Tag Archives: trail

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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Saturday Morning on the Trail

My friend Angie and I took the pups on a six-miler on the Banks-Vernonia Trail last Saturday morning. The Banks-Vernonia is part of the “rails to trails” initiative – it’s an old railroad track that runs 21 miles between two country towns off the highway to the Oregon coast. The fact that it was an old logging rail track means that it’s pretty straight, and pretty flat, and we were a-ok with that.


We started at the first trailhead in Banks, and walked three miles in and turned around. Next time, I want to start farther in because you get to walk across old train trestles that have been converted to pedestrian bridges and for some reason I’ve ALWAYS wanted to walk across one.

We considered running a little, but my Ramsay has short little leggies and we could tell he was starting to get tired. So we were content to just walk and talk. For the most part, it was peaceful, though we had to hug the shoulder because apparently this is a super popular bike route as well. It would be fun to ride it all the way to the end – you can even rent bikes at the trailhead!

When we got our mileage in, we drove up the street to the Banks Trailhead Cafe for coffee and breakfast burritos.


Though the lone employee who also happened to be the owner was clearly overwhelmed with a rush of customers, the coffee was much needed and the breakfast burrito was GOOD, especially because we added fresh roasted potatoes that she finished off for us. We topped off brunch with oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Because yum.

I definitely recommend checking out the Banks-Vernonia Trail if you are local. It’s an easy walk/run/bike and you can go as far as you want! There’s a few little towns sprinkled along the trail, and a slightly bigger little town at the end of the 21 miles in which you can get food and beer and other delights.


Sunday morning, Shayne and I had an early breakfast at one of our favorite close-by places. His birthday was on Monday, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to wake up earlier and make him pancakes. Not on a Monday. So he had blue corn pancakes and I had a tasty omelette and caffeine was had by all. Then we made our once-every-two-years trip to the outlet mall for clothes. JAM-PACKED WEEKEND OF FUN! I’m hoping for a repeat this weekend…only two more days!

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