Review

Pumpkins in the Gorge

Michael’s dad came to Portland for a short visit this weekend. On Saturday we were all up bright and early for various reasons (baby and time changes!) and I went to the gym, then home to clean up and we hit the road for a day trip. We listened to the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers greatest hits as we drove out to the Gorge, destination: Hood River.

It was pretty crazy seeing the damage from the wild fires. Multnomah Falls is closed, as are a lot of other popular hikes in the Gorge. I posted some photos on my instagram. It was really sad, and kind of shocking, to see the damage in person. I think I-84 only opened up a week ago, too. It’s been closed for almost a month I think. Crazy.

We stopped at Double Mountain Brewery for lunch. Logan did great. We timed the drive right and he napped for an hour on the drive so when we arrived he was ready for lunch. We also lucked out and got there before the mad-rush for lunch. Usually there are super long lines to get in.

We got a pizza and I got three tastes: Killer Green, Killer Lion and Hop Lava (all IPAs).

It all really hit the spot. After lunch we stopped at Cathedral Ridge so we could pick up our quarterly case of wine from our membership (like 2 months late–partly because we had no time and partly due to the wildfires). I was surprised at how few people were there on a Saturday afternoon. Usually the tasting room would be super packed. I guess a lot of people haven’t ventured into the Gorge since the fires.

Then it was time for pumpkins!

We got to Packer Orchards near the Wy’East Winery after lunch. We discovered it last year around this time when Logan was an itty bitty baby! This year was SO much fun because Logan is big enough to DO stuff now! He was so excited when we got there. He was ready to explore!

We chose not to do the corn maze/hay ride extravaganza this year. Logan is still a bit too young for that and it was about $20 for a family to do all the activities together. Next year I think it will be great! The nice thing about Packer Orchards is that there was TONS of stuff to do for free. They had the places you could take photos and the giant pumpkin, of course.

Logan was sort of good while we tried to take photos. 😉 He was just too excited and distracted to sit still for long.

They had a ton of carts you could use for picking pumpkins. Logan just wanted to ride around in the cart. So Michael and his dad took turns taking Logan around in the cart.

There was a giant (free) hay stack that kids could climb and play on. The hay rides looked really fun. Next year! Then we discovered that there was a giant “sand box” that was filled with dry corn! Wow! It was so cool. All the kids loved it. Logan wasn’t quite sure at first and then he loved it. What a cool idea.

So we walked around a bit and then decided it was time to pick a pumpkin. Logan zeroed in on the one he wanted right away.

He picked the tiny white pumpkin that fit in his hands. We tried to get him to pick another bigger one to take home, too, but he wasn’t having any of it. He just wanted his tiny pumpkin!

And Packer Orchards was super sweet, we went up to pay for it and I guess because it was so small (and Logan is so cute LOL) they said it was free. Sweet!

The above two photos are my absolute favorites of the day. He looks so dang cute! I am so glad we went and had a great day. It was such a fun, sweet outing to see everything through Logan’s eyes. Everything was amazing to him and he had a blast. Can’t wait for next year!

It was getting late in the afternoon so we got three pipin’ hot fresh out of the fryer apple cider donuts to go and Logan loved that, too. Of course he did! He’s my kid. 😉 And we headed back to Portland.

Books #18

I’ve been reading a lot lately. With all the stuff that’s been going on in my life recently, I really needed the distraction.

1 ) Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

What a crazy roller-coaster ride of a book! It was SO GOOD! If you’re going to pick up a book to read, this is the one you should check out. I read it in a day and a half and could not put it down.

The story is dark–Gwen/Gina’s life is turned upside down. The idyllic home life she thought she had, married with two small kids, was not what it seemed when it turns out that her husband is a serial killer. The story isn’t necessarily about the discovery or the trial, or him going to prison to sit on death row, it’s about her survival and it’s about the rabid internet trolls that are trying to hunt her down to make her pay. They are convinced that she was an accomplice.

So she goes on the run with her kids, moving and changing identities whenever she thinks the stalkers and trolls are getting too close to finding them. But now she’s settled in Tennessee on a quiet lake with her teen kids. She’s still diligent, but starting to relax. And that’s when her past catches up to her. It’s such a fast, exciting story. Trust me when I say you cannot stop reading this book once you start!

 

 

2 ) The Choices We Make by Karma Brown

This is a story about friendship, motherhood and grief. Hannah and Kate have been best friends most of their lives. Hannah has been trying to have a baby for years, unsuccessfully, and Kate does the selfless thing of offering to be a surrogate. It’s not an easy road for any of them. Kate’s husband isn’t on board with it, there are complications and twists of fate that change their lives forever. But the story is heartwarming, as well as tragic.

I really liked the character development. You could really feel the close friendship between Hannah and Kate and the author describes grief very well. It was a good book that I read in two days.

3 )  Cold Earth (Shetland Island #7) by Ann Cleeves

This series kind of dropped off my radar for about a year. Then I remembered about it and got the newest book. It was fairly easy to pick it back up and the story starts out in a pretty exciting way.

Detective Jimmy Perez is back and he’s at a funeral for a local friend who died of old age. During the service at the cemetery, there is a landslide of mud, water and peat that crashes into a nearby house. They all watch in horror as it sweeps down the hillside. Then Jimmy discovers a body. They all assume that it was the landslide that killed her, but it turns out to be murder.

There were lots of twists and turns, and another murder, and I liked the book and it was a fast read…but the ending was a bit flimsy for me. The murderer was not who I was expecting it to be, which in a murder mystery is usually pretty good, but in this case I didn’t quite buy it. Other than that, I enjoyed the story.

4 ) Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery

This was a really fascinating read about how cities and suburbs are designed and how they fail. The author discusses different cities — Bogota was especially fascinating in how they turned it around and also interesting was the San Joaquin Valley in California (and how it was completely destroyed by the housing crash).

So why are the citizens in Bogota so much happier?

“‘And what are our needs for happiness?’ he asked. ‘We need to walk, just as birds need to fly. We need to be around other people. We need beauty. We need contact with nature. And most of all, we need not to be excluded. We need to feel some sort of equality.’ [pg 6]”

It really is worth reading the book just for these two scenarios that are discussed, although the author talks about other countries and cities that have tried to make changes. 

“A city can be friendly to people or it can be friendly to cars, but it can’t be both. [pg 7]”

The story of Bogota was particularly interesting to me because Portland is going through something similar. There is SO much growth, so much building, so many condos and apartments and high rises…and no parking, horrible traffic, and people rallying on the side of biking rights to transform the city to something more livable. I saw a lot of parallels and I hope that our city leaders can try and find some kind of balance to make Portland…better….?

The horror-story of California was also an interesting read. Lots of people moved to this community and commuted to San Jose/San Francisco and their commutes were 2 HOURS EACH WAY! I cannot even imagine enduring that.

“A Swedish study found that people who endure more than a 45 minute commute were 40% more likely to divorce. People who live in mono-functional, car-dependent neighborhoods outside of urban centers are much less trusting of other people than people who live in walk-able neighborhoods where housing is mixed with shops, services, and places to work. [pg 55]”

I can definitely relate. We live in the suburbs of Portland and for years our neighborhood, while nice, didn’t exactly feel like a great neighborhood. We had to drive everywhere to do anything. There are no restaurants nearby, no bars, nothing really within walking distance. But once I had Logan and we started going on frequent walks (and runs) together, I started stopping by a local coffee-shop on our route. I chat with the people that work there, I chat with other patrons in the coffee-shop, people comment on my baby, and it’s a friendly experience. I also noticed that I started seeing the same people on our route who were also out walking/running/etc. We’d smile and say hi and it felt a little more like a community. It’s not quite the same because it would be nice to be able to walk to a restaurant close to the house. But it’s getting there.

The book was really interesting and gave me a lot to think about. It also made me think of what I want to look for in our next home/community. Having stuff within walking distance is a must have!

5 ) Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

What a really great book! The story unfolds slowly, but you are engrossed the entire time. Eleanor is slightly weird…she’s very particular about things, is very black and white–has a routine and never deviates from that, and seems to have maybe some autistic tendencies but the book doesn’t really address that. She most certainly struggles with social skills and norms. But it’s quaint and funny.

She starts to become friends with Raymond, a coworker. Her and Raymond help a complete stranger, Sammy, an elderly man who collapses in the street. This series of events brings Eleanor out of her shell and forces her to re-evaluate her social life. Everything is off-kilter for her, but she starts making small changes and before she realizes it, her life is completely different. In a good way!

I absolutely loved the characters and the story. Eleanor is weird but charming and you are rooting for her the entire time. The ending was very shocking and unexpected, too. This is a really special book that I would recommend to anyone.

6) Al Franken: Giant of the Senate by Al Franken

I really liked this book! It had just the right amount of politics and humor. Al Franken writes briefly about his upbringing, his family and his career at SNL. Then he moves on to what made him decide to run for senate. The bulk of the book is about the campaign but he does spend some time writing about what it is like being a senator.

“And that’s how it’s supposed to be for every kid in America. You’re not supposed to have to be rich or lucky to have a chance to do great things…Democrats aren’t just the party of equality for all–we’re the party of opportunity for all. [pg 9]”

I also love how much “behind the scenes” stories he shares. They were interesting and funny. It was interesting to get more information on politics and how stuff happens and how the left and right actually do sometimes try to work together.

He also talked about the 2016 election and the aftermath, so there is relevant information in there, too. He ended his book with advice, too.

“Keep showing up and keep speaking out. The Women’s March didn’t force Trump to resign. It didn’t even stop any of his Cabinet nominees from going through. But it really, really mattered. It sent a clear message to the president (and to Republicans in Congress) that the American people won’t surrender their rights or their core values without a fight–and it sent a clear message to Democrats that, when we stand up to Trump, people will have our backs. [pg 382]”

He encourages people to come out at mid-elections and actually get involved and vote and try. Keep trying.

“This comeback starts with standing up for our values and making it clear that no president has a mandate to spread bigotry or roll back the clock on progress (especially not one who lost the popular vote by three million). It continues through next year, when we have a chance to punish Republicans for enabling this disaster and take back governorship and state legislatures all across the country. [pg 384]”

It’s worth a read!

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