Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Once Upon a Newport Weekend

Sara Duncan - At Panini Bakery in Newport, Oregon.

After several weekends in a row up in Portland, I convinced Tim to come down to the coast.  So, on Saturday, he hauled up his camping gear and headed two and a half hours southwest to the small coastal city of Newport, Oregon.  Once he arrived, we took a stroll around the campus and I treated him to lunch at my favorite bakery in town called Panini Bakery.  I automatically ordered a portabella mushroom sandwich with balsamic vingarrette while Tim enjoyed a slice of pizza and an old fashioned Coca Cola.  After we finished divulging on our lunch, we drove a half hour northeast of Newport to the tiny town of Siletz, Oregon to stake our claim on a campsite at Jack Morgan Park before it filled up.  After we found a site that satisfied our needs, we set up camp and set out for the Yaquina Head Lighthouse back in Newport.  This lighthouse built in 1872, is the tallest lighthouse in Oregon and stands erect on a bluff overlooking miles of pristine Oregon coastline.  Yaquina Head is home to tide pools and pretty wildflowers that blanket the landscape. 


Launching the crab net.  
After we were content with our lighthouse visit, my roommates, Lauren and Nicole, invited us to come grabbing with them at the docks of Alsea Bay in the town of Waldport about 30 minutes south of Newport.  This was my first time crabbing, so I had no idea what to expect.  For those of you who have never taken part in the art of crabbing, I will give you a short synopsis of how it is done.  The crab net is composed of a two metal concentric rings tied together with rope.  In the center of the crab net is a metal cage to bait the crabs.  In our case, we used raw chicken.  The crab net it then thrown off the dock (or boat) and left to sit for fifteen to twenty minutes.  Unbeknownst to the crabs, the net it pulled up, hopefully catching them inside.  In accordance with Oregon state law, only crabs that are males and are bigger than six inches are allowed to be kept.  The others must be thrown back to continue to replenish the population.  That Saturday night, we spent a few hours on the dock with three traps in high hopes that we would bring some home enough for dinner.  Unfortunately, time and time again, we pulled up completely empty nets or nets with small or female crabs.  After we had our fill of wind and cold, we headed back to Newport empty handed and then to our campsite in Siletz to enjoy hotdogs and s’mores over the fire before retreating to our tent for a replenishing night’s sleep. 

Marine Life - Cape Perpetua, Yachats, Oregon. 
The next morning, we slept in for a bit before packing up our tent and heading to my apartment for a delicious breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and bacon.  Upon getting our fill, I instructed Tim to put on his hiking gear so that we could head out to our next adventure.  I was delighted to have my roommate Lauren come as well.  This weekend’s hiking destination: Cape Perpetua even farther south of Waldport passed the town of Yachats, pronounced ‘Yah-hahts.’  Cape Perpetua is a coastal bluff 800 feet above sea level that yields breathtaking views of 70 miles of Oregon coast in either direction.  We decided to hike St. Perpetua Trail that ascends 700 feet from the campground at the bottom to the peak.  Unfortunately, we weren’t aware of the trailhead at the bottom, so we found the one at the top.  Starting from the highpoint with magnificent views right from the beginning is not nearly as exciting to me as chugging along the trail from its base in suspense of the goal, which in this case is the view, at the top.  Since we made this mistake, Tim decided to go grab the truck and stop by the visitor’s center to see if there was another hike for us to partake in instead of hiking all the way back up to treasures already found.  Unluckily, there were two visitors’ centers and Tim headed to one while we went to the other.  We ended up just missing each other as Lauren and I finished the hike.  With no cell phone service we asked the park rangers for help to try to track down Tim.  Thankfully we found him parked at a spot that we passed only a little while ago.  We were afraid that he had gone up the trail searching for us!  Since we wasted a lot of time and energy looking for each other, we decided to skip the next hike and head down to the water to explore some tide pools while the tide was still low.  Among the jagged rocks we found pools of tadpoles, sea urchins, sea stars, hermit crabs, snails, and many other marine creatures.  It was delightful.  After we fulfilled our tide pool desires, we headed back home and then to the docks in Alsea Bay to see if we would have better luck crabbing.  They still weren’t biting as much as we had hoped, but we were able to take home one that we could eat.  This past weekend was just another great weekend to add to the list of Sara’s Oregon Adventures

Friday, August 5, 2011

Yaquina Bay Bridge Stroll

Although I was rather immersed in my blog writing, reading, and studying, last Thursday my roommate Lauren convinced my other roommate, Nicole, and I to partake in a sunset stroll across the Yaquina Bay Bridge in our sleepy beach town of Newport, Oregon. As the fog rolled in, we began our ascent of this historic bridge.  The cold wind that traveled hundreds of miles across the ocean chilled me to the bones as it enveloped around me.  I didn't mind though.  I was enjoying my time with my friends as well as taking in the sights that this old structure had to offer.  Once we reached the opposite side of the bridge, we descended down to the main roadway to try our luck at visiting the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse.  Unfortunately we got there too late as it is only open during business hours.  Nevertheless we made the most of our adventure by swapping stories and visiting the park.  As nightfall came, we headed back across the bridge as we watched the remaining fishing boats come back into bay from their day's catch.  
Yaquina Bay Bridge - Newport, OR

Yaquina Bay Bridge - Newport, OR

Yaquina Bay Bridge - Newport, OR

Yaquina Bay Bridge - Newport, OR


Since I can be rather anal retentive about things sometimes, Tim enjoys not telling me any details as to what his plans are for us.  This past weekend was just that.  I went up to Portland to visit Tim again having no idea what was in store for me.  I tried to relax the best that I could and went with the flow and boy was is worth it! 

Taking practice swings.
On Saturday morning we rose early and Tim instructed me to dress in comfortable clothing and sneakers before we headed out.  My guess was that we were going hiking and/ or camping, but as we pulled into the golf course I realized that I was wrong.  I was being thrown into a 9-hole, par 3 golf course with him and a few of his friends after only going to the driving range once.  I was a little nervous at first, but Tim and his friends were really relaxed and where there to help.  I had a couple holes that took me over 10 swings to get it in, but several times I only needed 5 or 6 swings to reach my goal.  Tim and his friends informed me that I was better than they were on their first time.  I have come to be fond of this rather relaxing, yet strategically intense game; it is just me and my target that matters when I’m out there and I can’t wait to see myself improve!
After a round of golf, we headed off to the next surprise which was tubing down the Clackamas River.  Floating down a river was something that I have never done before and as I got in my tube, I learned that this trip would be three hours long - much longer than I expected, but I slathered on my sunscreen and prepared for the ride.  The Clackamas River is a rather calm river, but is certainly not devoid of excitement.  There were occasional rapids that we went through that threatened to flip me over, but always bestowed a refreshing splash of water to cool me off.  It was great to relax and chat with Tim’s friends for a bit.  Even though I was fond of the experience, it was a little too passive of an activity for me and I think something more action packed such as kayaking or rafting down a more tumultuous river is much more up my alley. 
Mt. Hood and its reflection in Mirror Lake.
The next day, I got to decide what we were to do, so I told Tim to put on his hiking boots and we headed towards the Mt. Hood wilderness area.  Mirror Lake is one of the most popular hiking destinations east of Portland, and upon arriving, I am now privy as to why.  The Mirror Lake hike is an easy three mile round trip hike to a small lake at the base of Mt. Hood.  Upon climbing 800 feet from the trail head off of the main highway past vibrant wildflowers and through a dense coniferous forest, a pristine, deep blue lake opened up to us.  We walked around the lake and were enticed by the sight of Mt. Hood and its almost perfect reflection upon the still water.  We took a few moments to rest and internalize the beauty of our view before heading back down to our vehicle and then to head home for the start of the work week. 
Tomorrow, Tim will be coming down to spend a weekend with me in on the coast where I will get to surprise him!  Stay tuned to see what I have in store for another one of Sara’s Oregon Adventures.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Living Life to the Fullest

Last weekend was by far one of the most action-packed weekends that I’ve had since arriving in Oregon.  Friday night I left Newport from a long and tiring week out in the field prepared to take on the weekend full of gusto.  Friday night, Stephanie, Tim, and I headed to Downward Dog again to take advantage of their OSU (Oregon State University) Summer Session deals – this week’s was a buy one get one appetizer.  We enjoyed drinks and five appetizers between the three of us before Tim and I headed up to Portland for the weekend.

On the way, Tim told me that we were stopping to pick up some plants for his dad’s landscaping business.  Unbeknownst to me, we were headed to Tim’s family friend’s place for a cookout and laughter by the fire.  The location of their house was quite similar to the town that I grew up in.  The warm feeling that their old farmhouse had to offer and the unrestrained open fields full of night peepers along with a pond and cow pasture next door made me feel at home.  The company was also great and it was a superb way to start off my weekend.
Every Day is an Adventure
The View Point Inn - Destroyed after a devastating fire. 

The next day, I was determined to hike up to another waterfall.  So, I got up early and scanned the internet for my next adventure.  After some browsing, I discovered a hike that was just what I was looking for – Triple Falls.  Triple Falls is a four mile round trip hike in the Columbia River Gorge up to a mesmeric waterfall that splits into three plumes as the water plummets down 120 feet below.  After making my decision, I convinced Tim to partake in the great endeavor that lay ahead of us and we headed out the door.  On the way to the trailhead, Tim took me to see the View Point Inn which is a famous restaurant overlooking the Columbia River.  This is where the high school prom was held in the first Twilight movie.  Quite upsettingly, the inn caught fire a few weeks ago and destroyed the roof and upper floor in its entirety.  Nonetheless, it was still an enchanting place to see and the view of the gorge was not too shabby either.  After chatting with a friend of the owner for a bit to learn about the history of the place, we headed back to our truck to drive to our hike.
Sara Duncan -
The view of Mt. Hood from the top of Larch Mountain. 
Without knowing it, we turned the wrong way after leaving the inn and man, was that a great wrong turn to take!  After driving for twelve miles through the logging forests of Oregon thinking we were going to come out on the main road, we dead ended at a state park named Larch Mountain.  Without cell phone service to look up where we were, we asked around to see what this park had to offer.  We promptly learned that there was a short hike that we could take which would reveal a view of five snowy mountain peaks from the top.  We decided to make the most out of getting lost and checked it out.  After climbing several sets of stairs, we reached the top to be welcomed by a gorgeous view of five of the most well known peaks in Oregon and Washington.  They were Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Jefferson.  After a bit of picture taking and marveling at the beauty that was before us we headed on down the mountain to find our intended destination. 
Triple Falls
Since we did not plan for the time that the detour would take and did not have any food, we stopped at one of Oregon’s most famous waterfalls, Multnomah Falls, for an overpriced lunch.  I visited this beautiful waterfall last summer on a much less crowded day, but I was glad to see it again from the road.  After filling up, we finally made it to the trailhead and began our hike.  Although short, this hike was rather intense due to a series of switchbacks that brought us higher up into the gorge.  At one point, the trail forked and we didn’t know which way to go, on a whim I chose one of the options and about a mile later, I learned that I was right.  One of the feelings that I enjoy the most about hiking to waterfalls, especially ones that are far into the forest, is coming around a corner and suddenly being able to hear the water falling, but not being able to see it.  It builds up the suspense as to what is about to come.  Upon rounding the next bend the magnificent waterfall revealed itself to us.  As explained earlier in this post, the water plummeted over a 120 foot cliff in three separate streams to the river below.  After viewing the waterfall from downstream, we made our way to above the waterfall to climb on rocks and logs and view the falls from above.  After snapping a few more pictures and taking in the sights, we headed back down the trail to head home and off to our next adventure. 
New Hobbies?
Sara Duncan - Do I look like a pro?

I have been sharing with Tim for a while now that I would like to try my hand a golfing.  Since Tim enjoys surprising me with new experiences, once we got home he instructed me to change my clothes and put on some tennis shoes so that we could head to our next destination.  I had already expected that the driving range was where we were going and I was right!  Since Tim’s dad, Robert, enjoys golfing as well he decided to come along.  He definitely knows what he is doing, so I was glad to have him there!  Golfing is an interesting sport that I think I might learn to like.  The whole point of the game is to outplay yourself.  There is no opponent running up to you trying to knock the ball away; it’s just you, the ball, your club, and your intended target.  Just in that hour or two that we were there it was great to see myself improve.  Small adjustments were all it took to get the desired effect – “Just a little to the right. Swing from a little higher. Put your hands up higher.”  These fine-tunings improved my game a lot for being a beginner.  After a couple more of these practices, I can see myself playing for real at a nine-hole golf course!
After golfing, Tim and Robert took me out to Chang’s Mongolian Grill which is one of their favorite places to eat Asian Cuisine.  This place was interesting because you choose your own raw meat and vegetables and make your own sauce and then give it to the cooks to have them make your masterpiece right before your eyes.  I tried two different dishes: one with chicken, pineapple, mushrooms, noodles, and a mild sauce, and the other with shrimp, several types of vegetables, and a hot sauce.  Pineapple is a new favorite fruit of mine since moving to Hawaii so I liked my first plate the best.  I don’t think it deserves as much hype as Tim and his dad give it, but it still was really good!   Upon arriving home, we indulged ourselves with an hour in the hot tub before heading to bed for the night. 
The Simple Life
The next morning we drove down to Tim’s sister, Chritin’s, place to spend some time with her, her husband, Tom, and her three precious little boys.  Christin lives on a farm with several goats, chickens, and a dog along the Molalla River
Sara Duncan - Learning how to milk the sweet goat.  

View Larger Map about an hour south of Portland.  When we arrived, we were delighted to see that Christin was milking her goat.  Of course I was eager to try, so she jumped right in and started teaching me.  I actually found it to be quite easy and enjoyed the feeling of being self sustainable.  To make it even better, goat’s milk is delicious – I drank a whole quart almost by myself.  Check out a video of me learning how to milk the goat here: Goat Milking 101: My sister shows us
.  After successfully milking two goats only to have one of them kick the bucket over, we put on our swimsuits and headed down to the river.  I was excited, although a bit scared, to see a zip line spanning the length of the river.  There was a deep pool in the middle of the river where you could let go and plunge into the cool water below.  Things like this scare me, but I knew that I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity.  So, after seeing a couple other people make it out alive, I grabbed on to the zip line bar and let it fly.  I uploaded a recording of it here: Zip Lining on the Molalla River. Although I am a bit scared of heights, the rush was totally worth it and I can see myself zip lining again.  We spent the afternoon basking in the sun by the river before we headed inside so that Tim and I could look after the boys for awhile while Christin and Tom were out.  We played with them for an hour or two until they got back and headed down to Corvallis and then to Newport to finish off another one of Sara’s Oregon Adventures
Sara Duncan - Having fun with Christin's three boys.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

An Unexpected Weekend Off

The weekend before last was supposed to be spent in the field conducting more experiments, but sadly an issue came up that resulted in our project completely falling apart (check out my other blog here if you want to see what happened: http://blogs.oregonstate.edu/seagrantscholars/2011/07/19/reflections-to-date/).  Although this was an unfortunate event, it lead me to experience another great weekend in Oregon.  If there was any weekend that I wanted off the most, it was definitely this past weekend, so I was elated to spend it as I wished.  Upon leaving work, I called Tim to come pick me up who was surprised that I was asking him to do so since he thought I was working all weekend.  Friday night after work I headed east to Corvallis with my coworker, Stephanie, to meet Tim and go out for drinks at the Downward Dog which is a fun bar in Corvallis with great mac and cheese!

Sara Duncan - At Gustav's German Restaurant.

That night we headed back up to Tim’s dad’s place in Damascus where we went to sleep to prepare for our next fun weekend.  That morning, I got to visit with Tracey, Tim’s stepmom, and her rat terrier, Brittan.   I was excited to get to see them.  That afternoon, Tim’s sister, Christin, stopped by with her beautiful three little boys.  We played outside and got into tickle fights which were a lot of fun.  That night, I went out to dinner with Tim, Tracey, Tim’s dad, Robert, and Tracey’s son to Gustav’s German Restaurant.  Since I recently turned 21 a couple of months ago, I enjoy trying new drinks, so I ordered a “Sea of Cortez.” It was too strong for me and had a weird combination of sweet, salty, and spicy, but I will try everything once!   I wounded down that night with a relaxing sunset by the fire at Robert’s hilltop residence. 

Sara Duncan - Visiting Voodoo Doughnut. 
The next day was spent relaxing and studying for the GRE that I will be taking in September.  One of the main reasons why I wanted to come up to Portland that weekend was to see one of my favorite artists, Mat Kearney, perform at the Roseland Theatre in Northwest Portland.  On Sunday afternoon, Tim and I headed into the city to grab some dinner at Habibi’s Lebanese Cuisine and watch the concert.  We stopped at Voodoo Doughnut while we were waiting for the show to start.  Voodoo Doughnut is a famous doughnut bakery is Portland that is known for its interesting doughnut creations.  The line was out the door, but we had to at least stop by to check it out.  After that we headed over to watch the concert.  The Roseland is a great venue to watch a show.  It is rather small which makes there no bad seat in the house.  Mat Kearney was great and we enjoyed the main performance, Owl City, afterwards before we headed back down to Corvallis.  I’m glad I got to spend the weekend relaxing and visiting with Tim’s family before my hectic field work schedule back in the lab.  It was a well deserved break!