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.
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.
For several months we have been planning a trip to the west coast to see Bobby and Tracy. It was to coincide with Pat and my aunt Rose passing through from their cruise on the west coast. For the first time in several years we were going to have most of the family together in one place.
Not long after announcing that Nancy and I were traveling west, Matt wanted to get our flight info. He booked his own ticket and made it a surprise to everyone with his arrival. We rented a car so we meet Bobby and Tracy at their house. I walked up to Bobby in the garage and told him that we had picked up a stranger, it’s the thing to do in this area. The look on Bobby’s face was priceless when he realized it was Matt. Soon after Tracy walked out of the house to greet us and Nancy mentioned the stranger as well. She was shocked and couldn’t believe it.
That night we sat around the camp fire and it was awesome. We feel right back into place, it was as if they never left for Vancouver. Matt mentioned it as well. Bobby’s reply was this is how it should be, we are family and he was so right. The real surprise came on Saturday when Pat and Rose arrived. We took a bet on how many people would cry once Matt made his appearance. Instead of tears it was laughter. Pat was beside herself and it was like being home again.
Friday was a day just about the kids. Pat and Rose hadn’t arrived yet and Ellie and Tyson had school. We did a few of the local tourist things with the time we had. We hiked up Multnomah Falls which was impressive. There is a bridge at the base of the falls and standing there looking at the bowl was amazing. I have seen pictures of this spot before but it doesn’t do it justice. We then hiked the short 1.5 miles to the top of the falls and got the perspective looking down at the river, very beautiful.
From here we continued on the Historic Columbia River Highway to Stevenson, WA. Here we stopped at Walking Man Brewery for lunch and a sample of their micro brews. The food was spectacular for this little hole in the wall. The beer was also very good. We could see into their brewery which was quite small. They brew just 1500 barrels a year with most of it consumed at the brewery. Their Barefoot Brown was ok but I really liked the IPA. It had a good hop bitterness yet smooth finish. We even got a couple growlers to go and to add to my collection.
Being in hippie central, we headed to the farmers market and Saturday market to experience a little of the local flair on Saturday. The farmers market was very impressive, never have I seen one so large. If you could find it in a grocery store you could find it here.
Of course they had vegetables and fruits but also cheese, meets, canned good, bread. An amazing variety of things to be bought. Everything was local, some hyper local, and most of it organic. Everyone in Portland is obsessed with organic and sustainable food. The Saturday market is a local craft fair kinda thing and I must say it was uninteresting. If you like crafts this is a great thing, but for me it didn’t do anything for me.
Sunday we gathered the entire family and headed towards Mt. Hood. We stop first at Rasmussen Farms for the pumpkin patch and assorted activities. Next stop was a winery for the lady’s, Wy’East Vineyards just down the road. The ladies did a wine tasting and got a bottle. The men and kids went and played bocce ball on their regulation court. The master champion has yet to be determined but it was fun. Last fun filled adventure was to Kiyokawa Orchards for apples. While we didn’t pick any apples we did take the hay ride around the farm.
After a long day of travels we headed to Hood River for food. Thankfully this is the home base of a couple brew pubs, Double Mountain and Full Sail. We have Full Sail here on the east coast so we tried Double Mountain first but they had a 60 minute wait for a table, off to Full Sail. The food was great and we got their pub exclusives so I got to sample some different beer. We did stop at Double Mountain on the way out of town to fill our two growlers with Hop Lava and Kolsch.
Our final day and it was all about the wine. Oregon is known for their pinot noir from the Willamette Valley so we headed to the valley to hit some wineries. First up was Plum Hill Vineyards. The views were ok, the guy was supper nice and as for the wines I don’t know because I didn’t sample here. Just down the road was Elk Cove Vineyards. This place is the complete opposite of Plum Hill. It is very large and their wines are widely available across the country. The tasting was good and offered a few wines exclusive to the vineyard. The last place was Kramer Vineyards and here we spent the majority of our time. Our server had a great personality and you could tell she loved what she does. Everyone but Bobby did a flight and we got a bottle and some snacks as well. At the end we even got a tour of the facilities which was really cool, I have never been on a winery tour before.
Almost as soon as it started we had to start heading back home to meet the kids. They where in school all day but their baby sitter was only available till 5:00pm. We did have just enough time to stop in downtown Portland and hit Tanner Goods. I have been eying a duffel bag from them for I don’t know how long. It was great to stop by their flagship store and get my bag, tax and shipping all free which was nice.
This was our last night here and we good a giant family meal. We had steak and all homemade sides. It was great just hanging out with everyone at the house instead of going out to dinner as was the original plan. As we started driving back to the house we all agreed that family time cooking and sitting around the table was a better use of our time then going out. We ended the night around the fire pit cooking hotdogs.
Getting up early the next morning was rough but we did it. We said goodbye to everyone and started the five hour flight back to the east coast. Thankfully Bobby, Tracy and the kids are coming back to Virginia in late December for several weeks over Christmas. It will be great to see them during that time but I fear it will not be long enough. They already have a packed trip back so I don’t think we will get to hangout as the entire family much while they are here. It will still be great to see them.
I can’t wait to get back out there and see them again. It is just so much fun hanging with them and the area they live in beautiful with lots of things to do. There is good wine, good shopping, excellent beer and if more outdoor activities then you can shack a stick at. Three cheers for family, we got the band back together!