Thursday, July 16, 2009

Out West for a Bit

Hubby and I traveled to Oregon over the July 4th holiday weekend - we traveled for two reasons: 1) to attend a wedding on July 3rd for one of my best guy friends ever, and 2) to spend some time together away from work, PA, and our apt (sadly, that also meant our little Grady Bones, too). I had it planned that we'd spend the first night away in Portland then travel to Bend, OR, for 3 nights, and then the last two nights were up in the air (we weren't sure if we wanted to spend more time in Portland or try to make a run for the coast). I tried to highlight some of our travels here (if you'd like to read about it).

Per usual Bran and Mere fashion, our first night was kind of a bust as we weren't really prepared for what to do or see in Portland. Once we settled into the hotel and got cleaned up, we wandered the streets of the city in search of food (we're almost always driven by food in our travels). I like to try places that are popular with the local people, so we asked around and no one really suggested anything exciting except the food carts (that were in the process of closing down booo). Armed with iPhones, we did the best we could to find something to eat (damn you semi-fancy hotel for charging $17.95 a night for wifi, while I can get free wi-fi at the cheapie hotels!). side note: Thank goodness for our phones! They were such a great help with food suggestions (thanks to the nifty Apps available) and with map directions (although, my interpretation of those directions is less than desired...).

The next day was much more exciting as we made a stop at Peet's Coffee & Tea and Voodoo Doughnut before driving to Bend. The coffee was deliciously strong, and the doughnuts were more than delicious.

There was this humorous "sign" on one of the buildings nearby.

We also walked around the Riverfront Area (Willamette River) and observed the locals. There was a nice fountain called Salmon Street Springs where the kids gravitated to (makes sense due to the 90 degree weather).

Perhaps the only photo of me during our travels :) (note to self: get Bran his own camera!)

The drive to Bend was GORGEOUS. The first 45 min of it was mostly driving through strip mall areas, but eventually we were out of the city (and its borough areas)...and we were out in the open where there were mountains and hills and nature! Here's just a few shots during the drive from Portland to the high desert of Bend!

Along the way, as the elevation increased, you could see the noticeable difference in the amount of trees alongside the road. This is partly due to the low amount of rainfall (normal for the high desert), but I hear it's also due to an out of control infestation of bark beetles. You could see many MANY dead trees. These beetles aren't invasive, but they are thriving more than ever due to the unfavorable changes in climate over the past 20 years (if you believe there have been changes in temps). The winters aren't getting cold enough to kill them off each year so they are multiplying in record numbers and killing off the trees instead. :( I'm not sure if I have this issue completely understood, but it's definitely something I'll look into when I have more time.

We finally reach the Hillside B&B in Bend (our destination for the next three nights) where we meet our Innkeeper Annie. She was great, and her house was beautiful!

We stayed on the second floor in our own suite.

We did a quick clean up and change, and then we were off to one of the outdoor pavilions within Sunriver Resort for a "Wedding Celebration Grill/BBQ" (aka casual rehearsal dinner for every guest). Sunriver, OR, is about 30 min from Bend, and it's pretty much an all inclusive "resort". The majority of the wedding party and the guests stayed in Sunriver, but I found it too expensive for our short stay. So with the 30 minute drive, we had to be extra on time to make sure we weren't late for the events. The BBQ, though, was fantastic - amazing food (I can only describe my meal as a mix of bruschetta and tri tip beef with grilled veggies) and an entertaining cornhole tournament. It was also good to see some of my old acquaintances from Ohio there. We stayed out late with other guests and part of the wedding party, which was also a good time. Bran got his poker fix in, and I got to know some of the groom's friends better (those that are not from our high school).

The next morning we went white water rafting on the Deschutes River, and it was such a great time! We did a trip called the Big Eddy thriller, and it left us wanting more. I don't have any pictures, unfortunately, but I can tell you that I swallowed a lot of water and got a lot in my eyes. BUT I did not fall out of the raft or hit anyone with my paddle. :) We then had lunch at The Trout House, which is a little restaurant in Sunriver that's situated right by one of the marinas on the Deschutes River. As we ate lunch by the windows overlooking the river, we watched countless numbers of people (and dogs) launch their boats, kayaks, canoes, inner tubes, etc., to float down the river. Food was OK but the view was quite lovely, actually.

The wedding was this same day in the evening at 5pm. The ceremony was outside and Mt. Bachelor was seen in the background. It was truly picturesque. Here are some pics from after the ceremony.

The wedding party:

Two well-dressed sillies:

This is the interior of the Great Lodge (aka Camp Abbot) where the reception took place. I'm sure my photo will not do it justice, but just know that it is a beautiful building with a lot of very interesting history.

There was much fooding, dancing, drinking, and reminiscing during the reception. Aside from my own wedding reception, it was the most fun I've had at a wedding. This was also honestly the most beautiful wedding I have ever attended. The colors, scenery, people, bride's gown, location, and reception (plus so many other things), meshed so well together.

The next day was July 4th and I had planned for us to go kayaking in the afternoon. We got picked up in Bend upon which we were driven up to Cultus Lake that's located in the Cascades. We were joined by a family of four and a couple. They were all a lot of fun, and I think we were all newbies at it. The kayaks were 2 seaters, so it was interesting (and often hilarious) for Bran and I to get the timing and motion of the paddling just right. This excursion was supposed to include a tour around the lake with stories from our guide about the area, but we only got to hear one story due to thunder being in the area. When the guide finished his story about NASA astronauts from the 1960s training on the volcanoes in the area (they thought the terrain may be similar to the moon's terrain), we quickly paddled to the shore and waited for 15 minutes to see if we heard thunder again. If we didn't, then we'd venture back out onto the lake. Luckily, there was no more thunder! So we got to spend a few more minutes on the lake, but we didn't get to hear anymore stories :( Still it was a good time, and I think it was a good activity for Bran and me. We'll definitely be looking into doing more kayaking in the future. Here are some photos of our kayaking adventure:

Hubby before we left the beach:

The only pic I managed to take while on the lake:

Two sillies during the thunder waiting period:

We stopped for a swim in this part of the lake:

The water was chilly, but not unbearable. It was a really good time!

To celebrate July 4th, we met much of the wedding guests at Les Schwab Amphitheater to watch the fireworks get set off from Pilot Butte. Apparently, with it being the high desert, the Butte always catches on fire. We heard many of the locals joking about this, and we actually got to witness it as well. Since it happens often, the fire department was ready for it and they got the fire under control within 30 seconds. The fireworks were OK (not as impressive as Columbus' or State College's), but fireworks are always fun. It was also good to see some of the wedding guests again along with the bride and groom.

We decided to go back to Portland for our last two nights. Again, the drive between Bend and Portland is AMAZING!

I have always thought that driving through Pennsylvania is really beautiful (and it still is), but Oregon is pretty impressive. After checking into our hotel in the city, we headed to the Safeway sponsored Waterfront Blues Festival. The purpose of the five day festival was to get food and monetary donations to support Oregon's food banks (we donated four cans of tuna!). I knew this festival was going on before we left for Oregon, and I got lucky that two acts were playing that Sunday night (the last night of the festival) that I REALLY wanted to see: Ryan Shaw and Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings.

This is Ryan Shaw:

Two sillies in between performances:

The one and only Sharon Jones and her band:

I had such a great time seeing them! I still can't believe I actually got to see them perform. I wish we could have seen acts from earlier in the day (and earlier in the week). There was also lots of good looking and smelling food (we ate before we got there...silly us!). Afterwards, we got beer, more food, and dessert at McMenamins Market Street Pub. It definitely was a local joint - very laid back and homey. I wish we could have visited it again the next day.

Our last day in Portland consisted of more fooding at Sugar Mamas' (sooooooo good) and then an afternoon at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI).

We saw Bugs!: A Rainforest Experience at the IMAX theater, and then visited the rest of the museum. It's very similar to one of my favorite museums in Columbus called Center of Science and Industry (COSI). It's essentially a hands-on science center geared toward kids and families yet it can still be enjoyed by much older "kids" like us. I think we could have spent a full day there instead of an afternoon.

A pic with OMSI's submarine! (unfortunately, we didn't get to tour it)

Bran took a particular interest in all of the brainteasers spread out within the center.

View of the city from back of OMSI.

Two sillies outside OMSI:

We concluded our day with delicious burritos from Taqueria Los Gorditos...the tastiest in Portland! I found out about this place from a blog - too funny!

With that, we ended our night early due to our 6:45am flight the next day back to the real world. If you're still reading this, then you're a champ! Overall, we had a great time in Portland and Bend - we'll definitely try to visit again in the future. Maybe you can come with us :)

Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. yay for a purple dress, rafting, and beautiful scenery! glad you had such a great time!!! :)