Archive for March, 2015

Portland – The Best-Laid Schemes o’ Mice an’ Men

Come crumbling down when you forget it’s spring break. Yep. Thursday was the day we had set aside to go check out Multnomah Falls. It was one of the items on our Absolutely Must See/Do list for the trip. Every photo looked amazing. Plus lots of good hiking trails. Thursday was forecasted to be sunny and delightfully warm, so Chad and I set out for breakfast and a leisurely stroll on the Willamette River trail to grab a cache and stretch our legs in anticipation of a big day of hiking.

Our first actual stop was to get a geocache called DR. Who. which has a crazy amount of favorite points. Plus, seriously…it’s called DR. Who. It was delightful! Just delightful. And that’s all I am going to say besides, if you find yourself in Portland, go get that cache!

Our second shop was, don’t be stunned, a bottle shop. Being clear in WV, we don’t get much of the fancy West Coast microbrewery beers. So we had taken an empty suitcase just so we could mule back a few several bottles of some good beer that otherwise we wouldn’t get our hands on easily. Which is where I stumbled upon this particular beast.

Man, they put that stuff in everything. EVERYTHING I tell you.

So errands done, we headed out to Multnomah Falls. Us and every freaking body else under the sun. Because it was sunny and gorgeous and it was spring-freakin’-break. The interstate sign on the way to the official Multnomah Falls parking lot pretty much said, Lot is full, idiots; don’t even consider it. Which gave us enough warning to exit early onto the Columbia Gorge Scenic Byway. Which I would classify as abject chaos on this day. People were just pulling over and parking on the shoulder which was super narrow and then walking in the road. Did I mention it’s a super old, super narrow scenic byway.

Yeah. So by the time we reached the Falls I was already wanting to punch every person we saw and I was still in the car. So we paused to look at the Falls – we were stuck there in traffic anyway. Which was when the guy in giant Denali in front of us decides to start backing up for a better view of the Falls. Only hello, we are there in our tiny little Spark. Yeah,  we got back on the interstate and headed to Base Camp Brewing because after that, I needed a beer. And to get away from the crowds.

While we were at Base Camp I noticed a cache 60 feet away called The Sandy Triangle. We had to go get it. And I’m so glad we did. It was awesome. The cache was underneath a metal plate in the sidewalk. Super cool and placed with the permission of the City. Plus the container was a metal beer growler from Base Camp.

From there we went to Burnside Brewing Company where we sat outside – me in the sun, Chad in the shade – and made friends with a fellow named Aaron from Harrisonburg, VA.

Since he was done with work, B joined us. From Burnside we – including Aaron because apparently we do not seem like axe murders – went in search of Upright Brewing. I say in search of because I’m pretty sure we drove in squares several times looking for parking once we got there and then found that Upright Brewing was….dun, dun, dun….in the basement. Yep, that sounds legit. Completely.

Also, you could only buy pitchers. With cash. Because of course.

At that point our pub crawling came to an end because WVU was playing in the Sweet 16 tournament and we needed to be near a television so we could watch. We didn’t watch long, but you know how it goes.

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chris on March 26th 2015 in Geocaching, Travel

Portland Day Two

So on Wednesday, we thought since the weather was iffy – and by iffy for us in the Pacific Northwest we meant a higher chance of rain than just dodging showers – we thought we’d head out toward the coast. Chad wanted to go to de Garde Brewery and I wanted to get a cache called Hembre Ridge that was placed on November 4, 2000. Yep, that’s right. Nearly ancient in geocaching terms. I’m working on a challenge and it was one of the two remaining caches I needed. Plus, it was “on the way” to Tillamook, by which I mean it was also West or Portland.

We bundled up and rolled out in our tiny but thus far competent Chevy Spark. A previous cacher had nicely provided 10 waypoints to help future cachers get to Hembre Ridge because it was some random logging roads in the middle of nowhere Tillamook State Forest. I was hoping that Oregon’s logging roads were kept in better repair than those back home. I was not disappointed. They were, in fact, in better repair than a majority of the roads in Morgantown!

We had a pretty decent increase in elevation, but unfortunately it was extremely foggy and so while I’m sure the views were vast and wonderful, we couldn’t see them. No worries because I got the cache. And it was nicely tucked under a tree which provided some respite from the light, but steady rain.

Nearby the cache is a very nice little memorial plaque placed in honor of the original cache owner who passed away. It’s made to look like a benchmark and blends right in since nearby are the remains of the feet of a fire tower.

Mission #1 accomplished. Now back down the hill and on to de Garde Brewery which was housed in an industrial complex. An industrial complex that had a super sketchy looking air museum. Uh, huh. yes, I’m sure that is an air museum and not a giant murder shed. I would feel completely safe paying admission to enter (and probably never exit in one piece or alive).

Chad assured me that the building is probably just simply difficult to paint and that it wasn’t a murder house. To him I countered, then perhaps they should not have painted it if they didn’t want it to look like a murder house when the paint faded. Huh? Huh?

Unfortunately for Chad (and by proxy me) de Garde Brewing was not open on Wednesdays. No, no it was not. So thusly disappointed we headed to the airplane museum / murder hanger The Tillamook Cheese Factory. Unfortunately we had (again) failed to factor in that it was spring break and raining out. Which meant everyone and his and her brother, sister, cousin, grandma, grandpa and some stranger they found on the side of the road was there. For comparison, The Tillamook Cheese Factory is pretty much the cheese version of Chocolate World, only with out the ride. So yeah, it was a little much.

So while we didn’t check out the inner cheese workings very long, we did decide to suck it up and wait in line for the ice cream because we were already running behind on our quota of vacation ice cream. It was a well oiled machine to get through the line, thank goodness. But unfortunately neither of us focused on the profuse amounts of ice cream other people were carrying around. So we both ordered what I thought was simply a two scoop serving because I wanted two different flavors. And then they handed our ice cream waffle bowls to us. We had made a terrible mistake.

A delicious terrible mistake, but still. That was a lot of ice cream. Too much, in fact. WAY too much. Yes. I wrote that. I always said it out loud several times.

So full of ice cream we headed out to the actual coast to check out Twin Rocks State Park. It’s a tiny strip of land from which you can see these very cool rocks, hence the name. One of the rocks has a hole worn through so it’s actually an arch. To say the beach was breezy would be a complete untruth. It was insanely windy. So much so that the sand was whipping along so hard it stung my ankles. Still, incredibly beautiful.

We ended the day with a fine dinner of fish and chips just a few blocks from B & Kim’s place. Yum. Yum. Yum.

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chris on March 25th 2015 in Geocaching, Travel

Portland, We Have Arrived!

We went to Portland to visit B because that’s how awesome we are. Yep, we barely gave him time to get settled in before showing. up bags in hand, and looking for a place to plant for five days!

The good news is we are quite efficient at entertaining ourselves. As long as there is hiking, geocaching, good weather (not always mandatory) and microbreweries, we are pretty much self sufficient. As it turns out Washington Park was fairly close by and definitely wonderful! Kudos to Chad for sniffing out the Portland Japanese Garden very nearby – which was our official target  for the early portion of the day.

Portland is WAY ahead of the Spring game in relation to good ol’ Morgantown, WV, (and undoubtedly a good portion of the East Coast) so the Japanese Garden was in heavy bloom and amazingly green. It was breathtaking. If you are there, you must go see it. It is completely worth the price of admission.

There were cherry trees in bloom all over, but one was above and beyond the others.  Its branches were so large they had to be propped up. The trunk was enormous. A great place to sit and hang out, which quite a few folks were doing. We happened to be in Portland during spring break, so there were loads of kids of all ages pretty much everywhere.

Nearby was an overlook that revealed a zen rock garden which was amazing. I’d never seen one before, so it had not occurred to me that you really needed to be above it to see the patterns in the rock.

That became very clear when we viewed it up close and in person. If we hadn’t seen it from above, we’d not have really had a good grasp of the patterns around the stones. And no, Chad did not have to physically restrain me to keep me from playing in the rocks. I do have some self control. (although it was a very tempting thing to contemplate).

The water features were making Chad drool. And by drool I mean he clearly pondering what was going to need to happen for us to have such an enormous koi pond complete with bridge and huge waterfall. Hint: We’d have to move, that’s what would need to happen. It’s a little scary to see his wheels turning when it comes to landscaping. The first time it happened he re-sodded the back yard. The second time….he doubled the size of our current (relatively) tiny koi poind.

As you can see, he was a very happy boy. Well, until he saw me eyeballing the big fat koi that were lazily swimming by in very not deep water. I have some weird desire to grab our koi. Sure, I know fish are slippery and not particularly keen on being picked up and cuddled, but for some reason I want to make a grab for the two koi in our pond. I think it’s their amazing coloring. And so, here there were all these amazingly dazzling big fat slow fish that were just begging to be picked up and cuddled. So he distracted me with a selfie opportunity.

(We took a bunch of photos of the Portland Japanese Garden because how could we not! So when you get to the end of my blathering on and on, take a look through the gallery. )

From the Japanese Garden we headed back out into Hoyt Arboretum – which is part of Washington Park – to check out the sequoias because if nothing else, I am a tree hugger.

That tree smelled amazing. It’s hard to describe how good and comforting that tree smelled. I could have sat there hugging it all day, but someone may have called security. Plus, there were other trees to hug further on and I didn’t want to make them jealous!

While we were in the park we grabbed a few caches – really only a few, as in three. Just three caches. One was a small ammo can in some shrubbery. I was rather surprised about that – the ammo can and it being in the shrubbery. What I was not surprised about was getting caught on and off in the rain. But hey, unlike someone, I had my rain jacket with me instead of laying in the backseat of the tiny bitty car. After getting our hike on and having my soppy wet fill of rain caching, we headed down to Cascade Brewing Barrel House because it was Tap It Tuesday. Seriously. We got there early partly due to the rain, partly because Chad did not want to miss out on the keg tapping like we did the only other time we were here. Which meant we got a good seat and had plenty of time to taste our way down the menu. Plus, you know, they had a crazy good cheese board and we had to have time to indulge in that!

And yes, all Chad’s beer friends, there’s a photo of the menu in the gallery. You’re welcome. Also, we untapp’d them all, so you can see what we thought. My favorite is still the Figaro. And we brought a bottle of that home with us. (Thanks, Brett, for the pre-trip lesson on beer muling.)

After all that excitement died down we went back to gather up B & Kim and go to le Bistro Montage. Amazingly all four of us fit in the tiny Chevy Spark that we’d ended up with. Amazing because at the airport we found that only one of our carry on luggage pieces could fit in the trunk, the other had to go in the backseat. So when I say tiny, I’m not talking Smart Car tiny, but I’m still talking tiny. So we didn’t have high hopes that four adults could ever fit in the thing. But we did. Also, we weren’t going far, so that helped. Montage was wonderful – family style seating and an amazing menu of so many choices. But best of all they sent leftovers home in animal shapes. For reals!

Someone ate way too much and woke up in the middle of the night belching like a frat boy. Fortunately everyone else was dead to the world. Also fortunately, that someone had pepto in her toiletries bag. I might choose poorly when it comes to food cramming, but at least I’m prepared for the consequences! And thus ended our first real day in Portland. All the pics – and there are way too many from the Japanese Garden – are in the gallery as is the promised beer menu from Cascade Brewing.

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chris on March 24th 2015 in Travel