Tag Archives: Oregon

Labor Day Weekend Indy Race in Portland

For 3 yeas IndyCar raced in downtown Baltimore over Labor Day weekend. I always wanted to go because it was so close and a holiday weekend and a true street course but we always went to Rehoboth Beach as a family so I never got the opportunity.

Arriving via Max on race day.

Baltimore lost the race and then Watkins Glen did the same thing and now it was Portland’s turn to host this race over Labor Day weekend. I was so excited when I found they would be coming to Portland International Raceway. Now that I live here it is super easy to attend and I have no chance of going to the beach house this year. The cherry on top is I can get there by the Max yellow line.

Being the long weekend and my first Indy race I wanted to do it right. I got a premium grandstand seat at turn 2 and a paddock pass for the entire weekend. All in all it was a great weekend but I think next time I will skip a premium ticket and the premium price and just go with something more generic.

A pretty good vantage point for the tight section of the track.

I unfortunately couldn’t make it out on Friday. I didn’t want to take time off of work and everything was over by 5:30pm any way. Saturday I was going to stay all day at the track. I packed everything I would need in my CamelBak and set out for the train station. A fifteen minute walk and then a 30 minute train ride I was at the front gate of PIR.

For quals I didn’t really care where I sat and actually decided not to see my seat until race day. I didn’t go into the infield on Saturday at all and instead decided to walk around the track exploring. By the time I left that night I had walked around the entire track.

When you first arrive to the track you walk down a hill and come in at the Pro Mazda and USF2000 paddock. It was great getting close to these cars but a little disorientating when I first stumbled across the paddock. I just wasn’t sure I was suppose to be there. Few signs, no barriers and no one directing people. Just go till they tell you to stop I figured.

Lets the festivities begin.

The front straight was a typical vendor area. Lots of pop up tents and weird shit being peddled. I was actually shocked at the the lack of facilities at this track. It really is just a track. Even the main grandstand was a temporary structure. Only one three story building and it was small and not at a good location.

The track is also really narrow with limited run off areas. I was shocked at just how narrow the turns are. Kudos to the drives all weekend for keeping things mostly under control. If you made even a tiny mistake you would be off track, especially at turn one. See lap one of the Indy race on Sunday for proof.

A good spot I found was the back straight along the top of the hill. Here there was no one around and I actually found some shade. The high on Saturday was in the low 70’s but escaping the radiant heat from the sun was good for a while. Here I caught some of the qualifying for the support races. The back straight is a long sweeping straight with a slight bend to the right right after a tight section of turns. Good opportunity to see the cars go by pretty fast. You really can hear the revs and shifting which is cool.

Go fast day was finally hear. The race didn’t start till around noon so plenty of time to get to the track, bum around and get my seat. Sunday was also my first trip into the paddock. By the time I got there the cars where already starting to exit their garage and get to the grid. This was great because I got to see some of the cars up close and personal which was cool. Also saw some of the driver introductions. Lots of grandstanding but still cool.

My seat turned out to be a pretty good one. The entire section was pretty well elevated so I could have saved some money for a lower seat. And in fact the other side of the track had the added benefit of seeing the cars come down the straight and out the pit. That view was blocked from our premium seats.

Quite unexpectedly there was a wreck just after turn three on lap one. All I could really see was the plume of dust that erupted as the cars went off the track onto the dry grass. One guy managed to go over top another which was pretty impressive. This lead to a long delay with the pace car while they cleaned up the mess.

After this there where only a few minor hiccups in the race but for the most part it was pretty clean. A good afternoon of racing. I honestly don’t follow the series so the drivers I don’t know. It was close to the end of the season and the drivers championship was still up for grabs. Apparently the turn one incident caused problems for the leader. He got back on track in last place but managed to work his way up through the field.

After an entire race weekend spent at PIR I was rather disappointed with the track. CotA has really ruined me when it comes to a race track. That track knows how to put on a race. From the entertainment before, during and after the race to the food, facilities, and vendors. Everything about that track is just so well done.

Not that I wouldn’t go back to see Indy next Labor Day weekend. I think the next time around I just wont spend as much money on my ticket and simply enjoy an afternoon at the track.

A Drive in the Country

It all started with wanting to take a drive in the country. The last time I came back from Astoria I stumbled across Nehalem Hwy which was an amazing drive. The weekend weather was looking pretty cool so I decided to head out of the city for a little bit of a drive and some beer in Astoria.

All the brewing happens in the basement. It is a challenge to bring the ingredients in.

This time around I wanted to plan the driving route a little better then stumbling across it. There was a detour which added to the fun. I got off the highway 26 and turned onto Timber Rd. From here I followed the detour back to 47 and then Nehalem Hwy all the way to Astoria.

For the most part I was able to attack the road and actually get a good drive in. The road was mostly clear and even when someone was in front of me they where driving pretty fast. About 10 to 15 miles outside of Astoria I did run into a foot race of some sorts which really killed the drive. Lots of traffic and and a slow drive.

It took several hours to get to Astoria but totally worth the trip. I decided to get some food and beer at Astoria Brewing Co. There are several breweries in Astoria so I going to drink around as much as possible. I didn’t know they had a tap room and brewpub when I was planning this out. I stumbled into the tap house by mistake. It ended up for the best to be honest. I wanted some food but they only served beer. This is where the actually brew the beer so it makes sense. An old industrial building it has a lower floor where the beer is brewed.

A nice long bar wraps part of the railing so you can watch them make beer while enjoying a pint.

After getting some writing done and being full of beer it was time for dinner. I completely missed lunch but wasn’t leaving Astoria without first getting something to eat. My phone was quickly dying so I just walked around till I found something that looked interesting. At first I walked passed Carruthers but something told me to go back and I am glad I did. I got the crispy duck and it was damn tasty. That and the chicken posole soup to start made for quite the tasty meal.

By the time I started driving home, 202 was clear of all the runners but the rain started to move in. For the most part it was just drizzle so I was able to drive the road as intended and not worry about running off but as the night wore on safety concerns toke over. A good day out in Astoria and it certainly is true that half the fun is the journey there.

Two Nights of String Cheese Incident Cuthbert Amphitheater July 2018

String Cheese Incident doesn’t tour nearly as much as they use to. In fact they took a break for a couple of years before getting back together and hitting the road on a limited basis. Now they do way more festivals and multi-day stints in cities instead of being on the road for months at a time hitting a bunch of different cities. When it was announced that they would be playing two nights at the Cuthbert Amphitheater in Eugene I had to get tickets. It has been a minute since I last saw them for NYE in Denver and I wanted to check them out again on the west coast.

My plan was to pack as much crap into two days as I could and be back to work on Monday. I started with a hike to Silver Falls State Park. I saw a picture of this park on my computers login screen and I needed to see this place in person. A great hike and an awesome time. I actually timed things pretty well that day. Checked into the hotel, took a nap for a while and then I was off to see the show. It was so awesome having the ability to just walk to the venue and not worry about a car.

The venue is an interesting one. A small outdoor amp hither it has its charms. First the stage faces the sun so as an audience we get shade cover long before the band. There is no back to the venue either, just the forest behind. This comes into play at night when the sun goes down and the lights can project onto the trees. Adds an interesting element to the standard light show. On the upper ring of the lawn you can have low back chairs. Then there is your standard blanket lawn and the seats. Classic ballpark stiff, narrow and pretty uncomfortable seats.

The show was not sold out but as the night went on the place got pretty packed. It was a total general admission which was really cool. First night I spent it pretty close stage right in the seats. This is why I know they are so uncomfortable. The show this night and the next were both kick ass performances. In fact I thought both shows where better then the recent Dead & Co. show I saw and dare I say it, each individual night of SCI was better too. Just such a great time jamming out with the band and the crowd. It was such a good vibe both nights. During the second night’s performance I spent most of set two lounging on the lawn. There where so many kids running around and babies too. Lots of babies. I never remember it being so family friendly but as time has gone on, just like Phish shows, the fans got older and are bringing their kids.

An interesting venue and a great couple of nights outside.

After the first night I was hungry for food. I didn’t get anything before the show because I was napping and during I just didn’t see any vendor that interested me. For a somewhat large city it has limited options open late. I was disappointed I couldn’t walk to something. On a Saturday night everything was closed by 11pm, right when the show ended. Every time I am in a smaller city I always run into this problem. You would think by now I would be use to it.

Sunday I checked out of the hotel and started my day of adventure. Home was only 2 hours away so I told myself I could tough it out and make it home after the show. Saturday started late and Sunday they would start on time. With a curfew of 11pm I figured I had a good chance of seeing the entire show and still making it home at a reasonable hour.

I mostly walked around the city trying to find cool stuff. Sunday was a pretty quite day I most say. Downtown is not that big with these dispersed shopping streets. I did manage to find the Oregon Art Supply and a cool vinyl shop House of Records. I found Miles Davis In a Silent Way here and was super excited about it. One of my favorite all time records. Unfortunately side two is all fucked up so that is disappointing but side A is where its at. I found out later it could be the entire re-issue that is screwed for side B so that’s awesome.

One thing I didn’t do was find a brewery. The entire weekend was hot and I just didn’t have it in me to sit and drink beer. Closest I got was Bill & Tim’s BBQ for lunch where I had a beer. Honestly the BBQ was ok at best. It didn’t really have a smokey flavor I was looking for. Neither the brisket or pork. The sauce was also kinda weak and the meat was dry. They certainly cooked it a day or two before and then served it. Sides were good but overall, pretty disappointing.

I actually had a hard time finding things to do in downtown, it was just dead. I eventually gave up and headed to the venue not long before doors opened. I grabbed my chair and found a nice spot in the shade to relax. By relax I mean take a nap. It was so hot and I had already walked several miles, I needed the break. Plus I knew I wouldn’t make it through the show and then 2 hours driving that night without a nap.

Honestly another banging set from String Cheese Incident on Sunday. It was again filled with some killer jams and just these rolling beats that I love. The light show was great and the weather wasn’t to bad. Certainly after the sun set things really heated up. This time I spent the first set on the left and then during set break moved to the lawn. I was just ready to lounge out and listen to some killer music. Another kick ass show, really good.

I kept watching the time but eventually I left the show early. When the set was over I started making my way to my car. I wanted to beat the crowds out and start my long drive home. Earlier I had picked up a few donuts from Voodoo Doughnuts for a sugar rush and some iced coffee. Thankfully the drive home was uneventful and I made it without issue. I think I got home around 12:30 or 1am. Went right back to bed and was up early the next morning for work. I would have stayed a second night if only I had the PTO.

It was really awesome seeing SCI for two nights in Eugene. There is just something about seeing bands on the west coast. Phish and SCI both seam to have a different vibe out this way and I love it. The town could have been a little better but next time I will venture out from the downtown area. I have a feeling there is more to see, you just have to travel to it.

Day 1

String Cheese Incident Saturday, July 7th 2018
Cuthbert Amphitheater – Eugene, OR

Set 1 starts at 7:35pm

  1. Dudley’s Kitchen
  2. Close Your Eyes >
  3. So Far From Home >
  4. Ophelia
  5. Freedom Jazz Dance
  6. Late in the Evening* >
  7. drums* >
  8. Just One Story
    Set over at 8:45pm

Set 2 starts at 9:22pm

  1. Sweet Spot
  2. The Big Reveal >
  3. Mrs. Browns Teahouse
  4. Stay Through >
  5. Jellyfish >
  6. Willin’ >
  7. Jellyfish >
  8. Lands End >
  9. Glory Chords
  10. Colliding
    Set over at 10:53pm
    Encore starts at 10:54pm
  11. Quine the Eskimo*
    House lights at 11:00pm

Notes:
* with Jarrod Kaplan on percussion
11:02pm come out to tell us to go away and go home. I believe there is a curfew at 11pm because of the park.

Day 2

String Cheese Incident Sunday, July 8th 2018
Cuthbert Amphitheater – Eugene, OR

Set 1 starts at 7:04pm

  1. Can’t Stop Now
  2. Search >
  3. Could You Be Loved
  4. Falling Through the Cracks
  5. MLT*
  6. Water >
  7. Dirk
    Set over at 8:19pm

Set 2 starts at 8:54pm

  1. Believe >
  2. Song in My Head
  3. Valley of the Jib
  4. Hotel Window
  5. You Wreck Me^
  6. This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) >
  7. Heads Up jam >
  8. Texas
    Set over at 10:22pm
    Encore
  9. Can’t Wait Another Day

Notes:
* with Jeff Pevar on guitar
^ with John Kadelicik on guitar

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.