Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summer Weekend

This weekend was the ultimate summer weekend.  A group of us made a day trip to Seattle on Saturday.  Tori and Alan had never been to Seattle (pretty understandable for Tori since she's only here for the summer, but Alan's lived here for over 3 years!).  So we made the 3 hour drive north and had a great day in the "Emerald City".  We first went to Pike Place Market where fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant, music is playing, and fish are flying - literally.  We bought some delicious Rainier cherries (just about the only cherries I'll eat now), sweet rasberry jam, an avacado the size of a small cantelope and fresh pluot (a plum apricot hybrid) smoothie to sip on as we walked around.

We headed down to the waterfront where Mount Rainier and the Olympic Mountain Range were in full view over the Port of Seattle which flows into the Pacific Ocean.  We walked around and enjoyed the views (even though it was quite warm and muggy on Saturday), dropped into the Central Saloon (Seattle's oldest bar) for happy hour, then headed to the Mariner's game - the real reason we made the day trip to Seattle.  The Mariners played the Boston Red Sox; and since the Mariners are dead last in the American League West standings, we weren't expecting much of a game.  Plus, there were probably nearly as many Boston fans as there were Seattle fans at Safeco Field.  But the Mariners suprised us and beat the Sox 5-1 in an exciting baseball game!  We made it back to Portland around 2am and I dropped into bed exhausted after a fun-filled day.

Sunday, Tori and I slept in (which was much needed) then headed to the Sauvie Island beach with Stephanie.  It was a perfect day to lay on the sand and read a book - so relaxing!  As we were driving through northwest Portland, we came upon a young boy who was standing on the corner with a pitcher of lemonade and a box of brownies.  Even though I'm not a big lemonade fan, I love supporting kids who have eagerly set up a lemonade stand to earn a little extra summer spending money (we have all done this at some point in our childhood).   When we got home that evening, we decided to top off our super summer weekend by treating ourselves to a Burgerville milkshake.  Sitting outside partaking in America's favorite pasttime, basking on the beach, slurping down lemonade and milkshakes to ward off the summer heat... we couldn't have asked for a better summer weekend!

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I have become somewhat obsessed with sunsets. In Portland in the summer, the sun doesn't set until around 9:00pm. I have found a few great spots to watch the sun set over the hills and mountains. Last night Stephanie, Tori and I watched the sunset from a cemetary in the west hills. It was gorgeous - like a ball of gold slowly nestling and covering itself in the cloud and trees. To me, the sunset is God's reminder that at the end of the day there is peace and beauty.

Last night's sunset in Portland.

One of the most amazing sunsets I've ever seen.
Taken in Uganda, January 2009. A real sign of hope.

Great are the works of the Lord; they are studied by all who delight in them.
Psalm 111:2

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tillamook Cheese

Tori and I have a list of things to do while she is in Portland for the summer.  A few of the items we have been able to check off our list include eating at The "Original" Taco House (a wannabe Tex-Mex restaurant close to our house), sitting on top of Mount Tabor to watch the sunset... and I guess we have a lot of things we still need to do.  Yesterday we checked another adventure off: visiting the Tillamook Cheese Factory in Tillamook, Oregon about an hour and a half west of Portland.  The cheese factory is definitely a hot tourist spot and was quite crowded yesterday.  We read about the history of cheese, fun facts (did you know that it takes about 10 lbs of milk to make 1 lb of cheese?), observed the cheese production factory and process line, and tasted some yummy cheese (including squeeky cheese which actually squeeks on your teeth when you eat it) and ice cream (banana split flavored).

After the factory tour, we headed to Lincoln City which is right on the Oregon Coast.  We ordered lunch to go, climbed up a sand dune and ate as we watched the waves roll in.  It was a beautiful day for sitting on the beach.  We layed in the sand and relaxed for a while before heading back to Portland.  It was another relaxing, wonderful, sunny summer weekend!

the drive from Portland to Tillamook - beautiful farm land

Tori tasting some yummy cheese

munching on some cheese while observing the factory

relaxing on the beach at Lincoln City

our lunch spot view

Friday, July 9, 2010

More Adventures in Wyoming

It has been a week of non-stop adventures here in Jackson Hole, WY.  I've pretty much dropped straight into bed when we get home every night.  Wednesday the girls (Jennifer, Megan, Mom and I) started the day off with an early morning horseback ride.  Our guide Chris led us through the scenic forested areas around the Teton Village.  It was a very peaceful ride and we saw several beautiful wildlife birds.

Wednesday afternoon we piled on a bus and headed down to the Snake River for whitewater rafting.  Another couple joined our group of 6 on a raft.  Ralph jumped right in and started cracking jokes with Les and Lee.  His wife Jeannie, on the other hand, was a frazzled mess.  First thing she did after she reluctantly crawled into the raft was turn to our rafting guide Peter and said, "I'm extremely nervous about this.  Is it okay if I get on the floor when we get to the waves?"  He did a great job of calming her nerves (somewhat) even though she threatened to jump ship a few times.  We all had a blast rafting down the winding river and paddling our way through the Class 3 whitewaters.  Megan and I were at the front of the raft and were pounded several times by waves that nearly knocked us out of the raft.  Jennifer kept getting a mouthful of water, Jeannie managed to stay off the floor and paddled quite well, and Ralph admitted to loosing control of his bladder once or twice.  It was a crazy ride to say the least.

Yesterday was another active day that took all of my energy.  Dad and I went for a 20 mile bike ride in the morning.  We had all talked about riding the sky tram up to the highest point in Jackson Village, but I thought it would be a good idea to hike to the top instead and then ride the tram down.  So Dad and I got on the 7.3 mile Summit Trail that winds up to the aeriel tram.  We started off at a pretty good pace and enjoyed hiking through the shaded woods and the nice views of the mountains across the Snake River.  But that only lasted for a couple of miles until we got on a gravel road that became our "hiking trail" for the rest of the way.  All I can say is, "Worst hike ever!"  We were completely exposed to the sun the entire time and we were practically walking on an uphill road of pebbles that seemed to never end.  We passed a middle-aged man about half way up who said through heavy breaths, "My family left me for dead 2 miles back."  "I feel ya, brother! I feel about 3/4 dead myself right now," I said trying to encourage him but mostly just vocally expressing how much I loathed this "trail".  Dad and I reached the summit at right under 3 hours (an hour less than the average time reported for this hike.  As I was dragging my worn out butt up the final 100 yards of the hike I saw my mom and Les walking around the summit looking fresh, cool and clean.  They had just gotten off the tram ride that took them an relaxing 10 minutes to the top of the 10,450 ft summit (an elevation gain of 4,200 ft).  Dad and I both agreed that it was an awful hike, but we felt accomplished at the end.  We treated ourselved to a margarita at dinner and a chocolate cabernet sauvignon ice cream cone as we walked around the Jackson city square last night.

Exhausted at the end of the hike. These smiles were forced.

I've decided that today is going to be a relaxing vacation day.  I layed by the pool with a magazine this morning and we're about to go for a short hike around Phelps Lake this afternoon.  Mom and Dad left to head back to Texas early this morning, so it's just Les' family and me for the next day and a half.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fly Fishing in Wyoming

Today was the first full day of my vacation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  We went fly fishing on the Green River with local fishing guides.  Uncle Les and I were in the boat with Spencer who was a great fly fishing teacher (and could really rock a mullet).  He taught us all about dry flies and nymphs, casting and mending, setting your hook and reeling the suckers in.  We spent a full day on the river and I caught a total of 16 fish!... twice as many as Les, the runner up.  Spencer was great about showing us exactly where to cast our line to reel in the most fish.  The weather and scenery were perfect.  It was such a peaceful and fun day.  I wish I could do this every day!

A River Runs Through It
"My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things - trout as well as eternal salvation - came by grace; and grace comes by art; and art does not come easy."

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sauvie Island Half Marathon

I did it: I ran my first half marathon!  This morning I ran the Foot Traffic Flat Half Marathon on Sauvie Island - the same place where I picked berries last weekend.  This was the perfect first half marathon because it was completely flat (thank goodness for no hills), the scenery was gorgeous (berry patches, crop fields, farmhouses, the river), and the weather was amazing (upper 50s and sunny with some clouds and a little breeze).

I found a "rabbit" at the very beginning of the race for me to follow and keep up with.  So for the first few miles I kept a good steady pace by keeping the girl in the white jacket in sight.  But then around mile 5 (about the time the Rocky theme "Eye of the Tiger" came on my ipod) I picked up my pace and passed her. I kept a pretty good pace throughout the race and my body felt great the whole time.  One of my goals was to pass more people than passed me.  It kind of became a mind game and I started thinking of the race as a Nintendo game - like I was accumulating points for each person I passed.

My main goal was to finish the race (13.1 miles) in less than two hours.  When I came to the final mile, I turned on the Chariots of Fire theme song and kicked it into gear.  It's a shorter song than I thought so when it finished I had to play it again to keep my momentum going for the last half mile.  I picked up to full speed and crossed the finish line at 1:56:57.  My coworker Mary Lee (yes we have the same name) was right on the other side of the finish line waiting for me and snapped a picture of me as I crossed (will post picture soon!).  Her husband Scott ran the race as well and is the one who talked me into signing up a few months ago.  Thanks for being my photographer and cheerleader, ML!

I had such a great time taking on the challenge of running a half marathon and honestly loved every minute of the race.  I'm already trying to figure out when I can run another one!

Organized Running
This morning as I was pulling up to the start line, I couldn't help but think how funny organized races are.  I mean we're paying money to run a long distance, waking up at an oddly early hour, and fighting traffic to join a crowd of thousands of other smelly runners.  There is definitely something more satisfying about competing in an organized race, though, that you don't get from just running around your neighborhood for exercise.  And it helps that you get a medal and fresh strawberry shortcake at the end of the race as well!