Tag Archives: hiking

The Valen-Times

It’s a gorgeous weekend here in Oregon!

My Valentine’s weekend started out a little womp womp, with a citation for riding the train to work without a ticket. It’s completely my fault, of course, for trying to outsmart their electronic ticket system. But still, not a great thing to have happen first thing on Friday morning.

The rest of the day, however, was great. A group of us walked from the office to Verde Cocina for lunch, where I forgot to take a picture of my huevos rancheros because they were so devious looking that I immediately started wolfing them down. Verde Cocina serves Mexican food with an emphasis on farm fresh veggies. Nothing is deep fried, and there’s a lot of non-traditional ingredients used, like squash, bok choy, and quinoa. I first tried it a few years ago at Portland Farmers Market so I’m thrilled that they opened up a cafe not far from my office. Also I can’t wait to try their margaritas because I bet they are phenomenally fresh.

Friday night was the start of a much needed restful weekend. We didn’t have much in the fridge or pantry for dinner, so we ran to Whole Foods and picked up some “gourmet organic” frozen items: tater tots and samosas. I had a bag of “lite ultimate Caesar” salad in the fridge, and some asparagus. I mixed up the salad, drizzled the asparagus with EVOO and salt and garlic pepper, and roasted it at 425 until it started to brown, while our gourmet frozens were cooking up. I also found this deliciously odd beer which I sipped while I waited for dinner.



This dinner really hit the spot. Every once in a while, we really like some frozen meal supplements. They are quick and easy, and always feel like a treat. We enjoyed our plates while we we cuddled up on the couch under blankets. Our house has been super drafty lately.

When it breaks 60 degrees in February in Oregon, you don’t question it, you just get your rear outside, so hubby and I decided that a hike with the pup sounded like the perfect Valentine’s Day activity. We headed out to the Tillamook Forest to the Wilson River Wagon Trail to get in a few morning miles (since I was being bad and skipping running group).







The trail was beautiful! We hiked four miles or so out and back, passing waterfalls, glades, and winding in and out of some gorgeous forestland. There wasn’t another soul on the trail. The only downside is that this trail, while being closed to motorized vehicles, is surrounded by ATV trails, so that noise started to get old after a while. Also the rural gun range shots started to get a little tiresome, but neither of these things put a damper on the beauty of our surroundings. Ramsay had a blast. He loves to be a wilderness hipster dog.

On our way home, we were hungry and it was lunch time. So we pulled over at Coleman’s Shady Rest, a roadside diner. I love all the roadside stops in the Tillamook Forest, on the way to the coast. I used to beg my parents for day trips to the beach so we could stop at my favorite diner for pancakes and hot chocolate on the way. Coleman’s wasn’t serving breakfast anymore, but they still had huevos rancheros on the lunch menu (I’m on a huevos kick lately). YUM. I think a more accurate description of this would have been “eggs and chili verde,” but I didn’t care because it was so darn good.

We spent the rest of the day relaxing.

For dinner, we stayed in, cooked up one of our favorite meals, chicken teriyaki, and watched Dateline, because my husband is the best and agreed to watch disturbing crime shows instead of a romantic movie or something. I also broke in my Moscow mule mugs.

Today, we worked on finishing touches with the paint in our room, took the dog for a walk, and enjoyed opening up the windows and airing out the house. I’m not ready for Monday!

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Anniversary Weekend


I can’t believe it’s already been three years since this day! This week, husband and I celebrated our anniversary with food/drinks/laughs. My life is truly so blessed, and things just keep getting better and better. I’ve never met someone who can make me laugh as much as this guy, nor someone who is so thoughtful. I could gush forever, but instead I’ll just talk about our great anniversary celebrations this year.

Our anniversary was on Thursday this year, so I took Thursday and Friday off from work. Thursday was also husband’s last day teaching summer school, so it was time for a double celebration. We headed to the east side of Portland to eat at Bamboo Sushi, a local place that bills itself as “the first certified, sustainable sushi restaurant in the world.” I’d been before, but Shayne hadn’t, and despite the fact that the restaurant is like an episode of Portlandia (you should see the sushi eating instructions in the menu, which is the size of a small novella) it totally lives up to the hype.

We barely used soy because the flavors were so good!

We barely used soy because the flavors were so good!

It was busy on Thursday night, but we were fortunate enough to snag a seat at the sushi bar, where we got to watch our sushi chef hard at work. Also, I learned that my knife skills are pitiful. We went wild and ordered “chef’s choice,” hoping that our bill wouldn’t be $300 by the end of the night. We sipped our cocktails (something with shiso and cucumber for me, something with Makers for Shayne) and waited to see what appeared in front of us.

We were NOT disappointed. I usually play it pretty safe at sushi, so it was nice to not know what was coming, plus the chef paced it really well so we could truly enjoy each plate. Here’s what we had:

-albacore carpaccio, with pickled shitakes and Japanese sea salt.

-a salmon nigiri flight, with two Northwest salmons, a trout in the middle, and ending with two New Zealand/Australian salmon. We ate this from highest to lowest fat content, so it started with a really melt in the mouth cut of fish, and finished with something that had a little more chew. All of them were incredible.

-poke press box, which had a great Asian barbecue taste.

-the Green Machine. This was our finale, and it was truly a work of delicious art. Albacore, wrapped with tempura asparagus and sliced avocado, topped with a cilantro sweet chili aioli. Oh. My. Word. I could eat this forever.

The Green Machine

The Green Machine

We also had a steam bun with pork belly, which was good, but far overshadowed by the delicious sushi. After we paid the tab (which I’m happy to report was NOT $300), we rolled down the street to Rum Club for delicious rum-based drinks.

The next day, we got up and drove to the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge for a beautiful hike to Blue Lake, where we hiked 6 miles instead of 3 (I’m counting it as the 6-mile training run/walk I was supposed to do this weekend) and got eaten alive by mosquitoes. Not even kidding. We are working on our zen mindset and trying not to scratch ourselves raw right now.

We stopped for a few minutes to actually admire the lake before the skeeters found us.

We stopped for a few minutes to actually admire the lake before the skeeters found us.

We celebrated with beer and pizza on a dog friendly patio in Stevenson after our hike.

We celebrated with beer and pizza on a dog friendly patio in Stevenson after our hike.

A delightful anniversary indeed. Love spending time celebrating love with my man.

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So, I have a confession to make: I haven’t been healthy, or particularly happy as of late. This blog was supposed to help me be accountable with my healthy, cross-fitting lifestyle, and I’ve totally let it slip away from me over the last 3/4 of a year. It started when I had to quit the box due to my “lack of funding.” I told myself I would go to LA Fitness, which I did, but irregularly, because let’s be honest, I HATE big-gym atmospheres. I should love it, because I can be anonymous, but I find them lonely, and there’s no one to hold me accountable for anything. I went to water aerobics for a while with my friends, which was fun (and a great workout) and put in some wogs (walk/jogs) at the park over my lunch break, but not with any consistency. We didn’t get a Portland to Coast team this year, so I didn’t have that to train for.

Then, we went to Montana. And I remembered how I love hiking. And hubby and I wondered to ourselves, “Why the hell aren’t we doing this more?”

We’ve spent all the time since we’ve gotten back trying to gather our motivation to get healthy again. We’ve created a bribe reward system for ourselves for losing poundage (I’m getting close to my pedicure and makeup shopping spree). We’ve been taking Ramsay on long walks and running like crazy with him in the backyard. We’ve been avoiding fried foods, my nemesis. We’ve been gently reminding each other that we probably don’t need that second (or third) helping. And, we cut out beer (save for the occasional pint at certain social gatherings and baseball games). And I think it’s starting to work. Hubby really wants me to sign back up for CrossFit (and I’m going to when I finally decide which box I want to go to). I’m nervous about going at it alone, because I have gym co-dependency issues, but I’m willing to try. Please cross your fingers that we get it together. Neither of us is obese, but neither of us is healthy at the moment either.

This was the hike that really inspired me in Montana (Glacier National Park, to be specific):

Highline Trail

The Highline Trail was 11 miles of pure amazing. Actually, the first 8 miles were amazing, and the last 3 were just hot. We followed the cliff you see behind me for a long, LONG time, but I surprisingly wasn’t terrified. The path was wide enough to feel OK, even when we were fording glacial waterfalls. We saw tons of marmots, and some bighorn sheep (from a distance). No moose. Seeing a moose is a DREAM of mine, and has been since my last trip to Glacier in 2002. Gives me an excuse to go again at least.

This hike, which we did with two of my cousins, my aunt, my dad, and my uncle, took us about 8 hours, including a lunch break at the Granite Park Chalet, and LOTS of stops for water. It was hot as Hades the entire time we were there. Apparently Montanans need AC for 10 days of the year, and we somehow managed to catch all of them.  Up to the chalet, it’s all picturesque alpine meadows and cliffsides. After the chalet, it’s a burnout from a forest fire, no shade, and a lot of donkey poo.

When we finally finished, we couldn’t WAIT to go wade in the glacial waters of Lake McDonald. So the “youngins” hopped the shuttle down the Going-to-the-Sun Road and told the adults we would meet them lakeside. We bought a six-pack of beer, headed to the rocky beach, and walked right into the 40 degree water for a lake beer. It was awesome. Plus we all slept like babies that night (though the beer shotgunning contest we had may have contributed as well).

After our trip, we really were ready to refocus. I want to refocus on less laziness, more productivity. I want to blog more, clean more, and do things other than watch Chopped marathons on Food Network. I want to be my best self at work, and at home, and that means being healthy, active, and happy. I’m back at it, blog world. Can’t wait to be Happy and Healthy in PDX once more.

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Montana Dreaming

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So Shayne and I just spent a wonderful week in Glacier National Park with my family (sidenote: I LOVE VACATION). We drove out on a Saturday, and came back the following Sunday. The days in between were jam-packed with hiking, soaking up the sun, thrifting, drinking, and laughter. The weather was incredible, and my cousins had really done their homework, so we went on some absolutely beautiful hikes. I 100% recommend that you visit Glacier sometime in the next 10 years before the glaciers disappear. And then I recommend that you hike the Highline Trail up to Granite Park Chalet, then down the Loop Trail (about 12 miles total). It was singlehandedly the most incredible hike I have ever done in my life.

You start out basically scaling a cliff (don’t worry, there’s a wire you can white-knuckle grip). You ford a bunch of cliffside waterfalls. You see marmots, everywhere, and beautiful wildflowers, and bighorn sheep. You have these amazing, amazing views the whole time, all  miles up to the historic chalet, which proved to be a beautiful spot to eat lunch. I have never seen such incredible views. Shayne and I did this with my two cousins, my dad, my uncle, and my outdoorsy aunt (the moms stayed home), and we all had a fantastic time, and were so proud of ourselves for finishing. The “kids” took the shuttle from the end of the trail down to the lake, bought a six-pack of Big Sky Summer Honey ale, and waded in glacial waters while waiting for our family to come pick us up. It was a fantastic day, and we all slept like babies afterwards.

This hike made me remember how much I love nature. I have a tendency to whine and complain when I start sweating (I know, I know, this makes me sound like a complete ass), but honestly, this trail was such a natural high that nothing could have gotten me down (though the second half of the hike was through a burned out forest and was a tad less picturesque).  The whole trip rekindled my love of the National Park system, places I’ve been visiting my entire life but probably started taking for granted in my cranky teenage years. I’ve vowed to get more hiking in locally while the weather remains decent, because there’s a bunch of hikes near the Portland metro area that I’ve been too lazy to get to. Plus it’s a damn good workout. My cousin was tracking our hikes with an iPhone app, and kept updating us with estimates of calorie burns. Shayne and I are both happy to be out in nature, so why haven’t we been doing it more often?

We spent the last night of our trip camping in the Apgar Campground near Lake McDonald, staring at the millions of stars through the roof of our tent. It wasn’t backcountry camping by any means, but it was amazing. I hope to do it again soon.

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