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.  

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