Last year I did this same hike at almost the same time of year in the Deschutes River State Recreation Area. It was a good hike then and it was a good hike now. This time around the weather presented its own set of challenges I didn’t have to face the first time. If you are prepared it’s not a problem but the swings in weather can be huge out in the gorge during the winter months. This day Mother Nature was not happy and she let everyone know it.
We got an early start and left my apartment with coffee in one hand and boots in the other. I was tracking the weather closely the last few days before the hike. It is still winter around here so when it rains in the valley its snowing in the mountains. My poor little car just can’t handle serious winter weather we have here. I was constantly checking to see when it would rain and if that rain could possible turn to snow.
On the way to the park we really lucked out. The weather was pretty nice as far as the entire day was concerned. Nothing really going on weather wise. You could see off in the distance portions of the storms that rolled through earlier in the day but it was pretty calm at the moment. As we headed further into the gorge the wind started picking up but for the most part the rain was abated.
We got to the park and the sun was actually out for a hot minute. We got our shit together and started walking along the river. The park has several trails you can take. One is a fire/service road that is higher up in the valley and the other is right along the water. We walked along the water for a while before the path slowly starts to raise in elevation. Eventually it meets with the service road to continue the journey. At this junction you can choose to head back, continue down the service road or hike up the hills to a spring.
The walk along the river was peaceful despite the poor weather. With the recent rain we noticed the river moving rather swiftly. No major rapids I would say but I still wouldn’t want to be out on the river since I have no idea what I’m doing. We also noticed that nature was really coming back from the fire several years ago. Even from a year ago there was much more vegetation growing. You can still a little fire damage but it is quickly fading away like nothing happened.
Once we got to the junction we had to decide what to do. The last few hundred meters it started to rain. Enough that we put some covers on our packs. Across the river and up the other side of the valley we could see large, dark, ominous clouds rolling over the hill tops. We wanted to hike to the spring but if the weather continue to change we would be caught out. With the weather turning we decided to hedge our bets and head back. It might have been a short hike but mission accomplished even if we didn’t get to the spring on top of the hill.
The walk back was an interesting one. We ran into a fisherman who was crazy like us coming out. He commented on us being out and was shocked to run into others. He didn’t want to watch football and I couldn’t agree more. The weather in front of us was for the most part clear. We even managed to see a rainbow. Behind us things continued to be cloudy but it never really got heavy like we thought it would.
We hung out along the river before starting the drive back to Portland. Here we ate some lunch and enjoyed what we could of the weather. It was getting windy, cloudy and colder the long we stayed. The drive back was a rather scary one. For most of it Jenny was asleep which was good. It was a downpour with very treacherous driving condition. Standing water all over the place, low visibility and a few assholes not heading the warnings. The mental concentration I needed was draining by the time we got back.
Even with the rain it was a great day of hiking and getting out in nature. We both agreed to try and get out hiking more often this year. We did well on the first day of the year and with this hike. Lets see if we can keep it up for the rest of the year. Deschutes River State Recreational Area is a great place to hike, camp, and fish right at the mouth of the Columbia River.
Well I made it another year and it’s a new decade on top of that. Let’s see how this one goes compared to the last. So far it’s off to a good start as Jenny wanted to do a little hiking on the first day of the year. She originally wanted to hike snow in the mountains but it ended up being to warm and not much snow so we scrapped the idea. It turned out to be a really nice day for winter here in Portland and we took full advantage of it.
We decided on some trails around the Portland Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary nestled inside Forest Park. Oddly enough the sun was out and it was blue skies while we hiked in the forest. It was the most amazing thing. The temperatures were really comfortable too. I couldn’t believe the luck we had on the first day of the year. This reminds me of the time it was in the low 70’s in DC and I went for a picnic on The Mall in shorts it was so nice.
The forest itself was pretty amazing. This section of forest is completely covered in moss. Every tree has it growing on it. Any structure that is in the woods has it growing on it. With the sun actually being out it lite up the forest really nice with no leaves on the trees. We just wondered around the sanctuary’s many trails. We also went to the Witch’s Castle to check out this neat structure. Unfortunately no witch’s here and the building isn’t even that old. On the short walk to the building we passed a number of people out and about. It is true that when the weather is this nice, everyone gets out of the house and enjoys it while they can.
Once we finished the hike we headed to the Japanese Garden which is close to the sanctuary. This was my first time here and I gotta say the place is pretty impressive. When you first arrive you are greeted with a good view of the northern part of the city sky line. Jenny said that on a clear day you can see Mt. Adams from here.
By the time we got to the gardens it was starting to cloud over and cool off. Being the first day of the year the gardens had a few things going on. On the good side they had complimentary tea in the tea house but on the down side they where closing early and all the offices where closed. We stopped for tea first thing but the place was smashed so we moved on.
I was impressed with the gardens. Even with the damp and cloudy condition it seemed to accent the gardens and make them seem more alive. Small ponds all over the place with fish swimming. Jenny said in summer there are many more fish in the ponds. In the back of the garden is the traditional tea house that host occasional tea ceremonies. On our way out we again stopped by the tea house and this time it was completely empty. We got a spot right in the corner overlooking the entrance to
I gotta say it was a great way to start the year off. We got out and did some hiking, had some zen moments at the gardens and surprisingly the weather played nice. I was shocked how warm it got and for a while at least, it was blue skies which is something you don’t see here often in winter. It’s good to take times like and just relax and enjoy.
Things often just work out. I try to see a concert on or as close to my birthday as possible. As soon as I could drive I saw my first concert I have fallen in love with live music. I try to see concerts as often as possible. This year I didn’t see anything in November but I did manage to see the podcast The New Negroes live on their swing through Portland at the Doug Fir. Jenny was excited because Naomi Ekperigin was the headline comic that night. Jenny recommend I watch her in an episode 2 Dope Queens and she was funny as hell.
We got tickets for the early show and when we arrived it wasn’t that full but as show time approached the place really filled in. It was going to be a great night of comedy I could feel it. Honestly I don’t remember the comics names besides Naomi but they were very funny. The first two people where locals and the spoke about their personal lives.
The first guy, the best part was the end of his set when he tells this story of his daughter. Basically there is an altercation and as he approaches he hears “Suck my dick.” Second to perform was interesting. He was a little younger then the first and most of his set was dedicated to his childhood. So many references to Pokemon and a few to Harry Potter. It was funny but most of the jokes skewed younger to be honest. Most people around me were laughing. It was a weird situation to be in. Last up was Naomi and she was funny as shit, my side was hurting.
Besides all the hilarity that night the other thing that was pretty amazing was seeing the birthday problem in real life. I have often spoken of this because when you think about it, 50% with just 23 people is pretty good odds. And that’s just math. Anyway, it was true that night and I was pretty excited to share the night with someone famous. Such a good night of comedy.
I gotta say I could not have asked for a better concert experience than what I had last Thursday. That nigh Charlie Hunter and Lucy Woodward with Doug Belote on drums played two incredible sets at Mississippi Studios which blew my mind. The show was killer, the food great and we had such a great time together.
Jenny came over right after work and we left for the Mississippi section of Portland. We ate at Interurban which I had never been to but Jenny had. Really great menu. I got some carrot fritters and a trout BLT. Both I thought were interesting and creative creations. The carrots reminded me of thanksgiving because of the puréed sweet carrot mixture and honey drizzle. The trout was just short of being candied or better yet jerky which for me was a new spin on the classic BLT.
The place itself really had some ambiance which sets it up. The first thing I noticed when we walked in was how dark it was inside. I know it’s winter and it’s dark at 5pm but this was crazy. It’s very small already and being so dark its easy to trip over things. Maybe a dozen tables on the main floor and half as many on the second floor which I also thing has the kitchen. Outside patio is available but no space heaters that I saw so it depends on how cold you like it if you sit outside. Seat yourself and staff will just come by. Local beer and mixed drinks which was nice.
We finished dinner pretty early so headed to the venue. It was only two blocks down from Interurban and once we got in we grabbed a round and headed outside. Conveniently they had a gas fire pit and allowed smoking around it. If we wanted a better seat we should have gone straight in but we would have missed running into Charlie at the front door!
After spending some time around the fire we decide to head in and grab our seats. As we are about to walk into the music hall side of things I catch Charlie Hunter walking in the front door. I quickly shock his hand and started chatting him up. I was way more composed this time than when I met him at the Jammin Java. I introduced him to Jenny and we chatted for several minutes. They just got back from a European swing of the tour. Lucy was flying in from Amsterdam and Charlie came from Charlotte, NC to California before driving the van north to the Portland show which I believe was the first back in the states. Charlie was obviously tired but you could tell there was this energy about him. This encounter I was much more composed and relaxed and I think everyone could feel it.
We didn’t find a close seat but that didn’t matter. The place is so small all seats have good views of the stage. We got a couple seats dead center and no one sat in front of Jenny so she too had a good view as well.
Having just seen them I thought this was a better show overall than Vienna. The playing was more fluid and the song selection unique. They played three Nina Simone and Jenny about lost her shit she was so excited. They also played some newer songs they are testing for the forthcoming album. It will be recorded early 2020 so I’m excited for that. I hope they release the album soon and do another tour to support it. I think they would be a fun band to see in Europe if given the chance.
On occasion I would look over at Jenny and I would smile she was so into it. It was so much fun hanging out with her that evening and seeing Charlie Hunter. I felt like i really could just be myself and do my thing and Jenny was right there ready to enjoy and have a genuine blast doing it. It was very comforting. Just a great night over all and I can’t wait to do it again.
Charlie Hunter and Lucy Woodward w/ Doug Belote on drums Thursday, November 5th 2019 Mississippi Studios – Portland, OR
Jeremy and I try to get together a few times a year if we can. Often he comes up to my neck of the woods or I see him in Texas, usually Austin. I have been to Texas to see him several time but never actually to San Antonio where he lives. Searching for our next trip I found The String Cheese Incident was playing a three night run at Stubb’s BBQ Waller Creek Amphitheater over Halloween weekend for their 25th anniversary tour. They played three nights at Cuthbert Amphitheater in Eugene earlier in the tour but I was traveling that week and couldn’t make it. Because of my limited PTO I could only take a half day Friday and would have to miss the show on Halloween entirely.
I managed to find a direct flight from Portland to Austin which arrived a little before 7pm. It would be close but it was very possible we could make the start of the show. Doors opened at 6pm with the show starting at 7pm. Now they are always late so we had a little extra time baked in. Thankfully no issues with the flight but Jeremy ran into traffic on his way north. It was a Friday night and the USGP was the same weekend so everyone was heading into downtown. Once he picked me up we headed straight to the venue and parked. We almost walked in before realizing we didn’t pay the meter so that delayed us a little more.
Finally we arrived just after 8pm and the band was already on stage tearing it up. We debated how much we missed and by our calculations, at most 15 minutes. If we didn’t have to go back to the car to feed the meter we probably would have made it on time for the start of set one.
When Jeremy and I came to the inaugural event at the Circuit of the Americas I remember going to Stubb’s and seeing the stage in the back yard. It is a weird setup if you ask me. Right along Waller Creek and attached to the restaurant. If you get a dinner table you can walk right into a show because the bathrooms are in the basement and no one is watching the back door. The grounds are not very wide but long instead with plenty of beer and food vendors which was nice. Restrooms are all porta pots in the way back. Never used them but they seemed adequate for the size crowd. Also the VIP lounge is in the way back of the venue. Its elevated so you have good view of the stage but you are really far back. Gravel which sucks because there is no place to sit down during set breaks or before the show.
Friday was pretty amazing, even missing the first few songs. The entire show was great. The crowd was still a little hung over from the previous nights festivities so lots of people in partial customs which was cool to see. I gotta be honest, I spent half the show just watching the crowd or looking at the light show as it danced across the trees near the sound stage. The song selection was perfect. Good selection of songs and some really amazing jams. Even managed to throw in a few teases and covers post-Halloween which was cool. Another thing I would like to mention is the food. I got two BBQ sandwiches that night and both of them where pretty damn good. I got one shredded beef and one jalapeno brisket. Over priced for sure but still very good. After the long flight I missed lunch and this hit the spot.
After the show we walked back to the car and headed to the hotel which was only a few blocks away. I was really looking forward to walking Saturday and not having to deal with a car. A little after 11pm Jeremy had to run back to the car to feed the meter and I wanted to avoid that scenario Saturday.
Saturday and we didn’t have anything officially planned which was nice. Our first objective was food so we got some breakfast tacos from Tacodeli. I gotta tell you I was pretty disappointed with the tacos. The best one had black beans, bacon, avocado and a few other things. Sadly I thought Austin could have done better than this for tacos. Maybe its Portland that has made me jaded with all the amazing food we have here, including tacos.
After we headed down to the Colorado River to hang out. It was pretty chilly that day I must say. I thought it would have been warmer than home but surprisingly not. We hung out by the river till I wanted to smoke a cigar. We grabbed a few from the hotel and headed to Republic Square before getting kicked out. City park, can’t smoke, I get it. Thankfully they were some benches outside an office building so we just hung out there. Afterwards we grabbed food at Holy Roller a few blocks away. This was some amazing food and more than made up for the horrible breakfast tacos.
After our late lunch we headed back to the hotel to play several rounds of Magic the Gathering and watch qualifications. It was USGP weekend after all and while we could not be at the track, I wanted to participate even if just in a small way. I mostly got my ass kicked but it was a lot of fun. We had a TV right next to us which was perfect for catching up on qualifications.
We played Magic as long as we could before heading to Stubb’s to see the last night of String Cheese. Funny thing happened on our way out of the hotel. As we walked out the front door I saw Paul Di Resta standing outside with another gentleman who was on his phone. I was shocked and surprised. Here is a former F1 drive and current SkyF1 commentator standing outside my hotel. I immediately turned into a young school girl. All I could say was “Good luck tomorrow” and shock his hand. I didn’t get a picture or chat. I was just so shocked running into him I couldn’t think straight. Really was awesome running into him and honestly, it made the trip. So cool shacking his hand. Surprisingly tall with big hands. So cool.
We were less than 8 blocks away and we almost missed the start of the show that night as well. As we got through security and walked into the venue String Cheese took the stage and started saying hello to the crowd. It was only a few steps to the field and we posted up as they hit the first notes of the show. It was perfect timing even with running into Paul Di Resta.
The second night I think was a little better than the first night. The jam and song selection was more to my liking. One thing that was great both nights was the light show. For such a small venue the light show was really cool. The way the lights and colors play with the music was in perfect time. Being a smaller venue the lights also played off the surrounding environment.
After the show we had an appetite so we got some food on the way back to the hotel. We found a pretty good food truck village and Sabor Cubano caught my eye. It was the Cuban sandwich I saw and it really hit the spot along with some fried yuca. Jeremy got a grilled cheese and I finished my food by the time he got his. Not far from the venue it was the perfect late night spot after the show. Even though it was getting close to midnight the place was busy. All the vendors had hungry customers which was nice. You could tell lots of people out drinking that night. Having a good time grabbing a bite before heading home.
As soon as the trip started it seemed like it was over. Sunday I was flying back just as the USGP was about to get underway. We found a pretty damn amazing breakfast spot with Hillside Farmacy. We sat outside on the crisp morning and it was great. The food was absolutely amazing that morning. Fresh, local and well plated. It was not hard for either of us to finish out plates. Once the food arrived all conversation stopped which was another good sign. Our plates were licked clean that morning. So good.
I was home by early evening which was nice. Having a direct flight from Austin to Portland was ideal. The news that weekend was Hamilton possible clinching the title and he did it in fantastic fashion. I ready for another team and another drive but congratulations to Hamilton on his 2019 world championship victory which he secured in Austin. Originally we talked about attending the USGP but decided on Canada and I don’t regret that decision at all. Montreal was such a cool town and we still got to experience Austin during the race weekend which was really cool. Running in to Paul Di Resta was certainly the highlight with two nights of Cheese a close second.
String Cheese Incident Friday, November 1st 2019 Stubb’s BBQ Waller Creek Amphitheater – Austin, TX
We arrived late. Got to the venue at 8:05pm and they were all ready playing.