Sarah and Ben’s three year anniversary!

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Sarah and Ben’s three year anniversary!

Tuesday, August 14th and Wednesday, August 15th

 

Three years.

Three years of adventures, excitement, challenges, love and mutual admiration.

We’ve lived an hour apart, Sarah’s gone on a multi-month roadtrip, and we’ve lived together in a tiny town of 7,200 people.  We moved her from Portland to Hood River, and then from Hood River back to Portland.

We’ve been to Spain, England, Scotland and Italy – not including layovers.  We’ve climbed all over, succeeded at summits and given up on summitting less than 100ft from the summit block.  We’ve backpacked and hiked, biked and roadtripped.

Three.  Years.

 

Now, our anniversary fell on a Wednesday.  Thankfully, my job is flexible enough (and limited to a hard-cap of 40hrs per week) that I was able to bend my hours so we could take the whole day off.  Our original plan was to go up to Mt. Adams, and camp out at a small lake near the base of the mountain… but unfortunately this is fire season, and that plan pretty quickly got dumped in favor of driving somewhere a little less smokey.

Sarah searched far and wide, pouring over maps and lists of campgrounds.  She cross-referenced air quality maps to campsites, and finally found our destination: a campground on the North Fork of the Siuslaw river.  It wasn’t a short drive from the house, but that wouldn’t be too much of a hassle – She’d pack the car, and then as soon as I got home from work we’d catapult off into the sunset!

 

Tuesday

Getting on the road ended up taking a bit longer than expected, unfortunately… but that’s how things go, and soon enough we were burning gas escaping the smoke and smog of Portland.  We had a few hours of driving ahead of us, but we churned through it pretty quickly – even making some time to stop at Dairy Queen and have a quick snack to help us power through the last few miles to the campsite.

 

And man, this was a campsite.  Nicely secluded in the woods, surrounded by massively tall trees and miles away from the highway noise or forest fire smoke.  A dense tree canopy overhead, and a nice tent pad for us to set up on.  Ollie, of course, was freaking out the whole time about how awesome it is to be in the woods.  Thankfully she wasn’t barking, but just running around in circles trying to smell all the trees and bushes and branches and dirt all at once.

It kept her occupied, though, which made setting up camp a heck of a lot easier for Sarah and I.

Once camp was set up?  I’d love to say that we made a small fire and relaxed around it, just talking and enjoying the night… but honestly?  We just passed out.  It had been a really long drive, after a rather tough escape from Portland, and by that point we both needed the sleep more than anything else.

 

Wednesday

Waking up in the forest, in a tent, is amazing.

Even when waking up in a forest, in a tent, with a dog who desperately wants to run and explore and hunt.

Logically, it should be really annoying – Having someone literally standing on your face, whining and yelping to be let out is not really pleasant or relaxing.  But somehow it’s endearing, just how earnest Ollie is about it.  She’s not doing anything to be mean, it’s just that she’s effectively a machine designed and bred to hunt and track and explore… and there’s an outside that needs to be hunted, tracked, and explored.  You want to be annoyed at her, but all you can do is smile, hook her up to her leash, and set her loose.

So, that meant we got up fairly early, for it being our day off.

I mean, we were awake fairly early.  We’ve gotten wise to Ollie’s ways by now, and had set up a leash for her outside that bought us a solid extra 45min of sleep before we had to legit get out of the sleeping bags and start making breakfast.  But that’s okay – Coffee and oatmeal is always a good way to start the day, especially when it’s camping!!

 

Once coffee was drank and a light breakfast was eaten we headed back into town toward out first stop of the day – a coffee shop on the river near the bay.  Yes, yes, we’d just had breakfast and coffee… but we still needed second breakfast, obviously, and second coffee to go with it.  The views were gorgeous, the coffee was strong, and the breakfast burrito was… well, it was definitely interesting.  It was delicious, but the fact that we had to microwave it ourselves was a little surprising, to say the least.

Staring off over the fog-covered river though, we didn’t mind a microwaved burrito to go with our artisnal lattes.  It was beautiful, and since Ollie was hanging out in the car we were able to thoroughly enjoy ourselves.

We relaxed at the coffee shop for a while, then did a bit of a walk around town.  It was a small tourist / fishing town, sort of like some of the smaller places around Maine or New Hampshire, and I really enjoyed it.

 

 

From there, we headed toward our main target of the day – Hobbit Beach.

Sarah had picked it out because it was a fairly short hike in from the trailhead, was mostly deserted, and had huge long runs of open sand for Ollie to run and play on.  Ohh, and it also had faces carved into the cliffs.

That last part was pretty key, actually.  Really adds to the mystery of the place, you know?  Not creepy at all, imagining faces being carved into cliff sides…

The hike in was lovely – it was a bit steeper than we expected, but it went well which is what matters in the end.  Sarah’s legs held up quite well, and we both enjoyed the chance to get back into the woods and enjoy the outdoors a bit.  Seriously enjoy the outdoors – Sarah was literally giggling the whole time, hopping around and loving the fact that she could fully walk again.

The beach itself?  It was what you would expect.  Lovely, huge views, and the amazing sounds and smells of the pounding Pacific Ocean.  The cliff side carved faces were a bit less impressive than expected, but that’s totally fine because it meant that they were far less creepy than we’d expected.  Sarah did carve her own, of course, but went with a bit more whimsical option instead of the standard fantasy-style faces.  She made a cat.

 

After enjoying the beach for a good long while we headed back, and drove back home to Portland.  Simple and easy, but pleasant and extremely fun.

A tale of two mountains – Mt Hood, and Mt. Adams. Wy’east and Klickitat.

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A tale of two mountains – Mt Hood, and Mt. Adams.  Wy’east and Klickitat.

Sunday, 29-July-2018

 

The mountains of Eastern Oregon/Washington are beautiful; giant peaks that seem to scrape the sky, rising up high above the land around them.  When I first moved to Hood River, I was continually reminded of The Hobbit and the Lonely Mountain, since Mt. Hood seems to soar alone along the horizon.

We’d been stuck in Portland for a while, and feeling pretty antsy to get moving and exploring.  While Sarah’s leg wasn’t quite up to a full hike along the mountain, and I wasn’t up for a summit attempt, we were feeling like visiting the mountains in some manner.  Our plan – drive out to the base of both, and visit Hood River to let Ollie run around her old stomping grounds as a rest between the two.

 

I’m happy to report that the plan went off without a hitch!  Our drive to Mt. Adams was a bit rockier than planned, but the rest of the adventure went beautifully!

The challenge with Adams was that we’d forgotten about a big forest fire that’d happened a few years back, and had closed off some of the roads around the base of the mountain.  Specifically, the road that we’d planned on taking up to a pretty lake above the foothills of the mountain… we drove up it, but then (not literally, thankfully) ran into a literal wall of construction equipment blocking the trail.  Turns out that they’re re-building the road after the fire, and don’t want people driving up through their work area.  So, to make sure people don’t sneak in, they simply parked their massive bulldozers as a barricade, and called it a day.

So… we didn’t make it to the lake.  But we did get some amazing views, a chance to run around, and a very enjoyable stop out of the whole event.  I’ll call that a win.

 

From Mt. Adams, we headed South to a little town that we haven’t visited in a very long time… Hood River!

Our goal with Hood River wasn’t the town itself though – instead, we were going for our lovely little monster, Ollie.  When we lived in Hood River, her favorite place in the world was The Spit, where she could run and swim and jump and splash and chase dogs and chase birds and sniff and run and play forever and ever.  Since we needed to take the Hood River bridge, which is right next to the spit… it would have been mean not to go, right?

We went.  We walked, Sarah tried walking on different surfaces (Sand is pleasant, pebbles weren’t so much so), and we enjoyed being nostalgic about the summer nights and winter days that we’d spent exploring the spit, way back when.

 

With our walking done, and Ollie’s tweaking out needs satisfied for the time being, we continued on our adventure, heading southbound toward Adam’s companion mountain, Mt. Hood.  Our goal wasn’t anything super intense or special; we were going to one of the sno-parks, with the goal of playing in the glacial runoff and enjoying the views.

As you can see, we succeeded here, just as well as our other stops:

We… uhh… may have been a little loopy from the car ride, the lack of food, and the time we’d spent in the sun while walking on the spit.  I admit to nothing; we were having fun, and that’s what counts!

Gardening in Portland – a summer’s worth of beauty!

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Summer, 2018

 

I enjoy gardens, but Sarah loves gardening.  While I like appreciating them, and maybe growing a few small plants indoors, Sarah builds amazing outlines, creating beautiful views and spending hours pruning and weeding and cultivating her creations.

Really, there’s not much more to be said… look at the pictures below, and enjoy the fruits of Sarah’s (and mine, to a much lesser extent) labor!