Beacon Rock July 2018

Beacon Rock

The weather had finally started to change and I wanted to get out for a hike before things got to hot. I mentioned this to Tracy and we ended up doing a hike with Ellie to Beacon Rock. I was thinking Silver Falls State Park to the south but because of logistics we decided that was not the best park. I was able to hike this park on my way down to see SCI so it all worked out.

The park is only 40 minutes or so from Vancouver and it is right on the highway. The parking lot and trail head are steps apart. This is a well maintained path that while steep at times, almost everyone can complete this hike. Plenty of railings to hold onto. It is interesting seeing how they engineered the trail and all the barriers. There are even a couple of footpath bridges which are really cool. Lots of bent railing speak to the ever changing mountain.

Nice hike up the side of the mount with a ton of switchbacks. Its the only reasonable way you can get up there otherwise it is to steep. Once at the top you get some great views of the valley below. The time of day we went the sun was bouncing off the water and it was bright as crap. Still an impressive hike to a really close park. Once we climbed down the mount we continued to the day use park and the boat launch along the water.

You actually walk downstairs to the brewery.

During the hike we worked up an appetite and headed to Walking Man Brewing in the near by town of Stevenson. I had been here once before many years ago when visiting. It was just like I remember. Some really good beer and creative food which was all very good. The weather was perfect so we sat outside and had lunch on the patio.

A great hike that is rather close to the house. There is another hike close by that goes up another mountain and offers even better views of the valley. I will have to try this trail next time.

 

Trail of Ten Falls July 2018

North Falls

Some hikes I randomly stumble across can end up being really good. Another chunk of new hikes I learn about come from recommendations from others or me seeing it online for example. Silver Falls State Park I found from of all places as a Microsoft logon background one day at work. The picture was one of its many beautiful waterfalls with this huge cave cut out behind it. It was so green and looked really peaceful. I don’t remember which waterfall this was but there are several that it could have been. After seeing this picture and knowing it was so close I had to make it down.

I started at the western side of the park near South Falls Day Use area. The map was a little confusing but I ended up taking the Rim Trail all the way to the North Falls and then cut across the North Fork Silver Creek to the Canyon Trail. This I took all the way down the creek till I got to the South Falls which was the final stop before the parking lot. Not knowing any better, taking this route ended up being a good starting point and direction around the loop.

The Rim Trail follows a bike path and the road for most of the its journey north. You are up on the ridge with only a few break out views. Unfortunately you can’t see much of the valley below. At one spot you can hear the waterfall below but not actual see it. There are no waterfalls or much besides the forest on this part of the trail. After a couple of miles the first stop is North Falls which for me were the best waterfall in the park. It had the largest and deepest cave cut out of any of the waterfalls. It is not the tallest but still all around the most impressive of the bunch in my opinion.

The North Falls are the first good stop on the trail. Because of how things are so cut out in the cave there is a raised seating area along the back wall. This is where I took the opportunity to have lunch. Even though there were a dozen people in the cave all I could hear was the water splashing down below. The cave took that sound and amplified it, drowning out all the conversations. I really felt close to nature sitting there with all my senses going crazy.

From the North Falls you head into the valley and walk along the North Fork Silver Creek for several miles. It was already a nice day but on the Rim Trail it was easily 10 degrees hotter then along the water. This was a nice change of pace with the cooler temperatures. This is certainly a moderate hike. No serious climbs but it certainly goes up and down quite a lot. Its also a very busy trail so that adds to the effort getting around everyone. Nice thing is this trail is mostly covered. I would say 90-95% of the hike is in the shade which is awesome.

As I headed down the Canyon Trail this is where the meat of the waterfalls are, which makes sense. It really is just one after the other. Some are more impressive then others. For instance there are at least three of the waterfalls with huge cave cutouts behind the falls and trail behind them. First time I have walked behind a waterfall and it was pretty cool seeing it from that perspective. To me the North Falls was still the best one. It was the first one I saw and the best in the park.

South Falls

I started hiking at 10:30 and if anything I should have gotten there just a little earlier. The timing worked out really well for getting to Eugene and seeing String Cheese Incident. Not so good for having a quite trail or day use area. Along the Canyon Trail the closer I got to the South Falls Day Use area the more people I started running into going the opposite direction. Its not an easy hike and is over 7 miles so not a short one either. I just didn’t expect this many people out on the trail. But then again it was a really nice weekend and this is probably one of the busiest parks in the system. They actually had volunteers at major intersections helping hikers who were lost or didn’t have a map. I found it shocking all these inexperienced and unprepared people hiking this trail.

This is a great day hike trip activity. 1.5 hours from Portland, 3.5-4 hour loop hike and at the end you can picnic in the park. Then another 1.5 hours home before the sunsets with plenty of time to relax with a movie. This first time I did the Trail of Ten Falls to knock if off my list but looking at the map there are plenty of other trails to explorer at Silver Falls State Park.

 

They Filmed The Goonies Here You Know

So growing up I have known of this little town Astoria on the tip of Oregon for a while. My best friend spent a few years there growing up. His dad was in the Coast Guard and was station there. Plus being a fan of The Goonies I knew this was a primary location for film shooting. Wanting to visit the Goonies house was the reason to go but there was so much to do there.

I treated this day trip like I do any other trip I take. My primary focus is on on hiking, brewery, walking the city, and cool shops. To start I drove out to the coast on 26 and then up 101. I found the ship wreck of the Peter Iredale at Fort Stevens State Park that I wanted to explore. This park was also an old fort during WWII. It helped protect the Columbia River from the Japanese. It was also close to Astoria and had a lot to explore so a good spot to hike.

Lots to explore at this park. Honestly I was a little disappointed in the ship wreck. I don’t remember when it wrecked but it has been on the beach for a long time and it shows it’s age. From the parking lot its maybe 200 yards up the beach which was also a little disappointed. After exploring this rather underwhelming wreck I headed further up the peninsula and its parking lot. From here I just made my own trail and walked around the point and back. The inlet was pretty cool and from the beach you can see Astoria and the Washington coast. I certainly see why they put a couple of batteries here.

Still not satisfied with my hike I continued back down the coast to the battery facing the Pacific Ocean. This was a cool spot to explore. They have stripped out everything that wasn’t concrete which is interesting. I walked all over that battery, trying to imagine what all the rooms where for and what was in it. It was certainly a cramped location to be working in. I would argue a good place to have a picnic too.

It was already well into the afternoon and by now I was getting hungry. Time to find some beer and food. I decided on Fort George Brewery to check both boxes. This complex is huge covering two different floors. Each floor is actually a different restaurant with a different vibe to it as well. Really cool concept. Good beer selection and the food on the first floor was pub style but better. The second floor is pizza. It has lots of stand up tables and a huge bar. There is also a large outdoor patio area with corn hole which is cool. The building next to the pub is the actual brewery with tours given regularly.

After lunch I headed to find my friends old house. I really should have driven but I thought it would be better to walk. Nice neighborhood with lots of hills. By now t I have seen where my friend has lived in Astoria, OR and Clearwater, FL along with where we both grew up in Woodbridge, VA. Walking back I did a quick tour of downtown. Really only two streets and a few blocks long. Pretty cool shops with a good variety. Didn’t find anything but did lots of looking.

You know and I never made it to The Goonies house. After looking up directions for it I found the Trip Advisor page and the place has been closed down for a few years at this point. It is a private residencies so I get it. Would have been nice to see it however.

On the way home I took a different route and I am so glad I did. Route 202 was a beautiful winding, twisting road through the forest. It was freshly paved and there was no one in front or behind me. I was in the zone while driving that road back. The weather was perfect as the sun finally started to set. Man what a great drive. I am going to have to go back to Astoria just so I can drive that road again, it is that damn good.

This was a great day trip. For me I love that is is 2 hours away. I don’t like quick trips or ones that take all day to get there. I could easily get there, spend the afternoon doing what I wanted and still be back before the sun sets. I found a couple other breweries here so there is certainly a reason to come back to Astoria.

Mel Brown B-3 Organ Group The Jack London Revue June 7th 2018

What started it all.

Everyday I walk to work. I take the same path and often I see the same folks. Its a nice routine I have in the morning and a good way to clear my head before I start my day. While I consider it trash I do look forward to seeing what new posters have been plastered around the neighborhood. Only in a city can this kind of advertising be tolerated and actual work at the same time.

This particular morning a new one caught my eye. It was for the Mel Brown B-3 Organ Group. The way things looked and sounded The Jack London Revue was a classic jazz band playing at a club from the 60’s. With nothing better to do I decided to see a jazz show on a Thursday night. For not having much of a plan when I started things really worked out.

I was not to sure about the show so I keep things loose for the night. I walked to the venue and arrived just before 8pm. It was fleet week so I got to see the ships docked at sunset which was cool. Note, cash only cover charge which sucked. Another thing to understand is the venue really is in the basement of the building. You walk into a pool hall and in the back of the hall are stairs leading downstairs to the jazz club. I walked right past the entrance the first time because it is not clearly marked.

The Jack London Revue really does have that class small jazz club feel from the 60’s in New York City. Honestly the only thing that was missing was cigar smoke. The ceiling is low and unfinished yet painted black to dull the room. The lights are low which with the decor give the place a very relaxed and chill vibe. A low stage with the first few spots reserved for cocktail tables. The further back in the venue you got the more space there is for seating which I think is a good idea. Table service is offered and for the most part staff is respectful of the performance. By the second set things really started to break down however. Decent selection of beers and offer a full menu which is cool too.

Before the show even started I was already in love with the place. Not a large crowd which was great in my opinion. Things did fill out not long after the set started which was I am sure a good moral booster for the band. Not knowing how things would go I started with just a beer. If they sucked I didn’t want to get suckered into food too. Thankfully the band was pretty good so I stuck around for both sets. By the end of the night I had a couple beers and a sandwich which was ok, nothing special. I just loved the fact that I could get food, beer and listen to some good jazz in such an appropriate spot.

The music all night was great. The first set I thought was better then the second and mostly that was because of original songs. The first set seamed to have more of the band’s own material, most straight ahead jazz. The second set I believe had no original songs and way way more covers. Mostly of jazz classics but also pulling from a range of diverse genres. They also interacted more with the audience. Again with the classic jazz club vibe they asked where everyone was from and engaged those visiting from out of town. Come to find out this is their regular gig on Thursday nights at the Jack London Revue. Its good to know I have a dedicated place I can go to in the city for jazz.

As an added bonus for sticking around through both sets there was a free comedy show right after Mel Brown at 11pm. Since I was already there for the concert I stuck around for some comedy as well. All I will say about the comedy was you get what you pay for. After only three acts it was time for me to make my way home.

The venue is freaking amazing and the band was pretty good. Since this is a regular Thursday thing at The Jack London Revue I can see myself going back semi-regularly to catch a show and some free laughs.

 

Packwood Flea Market Memorial Day Weekend 2018

This aint no museum this junk is for sale.

Earlier this year I caught word of a giant flea market in the middle of no where Washington. The city was called Packwood and twice a year during Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend the city throws together one hell of flea market. The city doesn’t shut down but it’s population swells each weekend to unimaginable levels. Between the shear number of vendors and all the people wondering about it is a sight to behold.

Friends of Bobby and Tracy have some family land right in Packwood and each year they gather to celebrate and have fun. We were invited to join in the festivities this year and it was a blast all weekend. We camped outside and I must say the weather for me was perfect. It was breezy at times but during the night it was nice and cool. It also never rained which was awesome. Only for like a half day on Sunday was it actually sunny and warm.

As soon as we arrived one think I noticed was the communal atmosphere. All weekend everyone helped each other out. Food was the coolest thing as everyone shared what they had. No one went hungry and for the most part we all ate together which considering what coordination is needed that is pretty cool.

Mt. Rainier National Park

The flea market is a huge event. I walked for miles over three days and didn’t see everything. Not only are there vendors along the main highway but you can go down any road and find even more vendors. Most I will admit stuff is junk but if you find the right buyer it can be worth gold. I ended up not buying anything but I was amazed at all the stuff I saw over the weekend. If you are a creative person you can find that one amazing little widget here that will just make your design. I did spot two classic typewriters and thought about them for a hot minute but decided against it. That is still something I would like to own but this wasn’t the right place to make the purchase.

A big to do all weekend was corn hole. I don’t know what it was but Bobby and I played a lot of it all weekend. We would practice and practice. Get confident in our skills and challenge the same two people all weekend. I think we won one game and that was it. Still a lot of fun and we will see about a rematch next time. We talked about making our own board too. Pretty simple design and it would be a great opportunity to practice my knuckle ball.

Everything we needed was at camp and we could walk to the flea market so no reason to leave. Our only adventure out all weekend was to Mt. Raineir since we were so close. I have never been to the park and neither had the family so it made for a great day trip opportunity. Getting there we took the long way around and unfortunately it took about an hour to get into the park once we made it to the entrance. It was such a great day that everyone was coming down from Seattle causing a huge delay getting into the park.

At higher elevations you can still easily find snow. We had a quick snowball fight at the fails. I mean, why not.

Once we got in we hit a ranger station and found a quick but scenic hike to Carter Falls. This is a series of falls along the larger Wonderland Trail. First you cross the Nisqually River on your way up the Wonderland Trail. Its crazy seeing the river bed and its ever changing flow. I think its about a mile up the trail and there are the falls. Nothing that impressive but still a nice little hike up the mountains. It was crazy to still see snow at this elevations, around 3600′. We even had a snow ball fight……in June.

Actually some of the best scenes where on the drive down the mountain. We passed this waterfall tucked under the road which was really cool. At one point we rounded the corner for a long straight and the mountain just opened up. All weekend we couldn’t see the mountain and even now while hiking it was covered in clouds but at that moment, things where perfect. Mr. Raineir is certainly an impressive mountain.

A great and fun weekend. Lots of relaxing, cigars, walking and food all weekend. Over Labor Day weekend I am going to see the Indy race here in Portland but there is talk of going up again that weekend. I won’t be able to make that but it would be a fun weekend. If you get some good weather it can be a lot of fun.