12 November 2014

Day 6 - Oregon and Yellowstone Trip

The morning dawns with Himself's phone going, beep, beep, beep ... with in-coming messages.  I fixed mine shortly after I got it, no sleepy-time beeps for me (except emergencies).

We see deer, rabbit, wild turkeys, squirrels, and small birds roaming the yard at 6 am.  This would a rafter of wild turkeys ... the non-alcoholic kind.

Breakfast is yogurt, granola, oatmeal, blackberries, apple, and dessert nibbles from "Cornbread Cafe."

We also watch low hanging clouds pour down the hillside.  A fascinating experience, I've never seen this kind of cloud movement in hilly terrain.  A poor video was taken, but video does not accurately represent reality in any way.

Start - Cloud bank moving in from the upper right. 

Finish - several hours later cloud bank covers the hills and valleys in fog.

We go for a hike around the property, but do not even make it one mile.  If I desire to maintain my cardiovascular health, I am going to have to start running while vacationing.  It is a good thing I've started working on my Jalie running short draft.  I need a bit more depth of body, but they have been excelling in yoga practice this vacation.

Lunch and dinner came from the fridge at the rental.  I am grateful for the oatmeal one renter left behind!

A panoramic view from our walk ... as the rain begins.

The rain begins to fall while exploring, and we head in.  I do not know why we bring rain gear on every single vacation!  It starts to rain, and himself heads for shelter.  No more rain gear on vacation Kira, you do not need to waste the space.

So far, I have not made use of my long sleeved items, my woolen pants (Icebreaker), nor my recent New Look woolen maxi skirt.  However, a quick look at the upcoming weather for Jackson, WY and West Yellowstone, MO lead me to believe I made the right choice in packing my winter weight items.

 Asolo Athena

I never realized how warm hiking boots could be until I started wearing my recent Asolo Athena acquisitions.  They will be must haves for future winter trekking.  They are not the best for slippery situations, but very little is in my experience. My VFF kangaroo leather trail shoes are, but the trade off is the lack of warmth ... and water absorption. They gain a lot of weight on a moist trail, even from morning dew.

 VFF KSO Trek, before soaking.

As for "accessories" I brought two sets of earrings for my double pierced lobes, and wear them daily.  I brought a single necklace, likewise to the earrings as to wear use.  I've slept in earrings and necklaces previously, but I no longer find that comfortable, so they rest by my bedside at night.  I put them on first thing in the morning. 

I brought no makeup, and that works well.  I never stop to think, man, I wish I had mascara, or blush, or foundation.  :)

Cococare's 2 oz bottle of oil.  I used it daily and still have most of the bottle remaining.

 Out of Africa's unfragranced Shea Butter, with vitamin E as a preservative.  I used half the tin.

I did bring a small bottle of oil in addition to my solid Shea Butter tin.  Both get regular use.  The Shea Butter helps with some extreme dryness I've been experiencing, mostly from wind.  And the oil helps my hands recover from the incredibly drying soaps everyone and their dog put out for use.  Honestly, I should bring my own soap to every restaurant, grocery, homestead, and rental I visit.  I'm tired of smelling perfume when I eat!

My Sherpani Soleil backpack, purse, and tote convertible is working out exactly as I needed.  My only complaint is that none of the smaller pockets inside are large enough to hold my wallet, so it rests at the bottom.  I would prefer an inside zippered pocket for wallet.  

I do find the non-removable tote carriers a bit irritating when I'm trekking along with any speed (they can bump against my neck).  But it was just what I needed, as revealed by my previous travel experience, and practically perfect in size.

Tom Bihn Aeronaut, purchased in Forest, now offered in Olive ... of course!

I also greatly appreciate my Tim Bihn Aeronaut - carry on size and has built in backpack straps.  It has worked out well, though I am second-guessing my decision NOT to buy packing cubes.  I could use a bit more "ease of room" to pack.  It is not packed to the brim, but close!  The extreme weather I've anticipated in my packing certainly does not help ... Days in the 90s (32C) and some evenings anticipated in the 20s (-6C).  A bit of a temp swing.  Layering just does not quite cover it.


Manduka eKO Superlite Travel Mat

And my Manduka eKO Travel Yoga Mat has been a very useful purchase.  It is getting daily use, and is loads better than either a bare floor or a towel.  Is it as good as a full size (and thickness) yoga mat?  Absolutely not!  However, it is a great alternative to nothing at all.  If it lasts for 4 trips, I will consider it money well spent.  Especially since I can (and do) fold it up in my Aeronaut traveling between destinations.

I'm sketching regularly on my SketchBook app by AutoDesk, and it is incredibly useful ... one can save those images in the photo album.  I like to sketch quilt ideas in it.  And clothing ideas.  And landscapes.  And generally just play around with the app.

I appreciate more and more the aspects of smart phones that make saving thoughts and ideas easier than carting notebook and pen everywhere.  I know some people work with that system well, but I always returned with notebooks that got put away, generally losing the included info for years (perhaps decades).

I resisted a smartphone for quite some time, Himself had to twist my arm (figuratively) forcefully before I caved.  Mostly, I resisted due to the recurrent cost issues, I'm cheap that way.  However, they have me now.  I'm not sure I could easily transition back.

Day 5 - Oregon and Yellowstone Trip


Yoga in the morning, and a picture of my Pincha Mayurasana.  And I got into it fairly easily.  Whew.

The belt around my arms keeps my elbows from splaying out, something I just cannot yet control without assistance.

Pack, run load of dishes, toss towels in washer.

Head out to Corvallis to look at a house for sale and a quick exposure to the city as a possible retirement community.

Himself's comment on Corvallis is that the downtown area looks well cared for, with none of the disuse we see in some downtowns.

Not run down and not ritzy is a follow up as we drive through Junction City.

The house is on property that is much more elevationally exposed than the photos reveal.  I do like the community though, so I will keep an eye on property in the area.

I notice a lot of wildlife along the major roadways.  That indicates a fairly healthy ecosystem, or they would not be so close to civilization.

Himself is determined to use the Garmin GPS unit to navigate to gas stations.  If it says there's an Exxon there, there should be an Exxon.  Unless it has another name and Garmin has not updated their system.  Disregard the fact that I have the exxonmobil site pulled up on my phone showing the current locations, nope, you will enter the data that Garmin tells you to ... So, fine.  

At least we are not driving out if the way when we get to the ConocoPhillips station that Garmin has directed us to visit!!!  And Kira is right again.

Lunch at Cornbread Cafe, Fried Tempeh with Mac n UnCheese, and fries; a salad; and portobello with mashed potatoes and gravy, and sautéed spinach.  I get too many desserts to go ... And himself gets jalapeño cornbread to go!  :)

We drive along watching the terrain get hillier and drier as we head south.

Stop at Ashland co-op for food fixins.  I'm quite impressed by the co-ops in Oregon, they are well stocked and highly variable.  

Slowly wending our way to the rental south of the city, the area is gorgeous, dry, and isolated.

Weather tells me it will not be dry much longer.

No wi-fi, no internet at all.  But we do have a tv, and room for yoga downstairs.  I may be doing a LOT of yoga in the next couple days ...

Day 4 - Oregon and Yellowstone Trip


A trestle we pass under to reach the rental ... Trolls, under the bridge!  Where else would you find them?  ;)

Bridges, Portland has many

A lovely flower at the garden (this is a gardenia of some type, perhaps a variety of Gardenia jasminoides, the single ring of petals is rare in my experience with Gardenias)

Chinese Bonsai ... called Penjing ... this is approximately 1.5 ft tall (46 cm)

Chinese gardens are heavy on the rock ... they imported tons for this location

Breakfast repeat, and I've finished the peanut butter.  :(

Drive to Lan Su Chinese Garden via bridges and wherever our hearts lead us.  Some of Portland reminds me of older Michigan areas, some are reminiscent of St. John's Newfoundland.  We definitely see the people who would turn heads at home: tattoos, extraordinarily long hair on guys, and mega big plugs in earlobes (almost non-existent in Houston).  The bearded male ratio is high here, facial hair is usually eliminated at home.  So there are some visual adaptations to make.

But, I rarely see high heels, people dress comfortably, and I never hear any discussion of fashion.  

The weather has cooled and the sky appears to look more like what I expected, a bit clouded.  I'm quite enjoying myself with this turn in the season.

Our first stop for the day is Lan Su Chinese Gardens.  Their propaganda shares the large number of Chinese artisans, stone placers, and gardeners temporarily imported to build the garden.  And the grounds consist mostly of Chinese plants (any plant with chinensis as the species name is almost guaranteed originally discovered in China: Rosa chinensis, Tsuga chinensis, and Juniperus chinensis).  Not to mention that the vast majority of landscaping plants we find in the local Home Depot or Lowe's evolved in China.  

While the garden's focus on all things Chinese is understandable, I can't help but wonder "what about the Oregon-based effort that went into the build?"  No illumination.

I do wander through the gift shop (I am determined to find myself a little something as a trip reminder) and see a beautiful scarf.  I am somewhat off-put by the price, but the loose weave is the kicker that ruins it for me.  I cannot wear loosely woven scarves for long, they tear up on dog nails (or human nails), furniture, or door knobs within 30 minutes of donning said item.  Onward.

We decide to skip the River Tours we originally planned to experience.  They do not show what himself wants to see (the bridges) unless you are in a speedboat, and the lone independent operator does not go out until 7 pm.  A wee bit too late to see the bridges well.

Lunch at Tangier Restaurant, I stick with their vegan menu, which may be on the way out since they are transitioning to a Moroccan menu under new management.  Himself orders from the Moroccan options.

Vegan Mezze platter, Ful Maddamas, Moroccan Eggplant Dish, and Moroccan Chicken.  Everything is extraordinarily tasty.  I would go back.

We drive out to Woodburn Outlet to see the Icebreaker and Helly Hansen shops.  The hubby finds 3 t-shirts and various socks and I find a tank.  I wish they had more natural colors for gals.  Is green available?  Only if it is a bright, eye-searing green!!!  Yuck, gimme an olive or sage.  I'm very tempted by the guys side of the shop: warm, inviting colors.  Too bad it would not come close to fitting ... this is why I sew. 

Back to our rental for laundry, packing, and planning our next day in Corvallis.

We do find that GPS and the street signs in Portland share very little in common, making 3D navigation of overpass/underpass/bridges that much more difficult.  I'll blame Garmin.

Himself's opinion of the area?
"Driver's more realistic about the situation than Houstonians."

06 November 2014

Day 3 - Oregon and Yellowstone Trip


Get up, wash socks and towels. 

Breakfast a repeat of yesterday.

Once socks are dry, head east to the Columbia River Gorge area.  I have three waterfalls on my list for sightseeing today: Latourell, Angel's, and Horsetail.

The drive out is rather pretty, with views of the Columbia and Washington just off to the left.

Latourell Fall's is easy to find and we immediately head for the upper falls area, if himself's recent ingrown toenail surgery area begins to irritate, we can turn back before the midway point.

The hike is nicely taxing, and gives a pretty wonderful view of plants and water features.  We see and hear very few animals.  Not even birds are in the area.  Strange.

Nursery Tree along Latourell path

Flower on Latourell path

Hollowed out tree 

The falls are lovely, and some of the trees grow so heavy with moss.  Too cool!  Other trees have such unusual growth structure - I wonder what forces caused their curves and direction changes?

Thorny leaf guarding Latourell path (evolutionary biologists believe these types of spikes offer protection from herbivory ... it certainly discourages me from taking a bite)

Interesting tree growth along Latourell path (hurry up with that photograph ... I'm about to slip!)

Upper Latourell Fall's

We have a picnic lunch at the far SW portion of the falls hike.  We made it through all 4.5 or so miles (7.2 km).  With more elevation than these sea level lubbers are familiar, we took a couple photo op breaks to rest our hearts! 

Upon returning to the vehicle, we decide there is only enough time for one more falls (a daylight return in this unfamiliar territory is a must).  Internet equipped phone to the rescue as a quick photo search yields the opinion that Horsetail Falls will interest us more than Angel's, so further east we drive along the Historic Columbia River Hwy.

Ponytail Fall's, visitor free

 Ponytail Fall's, visitor full

Horsetail is a much shorter trail than Latourell (the horsetail portion is the lower bit you can see from the road, but Ponytail Falls is the bit requiring a climb).  OTOH - the elevation change is much more noticeable compared to Latourell.  Whew, you are winded when you reach the top!  It feels like you start out straight up, and that's about how you feel when you reach the upper falls area.

I stopped and chatted with a lovely mother, Heidi, her son, and their two dogs, Atreu and Paco.  We had a awesome visit.

Back down to the car, and back home happily exhausted by the day.

Leftovers are pizza from the night before, and dessert.

Yoga before bed, and I kick up into Pincha Mayurasana again.  Two days in a row.  And I held it for several seconds.

31 October 2014

Day 2 - Oregon and Yellowstone Trip


I plan our day in the morning while watching the sun rise.  I could live here!  The evening weather is marvelously cool and the views are spectacular.

Breakfast includes oatmeal, collected berries, and left over peanut butter, a tortilla with Daiya cheese and tofu.

Our main goal for the day - the Portland Japanese Garden.  With its minimal use of concrete, I rather enjoyed the layout and plant exhibits.  The small number of attendees made for a serenely enjoyable morning.  Beautiful LIVING Japanese Maples were everywhere (I've successfully killed every single Japanese Maple I've purchased ... I had plenty of help in the form of he who turns off the automatic watering for vacation).  This park morning was a lovely start to our day.  Not many pictures, more of an experience to simply live within.

Fencing at the Portland Japanese Garden.

A walkway at the Portland Japanese Garden.

The largest waterfall at Portland's Japanese Garden.

Afterward we drive toward Veggie Grill in downtown, find parking (not the easiest thing to do in the city ... I wonder what tourist season is like?), and bip into the Mountain Hardwear store to peruse their gear (the hubby finds a jacket - does he want it?  Does he need it?  Will he use it?  Will he dispose of some items to make room for this new jacket ... Hmmmmmm).

Off to Veggie Grill for lunch: chili, portobello skewers, and Chickn' Salad.  

Back to Mountain Hardwear to purchase jacket for himself.  Yes, he wants and needs and will wear it.  And yes, he will get rid of his ratty old jacket and even more ratty hat in order to make room for the newest arrival.  I will hold him to it!  (Update - the hat was left behind in Yellowstone, and the new jacket was worn daily at the park.  The ratty old jacket?  I'll have to search for that one ...)

Then to the Oregon Rail Heritage Museum.  It has several large engines, but it's all train to me.  I remember the building was hot!  The days were hitting the 90s (32 C) and that glass exterior was an excellent greenhouse.  Pant, pant.

Retail therapy follows at Icebreaker clothing store.  They have released my Villa skirt in chocolate (oh, my color!), and I snap it off the rack in a moment (I think I strained something).  If anyone had eyed my find, there could have been a fight ... that's mine!  

While checking out, I hear about their outlet in Woodburn, we must visit on our way south.  Ah, more merino clothing in my future ... possibly.

Sizzle Pie bound for dinner to go: Word Salad, mushroom and black olive for himself, broccoli and tomato for me (they have Daiya cheese). Sizzle Pie is in a rougher area of town, but I noticed it is more "wannabe rough" compared to Houston!  

We have seen more tattoos here than any other city we've visited, and certainly more full sleeves than I have ever glimpsed.  We joke that if we were to move to the area, we might have to succumb to an ink gun in order to better fit within the populace (we are currently tattooed by nothing but the natural scars that develop living life).  Alternatively, we could invest in gobs of stick-on tats!  (You think the neighbors would figure us out?)  

According to Charli Shuler's TotalBeauty article "10 U.S. Cities with the most Tattoos" Portland is the 6th most tattooed city in the US, based on tattoo parlors to population.
1) Los Angeles, CA
2) Kansas City, MO
3) Honolulu, HI
4) San Francisco, CA
5) Austin, TX (obviously, I haven't been to Austin in a while)
6) Portland, OR

Rental bound for rest and relaxation.  Yoga in the evening ... I held Pincha Mayurasana against the wall for several seconds!  Wahoo!  Of course the grace which with I throw myself again the wall leaves much to be desired ...

Astavakrasana at the Portland Japanese Garden ... this was not held long enough to get great pics!

And Crow at the garden

Day 1 - Oregon and Yellowstone Trip


Oregon has been on my must see list for several years.  I fell in love with Western Washington in 2008, but it seems awfully expensive ... not to mention really wet.  California suffers from the same dollar shock issues, but is far too dry.

Oregon must fall somewhere in the middle, right? 

Himself has a lifelong love affair with Yellowstone, and has (repeatedly) suggested it as a vacation destination.  I finally agreed, but only if I could spend a week in Oregon on the same trip.

Little brother plays chauffeur for our mid morning flight, the sky is raining.

A small hitch, our TSA agent (initials GPL) will not follow TSA's own identification requirements.  He actually said, "Well, I will not accept your ID."  Wow!

Another hitch, there's a seriously noisy kid behind us on plane, it cried for about an hour (I vacillated between "poor thing" and "ugh!").  Himself has a pair of noise cancelling headphones.  A good friend who regularly flies internationally has a pair of noise cancelling headphones.  Both have urged me to get myself a pair ... now I know why.

Last hitch, I slept somewhat, but my seat did not recline, so sleep was neither deep nor comfortable. 

And thus begins our Oregon experience.

A view from the plane ... we have reached Oregon.  But what mountain top are we photographing?  Is that Mount Hood?

Portland showcases a very nice airport - clean, easy to maneuver.  First built in 1959 according to wiki, it has been updated and expanded several times.  But compared to Houston International Airport (opened 1969) and Denver International Airport (opened 1995), I was blown away by its updated, modern, and CLEAN facility.  I will grant that Houston and Denver experience a much higher passenger load than Portland, between 3-4 times as many visitors.

The current art installation (by Jacquline Hurlbert) consisted of eye-catching sculptures.   

Following the hour or so I spent at their awesome little visitor's center, I leave piled down with several pounds of pamphlets, magazines, and publications for the entire state.  I spent several hours pouring over this information later on ... and have kept several of them as reference material.

A small section of Hurlbert's art installation at the Oregon airport.

A rental was acquired (a Dodge Durango?) and pointed downtown for a drive to luncheon destination "Veggie Grill."  Nachos, Quinoa Power Salad, and Crispy Chickin' Plate.

Heading for a grocery store found us dodging construction, closed streets, and an interesting parking situation.  Yes, you may put your 1.5 hour parking charge on a credit card.

The "Whole Foods" stock up experience always intrigues.  The differences from one part of the country to another fascinates me: store layout, size, manufacturers offered, prices, etc.  Not to mention how local is their local produce?

We finally navigate to our rental home NW of Portland.  Lovely area.  Property has blackberry shrubs loaded with fruit, and we spend an hour or so picking through what we can reach!

Blackberry haul ... in a soup mug.

Sit through Roku TV experience, we are not impressed ... No local news.  Repeat, not impressed.

Our rental is missing some basics: water glasses, kitchen towels, measuring spoons, toaster oven, tea, and spices.  However, there are several types of salt!

I begin my yoga in the evening habit, planning to make use of my Android tablet to play several stored hours of YouTube video each day.  Pincha Mayurasana is so close ... my shoulder girdle strength improves with each dolphin.  Shana Meyers, the yogi at http://yogathletica.com/, has some awesome tutorials.

A view from our rental ... the blackberry shrubs are 5-6 feet tall (1.5-1.8 meters) in the foreground.  Our host gave us such a funny look when we asked if picking was acceptable ... we later realize the entire multi-acre property is surrounded by the plants!