Monday, September 23, 2013

Portland Romantic Adventurer's Weekend

Portland Romantic Adventurer's Weekend

Saturday Morning.

Let's just assume that you live in (or will be visiting) the Portland (Oregon) area. You have an adventurous partner and you wish to satisfy said partner's thirst for casual outdoor adventure and your continuing need for memorable romantic gestures. How might you fill up a weekend? Hey.... not too much planning, not too much money.... and we may have some house chores to do or a blog to write, but still. What can we do at this, the very last gasp of summer?

First thing you gotta do if you are really going to enjoy a weekend is to get up EARLY. Not crazy early, but you need to get up in time to have some self organization time before you jump into a car. This time of year (right near the equinox) you can get up with the sun, right around 6:00 (or maybe 7:00). Do you get the Oregonian? No one does, are you crazy? Ok, I will cook breakfast, you go out and get the paper, and don't you dare stop at Starbucks, I am making this new kind of coffee I brought.

And what is for Breakfast? Blueberry season is just winding down, but I have a pint basket of berries just begging to be made into waffles. (“Oh please, oh please, put us in waffles”, I hear them cry). Perhaps I should give you the intro to the waffle ritual.

First, Ingredients:
  1. White Flour (perhaps half and half with whole Wheat. I like using the good stuff from Bob's Red Mill, because it is local and I drive a Subaru)
  2. Baking Soda (not baking powder. Really, there is a difference. Trust me)
  3. Vegetable Oil (I have tried Olive Oil, since it is so much better for you than Crisco but I got complaints that the taste was overpowering. I didn't notice it. You do use a LOT of oil in a waffle recipe)
  4. Blueberries (I am still debating whether frozen or not is better. The frozen ones don't cook as much, which could be nice, but they sometimes keep the batter from cooking also)
  5. Plain Yogurt (this is the secret ingredient. You can also use flavored yogurts, just be careful not to mess with the taste of the blueberries)
  6. Real Maple Syrup (don't get me started)
  7. Spray Can of Oil (the cooking kind. Not WD40)(You could use a brush to put it on the griddle but, hell, might as well live in the present).

And Equipment:
  1. Big Glass Bowl (You can really use any bowl, but the glass one is clean.....)
  2. Wooden Mixing Spoon (Ditto)
  3. Waffle Iron (which is clean since the last time you used it...... right?)
  4. Fork (who cares if it is clean, it is just a Fraking Fork)
  5. +5 serving plates of yumminess.
  6. Laptop Computer. Preferably a Apple Air.

Wow, this is getting complex.
Ok. 3 things to do before you begin mixing.
  1. Check for the Baking Soda. You didn't have any the last time, remember? Oh, maybe it was 3 times ago that you didn't have any. Because you seem to have gotten baking soda the last 3 times you were at the store and now you have a life time supply. Excellent
  2. Turn on the Waffle Iron (plug it in first). This is really important. You need a HOT iron to make a good waffle and you really need to preheat the sucker. If you don't preheat it you will just be throwing the first waffle away, and you don't want that.
  3. If your Blueberries are frozen, Nuke them for 30 seconds.
  4. Now get out your laptop and do a web search for Waffle Recipe (or if you are reading this while you cook, then use that handy Hyperlink !!)
  5. Ok, 4 things.

Reading the Waffle Recipe is very important. It will tell you the exact amounts of the things you need and also tell you that the author has (once again) become confused over the difference between baking Soda and Baking Powder. You don't want Baking Soda, who in the hell told you that? That is crazy talk!!

I would also consider leaving out the vanilla. I think we are going to be putting enough flavors in there. But you do have this one extra ingredient that the recipes don't call for but we really want to add.... The yogurt. I got this yogurt recipe from a real nice restaurant on the North coast of California. What the yogurt does is to keep the inside of the waffle fluffy whilst allowing the outside to be crunchy. It works pretty good. Just put a couple of big spoonfulls in per cup of floor. Trust me. Would I steer you wrong? I mean, besides the Baking Powder debacle.

As a last bit, add the blueberries. Enough of them so you will get like 10 berries per waffle.

Ok, the waffle iron should be hot, so lets get going. Spray your PAM cooking oil (OK if it is olive oil, we aren't going to taste it) just before you put the batter in. The batter should be pretty thick, you may even have to push it around on the iron to get coverage. Don't put too much batter, you actually want it to look like there isn't quite enough to cover the whole thing when you close the lid. Now you have to wait. The way my iron works, the light comes on when the iron is Hot. Then when you add batter, the light will soon go out, indicating that cooking is happening. When the waffle is done the light will go off (and it makes a clicking noise, but never mind that). You should be able to flip the things out with a fork.

Sever with Butter and Real Maple Syrup. Maybe some strawberries. Collect yummy noises and maybe a kiss.

I believe I have found that a 1 cup flour recipe will make 2 runs on my waffle iron. So I usually do at least a 2 cup batch.

What a nice breakfast !!. And it isn't even 10:00 yet. Time to gear up for an adventure!! (Well, maybe just one more cup of coffee).

Saturday Afternoon

My partner said she wanted to go hiking today. Actually I have been bugging her that I wanted to do a calorie burn and to test out my knee, so we packed a nice lunch and headed out to one of my main go to hiking areas, Elk Creek.

Elk Creek trail is a side branch of the Wilson River trail in the Tillamook forest. It is the remnants of an old logging trail and it climbs pretty steeply up the East side of Elk Creek. Today was a gear test hike (Knee and Hammock) so we were only shooting to go about half way up (2 miles) before stopping for lunch in a sheltered little nook that I like. This time of year is a transitional time for the area. The spring and summer wild flowers are all gone but the summer leaves are still in the trees. Once the leaves fall, there will be better views of the surrounding hills. For now, the things that are coming into play are elk and deer hunting and mushroom hunting. Chantrels are very popular and can be found in this area, especially up on the top of the hill off in the pine forests.

Very Low Water

Very dry time of year. The creek is lower than I have ever seen it before. The place where I have seen huge Salmon swimming is now virtually dry. The waterfall just before the rest stop is just damp mossy stones. Still, the hike is a good one. Good footing, even in wet weather. Steep, but not so steep that it is dangerous. We got to the stopping point in just a little over an hour and we were feeling good. I was tempted to go on up another mile, but I am really not trusting my knee these days. So instead of hikig, I put up my new double nest hammock from REI and we climbed in a snuggled and ate our lunch.


The hammock worked out pretty well. I don't think 2 people could actually sleep in this things together, but it was a pleasant enough way to spend a half hour rest stop. And being in a hammock is nice after an uphill hike because the openness really bleeds the heat off of your back.

At this point I should put out a special thank you to my partner. I had somehow forgotten my water bottle in the car, but she had brought an extra. Otherwise I would have been very thirsty.

My new Camera does good blue

We got back home and it was only like 4:00. My partner and I were hungry and still looking for a little fun so we decided to head into the city. Hey, I am buying, let's go to Jake's !!

Jake's Famous Crawfish

Jake's is something of an institution in Portland. It has been around for a while and presidents and 3 famous people have eaten there and stuff. Mainly I like it because the building and furnishings are old (early 1900's?), the service is great, and the food is exquisite. And if you don't drink expensive wine, it really isn't all that pricey. Well, you may want to squint a little when you read the bill.

There are two locations for Jake's in downtown Portland. They are like 2 blocks away from each other and they have similar offerings. They are called Jake's Famous Crawfish and Jake's Grill. Tonight we have reservations at 8:15 at Jake's Famous Crawfish. It can be a dress up place (i.e. you won't feel like an idiot if you dress up, but people do show up and get fed in jeans and T-shirts) so my partner and I put on some nice clothes (ohhh, a dress and makeup. Jon likes) and we head into Portland. Often times when heading into the city, I would park at a convenient Max stop (like, Oh, say, Sunset transit) and take the light rail line in. I like the light rail. You can get a day pass for $5.00 and travel all over the city and not worry about parking or having to walk any long distance (in case it rains). Tonight we decided to drive in. More convenient we were thinking. We look too nice for the Max, I was thinking. And we had a terrible time finding parking. Siri just doesn't have any clue about how to find a parking garage in Portland. She took us to two closed facilities before we decided to screw it and go to the city parking we knew about over next to the 9th street Max location (just above the Real Mother Goose).

So a couple of blocks walk through Portland. Always a joy. Some cool new things in the city. Hey, a new City Target. That looks interesting. We were pretty early so we walked over to Powell's book store first. I needed an engineering book for work and Powells' has a big technical book enclave. Do you know about Powell's City of books

I stole this picture. Though I have one like it somewhere.

Besides having the world's greatest name, it is also the world's largest independent book store. It really is huge. Bigger than any Barnes and Noble or {some book store whose name I always forget but it is just like Barnes and Noble} books. It is in an older 4 story warehouse-like building with just TONS of books. Old ones, new ones, used ones, blue ones. Books, books, books. They have a rare book room (that you can't go in unless you are more special than me). It is sort of like a maze in there with different floors of different buildings connecting to each other in strange and mysterious ways. Each section has its own color. So you can say something like, “I need to look for a text in Purple for a while but then will meet you in Green and we can peruse Manga together”. 

 Since they buy and sell used books, you can take your boxes of books there, get some in-store credit, and then get great deals on other books that other people didn't want (Oh My God, Here is a Stranger in a Strange Land for only $1.50 !!).

On this particula occasion, however, I wanted a Python programmers guide and they wanted $60.00 for it while I knew I could get it on Amazon (delivered for free with Amazon Prime) for $40.00. I guess you can't always buy local.

We arrived at Jake's a few minutes early, but they sat us right away at a quiant little booth for 2 around in the back room. The menu was daunting. Lots of fish dishes that had been changed from boring healthy fish into exciting calorie laden fish and lobster and cheese creations. Oh man. We decided on a sort of semi-healthy sampler meal. We would start with an appetizer of fried crawfish (cause, I mean, come on, it is Jake's Famous Crawfish) and then move on to split a spinach and cajun orange vinaigrette with a (split) entree of crab stuffed King Salmon.

When the crawfish came it was a HUGE plate. We had to immediately put half of it aside to take home just to have room for dinner. And the crawfish was worthy of fame. The salad was likewise delicious, but the main entre was MUCH to good to have eaten a whole one. We were both very happy with our choices of food and company.

Sunday Morning

Aha !! It's Sunday already. Already !! Where is the weekend going?
Various morning chores.
But the main one was to get the kayaks onto the car in case we want to go for an emergency kayak after the softball game. Softball Game? Yes, My partner is in a couple of softball leagues and she has Sunday games. So we load the car with the kayak gear and the softball gear and we head out to the co-ed field out in North Portland. On the ride there we had thunder and lightening and a vicious rain squall. But over on the other side of town, at the field, it was dry and only threatening. So I guess we are playing. But lots of people didn't show up. So many, in fact, that the team captain asked me if I wanted to play. I mean, I did have my glove..... Ok. I will give it a try. I didn't have any cleats so I put on my hiking boots. I mean, when you haven't broken into a run in 5 years putting on hiking boots can't be a bad thing. I got to play a little first, a little catcher, a little right center. I didn't screw up to badly and I did hit the ball when up. So.... Maybe I can think about really playing. Can I still walk? Partially. Good enough. My partner pitched a few innings and then had a great inning in left field bringing in 2 flies and scooping up a line drive. Bottom Line: my team got slaughtered but my partner won player of the game !!

First Base Lefty !!

And then, we get to go Agate Hunting !

I have been wanting to find some agates ever since my partner and I accidentally found some out on Ross Island a few weeks ago. Well, I have given up going to places that don't have any so I decided that we should go back to Ross (also, it is an easy put-in and paddle on a Sunday Afternoon, with Thunder storms passing through). We didn"t paddle much at first. We cut across the Willamette and stopped at Toe Island (little rock bar right next to Ross). There were lots of really pretty rocks there. Round. But no agates (that we found).



So on we go. I am paddling my friend's Orange Tempest 170 today. I am trying to decide whether or not to buy one. Lots of sales going on right now. Nice red one for sale over at Next Adventure. Would match my dry suit. But today I am having troubles with this thing. The skeg assembly must have gotten some rocks in it because I can't get the skeg down, and with the skew up I am having a hell of a time going in a straight line. It keeps pulling to the left. So frustrating. Even when I edge hard right, I am still going left. And when I edge hard left..... I go really really left. Anyway, I wasn't liking it. Perhaps I will keep my Journey. She always goes straight when I want her to.

Out at the very tip of Ross Island we get out and walk around and find LOTS of agates. Mostly very small ones. This is the place for agate hunting for me!! But this is a secret place, so don't go telling everyone about it.


Point of interest. Tidal effects on the River at Portland. We are like 50 river miles from the ocean, and yet we still have tides. When we pulled up on this island, my Partner marked the water level with the little piece of wood you can see right below the left end of her pump. We were there for 30 minutes, see the water line?

We didn't stay out very long. We were tired from the hiking and softballing and such and wanted to get home early so we could be ready for a hard productive week at work

And then........

More Adventure !!

1 comment: