Hunting for my Own Christmas Tree

This weekend I planned on heading to the burbs in a great adventure to find a Christmas tree. I knew I wanted something real and figured I would just find a potted plant like I did last Christmas and not think about it again. When I was over at Bobby and Tracy’s earlier watching the Skins they mentioned going to Mt. Hood to cut their own trees. Anyone can do it. All you need is a $5 permit and your good to go.

It’s a small tree but it looks great in my apartment.

The weather was challenging all day on the mountain. The weekend prior was pretty warm but this weekend was much colder at elevation. As soon as we left Vancouver for the staging house it was raining. Once we got to above 3300′ or so it was all snow. In fact it snowed the entire time on the mountain.

About half way up the mountain we came across this Subaru on the side of the road. You could see the skid marks as the car lost control. Lucky for the two passengers it stayed on the road but just barely. The car had settled on the frame and one wheel. We where in a group of overlanders heading to cut trees so the perfect group you want to run across when you need to be pulled off the side of a mountain. Bobby was second in line with a winch and assisted pulling the Subaru out.

By this point it was already getting into the middle of the afternoon.  The constant snow, cold, and wet was getting to me. Bobby was already not feeling well and the kids wanted nothing more then to play in the snow. We got to the top of the mountain and things feel apart rather quickly within the group. I quickly found my tree but Tracy took a little longer to secure her family tree. She kept wanting these 15′ and taller trees which we couldn’t cut. With our tree loaded on the truck we meet everyone further up the trail. It was so cold and wet I couldn’t get a fire going for warmth. It wasn’t long after this we all abandoned the mountain and headed for home. Mt. Hood has beaten on us all day and we had had enough.

None of us felt like doing much, least of all cook dinner. A nice bowl of pho was in order for everyone. Healthy, tasty and warm soup was the perfect thing to end the day.


The New Mastersounds Wonder Ballroom November 7th 2017

A while back I put in motion a trip over Veterans Day weekend. The trip would involve a couple of cities and two bands. The first leg was Seattle and the second was Denver. The good thing about The New Mastersounds show in Seattle was it was a part of their west coast tour. They were playing Portland as part of the same tour. I saw them last on the east coast for their winter tour and thought it would be fitting to catch as many shows as possible on this west coast fall tour.

The Portland show was a no brainier honestly as this is in my back yard. I was so existed you would have thought I would have a better plan then I did. My whole night was planned around just getting to the Wonder Ballroom and seeing what happens. I did a map search and noticed there would be plenty to keep my occupied before the show.

First thing is always food. On the same block as the theater was Russell St. BBQ. Some really decent BBQ here let me tell you. I got the port shoulder without sauce and I am glad I did. It had a great smoke flavor that was pronounced but not overpowering. It was a little dry but not a deal breaker by any means. Sides all traditional and very good. I wish I could have stayed for dessert but I was so full I had to skip it. I let my dessert be beer.

Not very far from everywhere was Ex Novo Brewing Co.. I had plenty of time to kill before the show so ponied up for a couple of beers here. Really cool place I must say. Serves food and has a second floor. You can see the brewery making equipment right from the bar which was cool. Decent beer with lots to explore on the menu. I was actually able to see the Trail Blazers game and unfortunately they lost that night to the Memphis Grizzles.

Some really good BBQ at Russell’s. The pork was a little dry but the flavor was outstanding.

I honestly spent to much time at Ex Novo but it was a good hanging out. Kung Fu was opening and started at 8:30 that night. I unfortunately missed their set completely because I was to busy drinking beer. I just didn’t feel like standing around waiting for The New Mastersounds, the brewery was a much better option.

The Wonder Ballroom really just is four walls and a roof. Very simple design, I can’t stress that enough. The front part of the building is large enough for a ticket booth and bathrooms, that is it. There is a very small second balcony area that looks rickety as hell. There is a downstairs bar and smoking area but I didn’t get a chance to explore that area. Certainly an interesting place to see a concert.

The New Mastersounds kicked ass that night. Another great performance by the band. As a change of pace Simon Allen was back at drums. The last few shows I have seen of The New Mastersounds have been with Alan Evans which was awesome to see him sit in. Many of the same classic songs I am use to with the same energy as always. They actually mentioned there was no official setlist for the night, they were going to just going with the flow of the audience. Their song catalog is now large enough they can play nearly two hours without fear of repeating anything or losing the vibe.

Another great performance by The New Mastersounds and a good evening out. I found another great BBQ place in Portland and another brewery checked off my list. I am excited to see them again in two days in Seattle which should be a great time as well.

OMSI October 2017

My friend Jeremy was in town and we decided to do a typical Portland thing and visit the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry for the day. Jeremy had actually been there as a kid so for him it was a homing coming. For me this was my first visit, I was playing tourist in my own hometown for once.

Part of the museum is in an old industrial building and they make good use of the space.

We didn’t find this out till after the fact but it was the last weekend of the special exhibit Pompeii and the museum was smashed. If I had know that we probably would have skipped the museum on this trip. As the day went on the line to get into Pompeii just kept growing. We eventually decided to just skip the special exhibit which was unfortunate.

Now the rest of the museum was great. The exhibits are fun and for the most part interactive in some way. This is certainly a museum geared towards kids but as an adult I found the hands on stuff great. They have an interactive sand projector exhibit that mimics water flowing. You could make it “rain” and see how water would flow down the side of the mountain. You will also find the USS Blueback anchored outside and is itself a floating museum.

I liked the museum. Very interactive and great for kids of all ages. I wish we could have seen the special exhibit but I will be around for the next one when it premiers. Makes me wonder how large the museum really is when you factor in the special exhibit space.


Hudson Newmark Theatre October 23rd 2017

My friend Jeremy was in town for the weekend and since he wasn’t leaving till Tuesday we decided to see Hudson at Newmark Theatre.  I was thinking of seeing the show but when Jeremy said he was coming that weekend I knew we had to go.  The really awesome thing was my ticket was free.  My birthday isn’t till later but since Jeremy wouldn’t be around at that time tonights ticket was on him. We decided to celebrate a little early this year.

The day of the show I meet Jeremy at my apartment after he was out doing Portland stuff.  We prepped and headed to downtown, first to grab some grub and then catch the show.  This was more of a traditional show so the start time of 7:30 was honor.  We grabbed dinner at the East Side Delicatessen just down the street before walking into the venue.

The venue is a little weird.  Its appears to be a two block complex of various theaters for events.  The Newmark Theatre reminds me the National Theatre in DC.  About the same size, few hundred people at most, with three tiers of seating.  We had two seats at the end of the aisle and honestly this was my only grip of the night.  The “seats” were simple chairs that where the most uncomfortable pieces of crap I have ever spent two hours sitting in.

The venue was just about sold out and the crowd skewed older.  I of course know John Medeski and John Scofield but Jack DeJohnette and Larry Grenadier are unknowns for me.  They have an album out but I had not heard it before tonights performance. All I knew it had Medeski, Scofield and it would probably be straight ahead jazz.  What it did end up having was several Jimi Hendrix covers which honestly I didn’t care much for.  What I did enjoy was the improve jazz songs and compilations they did.  That stuff was super heavy and awesome.

The show was 2 hours with encore but didn’t seem like it dragged on.  The encore in fact was 20 minutes by itself which was awesome.  All around a great show and I am happy we got a chance to see Medeski in an arrangement besides MMW.  Not sure if Hudson will stick around or if this was a on shot deal but a great night of food, music and friends.

Wheeling in Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Before I start my new job I have been taking the opportunity to do some cool stuff when I am not putting my apartment together. On Thursday I had an opportunity to do some four wheeling with Bobby in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. He and a buddy are doing a memorial hike Saturday and wanted to run up the trail in their trucks to make sure it was clear. If any maintenance needed to be done they wanted to do it Thursday and not on Saturday with a bunch of people in their cars. Some of the hikers were starting at the bottom of the trail but others were going to be ferried to the top in Bobby’s truck. With nothing else to do I tagged along for the ride.

Mount St. Helens, Mount Baker, and Mount Adams

First time this far north in Washington and it was something else. It took about an hour to get to the trail head and then what seemed like thirty minutes to the top of the road. Bobby kept saying I could get my car up it but at a certain point you really needed four wheel drive. I haven’t been wheeling in years and it was fun. Let me tell you I utilized the oh shit bar often, trying not to bump my head.

Once at the top we putzed around for a few minutes and did part of the hike to get a better view. The weather was really good and from the parking lot we could see the top of Mount St. Helens. We went further up the trail and eventually we could see Mount St. Helens, Mount Baker, and Mount Adams which was really cool. None of us were ready to finish the hike but it was great getting out before the weather turns real crappy.