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.


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.



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!




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.


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.



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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.




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:



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:


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.


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



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.

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!

Jan 072015

Saturday morning we woke up with the idea to go hiking. It was supposed to be one of the last nice days in the forecast for awhile. I had my reservations, though. Michael had taken Bella for a hike with a friend earlier in the week and then we went snowshoeing on New Year’s Day. She was doing well and recovered quickly from everything, my body was good even though we’d done more in the snow than planned. But I just thought we were borrowing trouble going for another hike so soon. Still, I agreed because it’s an activity we can do together to get fit, Bella loves hiking and I didn’t really want to face going to a crowded gym.

We set off in the car towards Forest Park, after picking Lower Maple Trail Loop. Because all the trails in Washington Park connect, you could really just keep going. But this trail was marked as “moderate” and the loop was supposedly 3 miles. (SUGGESTED ROUTE: From Saltzman Road off of Hwy 30, turn right on Maple Trail, left up Quarry Trail, and then right on Leif Erikson. Return via Maple Trail.)


It was sort of on the rainy side but not raining–just the misty dew from thick fog. I figured it would be alright once we got on the trail and in the trees, and it was. We never got “rained” on. We got to the trailhead off Saltzman Road (which is a terrifying, narrow, cliffside road with not enough room for two cars to pass through at the same time).


The trailhead was packed with cars but we found a spot and started out. We saw TONS of trail runners out there and a few mountain bikers. There were a bunch of other hikers, too.


We took the main trail in and there was a fork–the lower Maple and higher Maple. We went up first. I saw a sign that said there was a trail closure, but it didn’t say where, so I ignored it.


We hiked probably a mile and a half up through the forest and then came to the closure:


The bridge had washed out.  No big deal, we hiked back down to the first fork in the trail and took the lower Maple Trail instead. There was also a fork mid-trail for I think Firelane 4 trail (I can’t remember now) that looked like it had some elevation to it but we decided to stick with Maple on this trip.

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One of my pet peeves with dog owners is the ones that take their dogs hiking off leash. Not only do I think it’s dangerous for the dog, but I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been out on a trail and had some dog race up to Bella in a really aggressive way. Thankfully nothing has happened, (until now) but it’s just crappy. So we were hiking and Bella’s leash was a little on the short side, but not short enough apparently. We came across another couple with a little dog (Jack Russell mix) that WAS on a leash but a total asshole (dog owners or dog, take your pick).

We were just hiking along, Bella wasn’t too interested in the dog but the dog lunged and snarled at her baring all it’s teeth and then snapped at her. It all happened so fast, was completely unprovoked and out of the blue and I still don’t know if Bella got bitten or scratched just because it was so fast. We walked on ahead a few minutes and then pulled off to the side of the trail to look at Bella. She was shaking her head and I knew immediately she was injured in some way.

Yep. She had a slash on the side of her snout, just beside her nose (thankfully not ON her nose). It was a little raised and bleeding. We got out our first aid kit and I wiped the wound really good with antiseptic wipes. Bella kept trying to lick it. Then she’d shake her head. I did a quick look to see if she was scratched anywhere else and she wasn’t.

We were a little ways in on the trail. We debated on whether or not to just turn around and go to the vet. In the end it didn’t look like the wound was deep and the bleeding had stopped. We decided to keep hiking. Bella wasn’t acting weird in any way and seemed to still want to hike.


The rest of the hike was uneventful and Bella did well. She didn’t seem to notice her nose wound. I, on the other hand, spent the entire hike reliving the attack and worrying about her injury and wondering if it was going to get infected, etc etc. We eventually turned around. The trail was getting too muddy and slippery and I almost fell a few times. Plus, with the worry I just wasn’t having that much fun anymore.


We turned back and headed back to the main trail. It didn’t take too long to get back. We hiked 4.05 miles in just under 2 hours. I burned 512 calories for the day.

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I wiped down Bella the best I could (she was caked in mud from head to toe) and then wiped the wound with another antiseptic wipe. As we drove back to Portland I ate my PBJ sandwich and then called the vet. They said to come in for a quick look so we did (except we got caught in horrible traffic everywhere). Our 2 hour hike turned into a 4 hour event with traffic and the vet. SIGH. The good news: Bella is fine. They looked at the wound and it was superficial. They said don’t do anything to it, no antibiotics were needed and just watch for signs of infection.

We went home to get ready for some friends to come over for dinner and games. We’d planned it awhile ago and I was really looking forward to it and didn’t want to cancel. Michael made a half batch of his famous mac n’ cheese and he also did up a small ham. I gave Miss Dirty Girl her 3rd bath of the week (I think it’s a record!) and then our friends arrived!

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Mac n’ cheese and ham for dinner! It was DELICIOUS! I was especially grateful for the comfort food aspect of it after an active and trying day. It was a hit with our friends, too.

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I decided to have beer with dinner. It actually went perfectly with the food. I had a normal sized bottle of a hefeweisen and then a large bottle of a double IPA I found awhile ago and had in my fridge (since before the wedding!):

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The game I’d ordered after Christmas finally arrived– Ticket to Ride Europe version! I was SO excited to play it! Before our friends came over I read through the instructions–it claimed it took 5 minutes to learn it. Not so much. After an hour I finally googled it and found an 11 minute video explaining it. We watched that and then started to do a practice game when our friends arrived. After dinner we all watched the video again and then started to play.

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The video helped a lot and the game was pretty easy once we started playing. I can definitely see where strategy would help move the game along faster. We need to practice this one!

Our friends Dawni and Chad brought dessert from a Russian bakery near their place. She said nothing is in English and you never know what you are buying. We still don’t know what she brought over but it was amazing! The cake part had the consistency and flavor of sponge cake–moist and fluffy.

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The frosting was not sweet at all and the flavors were all so subtle. Dawni said that their cakes never feel super sweet or like there’s a ton of sugar in them and I get it. It tasted healthier in someway. There were hazelnuts on top and I think in the center of the cake, ground really fine. The outside had unsweetened coconut flakes. It was so delicious and I’m not really a cake fan. I was good because it wasn’t overly sweet. I need to find a Russian bakery near our place!

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We ended up playing until midnight and then sat around talking for almost another hour. While we played the game we talked and Bella laid on her bed next to us. She was one tired pup! By the end of the evening I was, too.

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Despite the not-so-great hiking experience, it was a pretty good day and I’m glad we finally got to play my new game. I can’t wait to play it again!