tour of oregon

Having visitors is the best, because we get to do all of the things we love doing, but also get to discover new things! This past week, we had more family come visit and we did all kinds of stuff - from the Cascades to the coast. Here are some pictures from the first part of the trip (there are far too many to stuff into one post!).

We started off by driving up the Columbia Gorge and were happy to get perfectly sunny weather the entire day. We stopped a few places we'd never been before, including where I took the above picture (the tiny building is a tourist stop from the early 1900s)! The view from the top of the gorge is pretty unbeatable.

We love driving on the scenic old highway that goes parallel to the Columbia river - even if we weren't stopping at sights along the way, it's just so much nicer than the freeway! And after you rejoin the freeway, it's only 15 or 20 minutes til you arrive in Hood River - a short drive made even nicer by the old road.

When we drove up to Hood River, we were treated to a perfect view of Mt. Hood - probably the clearest day we've ever seen while up there! The spoiled goats probably get this view all the time.

On the way back, we stopped by Multnomah Falls for a pretty sunset view - even though it was Labor Day, there were hardly any people there. We were really surprised, since it's usually extremely crowded!

There's more to come, and lots more printing, too! We'll update again soon.

coastal cooldown

This summer's weather has been perfect - warm but not too hot, not at all humid, almost always sunny - well, perfect until this last week. The

excessive heat warning

was all over the news. We were prepared - we watered the garden extra and got out our fan for the second or third time this summer. The day it hit 95º, we went to the mall just to wander around in the air conditioning. The day it hit 100º, we shut all the windows, closed the curtains, and tried to wait the heat out. We even managed to get some work done! That night, when it was still 85º inside at 9pm, we decided that enough was enough - and that's why we got up early the next day to drive out to the coast. It's never hot on the coast!

astoria
seaside

We drove up to Astoria, the cute old town we first went to when my mom and sister were in town. After eating lunch, we wandered down to the Columbia river and sat on a bench overlooking some old piers. After a few minutes, a really cute sea lion swam right by with its head above the water. We saw lots of seabirds as well - Astoria is right where the mouth of the Columbia hits the Pacific Ocean. If you cross the bridge to go to Washington, there's a large animal sanctuary that lots of migrating birds visit.

After our riverside rest, we strolled through town, poking our heads into shops here and there. We visited a thrift shop, an antique store, and a Scandinavian home goods store. The antique store reminded us of an architectural salvage place in New York that we used to love.

astoria
seaside

The store is housed in what used to be the Hotel Astoria - built in the 1920s, it was once a grand hotel. It fell into disrepair in the late '70s before (luckily) being made a historical building and saved. Now, it's apartments above with shops on the first level. One room of this antique store was once the lobby of the hotel - now, it's a disintegrating shell of its former self - but in a cool way.

The ceiling now - and

here's a picture of the room in grander times

. It reminded us a lot of this post-apocalyptic video game series called Fallout that we both really like - kind of '50s, kind of creepy, falling apart.

We ended the day with a short drive down the coast to Seaside, where we sat on the beach for a while and ate sushi before coming back to Portland. We put off returning as long as we could, but by the time we arrived, it was cool! It was as if the 100º day hadn't even happened. We'll definitely be making the short trip to the coast next time the thermometer climbs that high...but hopefully that doesn't happen anytime soon!

the fruit loop

Out in Hood River, the closest large town to Portland along the Columbia, there's a loop road that travels through the nearby countryside that's called the Fruit Loop because of all the fruit orchards that it passes. We've been out there tons of times - it's only about an hour from Portland, the scenery is fantastic, and the fruit is the same. While my mom was visiting, we struck east because cherries are in season in a major way right now. Hood River has a bunch of cherry farms, but we got lucky at the first one we stopped at and picked over 10 pounds of cherries!

I don't know about you (and I'm a little ashamed to admit it), but I never even knew how cherries grew! I mean, I knew generally that they grow on trees, but I never expected them to hang in such great numbers off of every branch of the cherry tree! It was surprising, having only seen ornamental cherry trees before. It took no time at all for us to pick our 10 pounds.

After we said goodbye to the cute farm cat, we went up the road a bit to a lavender farm. The lavender festival was the week before and it was the perfect time of year for it - this farm had u-pick, so we snipped huge bunches of lavender for $3 each.

Not bad, and all with a fairly lovely view of Mt. Hood in the background. To finish off the day on the Fruit Loop, we stopped at a winery and enjoyed the first wine tasting that any of us had ever been to. It was nice and relaxing and we tried some really tasty wines! We'll have to do it again sometime.

sunset on the beach

Is there anything better than sunset on the beach? As much as sunrise on the east coast is nice, getting up at 5am isn't. Sunset out here on the west coast is perfect - it's warm, you can build a fire, and it doesn't interrupt your sleep patterns (very important to me!).

These photos are from when we stayed in Seaside with my mom and sister for a few nights. We had a cute little condo right by the beach and the promenade. We only got one perfect sunset because of cloudy skies but one was enough to last me a while!

coastal hiking

While my mom and sister were visiting, we stayed out at the coast for a few days - the first day was sunny and warm; the other days, not so much. In the end, though, it was a good thing - we did some hiking that would have been made a lot more tiring if it were hot and sunny instead of cool and misty!

The hike we did was in Ecola State Park, which has a great view of the rocks off the shore at Cannon Beach. The trail we hiked was really muddy in places and was constantly going up and down forested hills. There were hardly any other hikers on the trail and we had beautiful views for the whole trip - before the turnaround point of our journey, a little rocky beach.

cliff views
hollyhocks
mushrooms
forest

The coast is such a special place - one minute, you're in a forest that's almost completely quiet, and the next you're on top of a cliff over the rocky shoreline with the sounds of waves and seagulls filling your ears.

We ended our hike at a small rocky beach that was absolutely packed with surfers. It was a really nice spot to sit down and take a break before returning the same way we'd came. We saw some people getting surfing lessons - maybe someday, we'll have to try it too!