Sunday, May 20, 2012

Dog Mountain

       I've been here three weeks and all I can say is... the Pacific Northwest is beautiful.  Maybe it's because my mom was born here and I'm half Oregonian.  Maybe it's because I just came from 4 months in the desert.  Maybe it's because my family is here and they make me happier than an place ever could.  Whatever the reason, I'm loving it...even when it rains!
      This weekend me and some of my aunts and cousins went for a hike up Dog Mountain, near Carson, WA.  It is in the Columbia River Gorge and the views are breathtaking.  From the parking lot, it looks like this...

        Already pretty nice!  It's about 3.5 miles to the top and a 2800 feet elevation gain.  Believe me, my legs are feeling it today.  The reason to go on this hike, especially now, is the wildflowers.  The first 0.7 miles are all through forest.  There are lots of switch backs and steep climbs, but there are little tidbits of a view and lots of little flowers start to peek out.

At the 0.7 mile mark you get a choice...

Naturally, we chose longer but less difficult.  This was the flattest part of the whole gig, which isn't saying too much, but there were lots of tall trees and old forest to wonder about.  Not too many flowers, but wait for it...

All of a sudden, you round this corner and get to this huge field of beautiful yellow flowers.  They are called balsamaroot, but look like small sunflowers.

We stopped here for lunch and to enjoy the view...

We kept climbing and I think this was the hardest stretch.  It was steep, but we were getting so close that it powered us up.  We took it slower than the average group, but enjoyed the flowers and the views.

 As the name implies, there were lots of dogs on top.  We shared our snacks and water and had a fun time.  As you can see, some pups were more energetic than others, but they all made it to the top.

You can just barely see Mt. Hood, although it blends in with the clouds.  Across the Gorge you can see Mt. Definance and to the south, Mt. Adams.

Something I loved about the flowers were the different layers of growth.  There were the huge balsamaroot flowers that grew tall, but upon closer inspection, there were little while puffs, dark purple blooms, orange paintbrushes, and the tiniest blue petals.

 So many beautiful things to enjoy.  The descent was much faster, as usual, but not exactly easier.  I've always heard you get more sore from going down hill than up.  It was the perfect day and to top it off, we got some ice-cream in a little town called Stevenson.  So cute and such a good way to end it all.

If you're planning a hike, check out these sites for more info:

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Farm Girl

One of my first eating out experiences in Portland was at good ol' Jamba Juice.  It was uneventful, except that some teenage boy commented that he liked my sun glasses and that they were very "Portland-esque".  I'm so proud.  I think.

Week #2 adventures brought me south to Cottage Grove and Eugene where I got to spend some quality time with my Grammy.

And my adorable cousins, Haylee and Aleeah.

The best part of the whole weekend was that I got to play farm girl.  My aunt and uncle started off with a few cows and now they are up to 7 cows, 8 goats, loads of chickens, 12 pheasants, a cat and a dog.  The goats just had babies and two of them are bottle fed.  They are just like little puppies and would melt even the coldest heart.

This little guy, Tippy, was my favorite.  He likes to nuzzle.  

Brand new baby pheasants!

The old fashioned egg measurer.  Pretty much all of their eggs are over the "extra large" mark.

Aleeah likes mud more than goats!

At the feed store.  Turns out pheasants can't eat the same food as chickens.

The "welcome" sign to my grandparent's house.  This is why I love them!

I also got to play baker girl/teacher and helped the girls decorate a cake for my aunt's birthday!  They drew up their ideas about how it should look, mixed frosting colors, did some practice piping, and decorated away.  I think it turned out pretty darn good.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


I have officially moved back to Oregon.  Working in Portland and living in Beaverton.  I used to live in this area and a part of my heart feels like it's coming home.  There are green things everywhere, lots of Subarus on the road, flowers all around, and plenty of family to keep me busy.  I started my new internship and I'm loving it.  I work something like 32 hours a week and spend the rest of the time enjoying the sunny weather we've been having.  Most of both sides of my family live in this state and it's grand.  You truly don't know what you have until it's gone.  You don't know how much you missed it until you have it back.

My grandparents on dad's side

Tea with an old neighbor and friend

The candy isle I used to sneak off too when I was young
Hanks in Hillsboro, OR

Stefan and I helping make hot dog cupcakes as a funny gift for my aunt's friend

This weekend I headed over to the coast to spend some time with my uncle and family.
An adorable coffee shop in Astoria called Coffee Girl, on Pier 39

Enjoying our morning apricot lemon scone and berry bran muffin

Pier 39

Cannon, getting ready to go on the riverwalk with us

Cannon wasn't feelin' picture time, but Chantal and Rachel were

 If this sign were captioned... "please don't get drunk, wear an old fashioned cap, crash your bike, and fall into the water"

Seaside sunset

Some Simmons save trees...

... but other Simmons' just relax

The folding boat and the pond.  Yes... a folding boat is pretty much as scary as it sounds.

The Big E, taking care of his blueberries

Lilly and Ruby, the cutest 4-year-olds I know

Baby Grey is growing up

Baby Jerr turns 1 and he WILL have his cake and eat it too

Some friendships are more or less instant and it was great to re-start this one!
Me, KJ, and Aunt Rocio
Saddle Mountain from Astoria Column

Tillamook Head from Astoria Column.  Can you see all this green???

Comparing bellies

Rocio and Antoine, getting ready to climb the column

Sunset from the Column