Tag Archives: Airbnb

A trip to Smith Rock


Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 17, 18 & 19-Nov-2017


Bill and Greta, Sarah’s Mom and Dad, came to visit us for Thanksgiving this year!  Since they’d be visiting for the week ahead of Thanksgiving itself, we planned out a few various adventures for us all – the first one being a trip to finally show them Smith Rock!


We met Bill and Greta at the airport, complete with Ollie in her little Wonder Woman outfit.  After some impressive face licking and tail wagging we were back at the house, and then fairly quickly back on our way, driving South past Mt. Hood and down into central Oregon.  It was a bit of a hurricane, we’ll readily admit, but it payed impressive impressive dividends impressively quickly.

Sarah had put together an adventure for us all – Our first target was a small house that She’d reserved from AirBnB in Redmond; not right next to Smith itself, but pretty darn close in the scheme of things.  Sarah and I would usually just camp out while visiting Smith, but this time we had a request from Greta to fulfill – it was her birthday, and Scotland isn’t exactly known for exceptional steaks…

Yup – turns out, Scotland doesn’t have steaks like the US does.  They have whisky and mountains, deer and kilts… but no US-quality steaks.  But that’s something we could easily remedy – we hit up the butcher shop on our way out of town, and picked up a few rib eyes.  Once we were settled into the house, we set Sarah loose; we’d brought the cast iron skillets, the seasonings, and the tools.  Sarah has many skills that set her apart from the crowd, and one of those is definitely her skill with searing steaks up right.  Soon enough we were feasting, sipping wine, and settling in.

It was a lovely evening, especially after the whirlwind of driving, unpacking, repacking, and getting ourselves out to Smith.  We relaxed, caught up, and got ourselves ready for showing off our little playground in the desert.

Sarah and I have hiked and climbed at Smith Rock more times than I can count.  We’ve had epic adventures, relaxing days, and made tons of good memories.  Alongside that, Smith is a pretty unique piece of geology; a beautiful chunk of rock soaring out of the high desert.

Bill and Greta are both geologists, and have heard Sarah and I talk about climbs and hikes at Smith tons of times… but somehow, we’d never had a chance to all visit Smith together.  Now was our chance, and since they’d been doing a lot of hiking out in Scotland, we figured that it’d be pretty safe to drop all of us into the deep end, with a short hike called “The Misery Ridge Trail”.


It’s kind of miserable, from the first look of it: You hike a ways down into the valley, then hike all the way up to the top of the ridgeline, then back down for a long walk along the river before hiking back out of the valley.

We were in high spirits though, and needed to burn off the huge steaks that we’d eaten, so we got to it with a vengeance… and honestly had a really great time of it!  The hike always seems harder and longer than it actually is, and we all had a great time traipsing around, looking at the rock formations, and even doing a little bit of climbing on the far side of the trail, at a small cliff called Waterfall Slabs.  Mostly though, we just explored and enjoyed the walk.


Since the hike was the primary goal of the trip, we didn’t really have too much else planned.  After a bit of deliberation, we settled on finishing plans over dinner – sticking with the theme of “things you can’t find in Scotland”, we found an awesome BBQ pit-style restaurant and ordered a rather impressive pile of dinner for ourselves.  We gorged, tasted some pretty impressively delicious local beer, before heading back to the rental to continue catching up and relaxing.


Sunday dawned nice and early, to the delicious smell of re-heated brisket and ribs.  Our plans for the day, after devouring the leftovers from the night before, was to drive back to Portland while doing a hike in the Mt. Hood area.   It was mostly a chill day – the hike at Smith hadn’t been particularly intense, but it had still been enough that we weren’t planning on anything too intense the day right afterward.

Our hike turned out to be perfect – It was in an area that Ollie could run free, unlike Smith, and the trail was a gorgeous bouquet of winter wonderland covered in light snow and ice.  The trail we’d chosen was along a river, heading up into the mountains toward a few waterfalls; in short, gorgeous.

We hiked for a while, though we didn’t end up making it all the way to the final viewpoint – as the trail wound onward and upward, we started encountering more and more snow, followed by icier and icier conditions on the trail.  We finally hit our limit a ways in, when the path took us through a boulder field.  It had iced over nearly completely, and upward progress was basically impossible.  So we had a rest and a lunch break, before heading back toward the car, and to Portland.

Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017: Flight to the UK

Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017: Flight to the UK

Flight to the UK – Tuesday, 20-Dec-2016 & Wednesday, 21-Dec-2016

We left Portland just before midnight, on Tuesday the 20th.

As always, the days and hours before we left were stressed and filled with craziness – packing, dropping Ollie off at her puppy sitters, dropping Sarah’s car off at the shop, and just getting the ten thousand little things done that needed to be done.

But, as time stops for no one (especially not people trying to make a flight) we were soon rocketing our way over to Washington D.C. on my first business-class experience. And it was an experience! Our first flight (PDX to D.C.) was on a smaller plane, which didn’t have the full Polaris Experience (United’s fancy-awesome service), but it was still definitely something to remember. Drinks were complementary, as was food… but we’d expected that. What we didn’t expect was the conversation that we got to overhear from our seatmates, who were… ahh… ‘taking advantage of the complimentary liquor’, let’s say…

  • “There’s a time for diplomacy, and then there’s a time to kill” – a retired Air Force UAV pilot
  • “I’m really smart, you know. I used to be a chef major… until I started having sex with my math teacher. But I didn’t start dating him until the end of the semester, after I got my A” – an Insurance salesperson, flirting with said Air Force pilot
  • “Marriage is Marriage. But…” – Said salesperson, again flirting with said Air Force Pilot

The second leg of our flight was noticeably less adventurous… possibly because we were sitting together, instead of apart… but possibly because both Sarah and I slept clean through the whole event. We’d stayed up late, and barely got any sleep on the PDX to D.C. flight, and since the D.C. to London flight was so short, it gave us just enough time to have a nice nap before descending into the UK.

(Note: Ben was super bummed out that he slept through the whole flight. He’d loved the fancy champagne and other drinks that started the flight out, and had been really looking forward to the mid-flight meal of Lobster Mac & Cheese, which he missed due to being asleep at the time)

Once we landed, we visited a very rare and unique (read: we saw like 50 of them throughout our trip) cafe named ‘Cafe Nero’… which I had thought was all cool and special when Daniel brought us to back in July. But it was still a nice stopover before London, giving a chance to re-convene and take our bearings. Then a train into London, and a cabbie to our first stop of the adventure.

Our lodging for the first leg of the trip was an organic restaurant that also hosted a Bed and Breakfast in the floors above the dining area.

Our cab dropped us off, and after a whole slew of adventures with credit cards, US Dollars, and Euros, we finally had him paid and got ourselves in to meet the host, a very friendly French Armenian man named Raffi.

Raffi was hospitable. Like… seriously, grandmother-level hospitable. We had to convince him to show us the room so we could put our bags down, because he was so focused on making us plates of food. And the food! Ohh man… when we scheduled this place, we saw that it included two meals a day; one of the reasons we picked it. We thought those meals would be from the shop, but we didn’t realize that this was a top-notch fancy restaurant. As in artfully-arranged lasagna, calamari, shells, quiche, all stylized with fancy presentation.

We checked out the room. We ate. We chatted and learned a bit. We enjoyed ourselves immensely.

Then we slept. The sleep that only tired travelers can sleep. A sleepy sleep.

My first weekend in Hood River – Day 2!

My first weekend in Hood River – Day 2!

Sunday, 21-June-2015

I’m stressed this morning… I sleep way too late, and it takes me a while to actually rouse myself out of bed even after I’m awake. I had a few stress dreams last night, so I guess the move (and my imminent first day of work) are starting to get to me finally.

But thankfully, the conscious version of Ben knows the solution to all of that. So once I get control back from the unconscious version of Ben (that guy is so lazy… he just sleeps all the time…) I head into the yoga room and spend a while just working out. Simple stuff, but the pushups and squats and yoga clear my head enough for me to really focus down and get the day started.

And that start is basically just getting life ready for my return to the world of employment. It’s:

  • An oil change for the car; which turns into a full service stop, with $300.00 worth of fluids, belts, and other various bits getting replaced.
  • Walking around town, finding myself a new work notebook, since I gave my last one (which was full of steam jet designs and optimization strategies) back to my old boss when I left Artisan Industries.
  • Eating a BLT at a coffee shop in town. Because I can’t get the rest of everything done if I don’t have a belly full of bacon and coffee.
  • Grabbing various snacks for my breakfasts for the week, in case I can’t find anything solid to make otherwise.
  • Doing a pre-drive out to the office where I’ll have orientation, so I know where I’m going and roughly how long it will take – My standard rule is to drive the route the night before, and then triple that time to accommodate for being not fully awake, and traffic.
  • A stop at the car wash, to clean the dust and grime and bugs off the Mustang. The poor thing’s been like this for thousands of miles, and deserves a good soak.

With my chores done, I headed back to the house to relax for a bit, and get some early sleep. Ohh wait, never mind. I wanted to download The Martian, the book about the Mechanical Engineer / Botanist stranded on Mars. So… I do. Then I don’t fall asleep anytime soon, because it’s a really good book, and I can’t put it down…

But that’s fine. Reading is a good way to combat stress too – so while I stay up later than I should, I still fall asleep roughly on time.