Jul 282014

I can cross off one more goal on my Summer Bucket List! Over the weekend my cousin Anna and I did a kayaking tour with Alder Creek. It was only $39 each so that wasn’t a bad price for a three hour tour. We chose the Ross Island Tour:

“Go paddling in your backyard! You can even ride your bike to our new location to make it a no driving recreational day! We will leave from the Boat House dock along the Eastside Esplanade near SE Water and Clay and explore the backwaters of the Willamette River between Ross Island and Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.

Outline:  Ross Island Tour

Journey the 3 nautical miles around Ross Island…if conditions permit

Introduction to basic equipment

Launching and landing from a dock

Maneuvering the boat

Scenic views of the city to start

Enjoy the quiet backwater wake free Holgate Channel

Enjoy a little help from the current on the way back.”

Sounded good to me! I definitely wanted a beginner tour since I’ve only done this once before. That first time was kind of impromptu and I wasn’t very prepared for it. This time I was more prepared. I remembered being uncomfortable in what I was wearing (everything got wet). So this time I wore a swimsuit underneath shorts and a wicking sports t-shirt. I brought a hat, sunscreen, chapstick with sunscreen and aqua sox. Remember those things? LOL! I didn’t know they still existed but I found some on amazon and got them for the honeymoon. I figured this was the perfect time to test them out. IMG_4370

I also brought a change of clothes and a towel for after the tour. I brought a bottle of water and some snacks (a banana and a protein bar). I also bought a waterproof iPhone case so I could take some pictures on the trip. The guide instructed us how to get into the kayak from the dock. It’s a LOT harder than you think it would be. I definitely struggled with this part.


We all got into the kayaks and then kind of floated on the current and waves while he talked a little bit about our route. I’ve always wanted to try a sprint tri and swimming would be my strongest part of the race–but open water swimming is what has kept me from ever trying it. I know, I know, open water swimming really isn’t that scary and I used to do it as a kid all the time. When did fear start keeping us from doing stuff??? So yeah, getting in the kayak and feeling it wobble around with the waves and feel uncertain and unbalanced was a little scary.


I did not feel confident in the kayak and the river suddenly felt very big. We were out on the water by 10:30 and there weren’t a ton of boats out there yet, just a few. But whenever they went by I felt very vulnerable because they were much bigger and caused big waves. When the waves came I just stopped paddling and let it take me wherever for a moment, then start paddling again.


We paddled over to the submarine by OMSI and then went underneath all the bridges towards Ross Island. I’ve never been to Ross Island and was excited about seeing it. I had hoped that we would go onto the island and check it out but alas, we just paddled past it. Part of it is a bird sanctuary. We actually got to see some giant herons AND a few bald eagles! That was kind of crazy.



This part of the trip was my favorite part. The waters were very calm, the river narrowed as it went around the island, and there weren’t as many boats. We saw a bunch of other kayakers, some dragon boat teams practicing, and also a BUNCH of SUP people! That looked like so much fun. It also looked like a lot of work and like it requires something I don’t really possess–balance.

I put on a lot of sunscreen before we got on the water and I reapplied a little bit around this time because I was starting to feel my face burning a bit. It was hard–my hands were slimy and that made the paddle harder to use (note to self: bring the spray-on sunscreen next time). Even though I put on a lot of sunscreen, I still got a little burned on my shoulders AND afterward I found a spot I missed: the top of my hands. Doh!


We kayaked around Ross Island and turned around to head back. This part of the river had a ton of boats–mostly sailboats AND a pirate ship!! That was way cool and I wanted to get a closer look but this was as close as we got. Here is Anna paddling in front of me:

By this time I was feel more confident in the kayak and being out on the water wasn’t making me as nervous as it did at the start. We went by the new-ish OHSU high-rises and fancy condos on the waterfront and went underneath the new pedestrian/bike bridge they are building (which looked kind of ugly at first but now it looks like it’s going to be pretty).



At this point we’d been kayaking for about 90 minutes. I was definitely feeling fatigued around this time. Mostly in my forearms and hands (I was gripping the paddle too tightly) and also in my low back. I tried to adjust how I was sitting a few times but that made the boat very wobbly so I tried not to do that very often. This is another reason I think stopping on Ross Island would have been a good thing–getting out to stretch for a few minutes and not sit in the same position for hours.


The sun was out, people were partying on boats, the Portland Spirit Cruise boats were going by and there were the jet-boats too. It felt like rush-hour traffic out there! The wake was huge at this point and paddling got more difficult. I was pretty happy to see the dock off in the distance! IMG_4450

As we were approaching the dock I saw the pirate ship! It had it’s sails up! It looked so cool and kind of reminded me of the boat in the Goonies. ;) We got back to the dock and everyone helped each other to get out. The trick was having people hold onto the ends of the kayak, put your hands on the deck and kind of thrust yourself out–kind of like a beached whale. It was such a strange sensation getting out of the kayak onto the dock. Anna said the same thing, both of us had jello legs. That was so weird! How about these calories:


I ate my banana and we helped take some of the kayaks back up to the parking lot (there was another tour after us). The shaky legs finally went away (maybe 5 minutes later). Anna and I went into the bathrooms to change out of the damp clothes and then we got lunch! I was famished!


We went over to the Green Dragon. It’s a place I’ve wanted to try for awhile and I’m glad I finally did. They had a humongous outdoor, partially covered area.  I ordered the Boneyard Diablo Roja beer and Anna got some kind of ginger beer. Anna got the mushroom burger and I ordered the pulled pork sliders.



The food could not come fast enough!! So freakin’ starving. The sliders were fantastic. Loved the flavor of the pulled pork. I had a side salad with it instead of fries. I tried their IPA vinaigrette dressing because it sounded really fascinating but I didn’t like it. It didn’t really taste like much; so I got some Ranch dressing instead. Lunch was great and after I felt like I could totally take a nap! It was a fantastic day!!

Jul 092014

A few weeks before Easter my Grandma, the one who has been in assisted living/apartment, fell and broke her knee and elbow and hit her head. It was a pretty bad fall. She’s had a lot of strokes over the last 10 years, some worse than others, and was having some other issues. My dad was on vacation in Tucson when he got the call from the doctor that she wasn’t doing well. He knew by the voice of the doctor that has cared for my grandma for years that it was serious. He packed up and left the next day to drive from Tucson to Seattle to see her in time.

She was in the hospital and had chose not to do heroic measures. Her stomach was having bleeding that went into her abdomen and I’m sure it wasn’t comfortable. My mom told me the news that she wasn’t doing great and that the doctor said she had a few days to a few weeks to maybe a month. They weren’t sure. I called my grandma and spoke to her the next day. My mom was there with her. She could understand what I was saying and could still talk but was having a delay in her responses. I’m glad I got to talk to her when she was still lucid. When we ended the phone call my mom said she told her “I’m going to the wedding.” That made me sad–I knew she probably wouldn’t be.

I sent her a card with two cute kittens on the cover and when she got it my aunt read it to her and set it next to her hospital bed so she could see it when she rolled over. I’m glad the card got to her in time for her to see it and understand what it said.

For weeks we all waited. Every time the phone rang I figured it was my mom calling to tell me the news. But she was hanging on. Instead of a few weeks, she’s had a few more months now. She’s in an nursing home/hospice type place now and my parents go and check on her every few days or so. Over the holiday weekend I decided to drive up to Seattle to see her. I felt like I’d been blessed with a few extra months so I could have the chance to see her again.

Michael stayed home with Bella and I drove up to Seattle. I didn’t know what to expect or how bad it would be. I left Portland after the Warrior Room Saturday morning and thankfully missed a lot of the holiday traffic. I got to Seattle about 3ish and my mom and I went to see my grandma. I got some flowers for her–orange-red carnations.


Thankfully she recognized me and was happy to see me. I sat next to her bed and chatted with her. With the strokes it’s hard for her to communicate. I can tell she understands most of what is said and she tries really hard to respond but the words get jumbled and don’t always make sense or come out in the right order.

I told her about Bella and she remembered her dog from 20 something years ago. Talked about our veggie garden, the wedding plans, the honeymoon, other family members that have visited her. She wanted to see my ring. She wasn’t in great shape. :( My mom and I stayed about an hour and I think it wore her out so we left soon after that. It’s very strange to say goodbye to someone and know that it’s probably the last time you will ever see them.

We went home and I had dinner with my parents and then my mom and I went to the store to rent some movies. She wanted to get Father of the Bride. :) Unfortunately we couldn’t find that. It’s funny how you don’t realize no video rental stores would actually be disappointing. I have netflix at home but my parents don’t. We ended up renting 21 Jump Street (which Michael and I had actually watched a few days ago and yes, it was that good that I was willing to watch it again) and Non-Stop with Liam Nissan. It was a nice evening with the folks.

My dad told me about his upcoming motorcycle trip and I checked out the bike. It’s been undated since I was a kid and he’s currently working on a few of the issues before he leaves. I remember riding with him when I was a kid! It was fun and terrifying at the same time!

After the movies I went to bed and felt sad about my Grandma. I started to think about how I don’t know a lot about my dad’s side of the family and our family history. My dad’s dad was adopted so that makes it even more difficult to find out family heritage. I regretted not finding out more while I had the chance. Unfortunately my grandma couldn’t communicate the family history now even if she remembered it. I was feeling pretty down and could have used a hug from Michael and some cuddles from the beasts.

That’s my dad–probably barely 18 years old when he joined the Marines and soon to be off to Vietnam. That picture was on the dresser in the spare bedroom. Hard to believe he was ever that young!!

The next day I had breakfast with my folks and we relaxed on the deck chatting for a bit before it was time for me to jet. I wanted to miss the holiday traffic on the drive home if that was even possible. I was leaving Seattle and feeling homesick. Whenever I visit I feel like moving back. Anyways, I got lucky again and made good time back to Portland. I was happy to be home. Fat Kitty and Bella created me and I’ve never seen Bella more excited and spastic! LOL It was nice to get a hug from Michael and I came home to a nice little gift:

The neighbor girl was selling rocks she painted and Michael bought me one. :) Anyways, so that’s my random-makes-no-sense post.