Silver Falls State Park

Lately my friends had been posting on Facebook about going to Silver Falls State Park. I knew it wasn’t too far away, but we’d never made it there. Since it is a place surrounded by water, I figured with the near 100 degree temps it was safe to go to a place like that in Oregon; in the colder temps, probably not so much. We gathered our picnic goods and headed out for a fun 4th of July. It was a bit longer of a trek than anticipated from Portland suburbs, but Oregon is a pretty place so driving isn’t drudgery. After finally arriving from a road with pretty much just ourselves, the park entrance had a fairly long line of cars. We paid our $5 and we were lucky to find ample parking spots. We ate our deli sandwiches out of our cooler since they would need to be kept cold and then packed up other edible food items which weren’t so temperature sensitive, but would be highly desirable once we got going. (peanut butter sandwiches, granola bars, H20) The first observation was that they had a gorgeous lodge. I am a super big fan of old time historic Western lodges and this one was really nice. Inside the lodge, there was a restaurant which we didn’t check out and another similarly awesome lodge a bit further on that was a gift shop. Of course I had to fend off my daughter asking if we could buy something…… “No, but maybe we’ll go inside AFTER we hike!” At the closest waterfall, there were a lot of people, but it was pretty clear it wasn’t going to remain that way. We had a map and planned on going as far as we could, but needing an escape path if possible since the whole loop was a bit more than we wanted to put the kids through. I was grateful that we were pretty much in the shade for 1st half of the hike, but I expected it would be sunny and brutal at some point. Being in Oregon, there is always glorious shade even in the worst of heat. At one point while posing for a photo, I lost my glasses over a ledge. However, I wasn’t going to let go of my OLD sunglasses without a fight though so I went after them in a not super dangerous, but slightly reminiscent of Naked and Afraid fashion. I was NOT naked, but I had to get a bit more friendly with some questionable (poison ivy?) shrubbery than I would have cared to do. I got them back, but not before alarming a few people about my well being as I was below the path in some bushes. If you ever need to grab a bush/limb while hiking, grab the thickest most alive looking branch you can find; all others WILL fail you.  After my return to the pathway, we continued on our way seeing more incredible waterfalls and even doing some swimming. We lucked out and we were really always in shady areas so it was quite pleasant. When we finally thought we were done and did a little jig, it turned out we still had another 1.2 miles to go to get to the entrance near where our car was located. We were all exhausted at the end, but we were all happy we were able to go to this amazing place and have a fun hike.

Bright legs!

My father has always been dark skinned for a WHITE guy, but if you saw his legs you could potentially go blind. Though he had black hair and has always worked outside, his legs are like alabaster. So, today when my white legs were seeing the sun and my daughter told me my legs were bright I just agreed. Growing up in Southern Utah, I got my first diagnosis of basil cell carcinoma (least deadly form of skin cancer) when I was 27. It was successfully removed and I am supposed to go for yearly skin checks. In Southern Utah, the sun just looks brighter there. The sky is so beautiful blue and the sun shines there most days. I also think the lack of industry probably contributes to uber low pollution so the blue sky there does not look like the blue cloudless Oregon sky like we had today. So….I avoid the sun by living in Oregon and trying to NOT get sunburned when I am in the sun.

I don’t think I’ll make it to my favorite hiking destination this summer: ZION NATIONAL PARK due to being very busy, but this morning we put my 13 year old and #1 walking partner on the plane to my hometown PDX-SLC-CDC so maybe she’ll make it there. I’m pretty sure I need to task my brother with getting her out for a hike behind the house in the canyon at least, but tomorrow she’ll be spending the 4th in an old fashioned home town kind of way. We are unsure of our plans for Independence Day beyond a hot dog roast and avoiding any traffic hot spots.

What to take camping??

My youngest daughter has been begging to do a “camp out” for a few weekends. She really wanted to do it in the yard, but I knew it would be a lot of work and she wouldn’t actually sleep out there so since we had confirmed good weather conditions for last weekend, I booked a camping trip. We went to Cape Lookout State Park about 1 1/2 hours away on the Oregon coast. We have some of the greatest amenities in the Oregon State Parks for really affordable prices. We have taken advantage and enjoyed of a few of them. Oregon beaches were established and preserved for the people instead of mansion owners so we have the greatest most accessible and ruggedly beautiful coastline here. Our campground was about a block off of the sand in a super secluded campsite with hedges and trees surrounding us in a place that was full of other campers.

What do we take camping? Well, we take our North Face tent we got for $50 from the University of Utah outdoor recreation used gear sale 15 years ago and our $40 Costco family tent. Other than that, we had an insufficient camping mattress pad, sleeping bags, and pillows. The second most important stuff is what to eat? We usually do a Dutch oven dinner, but my husband decided we would roast hot dogs this time. I was not excited by that proposition since I like my gourmet camping food, but the hot dogs turned out great; also, a lot less effort than something which requires a few hours of cooking and multiple ingredients. Then, of course dessert is a big deal. It has to be s’mores.  Cause who doesn’t like playing in a fire pit? Growing up we always had to take a bunch of junk food whenever we went to the mountains too. It was like food from the 1970’s was required eating. Think: Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Twizzlers……….. Good stuff that was always reserved for treks. So what do we take for camping? A LOT of stuff for just an overnighter. It is quite a bit easier and frankly possibly cheaper to go to the Marriott, but you don’t wake up cold in the most beautiful place in the whole world.

Starlight Parade

Last Saturday, my brother came to town. We planned on meeting in downtown Portland to watch the Starlight Parade as they were in a hotel on the other side of town near the airport. If you ever get the chance to come to Portland, I highly recommend the Starlight Parade in May. We decided to go to the ‘park and ride’ to take the train downtown since once we got trapped in the parking garage afterward until midnight. When we got to the parking garage and noticed many people going in and many people going out, we were slow to realize there were NO spots. Should we backtrack to another garage or just drive?? We decided to drive and found a really convenient, but run down parking structure in Portland with a friendly attendant. We then had to hike to find my brother and his family. The parade is preceded by a 5k with people in costumes of all kinds. It is so totally awesome that I almost consider putting on my running shoes to actually run in this event. I may do it sometime, but I am averse to the popularity of running these days and paying for the chance to run. We met them at a restaurant, but they had already ordered so we decided not to join them since we were near some food trucks so we could get served quicker and get on with the festivities. We have had limited success with the food trucks because it is often a bit chilly and nowhere to sit for 5 people. This time we had Greek food and they had seating. We ordered the best chicken Shwarma. I will definitely go there again. It was so healthy and tasty! We finished dinner at the same time and met up again and then since we were very near Voodoo donuts, we had to stop by. I was so full when we got there that I didn’t want ANYTHING. Then, as we all stood in line (cause my brother would not pass up the chance) the sugary sweetness filling the air enticed me to change my mind and not actually care that my stomach was full. The donuts were good, but I’d never been there at night so it was especially fun with the festive atmosphere. We then went to watch the fun fun Starlight Parade for awhile and everyone soon got tired so we called it quits and got out of town before the hoards evacuated. They went on their way to the Oregon coast for the week and we went back to school since it was not yet “summer” for Oregonians.

one of many elaborate costumes worn by runners.... We saw more than a few "Olafs"

One of many elaborate costumes worn by runners…. We saw more than a few “Olafs” I’m not sure what that is, but my kids told me.

Chicken Shwarma was soo good.

Chicken Shwarma was soo good.

Voodoo donuts. I'm standing underneath with some lighted goggles.

Voodoo donuts. I’m standing underneath with some lighted goggles.

I often go walking…..

The other day when I was walking with my teenager she told me my blog is “MORE about travel….” I guess, but how many times can I talk about my awesome walks around the neighborhood? Furthermore, my travel posts are the ones which elicit a bit more than no excitement. Well, we did go on an awesome walk for Memorial day. One of the ways to exit my Oregon neighborhood is just so spectacular it blows my mind and we walked through there that day. It is a lush forest with ferns and pines that touch the sky. I do not think I could tolerate living in one of the homes there that do not ever see much sunshine, but it is a very magical place. I feel it every time I drive thru on a near daily basis.

My brother is coming to Oregon with his in laws this weekend. There will be A LOT of them. Since they mostly all live in the high mountain desert of Southern Utah, they are going to be in awe of Oregon beauty. They come from a red rock landscape with few trees and Oregon has the greatest trees. He also came out to Oregon to visit us with his family in October a few years ago. We had a great sunny day on the coast and we walked around the hipster Portland neighborhoods with too many kids. We were always in everyone’s way! He really grew fond of Voodoo donuts and may have been there multiple times in a 4-5 day vacation. In fact, he has been there more times than me. I’m pretty sure he’s anticipating a trip there soon and also their extended family can’t come for a true 1st trip to Oregon without stopping there.

Mother’s day and American awesomeness…..

Happy Mother’s Day! I have been blessed with 3 healthy children so most of my days since I became a mom have been pretty awesome. I have enjoyed each stage, but amazingly I discover that I keep enjoying the next stage as well.


This picture reminds me of how much I love Mexican culture.

so pretty...

so pretty…

Rodeo queen

Rodeo queen

sooo cool.

sooo cool.

This biker club was one I'd join, but I don't know how since they didn't have a sign.

This biker club was one I’d join, but I don’t know how since they didn’t have a sign.

Yesterday we went to a parade in Portland. It was the St. John’s parade. My daughter was marching in the band so we decided to drive over and watch. I had never been to the area and it always amazes me that there is so much to discover in a city. We parked in a residential area and took iphone pictures of the street signs so we could find our return route. The modern Hansel and Gretel  way to solve this problem. We finally found a spot on a curb just as it began. Since the traffic had been unexpectedly bad, I was prepared to be annoyed if we went all that way and missed our own group cause we got there a bit after it was supposed to start. Parades are such a great part of American culture. I have attended and been in many a boring parade, but there is something so unique about them. Portland parades are more fun than most. This parade in particular had every type of person you could imagine. It started off with the mayor walking one foot in front of us: to football players, bands, people on bikes, characters in their cars playing the song from COPS, rodeo queens, preschoolers, motorcycle clubs, Oscar Meyer Weiner mobile, Ronald McDonald, Portland pirate club, and more…… Portland never ceases to amuse. America has some pretty cool people.

chauffeur with no cool hat….

Yesterday, I had to drive my middle school daughter and several others in a caravan to a jazz band competition. Our first stop was a lunch scheduled in the hipster Mississippi part of Portlandia. Quite frankly, I don’t even know what a hipster is, but Portland is their capital.  I hadn’t been to that part of town since shortly after we moved here so it had changed and was even hipper or else it was a whole different street than the one I’d seen before. At any rate, suburban band students invaded their neighborhood for an hour. It was fun. There was a really cute ice cream parlor that I need to go back to, but probably won’t. After eating, it was off to the competition. As it was my second time, I was already aware of the competition and they were fierce so no need to get too excited. After arriving, the band director decided to change the schedule and stay a bit longer for awards. Um…no…that didn’t jive with my schedule. I run a tight ship. I didn’t commit to this and then when I realized 4 p.m. traffic is just bad, I decided I’d stay as long as I could and leave.  Here is the thing, you have to make calculations for everywhere you want to go; then throw in some traffic and try to get back to suburbia. My daughter was in charge of the map. We entered the traffic abyss and miraculously made it to our 5 p.m. appointment with 5 minutes to spare.  Yes. I love living in suburbia. :0 I’d love to be a hipster and bike everywhere I go, but it takes 15 minutes by car to get anywhere, let alone where I need to go.

Nike World Headquarters

This week, I was a chaperon on a middle school field trip with my daughter’s school. Every parent wants to go on this field trip, but it is pretty much the luck of the phone call. As I was home at the time they were calling the would be chaperons, I got to go. We were going to Nike World Headquarters. It is only about 15 minutes from our home, but it is a closed campus and you cannot go there unless you are an employee or with an employee or for a school field trip. If you are LeBron James, Tiger Woods or someone like that then they have also probably been there. We arrived in awesome yellow school buses. When I lived abroad as a student, I learned that yellow school buses are so unique, but I never would have imagined that before as it is such a normal part of American school life. I wasn’t always a bused student so buses to me are very nostalgic remembering my school track trip competitions and orchestra festivals; they were good memories so it is always an enjoyable time to board a school bus for a trip. Upon arrival, the students were placed in different groups and then would go to 6 different stations. I followed my daughter’s group and they worked out with Nike employee volunteers who were former collegiate athletes of some sort and now happy to be out of their desk jobs for the day. They started off in the indoor facility which was a basketball court with an indoor track on the upper level. We later went outside and they played soccer and football on a big fake, yet awesome grass turf. After we went back inside where the students met the Nike Skateboard shoe design team and were able to “design” a shoe. The design employees were much more interesting (IMHO) than the other employees with a more artistic and less athletic flair. The last event in our rotation was the indoor track. It isn’t often that I get the urge to run laps, but I did. However, I did not give in to my inclinations as I was a mere chaperon. At the end, we went back to the main gym floor and ate sack lunches while Nike had a guest speaker for the students. Her name is Sarah Reinertsen . It was a great inspirational talk by a person who didn’t let her disability get her down and became a Nike sponsored athlete. It was a fun day where the students really pushed themselves and most participated the entire time. It was a fun experience that was generously provided to the school by Nike.

Nike soccer field

Nike soccer field

shoe design studio

shoe design studio

Walk after play a thon

Yesterday, my middle school daughter played her trumpet for 12 hours for a school band fundraiser “play a thon.” Last year, I talked her out of it and only allowed her to play for 5 hours. She was very determined to go for the full 12 hours this year so I gave in. She made it and managed to not be carried out on a stretcher, along with many other awesome youth and an amazing band director. When I was the same age and for many years, I was involved in many different music performances; but my stamina never would have lasted that long. She earned a shirt from the event and many tickets to buy cherished junk food. These days kids get shirts for every event they participate in, but this shirt was earned from hard work. Her lips were swollen and her arms hurt, but I made her walk with me since she decided to wake up early on her no school day. We had a good time in the fog. Getting out of the pajamas was not a requirement for my companion, but I at least threw on some work out gear.

Blooming already???

Blooming in February???


Is it really almost the end of January?

Tomorrow, my daughter was supposed to go sledding at Mount Hood with our church youth group. I was unwilling to go not due to my lack of LOVE for sledding, but because my husband couldn’t drive us. I do my best to avoid driving in the snow. In around 1992, I wrecked in the snow after a high school basketball game. There were no serious injuries to me or my pals thankfully, but I don’t drive in the snow unless I have to. Generally speaking, it is usually not too hard to do where I now live. However, we have had 2 epic snowstorms since moving here. The first one happened in 2008. Here is some data on the event. “The “Arctic Blast” of December 2008 was the most significant snow event in 40 years…..” (  Needless to say, generations of people in the Portland, Oregon area had never experienced that. Last year we got a big storm too. In 2008, the children were still young and we didn’t own any awesome sleds, but soon after we bought some and they collected a lot of dust until 2014 when they got a ton of use. So, why aren’t the youth going sledding? Because it is supposed to be too warm tomorrow and there isn’t enough snow at the mountain. 😦 It sure doesn’t feel like January. For the record, I love love love a snowstorm more than anything so this explains the photo.


Snow in suburbia!!!!