Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Couple of Weeks in Portland

I don't have a lot to show from our two weeks in Portland. Sure, my camera had an issue and had to be sent back for warranty repair, and I really don't like taking photos with my cell phone. But the reality is I just wanted to enjoy our stay without the pressure of blogging hanging over my head. We're now five years into our life on the road and I find it harder and harder to blog about places we've visited multiple times.

But that doesn't mean we didn't have fun! We met up with local friends: Bob (college buddy and former band mate of Hans) and John and Kym and their sweet daughter Simone. RVing friend Susan from San Antonio was in town visiting family so she joined us for lunch with Linda (blogging and hiking friend we met up with in Astoria). Thanks to the blog we also made some new friends in our RV park and had a nice dinner out with them (Hi Julie and Casey!).

Our stay was plagued by heat the first several days followed by smoke from the awful fires ravaging the Columbia Gorge off and on for the rest of our stay. We were grateful we hiked Eagle Creek last year with Linda, it's going to take decades for parts of the Gorge to recover from the fires.

Fortunately there are miles of forested trails in the hills throughout Portland. On our very first hike we had an amazing animal encounter. While walking through Hoyt Arbortem I saw something large and gray fly past through the trees. Rounding a corner we came upon a barred owl eating a small snake! This beautiful creature was so engrossed in its meal Hans was able to get about ten feet from it to take a photo.

Barred owl eating a small snake in the tree...via cell phone in poor light.

Once the owl finished eating the snake (which took a good ten minutes) it posed for us for a few minutes more,
meanwhile Hans had inched close enough for a decent, though unusual looking, photo.

Columbia River RV Park is pretty well located for getting around Portland, but any time you want to go downtown parking can be awful, so this time we took a cue from fellow RVers Jim and Gayle and drove to the nearby Expo Center where we hopped on the MAX light rail system to downtown. Portland Spirit Cruises offers a variety of river cruises on both the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, we chose the Thursday Early Escape cruise on the Willamette, it's an afternoon ride with a live band...great fun with beautiful scenery!

Candy-O plays Cars covers.

Floating homes on the Willamette River.

Riverfront mansion with a plane and watercraft.

Smooth waters and downtown views.

Canada geese are highly habituated to people in downtown Portland!

Former San Diego friends Chuck and Cynthia had recently moved to Chehalis, WA, an easy drive from Portland. We took advantage of the excellent weekend car rental deal offered by Enterprise ($10/day and 100 miles/day for a 3-day weekend after Labor Day) to visit them. Hans was all excited when we arrived at the rental office and they had run out of compact cars...for the ridiculously low price noted above we got to drive a 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee with only 13 miles on it!

Hans living it up in a fancy new car!

We had a grand time visiting Chuck and Cynthia, seeing their new home, eating a delicious Indian buffet lunch at Great Cuisine of India and walking cute downtown Centralia.

Centralia, WA turned out to be a lovely little town midway between Portland and Seattle.
Lisa and Cynthia and Hans and Chuck flanking one of Chuck's paintings.
Someday when we have a house again we'd love to hang some of Chuck's amazing art!

There were plenty more fun experiences in Portland; excellent Vietnamese happy hour at Luc Lac, an incredible hamburger at Ecliptic Brewing, delicious tiki drinks for Bob's birthday at The Alibi, a wonderful hike at Powell Butte Nature Park (thanks Allison for bringing this place to our attention)...but no photographic evidence exists...just good memories of a city we enjoy every single time we visit!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Wrapping up Seven Weeks on the Oregon Coast

The final stop of our summer on the Oregon coast was at Fort Stevens State Park, which occupies the north west corner of Oregon. The fort was active for 84 years, from the Civil War to World War II, and its military history is visible at sites throughout the 4,300 acre park. Nine miles of paved bicycle trails and six miles of hiking trails allow for extensive exploration of this beautiful setting bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the western terminus of the Columbia River.

The state park has about 500 camp sites which are spread out among 13 loops, making the large number of campers seem not so oppressive. Of the three state parks we stayed at along the coast, our site here was the least pleasant...the water pressure was terrible and the site wide open to the road with no privacy whatsoever. But, thankfully, we once again had a hidden trail into the forest right behind the rig allowing us to escape the fishbowl feeling and walk Rosie in a serene, inviting, safe space.

Despite the fact that our campsite was less than perfect, we still loved this park! We spent a single night here three years ago and vowed to come back. The extensive trail network is exceptionally beautiful and lightly traveled, the history is fascinating, and the lovely town of Astoria is just a few miles away.

Before we could explore Fort Stevens in depth we had a meetup planned with Linda, a hiking buddy and wonderful photographer from Portland whom we've met up with on a previous trip to the area. She was gracious enough to drive out to the coast to join us on a hike followed by lunch.

Linda suggested a hike she'd been wanting to do for some time and meeting us allowed the three of us to do a shuttle hike. The Fort to Sea Trail is a 6.5 mile (one way) trail from Fort Clatsop National Memorial to the ocean. Fort Clatsop was Lewis and Clark's winter encampment from December 1805 to March 1806 and this trail is a route they used to explore the area between the fort and the sea.

The Fort to Sea trail begins at the Fort Clatsop Visitor Center which has a replica of the Corps of Discovery fort.
This photo shows half of the entire fort that housed about 25 people.

Lewis and Clark River, near Fort Clatsop.

We hiked through a variety of terrain, from rain forest to farmers fields to dune forest to the ocean.

The trail starts off in lush rain forest where Linda and I start taking pictures of each other.

Still smiling as we near the end of the hike, now through dune forest.

Linda doing what she does best!

The rest of our stay at Fort Stevens was spent hiking and biking the various trails in the park. The terrain includes a lake, lush forests, marshlands, dune forests and grasses, defunct military installations and the ocean with a's a wonderful park!

One of many batteries at Fort Stevens.

We came upon this bull elk on a lovely single track trail near Battery Russell.

And this cow elk munching away in the bushes nearby.

Lots of solitude on the park trails.

I loved the mid afternoon lighting as we rode through the forest.
Not another soul on the trail on a Thursday afternoon, so peaceful.

Grasses and tall trees...enchanting!


Old train trestle crossing marshland to the Columbia River.

Gun replica pointing toward the Columbia River.

Hans took this awesome shot of the morning sun shining through the remains of the Peter Iredale,
run ashore October 25, 1906.

So ends a glorious seven weeks on the Oregon Coast. We are now in Portland under orange lit smokey skies and approaching 100 degrees...we miss the coast already!