The Big Float ~

It rains in Portland. It rains a lot!  So when summer rolls around and the sun finally shines its happy light on us, everyone heads for the great outdoors and some fun in the sun – Portland style.  Which is how hubs and I ended up at The Big Float.

Wandering the streets of downtown Portland

Wandering the streets of downtown Portland

This year more than 2,500 souls dragged their pale white bodies, their favorite flotation devices, kids, friends, grandma and in some cases, even their dogs through the streets of Southwest Portland making their way to Tom McCall Waterfront Park to pay the $6 fee that allowed them to participate in one of Portland’s most unique summer events. Continue reading

Tales from the Columbia Gorge ~

Last weekend hubs and I met up with 600+ fellow walking enthusiasts and set out to explore some of the most gorgeous trails in the spectacular Columbia River Gorge.  As I was planning today’s blog post thought it might be fun to share few tales from the Columbia Gorge…

The weather gods were on our side.

The clouds parted, the rain stopped and just when we needed it, the sun appeared.  But not too much.  A little light cloud cover kept us from melting as we officially kicked off our walking season and our first multi-day Volksport walking adventure – the Columbia River Gorge Biennial Classic.  And what an event it was!  These folks have their planning honed to a science.  Thirteen walks, one bike ride, lots of great information, a hot dog lunch and a dinner cruise on the Sternwheeler.  There was truly something for everyone and the little town of Cascade Locks was packed to capacity.  We opted for a room at the Skamania Lodge on the Washington side of the river which added daily crossings of the Bridge of the Gods to our weekend adventure.  Hubs and I met up with other walking friends at Skamania on Friday afternoon and set out on our first walk – an easy stroll into the town of Stevenson for a close up look at the wind and kite surfers.  This area of the gorge is the windsurfing capital of the world and when you stand on the end of a pier in 25+ mile an hour winds and watch these dare devils fly across the choppy water, you see why.

There is always something interesting going on at Skamania Lodge and Friday evening we sat out on the lawn in Adirondack chairs, glasses of a tasty chilled Spanish white in hand and enjoyed a fascinating birds of prey show (so up close and personal that one flew over my head and riffled my hair).

Skamania Lodge - always something going on

Skamania Lodge – always something going on


Saturday morning was our big walking day and we chose to hike the Multnomah Falls to Wahkeena Falls loop.  Rated a 3B by AVA.  We had no idea what 3B meant but hubs figured it was moderate as the walks range from 1A to 5C.  Let me say right here that moderate has taken on a whole new meaning!  It started innocently enough.  A little uphill climb to the stunning bridge view just below Multnomah Falls.

Looking down on Multnomah Falls

Looking down on Multnomah Falls

Then up, and up some more for 11 marked zig-zags.  Hearts pumping, thighs screaming No! we went up a little more…and then a little more.columbiagorgewalk










Finally, we’re on standing on a ledge looking down on the falls.  But wait, there’s more. We left the paved trail and then the packed dirt trail behind and continued up on a very narrow trail composed of tiny jagged granite.  One side dropped 1000 feet and the other side went straight up and I’m clutching ferns for balance.  And stopping to take photos (and catch my breath).  We walked through ancient growth forests, past cascading waterfalls, forded a few streams and were totally awe-struck at the magnificence of Mother Nature.












Then we started down.  And down.  And it was just as hard as the up.  I saw my life flash in front of me for a brief moment when my feet lost traction on some slippery rocks and I started to slide, but I clutched a branch and all was saved.









Almost back to civilization.

Almost back to civilization.












We slowly wound our way back down to the Old Columbia River Highway where we had started our trek 3 1/2 hours earlier.  It was mid-day at Multnomah Falls, one of the region’s biggest natural attractions and on this beautiful first weekend of summer, the place was packed with tourists so we limped to the car as fast as our wobbly old legs would go and headed back to the hot tubs at Skamania.







That evening, we celebrated hubs’ birthday one more time with a delicious dinner and some of the tastiest cheap wine I’ve had in a long time at a hidden gem of a restaurant, Henni’s Kitchen and Bar, tucked away about 30 minutes further up the gorge in White Salmon.  We enjoyed a specatular sunset drive along the might Columbia arriving at our “home” in time for a nightcap and an early visit with our comfortable beds.

I’d like to tell you that we hiked again on Sunday, but I can’t.  My butt muscles hurt, my quads hurt, my calves were like two sticks and nothing more than a short stroll to loosen things up was going to happen on the walking front. A rousing game on the hotel’s 18 hold putting course and a leisurely drive home completed our weekend walking adventure in the Columbia Gorge.

We picked up lots of brochures for upcoming Volkswalks all over the world.  We’ll be trying a few up near Port Townsend Washington soon.  We love exploring the world at 3 miles per hour.

See you on the trail.




Nothing Says Lovin’ Like Something From the Oven ~

It was swoon at first sight and love at first bite.

This weekend while a huge swath of the United Stated was hunkered down under ten feet of snow and bone chilling cold, Portland was aglow with bright sunny skies.   It was perfect weather for a winter walk.  All I had to do was convince hubs to pass on a little football, bundle up, and head out into the cold air and blinding sun.  Fortunately, I know the secret.  I enticed him with the promise of brunch and a new restaurant.  Works every time.


waiting for me to decide on our next tasty treat.

We headed over to the east side of Portland, where tucked away on a quiet corner of Hawthorne Boulevard sits a little slice of Heaven called Tabor Bread.   These folks are working more than a little magic with yeast and flour.  And the magic begins with locally grown wheat which they grind themselves.  Believe me when I say you can taste the love.


Real red wheat flour, spelt and kamut from local growers.

The flour mill.  How cool is that?

The flour mill. How cool is that?

The minute Hubs and I stepped into this delightful little shop our noses twitched from the heady aromas of yeast and sugar.   And here’s where my plan (not a resolution) went right out the window.  Cup of soup and half a turkey sandwich?   That was the plan.  Ha!  We were called immediately to the sweet, and oh so delicious, dark side – first up we shared a freshly baked pecan sticky bun.  Swoon.  That was devoured while we perused the menu.  Still trying to decide on what to order, we shared a tiny delight called a donut muffin.   DoMuf, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.   By this time neither of us was actually hungry and we were pretty well sugared-up, so we decided to be “good” and settled on two cups of rich, house-made hot chocolate and a plate of toast with fresh balsamic pear butter.  Oh my.  Is there anything better than toast made from thick slices of just out of the oven bread?  It was the perfect finish to our three course breakfast.  Oops!  We ate it so fast, I forgot to take photos.


Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven at Tabor Bread

The tiny dining room was warmed by the giant brick bread oven along the back wall.   It was comfy and cozy and so we lingered over our toast and chocolate and settled in to watch the show.  The baker never stopped his dance.  A wooden paddle with a 6 foot handle was Ginger to his Fred.  Piping hot loaves of all shapes and sizes slowly filled the racks.  The air even had a hint of smoke.  Did I say heaven?

Finally, with gooey fingers, full bellies, warm hearts and huge smiles on our faces, we agreed it was time to get on with the second leg of our adventure.  We waved goodbye to the kind folks at Tabor Bread and set out to walk off just a few of the 1,000 calories we had each just consumed.  Hubs led the charge and we headed up the hill and then up a little more until we reached the top of Mt. Tabor.   The air was crisp, the sky was blue, the sun was bright in the sky and the birds were a chorus cheering us on as we trudged up the path.  The view from the top was well worth the effort.  taborbreadwalkview  And then we took the easy way down. taborbreadwalkstairs

Happy Camper

Happy Camper

This was one of the tastiest close to home and on foot adventures we’ve had in a while.  We found a little bit of everyday magic at Tabor Bread We will be back…very soon.  Next time we’ll branch out and try some of the savory bread pudding that we didn’t have room for.



Lookin’ for a Quickie? ~ as in quick overnight escape


Wheeler Oregon

Wheeler Oregon

A great adventure can be found anywhere.  

One of my favorite things to do is throw our PJ’s and toothbrushes into a bag, jump in the car and head out to see what we can find no further than two hours and a tank of gas away from home.  We’ll head out early on a Saturday morning and be back in time for dinner on Sunday night.  Easy, (relatively) cheap and always entertaining. My new goal is to plan at least one of these little “quickie getaways” every month.

Gas prices in Oregon have dropped 40 cents/gallon.  It’s time to hit the road again!

A while back, on one of our quickie escapes, Hubs and I explored the quaint and charming village of Wheeler, Oregon.   Wheeler is tiny (pop. 414).  It’s an easy 1 1/2 hour drive from Portland and sits at the edge of the Pacific Ocean on Nehalem Bay.   In the early 1900’s Wheeler was a bustling railroad depot.  Trains delivered lumber and seafood from the bay into Portland.  Today tourism is the main industry.  Bustling?  Not so much.  It’s not much more than a dot on the map along US Highway 101, but whether you stop for lunch, some serious antiquing, or an overnight stay like we did, Wheeler is definitely worth your time.

Old Wheeler Hotel

Old Wheeler Hotel

We checked into the Old Wheeler Hotel – an eight room beauty with stunning views of the bay.

Lovely historical details like an old bellhop uniform display

Lovely historical details like an old bellhop uniform display

Like the town itself, the Old Wheeler Hotel is a tiny gem.  Full of charm, it’s complete with creaky wooden floors, well appointed rooms, lots of light, comfortable beds, quality linens and interesting antiques.  Many rooms have private baths, but a few have a bath “down the hall”.  Not to worry, they provide fluffy robes and the bathroom is “all yours” while you are there.   These folks are all about service and special touches. WheelerHotelDoorsign

At the end of the hall on the second floor is a common room with comfy couches, a small kitchen area,  a spectacular view, lots of board games and a large library of DVD’s.  If you hang out for a while, you are sure to meet some very interesting people.  We brought our own wine and cocktail snacks and enjoyed a sunset happy hour in the lounge.  That’s where we met the “ghost chasers”.  Adventure?  You betcha!

the "lounge" perfect for cocktail hour, breakfast or board games.

the “lounge” perfect for cocktail hour, breakfast or board games.

When we checked in, we were advised that the room I had originally reserved was not available and we were upgraded to another room.  Same spectacular view, but larger and with a spa tub.  We also noticed a lot of unusual activity for such a tiny hotel, but didn’t think much of it until we starting chatting with some folks over cocktails in the common room.  Turns out we had decided to spend the night at the Wheeler on the same weekend as a well-known paranormal investigation team was filming.  Yes, they had earlier tested the rooms for “activity” and our original room seemed a likely candidate for spirits.  We were spending the night in what had once been the Rinehart Hospital and, of course, not everyone left through the front door.  According to the investigation crew, the building was humming with interesting paranormal energy.   Nothing visited us during the night.  Perhaps the snoring from one particular side of the bed kept them at bay.

the spa room

the spa room

Twenty-Four Hours in Wheeler ~

This is a sleepy little place.  You park your car and walk.  Less than 10 minutes in any direction and you’ve covered it.  We still found plenty to entertain ourselves.  We wandered through two large antique stores and ogled beautiful art and handmade craft treasures at lovely little stories like Trillium.  Across the street from the hotel is a small marina offering boat and kayak rentals.  What a great way to explore Nahalem Bay.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have time on this trip.

the "main drag" in Wheeler

the “main drag” in Wheeler

There were so many great photo ops. Thank goodness I had my camera.   Across the bay is a wildlife viewing area where, if you are lucky, you will spot blue heron, eagles and herds of elks that routinely inhabit the landscape.  We just missed a herd of elk!  Or…maybe they say that to all the visitors.

morning view from our room

morning view from our room

I’m not always a fan of small town food, but we discovered an absolutely delightful and delicious restaurant called the Rising Star Cafe where we managed to slide into the last available table for a gourmet dinner.   Great food. great people. Great wine. Great fun!  There is also a fun pub and a quaint cafe within a half block of the hotel.

Wheeler is well located for exploring the North Oregon Coast.  It is a gorgeous 30 mile drive from the Tillamook Cheese Factory to the art galleries of Cannon Beach   Wheeler lies right in the middle.

We loved our overnight in Wheeler.  Sometimes great things really do come in small packages.

See you on the road!




30 Portland Adventures in a Wordle ~

Today is day 30 of the WordCount Blogathon.  We made it across the finish line.  Somebody cue the marching band!  Hand out the party hats and let the celebrating begin.

I feel like a ran a marathon.  I am exhausted.  But I can’t tell you how much fun I had finding and sharing 30 Fun, Funky and Fabulous Things to Do in and Around Portland.  I fell in love with my home town all over again.  I highly recommend playing tourist in your own city every now and then.

wordle Thank you Michelle Rafter and Jan Udlock for the hard work and creative and technical know-how that went into making the 2013 Blogathon a resounding success.  I am thrilled to have been one of the 213 participating bloggers.  I wasn’t sure I could write every day for 30 days, but I challenged myself.  And I did it.  The hubs and I had a more than a few great adventures just so I could write about them.  It was a tough order, but we were up to the job.  I wrote my first guest blog post – for a blogger in Japan.  How cool is that!  I discovered some fantastic new blogs that I will continue to follow and I made a few new friends as well.  Boy, I don’t think it gets any better than that.

Cheers to everyone who participated in the 2013 WordCount Blogathon.

Well done!


We Will Walk Anywhere For Food ~

In case you hadn’t noticed, hubs and I love to eat.  We also love to walk.  Put our two favorite things together and you’ve got Portland Walking Tours Epicurean Excursion.  We did this tour last year and, because I’ve spent the last three days knee deep in garage sale dust and don’t seem to have a creative brain cell still firing, I dug into the vault, dusted this post off and polished it up a bit so I could share the fun again.  I’m in the homestretch of the 30 day WordCount Blogathon and I don’t want to trip now with only eight more posts to go.

I hope you enjoy this tasty trek through flavor town.

I highly recommend all of the Portland Walking Tours  and their Epicurean Excursion was a definite winner!  Three hours seemed to fly by as our little group explored downtown Portland’s culinary scene, enjoying the smells, sampling the tastes, and sipping some tasty wine along the way.  Our starting point was the Heathman Hotel where we all gathered on the mezzanine to meet our tour guide and get acquainted.  We were a mix of locals and out-of-towners with one thing in common.  We were all ready for a great afternoon.

Epicurean Adventure in Portland

Epicurean Adventure in Portland

The tour stopped at ten different locations – specialty stores, several restaurants, a wine bar, and a cupcake shop.  We learned about finishing salts, tasted olive oils and vinegars, enjoyed a back of the house kitchen tour and met several of local chefs.

salt and spice tasting on the Epicurean Adventure

salt and spice tasting on the Epicurean Adventure

Our little band of food explorers meandered through Southwest Portland and into the Pearl District.  It was an easy mile and a half walk during which time our guide kept up a running and very informative conversation offering tidbits of Portland history, architecture, farm and food facts and a joke or three.  He was a wealth of local knowledge.  A tour guide by day and an improv comedian by night, he kept us very well entertained.

Delicious bites at every stop on the tour.

Delicious bites at every stop on the tour.

 At each stop we learned different aspects of the food culture that is alive and well in Portland and enjoyed a sample or two.  Some larger and some rather tiny, but all delicious.  Add in two glasses of wine and several mini cupcakes and we ended our afternoon feeling well-fed, well-informed and very well-entertained. foodtour4

Taking a tour in your own town is a great way to re-kindle the romance with your city.  You’ll learn things only tourists the take time to find out and enjoy a fun afternoon with your sweetie, your kids or your visiting dignitaries.   There are two companies in Portland currently doing food tours.  Portland Walking Tours and Forktown Food Tours.  We signed up with Portland Walking Tours.  The cost was $59 each, so it’s not cheap, but it was a lot of fun and we will do it again.

Bon Appetit!


Taking it to the Streets ~ A CityScape Adventure Race in Portland

I don’t watch The Amazing Race very often, but when I do, I am always intrigued by the puzzles and the obstacles that the teams have to work through.  I also root for “team old people”.  Go figure.  It all looks like so much fun – until somebody has to bungee jump or walk a rope bridge dangling over a crocodile infested river.  Count me out.  I’m not that much of a thrill seeker.

So, when I saw an opportunity to participate in a CityScape Challenge Urban Adventure Race, an Amazing Race type event right here in Portland, I thought “Why not?  How hard can it be?”  I signed up and told hubs what we were about do.  Sometimes, it works better that way.  He calls it “just shut up and get in the car.” cityscapeadventureteambackpack

On Sunday morning, Team JustaBackpack checked in at 11:00 a.m., received our race packet, sized up the competition, warmed up with a Bloody Mary for luck and then, just as the clock struck high noon, tore open our envelope to reveal the challenges before us.

Some teams warmed up like this.

Some teams warmed up like this.

Team Backpack and Rollie warmed up like this.

Team Backpack and Rollie warmed up like this.

The race was on!

Each team had to complete 12 challenges. There were clues, riddles and puzzles that required us to hunt for a location and then complete a challenge and capture it with a photo.   Speed was key.  We’re definitely not speedy!

The Challenges started like this…

Challenge # 1 – Find the 42 ton locomotive named Peggy and take a pic of your team in your best lumber jack pose.

Challenge # 2 – Winnepeg has the title of being this frozen drink capital of the world selling over 188,883 of these each month.  Drink one with your team and document with a pic.

We raced 129 other intrepid teams all over Portland – from the waterfront to the zoo, from the Japanese Garden to the only 7 Eleven in downtown Portland (Slurpee was the correct answer to Challenge question #2).  We walked, we ran, we took the light rail train, we squeezed into a city bus, and we ran some more.  We also stopped atStarbucks to refuel and figure out the answers to six anagrams and a riddle that led us to purchase a can of Evo or Wellness pet food and return to the start where we collected our last three clues.

Challenge:  Ask 3 strangers on the train to pose as the 3 Monkeys.

Challenge: Ask 3 strangers on the train to pose as the 3 Monkeys.

For the next 3 hours  and 31 minutes, we played a game of cat and mouse – trying to out compete, out strategize and out wit the other teams using only a smart phone, pen, $10 in dollar bills, and our own two feet and public transportation.

Doing our best Vrikasana at the gate to the Japanese Garden

Doing our best Vrikasana at the gate to the Japanese Garden

The first three teams across the finish line won cash. We were not one those teams.  We finished 64th.  But we gave it every bit of strength, experience and wisdom we could muster.  We were an awesome team!

And the winners are...not Team Backpack and Rollie

And the winners are…not Team Backpack and Rollie

We returned home totally spent but exhilarated.

Team Backpack and Rollie will definitely be back next year.

CityScape produces urban race adventures in cities all over the country.  If they come to your town, I say go for it.  We had a blast and I’m sure you will too.



The Big Float ~ Portland Takes it to the River

Not that long ago industrial development had so polluted the Willamette River that even fish wouldn’t swim in it.  It didn’t glow in the dark – but pretty close.  These days things have changed in Über Green Portland including the waters of the beautiful river that runs through the middle of our city.  Some days when the sun is just right, the water actually sparkles.  The fish are back and it’s safe to dip your toes in.  Heck you can get wet right up past your knees.  Hallelujah!

A celebration was definitely in order.  So, in true Portland style,  a few brilliant minds came together and created The Big Float.  This year’s float is scheduled for Sunday July 28 at 2:00 p.m.  Hubs and I, along with an unsuspecting house guest who will be visiting over that weekend, will be donning our life jackets, pumping up our inflatable boat and heading out to party with 2,000+ other crazies as they launch boats, rafts, inner tubes and anything else that floats into the Willamette.  Like every good event in P-town, the Big Float begins with a parade.  Here’s a great video of the 2012 float courtesy of Oregon Live.

The floaters launch their watercraft from the beach just under the Marquam Bridge (for you non-Portlanders, we have a total of 8 bridges that transport us back and forth from the west side of Portland to the east) and then float, paddle or drift down river to Tom McCall Waterfront Park just south of the Hawthorne Bridge.  That’s where the beach party begins.  We’ll be reclining in our raft,  sipping a frosty beverage and celebrating our cool, clear water of the Willamette.  After all, isn’t water the force of Life? Or something like that.

Our raft.  It hasn't been in the water for a while.  Hope we don't spring a leak!

Our raft. It hasn’t been in the water for a while. Hope we don’t spring a leak!

It all sounds like too much crazy fun to miss.  Here’s hoping for a warm sunny day because I know that water is going to be cold.

Paddle on!


Gastronomy Portland Style ~ Farm to Fork Dining

Farm to fork.  Those three little words are tossed around a lot here in Portland.  So many restaurants grow their own veggies out back or on the roof or at least have it delivered straight from the farm.  Heck, my son and his girl deliver greens and tomatoes from their own city garden to be tossed on delicious local pizzas.  You can’t get more local than that.

Or maybe you can.

The past two summers, hubs and I were lucky enough to score a place at the table for some of the freshest dinners in town (or actually just outside of town).  Plate & Pitchfork.  Yes, it’s a bit pricey, but worth every penny for this truly magical experience.  According to the folks at Plate & Pitchfork, what started with a simple idea — a meal that celebrated the amazing food grown in our own backyard, has evolved into a summer celebration. A gathering that reinforces the connection between the farm and the food on your plate.  I couldn’t agree more.

Plate & Pitchfork - even the menu is a work of art

Plate & Pitchfork – even the menu is a work of art

Here’s how it works ~ On weekend evenings in July and August, rotating pairs of top notch local chefs set up a kitchen smack-dab in the middle of a farm (orchards or vineyards work too) and create an exquisite meal to be served family style under the setting sun.  Everything is prepared in the field, under a tent, using only local bounty.  All paired with outstanding local wines and beers.

Prepping some very tasty nibbles

Prepping some very tasty nibbles

150 people, who secured their place at the table months in advance, drive out narrow dusty farm country roads to experience a little bit of Tuscany less than an hour from downtown Portland.  Diners mingle, wine glass in hand, and sample unusual nibbles such as chilled borage soup shooters topped with a bite of fresh crab or grilled lamb lollipops with fresh chimichurri dipping sauce.

chilled borage soup w/crab shooters

chilled borage soup w/crab shooters

Our first Plate & Pitchfork event was at Viridian Farms, owned and farmed by Leslie and Manuel Recio on Grand Island.   Everyone gathered in a field under the shade of the old Oak trees for a pre-dinner social hour.   We chatted with our adventurous dining companions for the evening and made guesses on the menu.   Then, fortified with more than a few delicious hors d’oeuvres and wine glasses in hand, we strolled through fields of every shade of green as our (by now) favorite farmer and guide, Manuel, explained how they selected the unusual herbs and vegetables growing in the fields, their connection with local chefs, and entertained us with stories of modern farm life.  It’s not easy!

Manuel of Viridian Farms shares his knowledge.

Manuel of Viridian Farms shares his knowledge.

We strolled on.  This time through fields blazing with golds, oranges and purples of edible flowers, and then… rows of tables with white linen cloths and sparking crystal classes had been set up in the shade of an apple and pear orchard – our dinner was waiting.

Now this is eating "down on the farm"!

Now this is eating “down on the farm”!

More wine!  More amazingly delicious food!  Very dusty shoes!  We ate, we drank, we talked, we laughed until the sun set.  I can truly say that this was one of the most enjoyable and memorable dinners of my life (so far).

Only slightly tipsy we slowly made our way back through the fields – this time in the dark with only the light of the full moon and a few well-placed lanterns to light the way!   Finding our car was an adventure in itself.

The fields looked different on the walk back.

The fields looked different on the walk back.

Plate & Pitchfork dinners sell out quickly but there are lots of other opportunities to experience farm to fork dining.  Give it a try.  Your taste buds will thank you.







A Walk Down Memory Lane – while we’re out enjoying the sun

30 posts in 30 days = a whole lotta posts!

Today, I’m taking a wee break from my laptop.   Hubs and I will be out walking in the Grand Floral Walk.  We have to be in downtown Portland by 7:30 a.m. to pick up our tee shirts and walk bibs and then head over the bridge.  The Rose Parade and our walk that precedes it both start on the other side of the river.  We’ll be putting in a few extra miles before and after our 4 mile parade route, and that’s a very good thing.  After the parade and a refueling stop, we’ll be staking out a spot in Waterfront Park so we can cheer on the dragon boaters. 2013-gfw-banner

Our favorite weatherman has predicted a warm and sunny weekend here in Portland.  Woo Whoo!   Sun is never guaranteed in June around these parts and we’ve been blessed in abundance this year.

While I’m out enjoying Portland Rose Festival events, I thought I would share a post from 2012.   This was one of the most entertaining and enjoyable city walks we’ve taken.  So many surprises!  Wherever you live, I highly recommend exploring your city on foot.

We Portlanders love to re-cycle so please enjoy this re-cycled post ~

In all my travels, I have one no fail rule.  When the rest of the country is taking to the highways for a three day holiday – that’s the perfect time for me to stay at home.  I’m not a lover of crowds, or traffic for that matter, so joining millions of people fighting for a camping space or a hotel room at the beach, or sitting bumper to bumper on the interstate…not my cup of tea.   I’m probably missing out on something, but so be it.

What I really wanted to do this weekend was take advantage of these last few gorgeous late summer days.   I know that any week now, it will start raining in Portland and it won’t stop until sometime in 2013 – say around June.  So, when Saturday morning brought us a beautiful sunny day, cloudless blue skies, and the masses out of town, we had the perfect opportunity for an in town adventure.  Hubs and I headed over the bridge and across the river into Washington State to explore the City of Vancouver (The ‘Couve) on foot.   Urban walking is my new thing since I bought the book “Walk There! 50 treks in and around Portland and Vancouver”.  My goal is to do all 50 at least once.  I’m up to four, but I only bought the book a few weeks ago so I’m feeling pretty good.

Today’s route had lots of historical points of interest.  Our walk was a 6+ mile loop that started  at Fort Vancouver.  We walked by the beautifully restored homes on Officer’s Row where Hubs stopped to read every one of the historical markers.  I bounced around trying to keep my heart rate up. 

Following the map, we wound our way over the Interstate and on into downtown Vancouver to Esther Short Park where the Saturday Farmers’ Market was in full swing.  We’d worked up an appetite and homemade tamales were calling us, so we stopped for lunch.   That’s when we stumbled into the middle of a Kumoricon convention.   Thousands of young people in the streets and the park, each dressed as the character they have created for online fantasy role-playing games.  (the simplified explanation that someone gave me).  We had stumbled into the world of Animé and Mange, and  it was absolutely one of those fabulous serendipitous moments that I love!    We reluctantly left the revels in the park and headed down to the shores of the mighty Columbia River where our path followed the shoreline for a couple more miles before turning inland and back up the hill towards the barracks of Ft. Vancouver.   We stopped to watch several small planes take off and land on a tiny air strip.  That’s when we discovered the best surprise of the day.  The Pearson Air Museum – two airplane hangers filled to the rafters (literally) with vintage planes, flight simulators, amazing old photographs, assorted gear… and Gordon, aviation buff extraordinaire.   Gordon knew everything about these beauties and had stories to share.  I chatted him up a bit and then went in with the big question (and a big smile to match).  “Uh, Gordon, do you think my husband and I could sit up in that plane and you could take a quick picture of us?”   “Sure, not a problem,”  said my new best friend.  He showed us how to climb into the plane and explained that this baby was a WWII era training plane.   I put on the headphones and learned how to move the rudder and the flaps and all kinds of cool stuff. Thank you Gordon! 

We spent an hour at the museum, and a return visit is definitely in order so hubs can play on those flight simulators.  Next, a short hike up the hill from the original Fort Vancouver.  It was a Hudson Bay Trading Post in the early 1800’s.  It’s now a National Monument filled with living history.   We crossed the expansive parade grounds, stopping to look at each of the old wooden barrack buildings – home to thousands of troops until the 1950’s.   If you stood still and closed your eyes, you could almost hear the footsteps of all those young men as they marched across the grass so many years ago.

Sometimes you don’t have to travel to the other side of the globe or even the country for adventure.  We had the backpack, but no rollies were required on our close to home sightseeing trek.  Four hours on foot + $15.00 for lunch and a donation to the museum + warm sun on my face + time spent outdoors with my walking buddy and partner in crime = a perfect Labor Day Weekend getaway.  And, we managed to get home in time for hubs to watch his favorite Saturday afternoon show, Trout TV.

Life IS Good.