After Christmas Hike

This post has a bit of jumping around in it! Christmas Eve I got off work a little bit early (thanks to my very awesome boss). I got to my car and realized I had a low tire–on the way of becoming a flat tire. Blasted! Poor timing. I drove to Les Schwab and they were just closing up shop. Damn! But the guy there took one look at my tire and said it was a flat and he fixed it. It took him like 10 minutes, tops, and didn’t charge me anything. When I asked he just shrugged and said “Merry Christmas” and gave me a hug. I was SO grateful that he fixed my tire and I didn’t get stranded somewhere when everything was closed. I have always had fantastic experiences with Les Schwab and will always take my business there.

Look what I came home to!

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Aren’t they gorgeous? Anyways, Michael and I took Bella for a walk, got dumped on by sudden rain, and then had a quick dinner before our friends were coming over for the traditional Christmas movie and popcorn night! Last year we watched Die Hard. This year we watched The Ref and part of Scrooged. 😉


Our friends Erika and Charles came over. We had some yummy drinks (they had beer, I had eggnog!) and we had popcorn while we watched the movies. I love The Ref. Bella snuggled on the couch with them. It was pretty cute.


It was great to spend time with them! I wonder what we should watch next year…

The day after Christmas Michael, Bella and I went for a hike in Forest Park. Forest Park/Washington Park is a humongous park in the middle of the city and there are so many trails you could never do them all! I wanted to do something in town as opposed to driving out to the Gorge. I chose Tolinda Ridge Trail Loop. It was out near St. Helens and the trailhead was super easy to find (just off Germantown Road). There was a small parking lot and we got a spot.


The trail started out with a very steep incline. There was even a spot with “stairs” made out of tree roots.



The rain lately had sogged the trail pretty badly but it was manageable. It leveled off a little bit while we hiked away from the road.

The Tolinda trail itself wasn’t very long. It was steep and almost all uphill. We tromped through the mud and the old growth forest, and then came to a fork in the trail. It wasn’t labeled. One way lead to another trail (I’m guessing the Ridge trail) and the other way went to the Leif Erickson parking lot. We decided to go that way because I knew that there would be other trails to pick up at that parking lot. We hiked through the paved (yet still muddy) part of this trail and came across a lot of families out hiking.


Bella did SO GOOD! I think this is the first hike we’ve done this winter. It was just another reminder that she’s getting grown up. She didn’t seem bothered by any of the strangers we came across, wasn’t scared of the little kids she met and even seemed curious. Most of the dogs we came across didn’t bother her and she didn’t bark (except for one dog that was a little yappy).


There were a bunch of families hiking, there were a few different trail runners and we came across a few mountain bikers, too. It was a popular stretch of the park. We came across about a dozen Christmas ornaments! It was such a nice, festive surprise.


We got to the parking lot and found the Cannon Trail. According to the sign, it was a new trail. It was another steep one and we wound through the forest on a nice trail. It was very nice, quiet trail.



We hiked for a little while longer and came to another parking lot off-shoot and then another steep part of the trail. We decided to turn around and head back. I was doing pretty well, but my left knee had bugged me a little bit on parts of the hike. Not too bad, not enough to not hike, but I didn’t want to get too far away from the car either. My right hip also bugged me a little at one part of the trail–which was weird because I rarely have hip issues. Who knows. Maybe it was the steepness of the trail, maybe I was walking weird, maybe I’m just out of practice hiking.

We hiked back through the forest and got the Tolinda Trail again. It was all downhill from there and we finally made it back to the car. I was covered in mud up to my knees! We did about 3.75 miles in just under 2 hours. I burned 477 calories:


Bella was absolutely filthy. (She got a bath when we got home!) It felt fantastic to get home, take a warm shower and then get into clean clothes.

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I did a little after-Christmas clearance shopping and then we had spaghetti squash for dinner. I bake the spaghetti squash for about 45 minutes at 375 degrees. I season them with grapeseed oil, salt, pepper, and the Costco non-salt seasoning. It’s delicious. I love how healthy the spaghetti squash is without the pasta guilt after. I added some turkey meatballs to the sauce, topped with fresh parmesan.

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Good, healthy, filling. Sadly, Michael ended up getting a head cold Friday night and was sick the rest of the weekend. We didn’t end up doing much the rest of the weekend but I did get a lot of stuff done around the house. Let’s hope he’s better by New Year’s!

East Coast Invasion

After our delectable dinner at Toast, my brother Andy and his wife arrived! They flew out to Portland from Philly. My sister-in-law (also named Lisa, yes it causes quite the confusion in the family) is in medical school and my brother is getting his Masters Degree in German history and socialism. They’ve been living in Philly for a few years now and desperately miss the Northwest. Their first comment was “It’s cold here.” Which cracked me up. It’s been in the high 70’s all week! Andy’s comment was that he’s finally “not sweating 24/7”. Poor guy! I’ve never been to the East Coast so I can’t relate.

Last Year's Visit

I love when Andy comes to visit but unfortunately it’s always a short visit. We stayed up late catching up but they were on East Coast time so they wanted to crash soon after they arrived. Thursday we all got up around the same time. Michael started making bacon and I joined Andy for a run around the track.

I hadn’t planned on running but I was feeling pretty good. I joined Andy for a jog/walk. I did more walking than running but that was okay. I was really just out there to spend time with my brother.  I didn’t count the laps, didn’t track my mileage. I just jogged and walked.

Run Stats:

Time: 34 minutes
Calories Burned: 302
Distance: Who knows??

We all cleaned up and ate breakfast together before heading out for the day. My brother rides his bike every day in Philly–it’s his sole transportation. I’m pretty impressed! He’s biking rain or shine, all year round–even when it’s 10 degrees below! He said the only time he won’t bike to school/work is when it’s snowing. Hard core. I’m such a wuss. Even the threat of rain deters me! The first stop of the morning was River City Bikes.

River City Bikes is a great bike store in Portland. That’s where Michael bought his Carbon fiber bike (and got a great deal for it too).  Andy and Michael shopped for bike parts and I bought some arm warmers. Finally!

After that we headed to Washington Park. I only took a half day off from work (I wished I had taken the whole day off) so we had to do things close-in to downtown. We parked at the Archery Range in Washington park and walked along the trails in Forest Park.


It was a cool, overcast morning and it was a nice stroll on the Wildwood Trail.

We were passed by a lot of trail runners, which is very cool and something I’ve always wanted to try. We were also passed by the new soccer team!

The Wildwood Trail looped through the park and up to Hoyt Arboretum. The trees are so pretty in the arboretum.

This tree was a Birch Bark Cherry. The colors on the bark were amazing and it felt like copper to the touch! It was very strange but beautiful.

After about an hour of hiking around we headed back downtown for lunch. The lunch spot: Clyde Common. I’ve been wanting to eat here for ages. I’ve heard nothing but good things. I walk by this place all the time and it’s always packed.

We arrived about noon and it wasn’t full yet. The place is trendy and cool–very typical of Portland. It felt like warehouse space. It’s “family style” seating, where you sit next to strangers.

We were seated right away and the service was so fast. I had to be to work by 1pm and I was worried I’d be late. They have the lunch hour rush to a SCIENCE. The service was super speedy.

Michael ordered the burger for lunch (with blue cheese) and gave me a bite. It was really tasty.

Andy ordered the pastrami panini. He gave me a bite and the pastrami was super smokey and delicious. Lisa ordered the fried oyster sandwich with lettuce, radishes, buttermilk dressing and guacamole. She said it was amazing. It looked huge to me and it smelled fantastic. I’m not a huge oyster fan though.

I ordered the sliced pork shoulder sandwich. It came with a  yogurt, cucumber, za’atar dressing and iceberg lettuce with chunks of cucumber. The bun was a little dry and plain but the flavors of the pork and sauce were really good. It reminded me of a gyro.

The salads were simple with Green Goddess dressing (I must find this recipe!). I love that I can always order a salad as a side dish in Portland Restaurants. I’ve never gotten grief either.

Andy enjoyed a Ninkasi beer and I had iced tea (with real sugar cubes! Oh the memories…).  According to Andy, the liquor laws in Pennsylvania are super wacky and it’s near impossible to get good beer and wine from anywhere else. That made me sad!

We finished lunch and said goodbye. I headed to work and they headed to Powell’s Bookstore (a must stop every visit).

I was sad to say goodbye. I wish they lived closer! 🙁

QUESTION: Oysters–yay or nay? Soccer– a fan or no?