thicket off Alberta St.
Pistils on Mississippi Ave.
Garden Fever on 24th Ave.
The Backyard Birdshop on Fremont:  they have everything here for birds and other creatures you may want in your garden!

At Thistle off Alberta Ave. this Spring!

Pistils Nursery on Mississippi Ave.

Near Fort Worth Texas this past summer!

My pots at my stoop… peas, basil and blooms for the bees!

Christopher David's in the Pearl District… Portland, OR!

My sunflower with a visitor!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mt. Hood and the Hood River Valley… I found Autumn in Oregon!

Shopping in Hood River!
We seem to always have the time to head out to the Hood River Valley this time of year.  I think actually, it's always in the back of my head early on that I'm going when Autumn approaches so carving out a day mid week seemed to be the perfect day to go!

We took off from Portland about 10:00am stopping for coffee of course and headed east on I 84. We could have taken the Historic Columbia River Hwy and gawked at all those gorgeous waterfalls along our route but we really didn't have time.  If you have time, I suggest you go that way.  Stop at all the falls, hike the trails, picnic and enjoy each moment on this route.

Our first stop after coffee however, was downtown Hood River.  I love taking people on these day trips especially when they have never been before.  Taking our son and his girlfriend was fun and knowing he had never been, gave us a chance to show off this region.

We dropped a small wad of cash downtown and with bags filled with flannel shirts, Smartwool socks, boots and a few Christmas gifts, we headed over to Solstice Wood Fire Cafe.  I kept seeing my Instagram buddies posting pizza from this place and so it was a goal to make it for lunch.  We made it and it was delicious and now it's on my list of places to send other folks wanting itineraries and ideas of places to visit in the Hood River Valley. I didn't get the Wood Fired S'more for dessert cause I was holding out for something else later but now I wish I would have broken down and splurged on that smokey sweetness.  Thanks Amy for that photo by the way!  Next time…

Timberline by the fire!

From Solstice, we headed toward Parkdale.  If you have time, stop by and have a beer at Solera Brewery across from The Old Parkdale Inn.  They have great food too and if you are looking for lodging in this area, book a room at the inn with views of orchards and that mountain… Mt. Hood!!

From the little village of Parkdale, we headed south a mile or so and walked through the apple orchards of Kiyokawa Family farm!  I've been here several times before at this time of year but I'm always in awe of all those apples and trees dripping with fruit!  You can pick your own however, you can also find many kinds of apples already for you in bins that line the barn along with ciders and jams and pumpkins too!

Timberline Lodge!
Next on the agenda was a nice hike on the Tamanawas Falls trail about ten miles from the farm toward Mt. Hood off the Mt. Hood Hwy.  This is my MOST FAVORITE FALL HIKE in Oregon!  It's fairly easy and I have to admit something here… honestly, the falls are gorgeous but the trek from the beginning of the trail to the falls is the best part of the whole trail.  The colors are amazing and this time of year is especially spectacular!  I take my time taking photos and all the while this river rushes by me with the rocks covered in green mosses and those yellow and golden leaves and all that mixed together creates a wonderful wonderland!  So, yes.. you must go now!  The colors will soon be over and you will kick yourself if you don't go and experience this hike soon.

Along the Tamanawas Falls Trail!

From the hike, we got back in the car and headed up to Timberline Lodge.  We got so freaking lucky because it was snowing!!!  Hot chocolate was on tap and they top it with chunks of toffee, whipped cream and marshmallows and it was delicious!  Well, actually… I was told it was delicious because I was being good and had hot tea by Smith Teamakers, Lord Bergamont… very nice!

We sat in the lodge and watched as the snow fell in big flakes and then ventured out in to it after our hot drinks and felt it pelting our faces as we raced to our car.  Sticky and wet, we jumped in and headed back down the mountain.

Timberline Lodge on Wednesday, October 15th!

The drive home actually included a stop at the Huckleberry Inn in Government Camp for a milkshake or two.  We had heard this was the place for milkshakes especially the Huckleberry flavor.  The homemade cinnamon roll doughnuts made it into the car as well and then with sugar highs we hit the road home.

Just a few more notes here if you are thinking of doing this itinerary in a day trip or staying over night in Parkdale or anywhere else in the Hood River Valley:

Take your camera of course and if you do have time, stopping at Multnomah Falls is great as well as Horsetail and Ponytail Falls or any of the falls for that matter.

Be sure to dress for cold and wet weather this time of year.  Layering is a good idea and bring your umbrella and/or rain jackets.

Good shoes for me is always a must!!!  I wear hiking boots on every trail to keep my feet warm, dry and the support is amazing if you are headed out for miles!  I love my newest pair by Ahnu.

No matter how you plan your day, it will always take longer to do and see everything on your itinerary.  We skipped so much that I am already ready for another trip.  There's the Fruit Loop and more restaurants and more friends to visit in the area but we only have so much time and there's so much to see in all of Oregon!

Be sure take water, lots of it.  Something hot to drink is nice too!  Snacks are a must especially if you are hiking most of the day.

By the way… there's a Harvest Festival in the Hood River Valley this weekend if you are up for a ride out there this soon and I'm sure you'll have fun finding all these great places to visit while you are there.

Lastly… take your time.  Don't rush on the road or the trail because there is so much to really enjoy!

Hope you enjoy these photos and hope they convince you to get out and see Autumn in the Hood River Valley soon!

Kiyokawa Family Orchards!

Monday, October 13, 2014

A cemetery tour just in time for HALLOWEEN IN PORTLAND, OREGON!

Looking down at my feet, I could see my boots and the leaves I was standing on and all those scattered around me on the ground.  Pine needles among them, leaves from old oaks, firs and maples, crunched and gave off the gorgeous scents of Autumn in this peaceful place, the Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery in SE Portland.

My first visit to this cemetery was last Fall when I began searching for historic cemeteries in the Portland area.  One of the top ten cemeteries in the world for its beauty, interest and historic architecture, this place is quite beautiful if it's okay to call it that.  I find it a very interesting place filled with stories of those who have gone on before me.  Walking through those Autumn leaves and gazing at the sunshine peeking between the thick and tall trees while reading the names and dates on the stones, you certainly feel that connection to history here in this region of the world.  Pioneers are buried here that helped found Portland and that added interest to those that became our history, our forefathers and the interesting lives they led living in the PNW.

A cemetery tour last weekend taught me a lot for sure however, you can enjoy this place without a tour if you aren't able to attend one.  I spent two hours with a group led by a docent who is part of The Friends of Lone Fir Cemetery, a group founded in 2000 which is an all volunteer ran group, dedicated to repair and maintenance to this historic cemetery for generations to come.  By providing these tours, the Friends are able to share the information they have gathered in hopes of making this place worthy of its historic significance and offering that we see it as valuable and treat it as such.  So far, I would say they are doing an excellent job and I am looking forward to volunteering there myself.

Still fairly new to Portland, I know just some of Portlands history but this tour I attended offered more information and I feel like I know so much more especially about the earliest inhabitants. This historic cemetery is filled with Portland's richest, former "fancy ladies," some French and Scottish folks, poets, a shanghai captain and his family, firefighters, brewers of beer, a cooper and the first mayor of Portland among others.  To name a few by name, Asa Lovejoy was considered the founder of Portland and is buried here as well as Samuel Clemons who was known as a great salvager of all old Portland's old buildings and homes. Dr. Hawthorne who created the model that changed the way we look at the historically 'insane' and their treatment is buried here as well. Needless to say, there's a whole history lesson at Lone Fir and I only got two hours worth!

The few times I have walked the roads and grasses at Lone Fir, I never noticed the grave stones pictured below.  This is one of the many things that makes this place interesting.  The tree has grown and engulfed the stones giving away some of major changes that have occurred over time. You will also find that in some areas of this cemetery, there is really no rhyme or reason to the layout of the grave sites.  Before control or organization of this place, families bought plots or spaces and did what they wanted to do as far as burying loved ones goes.  Also noted, many of the stones or tall statues and buildings are either missing parts or showing wear through the ages. A few areas fenced up take away from the photo opportunities however, it's for safety sake that we aren't standing around and getting hit on the head from falling parts.  Some families chose to leave some of these worn memorials the way they are for many reasons and so we learn to accept the missing parts which of course makes this place even more interesting.

Lone Fir Cemetery is open daily and offers tours from 10am to 12noon monthly.  Check out the site here:  Lone Fire Cemetery You will also fine a special Halloween Tour as well as a fund raiser coming up on November 15th, A Grave Affair honoring two brothers buried at Lone Fir Cemetery. Their history is ironic as they are being honored for their beer brewing history here in Portland.

Hope you get a chance to get out and visit Lone Fir Cemetery this season.  Right now is a perfect time to see the leaves on all the trees change color.  The sun shines just about right and when it rains, all the structures and grounds are even more beautiful.  A place for peace, solitude, history lessons and for honoring those who have gone on ahead of us but don't forget your cameras!  A true botanical garden rich in history lies at your footsteps.