Misc. Summer Fun!

My mom, sister, and nieces visited for a weekend in late July and we had a little excursion up to Ape Caves, then hit up Target for back-to-school shopping, and the market for some fruit and face painting!

Jesse and I did some summer training in Forest Park and another quick trip to Silver Falls (on the one day it kind of rained all summer).

We also went with a friend to an all-day outdoor climbing class. We learned knots and anchors and had a nice little climbing session. Almost makes me wish I loved running less so I would make more time for climbing..!

Advertisements

Lake Michigan Loop + Canada – 7/20-24/17

The minute I turned on my cell phone on the plane from SFO, I had notifications that Jesse & I would need to travel to Canada that week. That night, we had flights booked, dog-sitting arrangements made, and 2 days later we took a red-eye to Chicago. As we all know, last minute flights are either horribly expensive or ridiculously cheap. Facing the former, it was going to be hundreds of dollars cheaper to fly directly to Chicago, rent a car, and drive to Canada. So the adventure began.

One terribly turbulent flight later, we arrived in “The Windy City” in the middle of some sort of monsoon weather. We were soaked just running from the door to the car, a mere 50 meters or so. Butting up to Thursday morning commute traffic, we hit the road to avoid any rush hour mayhem, heading east toward Michigan. Eventually, the hunger set in and we stopped at some random town for a basic breakfast in a tiny diner. We continued on in the rain for a while longer. Eventually when it cleared, we stopped at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and accidentally napped under a tree for an hour or so. When we awoke, it was blazing hot and the sun was out. We attempted a brief hike while we were there, but neither my mood nor my attire were right for such a feat. We aborted that mission and hunted for some lunch instead.

Tempting, but we passed on this place..!

Finally, we had to start making up some time, as we had an entire state to drive up. A few hours down the road, we made another pit stop in Grand Rapids. We stretched our legs in Millenium Park and watched the turtles, grabbed some iced coffees, and began again.

The final stop was in Traverse City for dinner and the sunset on Lake Michigan. I fell in love with the cleanliness of the town, the water, and the summer-y vibe. I look forward to returning with more time on our hands.

We made it to our family’s house in Canada late and just slept. It was nice to no longer be moving.

The next few days were filled with family, ice cream and Tim Horton’s, hugs, laughter, and memories. We scrambled the shore of Lake Superior one afternoon, skipping rocks and looking for critters.

Our drive home was through Wisconsin, to complete the loop. It was a fun game to compare America to Canada and even Michigan and Wisconsin to each other and to Oregon. We stayed one night in Green Bay and wandered around Lambeau Field briefly. I always love being in the heart of Packers country!

The next day, back to O’Hare and back to PDX (after a frustrating and confusing delay at the airport where we boarded and deboarded the plane due to “mechanical” issues?).

Easter in Canada (4/14-19/17)

It had been over a year since I journeyed to Ontario (and almost 6 months for Jesse), so we thought we’d take a few days this spring to head east to see the fam’. Luckily, tickets were reasonably priced over Easter weekend so we booked it!

We took the red eye from Portland to Minneapolis and while I’d ideally be sleeping through this, I was captivated by the sunrise (while true, it’s also a fact that it’s difficult to sleep when your 6’2″ husband is sprawled across your lap trying to catch his own zzzs), which was subtle, yet beautiful.

img_3440

We arrived mid-afternoon (EST, of course) and hung out in Michigan on the banks of Lake Superior, enjoying the cloud-free day and walking off our jet lag.

img_3442img_3444img_3443

No Easter weekend is complete without some egg-dyeing. Round 1 of simply dipping the eggs is on the top row, while round 2 with the more carefully crafted, hand-painted eggs are on the bottom row. As a small tribute to April the Giraffe and her new baby, Jesse painted an egg in her honor.

img_3450

One particularly cold and windy morning beckoned us for a run along the HUB Trail through Sault Ste Marie. We managed a very slow 14 miles around the city and I enjoyed running with Jesse, as we are seldom able anymore. I put most of the blame for my sluggishness on our trip to Gilbertson’s for some maple syrup-y goodness the day before, but it could have just been general travel fatigue. I guess we’ll never know!

img_3454img_3453

My favorite spot was in the Fort Creek Conservation Area. It was a quiet green space tucked away in the northern part of the city. There were signs warning us of bears and I was secretly hoping we’d see one but alas, no such luck. Only dogs and Moms with strollers.

img_3455img_3456

We had such a great visit with family and friends; loving and being loved is the best.

Whistler – 2/3/17 – 2/11-17

We had this trip planned for the better part of a year. Our dear friends invited us to their timeshare in Whistler for a week and we blocked out the vacation on our calendars and all but forgot about it.

Finally, 2017 arrived and it occurred to us that we probably need to buy ski passes, arrange for a dog-sitter, and generally start planning to be gone for 9 days. With two days eaten up for travel, that left 7 days to play. Our discounted ski lift options were either 1, 3, or 5-day passes and it was agony deciding which way to go. We settled on 3 days and it ended up being the perfect amount.

We left Friday mid-morning, after slipping and sliding our way through an ice-coated Portland [insert funny stories about gas stations, fragile credit cards, bank teller errors, and a transient person here]. We stopped in a very snowy Vancouver, BC for a beautiful dinner with our friend’s former colleague, and continued slowly to Whistler (after a quick stop at Canadian Tire to invest in some decent ice scrapers). It was a long travel day in wonderful winter weather.

Our Creekside condo was lovely, greeting us with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a full kitchen, a washer/dryer, and a lovely view of snow-covered trees. The elephant in the room was the bedroom scenario: who gets the bunk beds and/or twin beds? Since we were technically the guests, Jesse & I channeled our inner 5-year old selves and embraced the bunk beds. We were in Whistler, who can complain!?

Saturday was a settling in day, of sorts. We slept in, went to brunch, stocked up at the grocery store, picked up everyone’s respective ski rentals, and wandered up and down (and up and down) the snowy sidewalks of Whistler Village.

16406908_10210286138023276_3545877022125129482_nimg_3247

Sunday we skied. It dumped an incredible amount of snow Saturday night and was a gloriously sunny day that morning. As expected, the line to the lift was 45 minutes long. It was cold, but the snow couldn’t have been more ideal and I couldn’t get enough of the views from the top. We were cutting through powder all day long.

img_324816508813_10210293493887168_9198204081782161551_n16425789_10210293493767165_4446675569588714636_nimg_3253img_3252We stopped for lunch near a random hut and sat in the snow to eat our sandwiches. Soon several fat little birds were swooping down on us, trying to steal our lunch! They would stalk us from atop our skis and then make their move. It was cute at first, but then they became brave and obnoxious, diving right at Jesse’s mouth!

img_3256IMG_3189

After our 6 hours of skiing, Jesse and I scrambled up Blackcomb, literally ran to catch the last P2P gondola, and raced down the mountain before the last run call. It was a stressful, yet hilarious endeavor, but we made our happy hour date. We met at the bar for German sausages, hot chocolate, and the end of the Super Bowl (complete with an upsetting come back from the Patriots… what the actual f***?).

Monday was day #2 for skiing. The snow was still pretty good, but it was an extremely gray, cloudy, windy, and cold day. Because we spent most of Sunday on the backside of Whistler Mountain, we traversed over to Blackcomb for some variety. The snow seemed a bit icier and I was frustrated with how cold I was. We ended up stopping at the lodge for lunch and buying hand and toe warmers. It was hard to enjoy the day when I couldn’t warm myself up at all. We called it quits about 30 minutes early and headed back to the condo where I bee-lined it for the hot tub.

img_3261img_3260

Tuesday was another sunny day and we slept in and slowly got around to making breakfast and then headed over to the Olympic Park for some snowshoeing. We ended up doing about 4 miles through the woods. It was much warmer and again, BC was too gorgeous for words. After several hours wandering through the woods, we headed back to Whistler Village because our friends had booked a bobsled ride! They went through an hour or so of training and then raced around the bobsled track for about 45 seconds. It was quite cool to watch! Later, in the hot tub, the relaxation of the evening was ruined by some drunken locals talking about Donald Trump, incompetent snow plow drivers, and seasonal employment. It was awkward and unpleasant but they eventually left and the world was good again.

img_3263img_3268img_3264IMG_3202IMG_319617192242_10154473629832404_7844231131586934022_o (1)

One of our friends had to head back to Portland on Wednesday morning, so we dug her car out of the parking lot and said our good-byes…at 6 AM. Then the 3 of us headed to the trailhead to begin our Garibaldi Lake trek. It had snowed a fair amount and was going to be decent weather day… until the late afternoon. So we were working against the weather AND daylight, but were really just out to enjoy the snow. The first mile or so was up the road, as it is not plowed in the winter. We decided we were following the tracks of a skier and/or snowboarder combo, but were the only ones on the mountain otherwise.

img_3305img_3309img_3319

The trail featured ~3,800 feet of climbing in a few short miles and about 650,000 switchbacks. We crossed a frozen lake, found a few incredible viewpoints, and enjoyed being in the Canadian Wilderness for the day. Besides my lengthy argument with a squirrel, we didn’t see anyone else on the trail until we were on our return trip. Eventually, we had to make the call to turn back before reaching our destination. We had no intention of sleeping on the mountain and the storm was rolling in. We headed back down, making up time on the descent and finishing just before dark. It was an epic day and I look forward to returning to complete the adventure in finding Garibaldi Lake.

img_3311img_3314IMG_3214My little toes were trashed from 14 miles in my snow boots. I suppressed a scream as the hot shower water rushed over my raw little piggies. Soon after that, I happily crawled into bed and fell asleep immediately. It had been a long day.

The plan all along was: on Thursday we rest. And indeed we did. It was a PJs-all-day type of day. It was cold and snowing all day long. The fireplace was on, the 3 of us nestled in, plugged into our various electronic devices, wrapped in blankets, and truly relaxing. That evening, we dug out the car and Jesse & I wandered to Whistler Village for a bank run (because who doesn’t need a foreign bank account in this political climate?) and, randomly, a haircut… and also a Whistler Blackcomb Hydroflask. Now there’s an adventure story.

img_3322img_3323

Friday was day #3 of skiing and we were all in pretty rough shape. Jesse was sick and had black and swollen toes, our friend had leg/foot cramps, and yet again, I couldn’t warm up my body enough to enjoy the day. We begrudgingly spent a few hours on the slopes and just after lunch, we all gave in to the struggle. We made our way back to Creekside, enduring the icy moguls of Lower Franz’s. We spent the afternoon at the condo, slowly packing up the place and trying to eat all of our remaining food (which we gave up on and went out for tacos anyway, after several frustrating trips to the post office waiting on some important mail).

img_3324

On Saturday, we made the drive home. It was a spectacular week and almost makes me want to invest in a timeshare of our own.

Portland – A Winter Wonderland

“As I turn up the collar on my favorite winter coat,
this wind is blowing my mind.”

A little Michael Jackson to kick off this post. While MJ wasn’t actually talking about the weather in this song, it seemed a fitting quote for the way this Portland winter has been treating us.

We had a few days of incredible wind (including tonight)! We had several consecutive days of ice storms and freezing rain. And the snow…how it was so lovely, so calming, and so MUCH! Snowing ~13″ overnight was a first for so many people here. And it stayed for a solid week.

Now, as a girl who grew up in Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Idaho, I’ve seen my fair share of snow. When I was super little, my mom had to drive my sister to school on a snowmobile. A day off from school was rare; a day off of work due to snow was unheard of. A late start maybe. But seriously, kids in school got more days off for harvest and hunting season than they did for bad weather. In Portland, the city is halted. Cars are abandoned on the highways. Signs are lit up across the roadways requiring chains or traction tires. Facebook photos feature nothing but friends in PJs with cups of tea, kids on sleds, and neighborhood snowmen/women.

Me? I went about business as usual, taking advantage of the sunny days. One day I did 9 snowy miles on Mt. Tabor, post-holing all the way. Another was spent navigating icy trails in Forest Park. Lots of days included walking Riley Dog in my snow boots. And yes, sometimes even *gasp* driving to work (after I unearthed my car). I had a lot of days off, but I made the most of them…and have truly enjoyed having a proper winter in this silly city.

img_3156img_3159img_3161img_3162

img_3180img_3192

December 2016

December was filled with all wonderful things. Jesse made friends with urban farm animals, I did some volunteer leaf raking on our favorite trail, and we got some skiing in.


Portland had some strange weather – wind storms, ice storms, and snowy days. I ran 30 miles one Sunday and caught the aftermath.

16 miles of downed trees makes the miles seem long

Riley dog, enjoying the icy trail in Forest Park

For Christmas, we packed up for several days and journeyed down to Sunriver, OR. We rented a house with my parents, my sister & brother-in-law, and my two nieces (and a few dogs, too) for even more fun in the snow.

Kylee at the top of the lift!

Ms. Sheridan’s first time on skis

Snowshoe adventure on Lava Butte

Sleigh ride in Sunriver, OR

_dsc0105

20170104_025601000_ios

Ice skating in Sunriver

_dsc0079

Walkin’ in a winter wonderland

Oh, and just to be thorough in this catch-up post, here’s a photo of our Thanksgiving dinner. My favorite item: stuffing.

New England – Oct 2016

During one of our “research American real estate” sessions Jesse & I discovered Vermont as being a beautiful and reasonably priced area of the country that we wanted to explore. Neither of us had spent any significant time on the East Coast (he had a work trip and I’ve been to NYC) and so we found an excuse to go check it out: The CircumBurke Marathon.

One Wednesday evening, after we watched the 3rd Presidential Debate, we took the redeye to Boston. We picked up our tiny Ford Fiesta rental car and started driving north. Neither of us could get over how small the East Coast felt. We flew to Massachusetts, had lunch in New Hampshire, spent the night in Maine, and were in Vermont for dinner the next day. It had me nostalgic for Europe and reflecting on how big the states in the West really are.

img_2784

Sunrise over NY (from Newark Airport)

A few things to note about the East Coast: 1) Toll Roads; 2) Parking meters that only accept change; and 3) The No-Small-Talk, No-Nonsense attitudes. All three were hard to get used to and that I definitely take for granted in our corner of the world.

We spent our first night in Portland, ME. Cheesy, but it had to be done. The town is definitely a coastal city and we enjoyed the next day exploring the Portland Head Light, America’s 2nd oldest lighthouse.

img_2788img_2790img_2798img_2797-1img_2804

We took off from there to our AirBnB in Vermont. We drove in the torrential rain through the White Mountain National Forest and eventually realized we had to run a marathon in the morning and needed to find some food. We knew our room had a full kitchen so we begrudgingly stopped at a Walmart and grabbed some pasta, eggs, and granola bars. Good enough.

We were greeted in Vermont by our hosts and they were impressed that we were running the event (it’s mainly a mountain biking event to which they recently added the running component). Their son was biking it as well and they told us it was a pretty tough course. “No worries,” I thought. “Portland is always muddy and 3,000 ft over a marathon isn’t too much climbing”. We went to bed, crawling into the softest flannel sheets in existence.

Morning came and we calmly got ready. The starting line was a mere 6 minutes from our door, so we were a bit spoiled for race day. It was cold and we both struggled with dressing ourselves properly. We ended up in merinos with ultralight jackets, gloves, and hats.

img_2851-1img_2814img_2812

The course was a loop over and around the ski hill. We started at 8 AM along with a few hardcore mountain bikers who would do the loop twice. The cyclists doing the loop only once would start at 10 AM. We were off…and Jesse lost me right away. About a mile in I was ripping my jacket off, along with my gloves and headband. I was running without the bladder in my pack and just a flask in the front pocket and was thankful I for the weight to be off my back for a long run.

The course was beautiful. The fall colors definitely did not disappoint. The forest floor was covered in brilliant oranges, reds, and yellows, often blindingly so. It was muddy and perfect. Around mile 2.5 I started chatting with a girl who thought I lost a hat. I told her the story of the man behind me who threw it aside after he couldn’t find its owner either and we decided to run together for a while. “A while” turned into the rest of the run and I enjoyed her company immensely for the next 6+ hours.

img_2819img_2817-1

The first “aid station” was a cooler with a water jug and a pump. This was confusing and I rejected the measly offering. A few miles later was the second aid station with an actual tent, table, person, and race fare. We leap-frogged with a few women for a while up and down the hills and just enjoyed the beauty of the run, talking about all the things in the world.

img_2818img_2815img_2821-1

Aid station #3 featured chips, cookies, and ramen. I gave the ramen a try and was disappointed to find it was flavor-less and had gone cold. Not ideal. We were off again, on cross country ski tracks now, and the first of the mountain bikers caught us here.

img_2820

We were on the backside of the ski hill and fighting the mud and cyclists. It took up a lot of time to move off the narrow track to let them pass, but I had no time goals in mind. Everyone was quite supportive and it was easy to feel like a badass when the hardcore bikers were so complimentary. Then there was the funny story about the ibuprofen and salt tablets..!

Eventually my legs began to tire. The hills were hiked more frequently and the energy was slipping. Aid station #4 was at the bottom of a hill and was crowded with cyclists. We grabbed some chips and kept on. We joined another woman for the final miles and her good-nature and interesting life stories helped the miles tick by. Her watch read over 27 miles, mine was reading 23 miles, and the volunteer told us we had 4 to go. It was a confusing time for us all.

Eventually we emerged from the trees and raced down the hill, past the chair lift, under the inflatable finish line, the clock was finally stopped: 6:49:43. I could sit down. I could chat with Jesse. I could drink something warm. I could check another marathon off my list.

We had some pumpkin soup, listened to the band, lost at the raffle, and when I began shivering all over, we left. We drove the 5 minutes “home”, showered, crawled into the soft bedding and slept. It was a fantastic day. We later realized the course had a bit over 4,100 feet of elevation and concluded it was indeed a tough run.

img_2827-1img_2825-1

The next morning we awoke to the most beautiful winter wonderland. The same view from our window was now bright and clean with about 3-4″ of snow. The orange and yellow in the distance gave the landscape an inspired pop of color. The resident chickens scurried in front of the window, Jesse began playing Christmas tunes, and I was happy.

img_2831-1

Our opinion of New England is now slightly biased, as we went during the second half of October…but it was gorgeous. We drove north to Newport and had brunch, then drove south to Burlington and wandered around Lake Champlain, stopping for maple syrup and souvenirs along the way. It was windy and cold, but driving through rural Vermont was incredibly scenic. After a few hours in Burlington we drove to the capitol city of Montpelier for dinner (although it was secretly in search of Bernie Sanders). We ate a lovely Italian dinner and then headed home.

img_2839-1img_2841-1img_2845-1img_2846-1img_2849-1

The next day we slowly packed up and drove back to Boston. We spent a very small amount of time at Boston Common Park and then headed to the airport. After a series of unfortunate events, we ended up being stuck at the airport for a while, waiting for skies to clear up in San Francisco for us to head home. Several hours later, we were boarded and headed back West.

Where does the time go?

The second half of 2016 is almost over and I still have summer photos to share! I’ll make it brief, but just so you know, it wasn’t lacking for adventures!

We ran the Ramona Falls loop…


We celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary (complete with a beautiful German feast, made by Jesse)…

We ran the PDX Runway 6K run at the airport…

We still have RileyDog…

We went to Idaho to our friends’ baby party (and took in a county fair)…

We watched summer turn to autumn (and I got a new job)…


We went to New England (a full post will be dedicated to that trip, I promise)…

America made a huge mistake (although I played a small part in ensuring that didn’t happen)…

Jesse also hiked up Mt. St. Helens solo one day and we ran a 10K in Mt. Angel with some friends for Oktoberfest. We survived Portland’s “Windstorm 2016” and basically skipped Halloween (save for a few bags of candy corn and various other treats).

Oh. And I had tacos one day (had to end it on a good note).

Lake Tahoe – 7/4/16

Impromptu road trips with friends are so wonderful. Brittany, Nick, and I packed up the Mazda, loaded the dog in the back, put on the best of the 90’s, and drove ~600 miles down to Lake Tahoe (with pit stops for waterfalls, Crater Lake, and Reno). It was a spectacular 4th of July and I am grateful for the laughter, the singing and dancing, the debates and ridiculous car games, and the comfortable silence I have with those two.