Portland Round 2

For those of you that aren’t aware, we just got back from a family trip to Portland and if you’ve been keeping track we’ve been there once before. This time was a completely different experience. That’s what happens when your family doubles in size and you don’t put 4,000 miles on a rental in a single trip.

This time, the greatest part of the trip wasn’t a great party with dancing and celebration or the phenomenal scenery at every turn or the chance to see huge parts of the country for the first time. It might be cliche but the greatest part of the trip this time was experiencing everything through the eyes of our kids and spending lots of time with family.

Recently Reece has been ecstatic about anything that moves (planes, trains, helicopters, tractors, boats etc.) so we try to expose him to what we can. I cannot properly express the size of my sons eyes as he looked out the airport windows at the plane we were about to get on, turns to us and shouts AIRPLANE! He quieted down on the plane but he was insanely excited about the whole process. One of the places we visited in Oregon was the Airplane Museum and I swear that when he walked into the place he thought it was holy ground.

Delilah wouldn’t stop talking about the entire trip. With all of this, remember that she’s three and she’s totally serious. While sitting on the tarmac for the first flight out she yelled “why aren’t we flying yet!?” Much to the amusement of everyone around us. One evening while out in Oregon with family we saw “the first star at night” and we asked her what she wished for. She thought for a minute and then whispered quietly “that we can come to Oregon again.” After arriving back in Rochester, the first thing she said in the airport? “I want to go back to Oregon.”

These are just a few examples but we could tell just watching them that they were thoroughly enjoying their time in a new and interesting place. What made it really special for them and us was the time they got to spend with family whom they only rarely see and to build the beginnings of their relationship with their cousins. By the end of the trip there seemed to be a real bond forming and we wished we could stay longer.

We can’t wait for the next family adventure whether it takes us to Portland with family or Peru with just the kids.

Iceberg Lake

It just wouldn’t be right to go to the backpacking paradise that is Glacier National Park without doing some hiking.  To that end we decided to hike the 10 miles (round trip) to Iceberg lake.  The trail starts near Many Glacier Hotel which happens to be on the opposite side of the park from where we were staying, a mere 2 hours drive over the Going to the Sun road.  There was a Ranger guided hike at 8:30 in the morning so we went for that.

flowersOf course, the scenery from the road was beautiful but we also saw plenty of animals.  A herd of Elk were grazing in a field and 2 Coyotes were hunting mice or rabbits or something.  When we got to the trail head, we were a few minutes late so the Ranger and the group had already started off.  Not a big deal, we’d just meet them on the trail.  We grabbed our packs and off we went.  First thing we see? A bear, just a black bear but only about 50 ft off the trail and very startling.  Then we caught up to the group about a tenth of a mile in.  The group with the Ranger was about 25 strong and included an 80 something year old man and his family.  He had hiked this same trail about 30 years earlier and was looking to see how things had changed (or remained the same).

Iceberg LakeAbout a mile in we took a break and the Ranger started a game featuring the local flora.  She’d tell the person immediately behind her the name of some wild flower and that person would tell everyone that passed the name of the flower.  Then she’d tell the next person… and so on.  It was fun!  There were so many different flowers, we cycled through everyone about twice and only covered about half of them!

As with everywhere we’ve been, the scenery was amazing throughout the entire hike.  The hike itself was incredibly rewarding and the lake was the prettiest lake this side of Crater Lake.  I can now say I’ve stood on an Iceberg for the first time, although Rachel was afraid to jump across the small gap of glacier runoff water to join me.  I have to admit, the thought it would get bumped and float out into the lake leaving me stranded was definitely there.

A hike back, another bear and a restful evening.  A great day in Glacier!

Cannon Beach and Sand Castles

Since we had the whole day to ourselves on Friday we headed to the coast.  We weren’t the only ones in the group with the same idea so we traveled out there with Roger, Tess, Heather, Liam and Jill.

flowersThere’s another observation we made almost immediately upon arriving in Portland which we’ve failed to mention thus far.  There are beautiful wild flowers absolutely everywhere.  They grow in fields, by the road and between the sidewalk cracks, literally everywhere!  On the way to the coast we found this really neat little fruit and flower stand where you could pick your own flower bouqette (as many as you could fit between your pointer finger and your thumb) for $5.  Rachel says this is a fantastic deal and I tend to agree (since I know what it costs to buy her a dozen roses…).  They had some good deals on Raspberries and Blackberries also so we picked up a quart of each for $3 a piece. Rachel says there were shasta daisies, spray roses , hydrangeas, lavender, fox glove and many more, although I only know them as the purple, red and yellow ones.

sand-castle-buildingFrom there it was on to the coast.  We arrived at Cannon Beach starving so we stopped at the Ecola Seafood Restaurant & Market and had our first Seafood of the trip.  It was delicious!

We had Liam with us and this was his first trip to the Pacific Ocean (I think it was his first trip to any ocean but I’m not sure).  His goal? to build the greatest Sand Castle the world had ever known.  We didn’t exactly fly to Portland with sand castle construction on the mind so we didnt’ have any tools with us and neither did he.  Fortunately, Roger came up with the idea of using the ice bucket & cups from the hotel so we snuck them along.  When Liam found out what we had, he was ecstatic.

coastWe ended up spending so much time at Cannon Beach building sand castles and exploring Haystack Rock we didn’t make it any further.  We had to head back for George & Stacie’s BBQ.  Since it wasn’t really that far out of the way, we headed south along the coast to Tillamook and then took route 6 back into Portland.  This is a beautiful drive so if you get the chance be sure to take it.  Some of the best Scenery we’d seen so far.

That night George and Stacie hosted a great BBQ with friends and family where everyone got to relax, have some good food, good drinks, enjoy great company and play some beanbags and wiffle ball.  An enjoyable and relaxing way to prepare for the wedding on Saturday.

Mount Saint Helens (east side)

With the girls getting their hands and feet scrubbed (read: manicures and pedicures), and just hanging out in general all day together, Roger and I were on our own so we struck out for one of the biggest attractions we could think of, Mount Saint Helens.

Mount Saint HelensRather than drive up to the main observatory, which would take a bit longer, we opted for the shorter less traveled east side route which takes you past some beautiful lakes and reservoirs and on up to the Climbers Bivouac.  The road was treacherous and the views rewarding. However; since we got so close to the mountain, rather than viewing from afar, our view of Mount Saint Helens was obstructed by pine trees with only one real good spot for viewing the mountain itself.  We had absolutely fantastic views of the mountains, valleys and lakes to the east and south though.

It was so impressive that I’ll be bringing Rachel back to explore the west side at some point during our adventure.