traveling

The Crux of It

Part Two: MAJOR disappointment on the snowshoeing. I’d been really looking forward to it and I know our friends were, too. Since it was sunny, warm and like 50 degrees we decided to go for a hike instead. That’s the nice thing about the High Desert–Bend has 300 days of sunshine a year. You can pretty much count on decent weather (either good snow or good sun!). We picked Tumalo Falls because it was highly rated and the falls were fairly close to the trail start (supposedly) so we could at least see that, right?

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We drove to Tumalo Falls and as we got closer and closer, the temperature dropped to the low 40’s and there was ice on the side of the road. We got to the trailhead and got out of the car and were shocked at how frigid it was. We layered up the best we could and set out on the trail. It was deceptively cold–the sun was out but the wind was icy!

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The hike was along a roaring river that looked like immediate hypothermia if you fell in. The trees were swaying in the windy weather. Some parts of the water were frozen solid, too.

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Needless to say, the wind was so strong and so cold, we didn’t get very far before we decided “screw this” and turned around. It was another bust. Never saw the falls, did just a little over a mile on the hike. LOL Some hike! (We got Bella a snow jacket–it’s fleece lined and water proof–works great!)

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I was bummed that the hike was a fail, too. So much for exploring nature!

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We went back to the house, changed into normal clothes and then the four of us walked to downtown Bend to do some shopping and walking around. The sun was warm and it was a gorgeous day. The walk was nice! Again, our house was super close so we could walk pretty much anywhere we wanted to go. The Boneyard brewery was a few blocks away, as were a few others.

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We were shopping and walking around when the Seahawks game was going nuts and people in the bars were freaking out screaming (we could hear it from outside) so we ducked into a dive bar for the last 15 minutes or so of the game and enjoyed a Boneyard beer. Next up: Crux Fermentation!

Several of us had been told by friends “you must go to Crux”. I’d never heard of it so it was new to me. It was mid-afternoon by this time so we headed over there. It was a super cool space with a large outdoor patio, some of it was heated and covered and some of it was open. There was a smoker grill, a taco food truck and cornhole. People were milling around outside playing and hanging out in the sunshine.

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We went inside and got a table. The place was packed. Service was absolutely outstanding. I’ve never had such a good experience at a restaurant. Waitress was funny, smart, knowledgable about beer, had great recommendations and just cool.

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We ordered an appetizer to share–house-made jerky. We’d never seen jerky as an appetizer on a menu before so we had to try it. And it was probably the best jerky I’ve ever had. They smoke it themselves, soaked in their beer. Best.Jerky.Ever.

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Margie and I shared a tasting tray of 6 beers. We got:

Better Off Red: Flanders Red

Outcast IPA

Sugar Daddy IPA

Half Hitch Imperial IPA

Bert Scotch Ale

Tough Love Imperial Stout

Can you guess which ones mine were? 😉 Yep, the IPA. The Half Hitch and Outcast IPAs were really, really good. I am NOT a fan of dark beers. I love coffee. I love chocolate. I do not love them in my beers. So I rarely ever enjoy a stout or porter. I had a sip of the Tough Love Imperial Stout and was amazed at how smooth, tasty and balanced it was. It was a stout I could actually drink and enjoy. But the real winner for me was the Bert Scotch Ale. It might have been my favorite beer that we tried and Michael and I ended up getting a full pint of it and sharing it. It was so fantastic.

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We were having such a good time I didn’t want to leave but we planned on getting a pizza and hanging out at the house so we left. Michael and I picked up pizza from Pizza Mondo (it was just ok), we played Cards Against Humanity and Ticket to Ride, drank our Boneyard and talked. It was a great night!

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We were up late Sunday night but it was worth it! Monday we packed up and headed home. We’d talked about trying to snowshoe on Mt. Hood on the way back to Portland but after a week of warm weather and rain, the snow conditions weren’t much better. Raincheck. On the way out of town we stopped at Thump coffeeshop and I got a coffee with homemade Mexican hot chocolate. It might have been the best coffee drink I’ve ever had. Birthday treat!

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The drive was uneventful and sunny until we got to Mt. Hood. Then the temperatures dropped and there was snow mixed with rain. Michael and I drove up to Timberline Lodge with the thought of hanging out in the lodge before going home.

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The roads were clear until about two miles from Timberline and then all of a sudden the road grew treacherous, there were snowplows trying to clean it and it was snowing a lot. Of course, NOW we find snow.

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We got to Timberline and there wasn’t really parking, the place was covered in snow (of course) and it was just too cold for us to leave Bella in the car so we didn’t stay long at Timberline. Bummer.

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So we found snow, finally, but couldn’t play in it. We drove (very slowly) back down to the highway and back to Portland, where it was in the mid-50’s and sunny.

Michael took me out to dinner in Portland for my birthday. I picked The Observatory. It’s a restaurant I’ve wanted to go to for years but haven’t been–I did try once with a friend and it was packed and had an insane wait time so we went to a dive bar nearby and had a surprisingly good meal there instead.

This time, we had to wait maybe 10 minutes for a table? I ordered a drink – the Tart Cherry Aperol Spritzer. It was a tart cherry puree with champagne and it was delightful!

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For dinner I got the blackened snapper. It came with a small serving of their mac n’ cheese and braised collard greens. I’ve never had snapper before. I eat a ton of seafood but somehow never tried it. It was a white fish, kind of a middle ground between tilapia and halibut. It wasn’t as light and flaky as the tilapia and closer to the “steak” like consistency of halibut. It was good! The blackening spice/gravy was a little rich but it was tasty. Loved the mac n’ cheese (and that it was a small portion).

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Michael got the fried chicken with brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes. By far the mashed potatoes were the star of the entire meal. We couldn’t figure out what they made them with–lemon? Red wine vinegar? Regular vinegar? There was a tartness to it and they were to die for. I ate more than a few bites of his mashed potatoes. 🙂

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Since it was a my birthday we shared a dessert. I was close to being stuffed, but we’d had a small lunch and a normal sized breakfast (eggs and bacon) so it wasn’t like I’d eaten a ton that day. We ordered the peppermint cheesecake!

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It was outstanding. It came in a little mason jar, chocolate crust on the bottom, cheesecake, topped with whipped cream and a layer of peppermint chocolate. There were small peppermint chocolate beans on the side and a little pansy flower on the plate. It was so incredible. One of the best desserts I’ve had in a long time. I rarely get dessert. This was such a treat!

It was a really good weekend and birthday (despite the lack of snow thing). Now back on track!

So Long 2014!

What a year it has been!

This has also been one of the worst years for my health. It seemed like I was ALWAYS sick this year. Getting a cold every other month, multiple sinus infections and also bronchitis. In that aspect I’d say I’m disappointed and hoping that 2015 is an improvement. Other than that, it was a pretty good year full of big events and lots of traveling.

Vegas

I got to go on a girl’s adventure! Going to Vegas with my cousin Anna was so great. It had been way too long since we’d traveled together and it turned out that one of my work friends was also in Vegas during the same time so we all got together for a great show. 😉

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It was a trip that I really needed and I love Vegas so much. The weather was fantastic and lounging poolside with drinks was a dream come true. Vegas is a place I could easily go to every single year. Maybe this is the winter weather speaking here but damn, I need to be back in Vegas poolside SOON. I never get sick of that city.

Trying New Things

Kayaking the Willamette River had been on my “to do list” for so long and I finally got to do it! It went well and I got more experience kayaking in Hawaii on our honeymoon. I am determined to make 2015 a year of kayaking! Michael is on board with this, too.

Canning Salsa had been on my “to do list” for several years, too. Ever since we started planting our own vegetable garden. Well this year I finally CANNED the stuff I grew! And it turned out well. I was surprised at how much fun it was canning stuff. I canned salsa, tomato sauce, raw tomatoes, I even made jalapeno jelly. All of those creations were a hit with people I gave them to as well. Next year will include a lot of new canning adventures.

Ran a 5K

After years of battling various injuries and flare-ups, I was able to run a race again. It took me pretty much all winter/spring to train for it. I know that 5k’s are pretty easy for most people but after being “out of it” for so long and not doing much running on a consistent basis, it was a really happy moment for me to be able to run another race.

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I did have to take a few walking breaks, but my time wasn’t too bad and I finished it! I felt strong and was able to keep running the rest of the year injury free!

Wedding

Yep! After a year and a half of planning, the wedding was finally here. (You can see the Engagement Pictures if you missed them.) And that of course included the Bachelorette Party! The Bachelorette Party was amazing and just perfect for me. I was really happy my close friends planned such a fantastic day and everyone could participate. Lots of happy memories there.

The wedding finally arrived and it was even more wonderful than I had fantasized about. We are STILL getting rave reviews from guests who loved the food and music and said it was the best wedding they’d been to. That kind of positive feedback makes me happy–all the stress of planning was worth it. (You can read the wedding posts here: The Wedding Details – Part 1The Wedding Details – Part 2The Wedding Details – Part 3, and Professional Pictures are Here!.)

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It’s nice because I still love looking at our beautiful wedding pictures and when I hear certain songs on the radio that were played at the ceremony/reception I do get a little teary-eyed. I’m a softy, what can I say. So yeah, I’d say the wedding and honeymoon was the “big deal” for 2014!

Hawaii

What can I say about Hawaii? It’s paradise, of course. The weather was hot and sunny but not so humid you felt stinky. The flowers were aromatic and gorgeous. The sound of the ocean waves hitting beach while we enjoyed our breakfast on the lanai every morning is something I missed the second we returned home.

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We did so many amazing things in Hawaii and one of the happiest memories I have is Michael actually running with me! Like, wow, that’s a huge deal. He is not a runner, has never expressed any desire to start running, but he joined me a few times on the honeymoon for a run along the ocean. How great is that? And of course, swimming and snorkeling in the warm ocean rates pretty high on my list.

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After spending 9 days on a beach in Hawaii all I want to do is go on tropical vacations. Beach life is necessary!

2015 Goals

Get back to 145 pounds. That was my weight for many, many years. Then shit happened, including a glorious honeymoon where I ate and drank everything in sight, and gained a bit. When I got back I had about 15 pounds to lose. It was a hard road and I lost a bit, gained a bit, lost a bit. 2015 is going to be an easy, low-key year, I know it. I will focus on losing those extra pounds and get back down under my goal weight. I know I can do it. I did it a few times before. I just need to buckle down. Here comes the

Do more kayaking. I got the kayaking bug! It was so much fun the few times I’ve done it and now all I want to do is do it more. Of course I’m a wuss when it comes to weather so this goal will have to wait until summer time. I’m just not willing to spend hours out in the rain for this!

Travel. I have a trip planned to Tucson in the spring for my friend’s wedding. Other than that there are no major trips planned for me yet. Michael and I have been talking about where to go for our wedding anniversary in September. We talked about visiting the East Coast. I’ve always wanted to explore the historical towns and go to museums. We were originally planning a trip to Philly, Boston and New York but I think that might be a little too much–too much money, too much time away from home. We are currently discussing making a mini-trip and going to Philly (to see my brother and his wife) and then exploring Washington DC. The other destination discussed was Mexico and New Orleans. I have to admit, I am leaning more towards sunny, warm places! Stay tuned!

What were your 2014 highlights? Any New Year’s Resolutions?