A Perfectly Normal Sunday

On a Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago it was gorgeous outside so Rachel and I spent the afternoon with the little one.  So what she’s not born yet?  We’re anxious parents so we couldn’t wait.

Rachel’s brother George & his wife Stacie gave us Oregon shirts for Christmas last year & we just got a package from them for the baby with a Oregon onesie in it.  It was too cute to wait a few months before using so we had a perfectly normal fun Sunday afternoon at the park.  Leave us alone.

Around Portland and Brewersfest

International Rose Test GardenWe slept in a bit on Thursday since we didn’t have anything planned until 2pm and we were driving all day Wednesday.  We started off the day by visiting the Portland Rose Test Garden.  I had no idea there were so many roses, wierd ones too.  They were all in full Bloom and so gorgeous!  Rachel got a few ideas and we found our Portland Magnet.  It was then time to head into the city to grab a bite to eat before our Portland Underground Tour.

After spending a fortune for parking ($12, there are much cheaper places but we didn’t find any right away) we headed to the Old Town Pizza, the first stop on the Underground Tour, to grab lunch and get tickets for the tour.  While I placed our order (a thin house special) Rachel called Portland Walking Tours to book it.  Unfortunately the Underground Portland tour was booked, something we hadn’t planned for.  Because we had plans for tomorrow we decided to take the Beyond Bizarre tour instead.

Portland Brewers FestSince we didn’t have anything to do for about 5 hours we decided to walk around and see a few things, the first being the Tom McCall Waterfront ParkAs we were walking along Rachel said something, my eyes glazed over, the skies opened and it seemed like there was a chorus of angels.  We walked right onto Portland’s Brewers Fest.

Mills End ParkAdmission was free so we went in (we would have anyway).  You pay for a mug with a bunch of chips, each chip is worth a tasting, 4 is worth a pint, but their tastings turned out to be much bigger than 1/4th of a pint.  They have a $10 mug which comes with 4 chips or a $20 mug which comes with 14 chips.  We each got 14 chips, what’s the point in only tasting 4 beers? After all, we had 5 hours.

Most of the beers were delicious, but we didn’t realize until the end that the beers were all west coast, not necessarily Oregon like we had originally thought.  Ahh well, still tasty.  We took a short break in between our 14 beers to wander around, and find the worlds smallest park which was neat.

Afterwards we met George and Stacie for Happy hour at Three Degrees where we enjoyed some great deals and good food (thanks Stacie!).  After that we took the MAX back to Old Town Pizza to catch our Beyond Bizzarre Tour.

EMFOriginally we thought the Beyond Bizarre tour was just the Underground Tour with some ghost stories and an EMF detector thrown in.  We were horribly wrong, and the tour sucked.  They hand out the EMF devices and it was mostly a ghost hunting exercise where they take you to these different locations and tell you why people think it’s ‘haunted’.  It was incredibly lame and we don’t suggest anyone do it.  I’m not sure if I would trust their Underground Tour either…  Perhaps If we had a coupon.

Back to George and Stacies, a glance at some pictures and bed… Another good day, despite the Tour Failure, mostly due to all the drinking.

Back to Portland

The DesertOur trek from Glacier National Park back to Portland was rather uneventful, and yet satisfying.  We drove all the way through, only stopping in Coeur D’Alene for lunch (which was a completely unexpected yet beautiful city in Idaho).  Again, somewhere in Montana we hit a giant hailstorm of bugs.  We seemed to literally drive through a wall of them with some as big as your fist.

As we drove through the dry areas, we watched the outside temperature gauge in the car reach as high as 106ºF.  Rachel wanted to know what that feels like, so at 70Mph we opened the windows and stuck our arms out.  It felt just like a blow dryer, and closed went the windows.

Dust DevilAlong the way we saw a ton of dust devils, which is kind of neat as I don’t remember ever seeing them this large before.  They look like mini tornadoes, and they seemed to tear across the skyline with a fury.

After crossing into Oregon we followed the Columbia River along I84, a large section of which we had taken before.  As the sun set, we were provided beautiful views of Mt Hood clear as day right over the river.  The most beautiful sight however was as we were passing Multnomah Falls and the sunlight was peaking through some clouds so only the falls were lit up.  It almost made us turn around, but we pushed on.

Mt Hood over the Columbia River

We arrived at George and Stacie’s with just enough time to show them some pictures and then head to bed.

Even just driving through, the scenery out here is beautiful and fulfilling.

Oregon Coast to Seaside

Tuesday was relaxing.  We got up and had the continental breakfast (we made it a point to eat itevery day, no sense spending money on a meal that was included with your hotel).  We took our time checking out and headed to do laundry.  Since we’re here for 3 weeks we intentionally only packed enough for 1 to lighten the load. This only took us a little over an hour (thank you 45lb dryers!) which was just about perfect since right then we got a call to meet at Fudruckers for lunch.  “Sounds good!” we said and headed over.

ecola-state-parkAfter lunch (Michael at a 1lb burger…) with the family (George, Stacie, Mom, Dad, Michael, Michelle, Rachel and myself) everyone took a leisurely drive through the countryside to get a good view of Mt hood.  We stopped outside a ranch of some sort where we could see it pretty clearly.

Here, we said our goodbyes (I think Rachel and Michelle were the most saddened) and struck out for the coast.  We had already been to Cannon beach and south to Tullamook but we hadn’t made it to Ecola State Park and we figured, since we had the time, what better way to get to Seattle than to take the coast the whole way.

Sunset at Ecola was amazing.  However; since we started out so late we only made it as far as Seaside, which turned out to be a very cute town but extremely touristy.  There we stayed at the Sandy Cove Inn which was adorable.  It was family owned and apparently had been purchased and renovated by the current owners about 2 years ago.  It was one of those theme places, where every room has a theme.

Thus ended our first real night on the road.

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.

George & Stacies Bachelor(ette) Parties

A while back while the best man was throwing together ideas for the Bachelor party I read an article from the New York Times about this sweet little par 3 golf course with several bars on site which seemed ideal for the type of shenanigans we’d be up to.  I forwarded the information about McMenamins Edgefield that I had, and to my surprise George (the Bachelor) had not only already heard of it, but really wanted to go.

This was my first experience golfing (probably Rob’s too as can be seen in the video above), and holy crap did I suck to start out with.  My skill level essentially fit perfectly to a bell curve over time.  I got steadily better (thanks to Newman and Andy’s coaching!) and then I sucked hard core (thanks to the alcohol).

From there it was on to some bars with a quick stop to take care of the Portland UprITe Battle of 2009.

The girls spent the majority of their time at Dukes which, if the pictures and videos are any indication, is a lot of fun.  It seems that almost everybody rode the bull with the exception of my wife who is the only one who foresaw the bull riding plot and wore a skirt to stop it in it’s tracks.

A great night for all involved!

Rehearsal and Dinner at Portland City Grill

The rehearsal went off without a hitch at the beautiful Aerie at Eagle Landing.  Because Smitty wasn’t flying in until Saturday morning, I acted as a stand-in groomsmen, which was a first but fun.

Sunset over PortlandAfter the rehearsal always comes the good part… the dinner.  For this particular event we ate at the Portland City Grill on the 30th floor of the US Bancorp building.  The view was incredible, and we were blessed with a gorgeous sunset way up over the west hills.  Pictures can’t do it justice, and since I only brought my 50mm portrait lens (without a polarized filter through glass at night) my pictures of the city and the skyline were all but useless.  Since it was also Michael’s birthday George and Stacie had a cake for him which was absolutely delicious!

You’ll just have to trust me, the view from the Portland City Grill is well worth the cost of a meal, it truly is spectacular.

Planning our 3 week Hiatus

Rachel’s Brother George lives in Portland Oregon and he’s getting married in July (the 11th to be exact).  Since we’ll be trekking all the way across the country for the big event we’re planning on making a vacation of it.  We’ll be staying in the Pacific Northwest for 3 weeks.  The rough itinerary is Portland for about a week, Glacier National Park for about a week, Seattle for a few days and then back to Portland to fly home. Beyond that we have no idea.

We’re trying to plan as little as possible and just wing it but we’ve put together a tentative map of the route we might take and the places we want to see.

2009-trip-planView Larger Map

We don’t want to plan our trip but we do want ideas.  We’ve never been to the west coast or the pacific northwest and we need to know the cool stuff to do or see.  If you have been to this part of the country, please let us know what places you enjoyed (and those you didn’t) so we can add it to our list!