Thursday, August 31, 2006

Oregon Adventures

After spending almost two weeks in Oregon, Anthony & I made it back early morning on Sunday, the 20th, after taking the red eye out of Seattle that Saturday night. We were completely wiped out, but we managed to get a great night's rest upon our return. The four-hour time difference & the jet lag will wear you down, no doubt! But the travel was worth it! I loved everything about the Pacific NW. From the super friendly people, to the fact that everyone seems to be environmentally conscious (recycling, lack of trash on the streets, and designated bike lanes in major cities such as Portland), to the diverse scenery and wildlife. Not to mention the micro-brews, wines, and fantastic cuisine!! Its a good thing we got plenty of exercise throughout our travels. Oh the Dungeness crabs were to die for!

"Photo-ops" were plentiful...we both took many, many pics. I filled up 3 (1) gig cards & I shot two rolls of b/w infrared film. Anthony took me into Citizens Photo in Portland where he used to shop & where I bought the infrared film, which is highly sensitive to any kind of light. So no worries with the airport security and x-ray machines ruining it. I Fed-Ex' d my exposed film to a lab up in Virginia from P-land on Friday. Hope to get it back in time to use a photo or two in the Grove Winery tasting room exhibit. Which, by the way, will be up throughout the months of September and October. Our reception at the winery will be held Friday September the 8th. Times TBD but we think from about 6-8PM.

Oregon truly was fantastic and we got to see a lot of it. We traveled over 1,500 miles in our little Toyota Corolla rental car (w/ unlimited mileage) plus it had fantastic gas mileage. Gas prices were about the same there as it is here-- from $2.87 to $3.10 per gallon on average for low test. We were at first stuck w/ a huge gas guzzling SUV, as it was the last on the lot after getting in from a late night flight. But alas, we were able to bring it back in the morning & exchange it for the Toyota. Phew!!

The first night of course was spent in a hotel in Seattle, and then the next couple of days were spent in Portland. From there, we took a trip through the wine country en route to the Coastal Range (the beach) & spent two days there visiting Anthony's old friends & colleagues---photographers Ian and Carole Clark. They have a booming business photographing family portraits, reunions, and weddings on the beach. Ian was a cowboy and wildlife photographer in Montana prior to relocating to Lincoln City. Ian & Carole were great tour guides and knew all the best spots. The tidal pools were a favorite of mine, as were the sea lions in the town of Newport fighting for a small spot of "real estate" on the floating docks. The cliffs are high overlooking the Pacific Ocean which is much chillier than it is on the Atlantic side. We spotted several gray whales from above which was an incredible site.

We also spent a good portion of our time in Portland, which I absolutely loved. What a fantastic city! We stayed with Anthony's best friend Joe and his fiancee Heather whom we met last summer when they came to visit us in North Carolina. Joe & Anthony were housemates many years ago in Greenville, NC and again when Anthony lived in Portland in the 90's. They live in a great 1940's townhouse community, which has been named "Catopia" due to the many kitties that reside here. They are a fun couple with many of the same interests as us and they are both great cooks (we also went out to a few wonderful restaurants). And yes, they have two cats whom I fell in love with. Zedd is a brown & white shorthaired tabby--so, so sweet. Jelly Bean a black & white shorthair. Zedd wanted to sleep w/ us every night we spent at Heather & Joe's. Jelly Bean reminded me of my beloved Winston whom lost his battle to cancer in June. Jelly Bean is Heather's baby and very shy (as was Winston).

There is so much to do and see in Portland alone. We went to city market where I purchased a super "kewl" purse made of recycled materials--race car vinyl, airline cable, & metal rivets, with a wooden bottom (to keep it from toppling over, thus losing the contents of your purse!). I've had many gals since come up to me and ask "where did you get that purse"? If inquiring minds want to know... Hardware by Renee I also fell in love with another artist's work but didn't buy (yet!)--handmade glass mobiles by artist Leah Pellegrini We also picked up a red handblown glass hummingbird feeder for Heather for her birthday, which we celebrated while there. City Market is held on weekends and is worth checking out!

The Bite of Oregon took place while we were there too. The Bite is an annual food, wine & music festival on the riverfront. Other favorite places we visited while in Portland were the Crystal Springs Park, Japanese Garden, & Rose Garden. I can still smell the scent of roses! We met more of Anthony's friends, Robert and Jen, who are also originally from North Carolina. We spent time with them at the Bite on Sat. the 12th. Jen's family owns a winery in Oregon called Kristen Hill Winery. We were hoping to get out to the winery but there was so much to do and not enough time.

Joe met us one day out in the high desert on the Deschutes River, the "River of Rapids", to do a little fly-fishing for trout and steelhead and we camped there one night under the stars (and meteor showers). Heather couldn't make it as she is in the restaurant business and had to work. But soon, they will have the opportunity to experience this magnificant place together, as they have plans to spend time here on their honeymoon in September. I loved the high desert!! The sagebrush smells incredible (I just had to clip some and bring it home). The river in the area where we camped was called Rattlesnake Canyon. Crazy little birds called chuckers, which resemble quail, were abundent on the high cliffs, as were the canyon wrens. Anthony always spoke of the canyon wrens and their mystical call, which echo off the steep walls of the canyons. It can not be described in words. Bighorns usually reside in the area, but we did not see them.

Anthony & I also camped two nights in Central Oregon Lakes Region in the Deschutes National Forest at Crane Prairie, which is close to the city of Bend. We borrowed camping and fishing gear from Joe and Heather--one last thing to pack and drag through the airport! Crane Prairie is a beautiful trout-filled lake with a view of snowcapped volcanic mountains---The Sisters Range, Mt. Washington, and Mt. Jefferson to name a few. We also got to see Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Rainier (in Washington) on our trip. The mountains of Oregon & Washington are massive! Not like they are here. I don't even remember them being that big when I took a trip to Colorado in the 80's.

Crane Prairie was gorgeous, the weather perfect. Cool at night (enough for a campfire, fleece, and heavy sleeping bags) and warm, sunny, low 80's, and very little humidity during the day. We thought about renting a couple of kayaks but they were spendy, so we went with a row boat. While out on the water, we saw two bald eagles, one golden eagle, & plenty of Ospreys. The lake is known for its sandhill cranes. They were heard, but not seen, as were the coyotes in the wee hours of the morning. We were told about an elk herd across the lake from our campsite, but we never did see them. Our campsite was ruled by chipmunks and golden mantel squirrels. Very cute little critters!

We also saw a bobcat, but this was on Thursday (8/17) when we took a little side trip out of Portland to this area called Jewell Meadows Elk Refuge which is in the Coastal Range, where you're supposed to see elk, but to no avail. Once again, they were elusive. So instead we drove up a logging road and sure enough, at the very top of the mountain, end of the road, out pops a bobcat. Anthony grabbed his camera and was able to get a "last minute" blurry action shot of its "backend" exiting into the woods through the windshield but at least we know they are out there and we saw one.

The last night of the trip (Friday 8/18) was spent in Portland. Joe's 8 and 10 year old daughters came over and we cooked out on the grill. Savannah & Emelia are the nicest little girls, very smart and precocious. We are trying to get all of them to come out here next summer. Perhaps get together at the beach in Emerald Isle, NC? The girls have never been to NC and they're already excited about the Carolina BBQ we've all told them about, and the warm sandy beaches. Anthony & I plan to send Heather & Joe some of that great BBQ "on ice" via Oink Express (Kings BBQ in Kinston, NC) for a wedding gift... yes, a wedding gift!! If we can get it together, we hope to each send them a framed photo from our trip as well, after pulling the winery show together (which we hang this Friday!!).

Saturday (8/19) we drove up to Seattle early in the day to scout it out & to take in some of the sights. We arranged to meet some of my wedding clients there for coffee. Tricia and Jeff live in Seattle but are getting married in Virginia at Stratford Hall Plantation in September. It was great fun to meet them at long last after corresponding via phone and email since January. Anthony & I also checked out the farmers market where they toss the fish around (Pikes Market) and grabbed a late lunch at The Virginia Inn (of all names!) where I was able to get my last taste of Dungenese crab (cake) and then we were off to the airport. Security wasn't too bad. Just remember, don't try to carry-on any liquids, gels, or aerosols. My stepmother was hoping for a bottle of wine, but it looks like I'll have to order some and have it shipped. I want some too!! I also wonder if anyone could ship us some Dungenese crab "on ice"?

As far as photos from the trip goes, please keep checking back. I've yet to download any of my digital files or do any editing, but hope to add some to my blog and/or website in the near future. Lookout September, here we come. It looks to be our busiest month on record filled with numerous assignments, weddings, and plenty of travel throughout Virginia, South Carolina, & North Carolina.

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