Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Portland Adventures

The last day of our trip was spent enjoying the city of Portland.

We started out the day with a fancy breakfast at a french restaurant called La Provence.

I should note that I have eaten at fancy, expensive restaurants like La Caille, in Utah.  La Caille is good, and it has a beautiful atmosphere, but there was something about this restaurant that made me feel like I was in Paris.  They brought us a croissant with jam and a fancy brie cheese.  We were seated in the outdoor seating, and between the outdoor atmosphere, the gentle breeze and the taste of the croissant and cheese, I had Deja Vu to when we were in Paris.  I have never had that strong of a feeling that takes me back somewhere, but this restaurant really brought that to me.  I know that the restaurant is actually trying to emulate Provence, France and not Paris, but I haven't been there, so for me it took me back to Paris.
After the croissant, they brought me my omelette filled with stretchy cheese.  Sooooo goood!

The first major landmark of the day was the Portland Temple.  We have been going on a tour of all the LDS temples near us and we love to make the temple part of many of our vacations.  This temple was really beautiful. 

After the temple, we headed in to downtown Portland. The first and most important landmark we wanted to hit was Powell's City of Books.  I can't express to you how awesome this place was.  I tried to get a picture to show how big it was, but there isn't one picture that captures it.  It has about a dozen "rooms".  Each room is roughly the size of the Barnes and Noble in my hometown.  Here is a view looking down on a small portion of one room.
I wandered around for a bit, I looked at the rare books room which was super cool.  It was fun to look at books that were being sold for thousands of dollars.  Finally I came to the important room which had science fiction and fantasy.  Robyn and I had separated to look at different genres, but she knew exactly where to find me when she was done.  She snapped this picture (below) of me perusing the excellent selection of stories.

When we got out, we had to snag a picture of us in front of the store.  I didn't buy tons of books, I limited myself to books that were either out of print, hard to find elsewhere or were cheaper because they were used.  (They had both new and used books in the store.)  Below is a picture of me with one of my spoils.

After Powell's it was time for dinner.  We asked Foursquare where we should go and it suggested a place called Oven and Shaker.  It was a pizza place and I figured the title was for the oven where they cook the pizza and a shaker for parmesan cheese or something similar.  It turns out that the shaker part was for mixing drinks.  Apparently, they are very famous for their alcohol.  The waitress was kind of blown away that we ordered water.  Who drinks water at a place famous for its alcohol?

Mormons.  That's who.
Robyn posing with delicious pizza. 

Me with delicious pizza.  (And my pitcher of water.)
Finally, it was time for dessert.  We had heard of a super famous ice cream place called Salt & Straw.  It's somewhat of a Portland icon, so of course we had to head there.  When we got there the line wove around inside the building and then went out the door and wrapped half way around the block.  I have never seen such a long line for ice cream.  That's what happens when the place is super famous.  We decided to wait in the line and I was super impressed with how fast it moved.  I looked at my watch and there were only 22 minutes from the time we got in line to the time I was holding ice cream in my hand.  Not bad!
Showing off my delicious find.

Look at that cutie and her ice cream.
After ice cream, we decided we had experienced enough of the city and headed back to our hotel room for the night.

The next morning it was time to begin the long drive home.  We stopped off at one last landmark on the way out of town.

I wanted to go to Multnomah Falls.  It's been on my bucket list for a long time.  We had tried a few days earlier when we were done backpacking, but the parking lot was so packed that we would have had to park miles away.  We figured we'd give it a go early in the morning in hopes that there would be at least one parking spot.

We got there pretty early and the parking lot was less than half full.  So we got to make the super short hike to see it all.

By the sign on the way in.
Looking up at the falls
Of course we hiked up to the bridge.

Selfie on the bridge

The waterfall from the bridge.

An animation from Google

A fancy version from Google.

Our total time at Multnomah Falls was probably less then 30 minutes.  After that, we got back on the road and drove to Boise.  Our final landmark of the trip was the Boise Temple.

Here's a fun silhouette of the temple.
We spent the night in Boise and then completed the road trip home.

Unfortunately, that meant our trip was over.  That also means I'm done blogging about our trip.  I know that saddens your soul.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Backpacking in Oregon!

Remember when I bought a sweet sleeping bag to complete our set of backpacking gear?  Remember how I said that I would be using it in Oregon.  Well, the time has come to tell you about backpacking the Eagle Creek trail.

I totally got a picture of the sign so you know i'm not lying about the name of the trail.
Eagle Creek is a trail in the Columbia River Gorge outside of Portland.  It's a beautiful area hiking through a rain forest.  The whole trail is about 13 miles long and ends at a lake.  We decided we weren't quite hardcore enough for that entire length.  I decided the destination I wanted to hike to was Tunnel Falls, which is a little over 6 miles one way.

But truthfully, it's all about the journey as much as the destination.  We really enjoyed the experience of travelling along that trail and seeing all that there was to see.
Look at that cute backpacker.

That is a less cute backpacker.

Just posing in front of the wilderness.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am not a huge fan of heights.  Most of the trail was just fine.  Even though the trail was often pretty high above the river, I'm fine as long as it's not a sheer dropoff and I don't have to be close to the edge.  However, every once in a while the trail would get relatively thin and it would have chains you could hold on to.  This usually meant there was a fairly steep dropoff.  Even if I didn't notice the dropoff the chains were there to notify me that I should be terrified.
The trail itself doesn't seem that scary.  But you're supposed to be terrified.  The chains tell you so.

Look how not scared of that dropoff Robyn is.

More cutenes
The trail follows the river, and though we were hiking to a specific waterfall, there were a number of really pretty ones along the way.
I don't even know the name of this waterfall.  But it's pretty.

We saw several of these birds along the way.  I'm not sure exactly what it is, some kind of grouse I'm guessing.

This was a common sight.  Robyn is much faster than me.
I think the destination of Tunnel Falls was perfect.  By the time we got there, I was tired and ready to quit, but it wasn't so far that I was dying.  The first view of the waterfall is through the trees.
Robyn makes the waterfall look precious.

The waterfall makes me look precious.
The trail is super cool, it wraps around until you actually go through a tunnel underneath the waterfall.  (Hence the name Tunnel Falls.)
I'm pretty sure this is Shelob's lair.  But the good news is that I was eaten by zero giant spiders.

This is what it looks like coming out of the tunnel.

This is what I look like coming out of the tunnel.

Looking back on it from further up the trail.  From here it looks less like Shelob's lair, and more like a hobbit hole.

It's important to get both of us in a picture.

After finding tunnel falls we decided to head back to one of the campsites we had seen on the way up.  It was about 3/4 miles back.  We setup our tent, and more importantly our hammock.  My back was super tired, and I was way excited to lay in the hammock.

The view looking up at the sky from the hammock.

That's what I look like in pure happiness.

Robyn took a turn too.
There was one negative to the hammock.  I had changed into flip flops when we got into camp, and I had kicked off the flip flops while I was in the hammock.  Robyn looked over at me and said, "There is something moving on your flip flop."  I looked at it and there was a 6 inch slug crawling over it.  I picked up the flip flop and shook it to get the slug to come off, but to no avail.  I finally had to get a stick to pry it off.  (Because clearly I wasn't going to touch it with my hands.  Gross!)

Neither of the slugs below are the one that crawled on my flip flop.  I didn't have my phone on me in the hammock because I left it in the tent.  But I took these pictures the next morning of a couple others I saw.

Ginormous + slimy = gross

My encounters with wildlife in the hammock weren't over.   I settled down to read some more and then this spider was crawling on my hammock.  I don't mind spiders at all when I know what kind they are.  I'm always uncomfortable when I can't identify them and don't know if they're dangerous.  I just flicked this guy off my hammock and all was well.

 After resting for a bit, I had to go gather us some water.  We have a little filtration system that filters out the dirt and then we have a little lightsabre that you stick in the water to kill all the germs.
She is a Jedi, like her father before her.

That evening before going to bed we put our food up in a tree.  We didn't want any bears visiting us in our tent to get at our food.  We also didn't want any squirrels chewing through our tent.  In the middle of the night, Robyn woke me up because she heard something she thought was eating our food.  She told me I needed to take a look so that if it was dangerous it would eat me and not her.  I poked my head out of the tent, shined the light on the food and saw nothing.  I showed her that we couldn't see any animals.

The next morning we looked at the garbage bag that was also outside our tent.  It had a hole chewed in it.  Robyn used that as evidence that she really had heard something.  I conceded that point, but I did point out that she strongly implied that she heard something larger than a chipmunk, which was the likely culprit of the tiny hole.  But who knows.  Maybe it was a mountain lion that chewed the quarter inch hole in the bag.

The next morning, we made breakfast, relaxed a little more and then headed back down the trail.

Robyn took this selfie to show how gross she was.  I thought she looked precious.

More evidence of preciousness

The bridges frightened me, but look how brave I was.
After backpacking, we headed back into town and checked in to our hotel.  We showered, which was glorious, and then went out to eat at Giant Burger.  It was the perfect meal to end our backpacking adventure.

After a backpacking trip there is pretty much nothing better than a good hamburger, and The Giant served us well.  My sister, who is a Portland expert, had suggested that we eat there, and I'm glad she shared her wisdom on this issue.  She had sent me a picture of her in front of the sign, so naturally I had to emulate her picture.

I know I did such a good job of copying her picture, that you can't tell the difference, so I'll just let you in on the secret.  The first one is me.  The second one is my sister from Christmas time.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Cheese, Drones and more

After our adventures in Lincoln City, it was time to move on to the rest of our trip.  We had enjoyed the relaxing beach condo so much that we were a little bit sad to move on.  But we were also excited about the other things that we had planned.

We got up in the morning, packed our things and got back into road trip mode.  We drove north toward Tillamook, but we had to stop off along the way in Neskowin.  Neskowin beach has a fun little landmark called Proposal Rock.  I don't actually know why it's called that.  There were zero people making any kind of proposal when I was there.

However, if you've seen Neverending story, you'll note that it does look like the giant turtle Morla.  If you prefer to call it Morla Rock, or just Morla, I could support that.  However, it never rose out of the water or sneezed on us, so that was disappointing.
Robyn did make this cuteness in the sand.  It was the closes thing to a proposal that happened.
After Proposal Rock, we continued our northern journey.  We went to the town of Tillamook so we could visit the cheese factory.  I just have to take a moment to talk about the fact that we drove by the high school, and their mascot is the cheese makers.

Can you imagine when they play other schools?  They'll go up against eagles with giant talons who can spot their prey from a mile away, or lions that weigh over 400 pounds, have giant claws and can run 50 mph.  They stand there holding blocks of cheese menacingly while these great predators eat them alive.

I'm just saying.  It's not a very intimidating mascot.

Anyway, on to the cheese factory.  It was amazing!

The most important thing you do at the cheese factory is to eat cheese and other dairy products.  If you don't tolerate lactose, the cheese factory doesn't tolerate you.
We had the fried cheese curds and they were epic.  Here I am demonstrating the stretchiness of the cheese.

Showing off my grilled cheese sandwich and my cup, which shows where we are.
There is a short tour where you can look through windows at workers in the factory.  It's kind of like a zoo, if zebras and orangutans made cheese.
The real hero of the factory is the cheese slicer guy.  You'll notice he is not pictured, because he abandoned his post!  He is no longer a hero.  He is a traitor to the cause.

This machine seals the cheese blocks into the plastic.  It also looks like a terror from the deepest depths of the ocean.
After, the tour it was time for dessert.  We clearly couldn't leave the factory without buying Tillamook ice cream.
After Tillamook it was time to head east to the Portland area.  We have some good friends who live just south of Portland, and they were kind enough to let us stay the night with them.  If you're ever in the Portland area, I highly recommend staying with the Glaziers.  They have a comfy bed, they provide breakfast in the morning, and they might even let you play with a drone.

Me with the controls, and a drone floating behind me.
Look what a good photographer I am with the drone.
After playing with the drone, it was clear to me that I need one of my own.  If you've been hankering to buy me a gift, just keep that in mind.

We had tons of fun with the Glaziers.  We spent the evening with them and made sure to take precious pictures.  We also kept Lisa up way too late since she had to work in the morning.  Ooops.
Aren't we so precious?
The next morning we departed from the Glazier bed and breakfast and went backpacking.  So stay tuned for that!