Jan 262015
 

After the disappointing lack of snow in Bend, we came back to Portland where it was a mixture of sunny and decent (but cold) and then alternating rainy days. I saw in the forecast SUNSHINE and 60 degree weather! I am so ready for spring! When I saw how nice the weather was going to be I suggested we plan a hike/day trip to the beach. Oddly enough, the weather was going to be a little warmer at the beach over the weekend (which is usually the opposite–Portland is usually warmer).

Sunday morning we woke up early and packed the car for the day and set out towards Cannon Beach to do some hiking. We parked at Oswald West State Park and were lucky to get a parking spot. Seemed everyone else on the planet had the same plan as we did and lots of the hiking trailheads were filling up.

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We followed the “Short Sand Beach Trail” from the parking lot and it walked alongside a roaring river where we came to several forks in the road. Michael looked at me and I just shrugged. We randomly picked a direction to walk and went up the trail where we came to a suspension bridge! Thankfully it wasn’t super high up (I’m afraid of heights) but it was still scary. And Bella was completely freaked out. She was refusing to cross the bridge and was walking backwards. I went first to see if she’d follow. The bridge was kinda scary and there were some loose boards (um, that seems safe right?) and it bounced up and down when two people were walking across it.

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Somehow Bella conquered her fear and made it across the bridge. ;) We walked down a fork in the trail to the beach where we had our picnic lunches. Even though we’d just started our hike, we had to eat or it would throw off dinner. It was around noon at this time I think. I got to practice with my new telephoto lens that Michael got me for my birthday!

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Pretty nice, huh? I need to practice with it. We were really far away when I took these pictures. The zoom is incredible! The day was warming up but there was still some mist at the beach. This little beach was a really popular one. I don’t think I’ve ever been to it but there TONS of people and a lot of surfers, too. Everyone seemed to be carrying a surfboard on the trail to the beach.

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After lunch we walked back up to the main trail and took the Old Growth Forest Loop trail that turned into Elk Flat Trail. The book I have is pretty old and doesn’t have great detail about a lot of the hikes we’ve found just going out on our own. Like this one, the Neahkahnie Mountain hike is the one we picked and got at the Oswald West trailhead except there seemed to be about half a dozen or more other trails all connecting. We just randomly picked Elk Flat and that’s what we did.

It was a pretty steep climb almost immediately. The trail was narrow and wound through the trees.

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We tromped through old growth forest, surrounded by giant sitka trees, pine trees, evergreens and so much green everywhere! There were also a bunch of giant trees that had grown out of the sides of hills like this one:

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It kind of reminded me of when I went to the Redwood Forest as a kid.

The ground was soft with some bounce–almost trampoline-like, covered in pinecones, pine needles, leaves and centuries of compost from the damp forest. It’s nice walking on soft ground like that. Also, the mud wasn’t too bad because there were so many tree roots that had formed stairs through the forest as we climbed up.

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The trail leveled off at the top and we were both sweating buckets. We stopped to rest and have some water, give Bella some water, and take off some of our layers. We were both really warm! It turned out to be a gorgeous day, despite the dense fog and cool air in the morning. We continued on the trail and it started to wind through an area of the forest that was less dense with trees and bushes. It was kind of spooky how slender and sparse the trees were after so much old growth.

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We got to what seemed like the end of the trail. It just kind of stopped–and I wasn’t willing to explore without a trail. Besides, we’d been hiking for over an hour and a half by this time. We turned around and came across a couple with two dogs off leash–who thankfully put them both on a leash while they passed us (I thanked them for that). It was so nice! The trail was uphill for a bit and then it was mostly downhill in mud and those root-stairs.

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I was glad my knees did ok on that really steep downgrade. We got back down to the main trail, crossed the suspension bridge again (Bella did ok but was still scared). We got back to the car, covered in mud, but feeling pretty good! We ended up hiking 3.14 miles in just under 2 hours. I burned 658 calories on the hike.

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Michael pulled over at a viewpoint so I could take some more pictures with my new lens. Then we headed to Cannon Beach to do some beach walking. I love the beach and it’s even better in the sunshine. There’s just something restorative about old forests, the ocean and sunshine for me. I really do need this time to reconnect with nature after spending so much of my time in a cubicle, or a gym, or at home. I need that disconnect time.

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Cannon Beach is a tourist trap. It’s a sleepy little beach town with typical beach-tourist shops and restaurants. Cannon Beach itself is actually pretty short and it’s always really crowded in the summertime so it’s not one I generally go to often. I much prefer going to Rockaway where you could walk for miles and miles and it’s never that crowded. That’s where we always went for summer vacations when I was a kid. But yesterday it was just perfect.

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Cannon Beach was packed! Everyone else in Portland had the same idea we did. Bella was SUPER STOKED to be at the beach! There was so much going on and so many other dogs. She met lots of dogs and made friends, was scared by one that barked at her (a giant husky fluff-ball thing) and then met a 2 month old German Shephard puppy:

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Bella did her usual: rolling around in the sand, exfoliating. (I did post some videos on Instagram if you want to see.) She was one filthy puppy between the muddy hike and the sandy beach. She made sure she got sand in every inch of her body. I love this picture of her:

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To me it says: “MOM, I LOVE THE BEACH! And the sunshine! Let’s stay here forever!” I’m not sure how many miles we walked the beach but it was for about an hour or so. It was so warm I took of my long-sleeved shirt. It’s shocking how warm it was at the beach in Oregon in January. That’s just nuts.

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We finally said goodbye to Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock and went in search of food.

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Dinner time! Well, early dinner. I was FAMISHED. My lunch was NOT enough calories for the strenuous hike we did and then walking on the beach. So we ended up eating dinner around 4:30.  We actually ate dinner in Seaside, about a 15 minute drive north of Cannon Beach. We found a pub, U Street Pub, on the south side of town that wasn’t too crowded and had decent reviews online.

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All I wanted was clam chowder. I’d been craving it for about a week and as usual, the line for Mo’s was way too long. I was glad we went here because the chowder was fantastic! Perfect consistency, creamy with tiny chunks of celery and potatoes (I hate it when the chunks are too large), and a generous amount of bacon in the chowder. It came with two small slices of toast. Michael got the pastrami sandwich and an order of mozzarella sticks. I had 2 mozzarella sticks and called that my limit. The bar had a decent beer list but I stuck with diet coke. We had a lovely dinner and then I stopped in a souvenir shop to get a postcard for my grandma and we headed home.

The drive home was slow going. There was a lot of traffic (all the other people who wanted to play in the sun like we did) heading back to Portland. The night grew dark and the dense fog returned but we made it home safely and Little Miss got a quick bath (she is so good at this routine now, every time we go for a hike she immediately runs into the bathroom and hops into the tub!) and then I sorted through photos before calling it an early night. I think all three of us were beyond exhausted after our day adventure!

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Jan 202015
 

For years Bend was my birthday tradition. My birthday often falls on the holiday weekend. It was a tradition I loved and we stayed in all sorts of different place and different parts of Bend, Sunriver and surrounding areas. Last year we went to the beach instead. It was just as great, but not quite the same! Now that we have Bella we wanted to go back to Bend so we could take her with us. She LOVES the snow and our hope was that she’d be a good snowshoe buddy.

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We booked a house in downtown Bend through AirBnB with another couple. Since it had been about 2 years since we’d been to Bend, I was excited to try the new restaurants and breweries that have popped up, see how the town has changed (I’d heard it grew a lot) and of course get some of my beloved Boneyard Beer!

Early Saturday morning I got up and did a kettlebell workout at home. I didn’t want to get up really early and waste time going to the gym, so I did a living room workout while Michael got ready and finished packing.

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Then we hit the road! It was a gross, rainy drive. Bella was super excited about the car trip but eventually slept through a lot of it. :)

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Most of the drive it was pouring rain. We got into Bend around noon and met up with our friends at Brother Jon’s Public House for lunch. The awesome thing about Bend is that everywhere you go, Boneyard Beer is on tap. Everywhere. It’s my #1 favorite beer and so it’s like being in heaven. I can get it anywhere! I got a RPM and a BLTA for lunch. Michael got the steak and blue cheese salad (and gave me a bite–it was delicious!).

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My sandwich was okay but it had too much lettuce on it.  While we were at lunch I got a text that the house we rented was ready if we wanted to check in early so we decided to check in, unload the car and then go to the outlet mall (where I got a new jacket and some hiking pants that I’ve desperately needed).

The house we rented was near downtown, less than a mile. The location was fantastic!

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The house was adorable and perfect for what we needed. It was two bedrooms, one bath, with a huge fenced yard and plenty of space for four people and a dog. We unpacked our cars and then Michael and I took Bella for a short walk after being in the car for three hours. The house was a block from the river and they were building a nice walking/running path along it (that wasn’t quite done yet).

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After shopping we took our growlers to the Boneyard Beer tasting room. We got some tastings and we all filled our growlers with RPM  (four growler!). I bought myself a t-shirt as a birthday present to myself. :) Man do I love their beer.

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We went back to the house and we spent the rest of the evening in. The boys went out for burritos and brought them back to the house where we hung out, played card games and enjoyed our beer. The owner of the house had also left us this little treat in the freezer as a welcome gift:

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Sunday we got up and ate breakfast and planned on going snowshoeing. That was the entire plan for the weekend. Our friends, Sean and Margie, had never been before and really wanted to try it. We decided to leave Bella at the house and take them to Virginia Meissner Sno-Park. It’s one that Michael and I have done a few times and it’s a fantastic adventure–complete with little cabins in the middle of nowhere that you can dry off and rest in.

Virginia Meissner is a really popular sno-park and unfortunately dogs aren’t allowed, but it was the perfect beginner trail. It’s groomed and it’s not super strenuous. We drove up Mt. Bachelor and I was noticing that there wasn’t any snow on the road or pretty much anywhere…The sun was out and it was warm and beautiful. We got closer and closer to the turn off and realized, uh there’s no snow. There’s ALWAYS snow. We’ve never been to Bend in January and NOT been able to find snow.

Sure enough, the sno-park was empty. There wasn’t enough snow to go out in. We were about 12 miles from the house so we decided to go back to the house and get Bella and go to one of the dog-friendly trails higher up on the mountain. When we got back to the house Margie made us all a picnic lunch and I looked up snow conditions online to check the other trails I’d planned on going to that trip. Sadly, they all reported “Inadequate snow”. What?!? NO SNOW?!

So snowshoeing was a bust. To be continued….

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