Saturday, July 28, 2012


Portland was the last stop on our Oregon adventure. We arrived on July 4th and saw the fireworks from the Burnside bridge over the Williamette River. Williamette, incidentally, is not pronounced "William - ett". It is actually pronounced "Will-am-it". That's much easier to say. The first set of fireworks consisted of red crackers above green crackers - symbolic of roses, as Portland is of course the City of Roses.

We spent about 3 days in Portland. We visited the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, which is like your typical science museum. We also visited  the artsy Pearl District where we visited a few art galleries and partook in wine and cheese. There happens to be a lot of lavender in Oregon for some reason. In fact, there is a Lavender Farm on the way to Mt. Hood. We were hoping to visit Mt. Hood and the Lavender Farm but unfortunately didn't have time. Next time...

One day was also spent visiting the Nike campus in Beaverton. Oregon is not home to nearly as many Fortune 500 companies as Washington but Nike is one of them. The other one is Precision Cast Parts. The Nike campus is beautiful. There are many running trails and lakes. A high school football challenge (Nike Gridiron challenge) was taking place when we there. Each of Nike's buildings is named after a famous Nike-sponsored athlete - Michael Jordan, Pete Sampras, Jerry Rice, etc. That athlete's apparel is featured in the building's lobby.

Nike was founded by Phil Knight (currently Chairman) and Bill Bowerman, a track coach from the University. Bill is pictured to the left. Nike has an amazing store in downtown where this picture was taken.

We were fortunate to eat at several cool restaurants in Portland. One was Prasad - a raw vegan type restaurant that you find in Santa Monica and San Francisco. Prasad often gives their food away free of charge to homeless people. They promise to never let a hungry person go hungry. Little Big Burger was another cool place. This place serves really tiny burgers that are really tasty. We got a couple of veggie burgers and milkshakes here. Lastly, Portland has some amazing food trucks. We ate at an Ethiopian food truck which was excellent. There were just so many interesting food trucks to choose from - ethnic food that you've probably never even heard of.

Last but not least, what visit to Portland is complete with drinking at a microbrewery? We visited Deschutes. This brewery is named after Deschutes,  a river in Oregon that goes through the city of Bend. I really want to visit Bend because I love the name "Bend". Bend is named after a bend in the Deschutes. In any case, their beer is awesome. To the left you can see one of their 6 cup tasters. I downed them quickly, drinking from light to dark. Not only is the beer tasty but the ambiance is fantastic. The details - the tables, woodwork, and fixtures - are all top class.

Well, this is it for my whirlwind tour of Oregon. There is just something about this state that fascinates me. It's not commercial, there are more trees than you knew existed on earth, and the coast makes you think you're in Ireland. I'll be back at some point. Next time, I'll do some rafting on the Klamath, will visit Mt. Hood, and will get more cheese from Tillamook. I'll also visit a few more food trucks and visit Bend. Fortunately I have another trip to the Pacific Northwest scheduled in late September for my Tough Mudder in Seattle.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Tillamook, a city near the Oregon Coast named after a native American tribe, is famous for its dairy farms. Have you ever seen Tillamook cheese in the grocery store? Yup, that's from Tillamook, Oregon. We visited the Tillamook Dairy Farm museum, which offered samples of Tillamook Cheese and Tillamook ice cream, and the Blue Heron farm. It's a good thing I had my lactose pills with me. 

Looking at the daily schedule of a dairy farmer, I'm glad I didn't become one. I could not survive on 6 hours of sleep each night what with daily calf birthings to attend to. After visiting the dairy farms and sampling some cheese / ice cream, we drove back to the coast for a quick hike at Cape Lookout. Cape Lookout jets out into the Pacific Ocean and offers stunning views. From here, we took another spectacular drive east to Portland, 2 hours away.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Eugene & Oregon Coast

After visiting Crater Lake, we drove to Eugene for the evening. Eugene is home to the University of Oregon. Olympic trials for Track & Field had just ended. We went out to a few bars and otherwise had an 'uneventful' evening in Eugene.

The next day, we drove up the Oregon Coast to Tillamook. The Oregon Coast (also called "The People's Coast") is every bit as beautiful as people say. We took the 126 W from Eugene to coast and took the 1 north. There is a stunning Visitor's Center that I highly recommend called the Visitor Burerau near Newton. From here. there is a spectacular museum and a great view of the coast. There are several sofa chairs nicely laid out in front of a long, glass window where you could spend hours staring out into the rough but beautiful seas crashing into cliffs. When we were there, the waves were about 3-5 feet - pretty big. However, the waves get much bigger during the winter (as is the case in N. California). In fact, I would love to sit on these sofa chairs and stare out into the sea during a winter rain storm. Man, what a sight that would be. A little piece of Ireland on the West Coast. Maybe I'll surf this cove one day.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Crater Lake

Crater Lake is a massive lake in Klamath, Oregon that measures 24 miles in circumfrence and has a maximum depth of nearly 2,000 feet. The lake was formed when a volcano (Mount Mazama) collapsed and rain / snow accumulated in the crater over thousands of years. This was my 2nd time seeing Crater Lake, but I don't remember much from my first visit.

The drive from Ashland to Crater Lake was stunning. Once in the National Park, we decided against the two-hour boat tour and instead did a hike from the rim to the basin and back. The lake is crystal blue, with some parts around the edge aquamarine. This creates a multi-color reflection in clouds above the Lake.

At the Lake basin, we saw hikers jumping into the frigid lake waters. These jumps were captured by a lady taking pictures with a pinhole camera. I would have made this jump myself had I not come down with a cold - I have jumped off of many rocks into bodies of water in my time.
After the hike, we set off from the North side of the lake for Eugene. Our journey was significantly delayed by road work. At one point, we were parked for 15 minutes. But, we eventually made it to Eugene. 

Crater Lake is a must-see for folks visiting Oregon.   

Monday, July 2, 2012

Ashland Bound

One speeding ticket and 3 knocked down cones later, day 1 of the Oregon trip is in the books. Today, we drove from the Bay Area to Ashland - a 7 hour drive on the 5. We stopped for a break in Redding, which is around where we got the ticket. Blame that on the red car. Also blame that on the fact that I noramlly drive a '94 Honda Civic in which you can feel exactly how fast you are going.
So why am I in Oregon? Simple - I have the week of July 4th off and wanted to take a local, inexpensive trip. Also, I haven't been to Oregon in over 20 years. While we initially planned to drive all the way to Eugene today, we decided to break in Ashland to limit the driving and to do some extra sightseeing. We'll be visiting Crater Lake before heading to Eugene.

The drive to Oregon was stunning. For most of the 5 in California, the scenery was surprisingly cosmopolitant - not like the drive on the 5 from LA to the SF.I was getting a little disappointed until we reached Shasta National Forest - and then everything changed. We saw rolling, forrested hills, Mt. Shasta from several angles, and of course, Shasta Lake. I would say that the memories are coming back, but really they aren't - it's like seeing these places for the first time. 

Nightlife in Ashland is.....interesting. It revolves around Shakespeare. We went to a british pub for dinner and a few drinks. I think all of the other pub goers were Shakespearean actors / actresses of some sort. Do people in Ashland ever get bored of Shakespeare? 
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