Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Kayaking on the Willamette

Last month we decided to expand our kayaking destinations and decided to try the Willamette-where the Tualatin River flows into the Willamette. We needed to go upstream as downstream leads to Willamette Falls.  The falls are the largest waterfall in the NW United States by volume, not a good idea to go over it.

Our destination 

I read some reviews of other kayakers that made the trip and it sounded like we could do it. We were eager to explore the areas around the islands in the Willamette.

Our trip started out calm. I stuck to the banks of the Willamette. It is a big river, much bigger that I was used to kayaking.

The islands are up ahead and the water looks calmer between the islands and the banks of the Willamette.
The water was great and the area was beautiful.

However on the way back the wind picked up and it made the trip back longer. To reach our destination we were paddling upstream and it wasn't too bad. But this trip back-we were paddling against the wind so even tho we were going downstream, the going was long and the paddling was continuous. We need to remember to check the weather to see if it's going to be windy.
Anyway we made it back. There was calmer water where the Tualatin River flowed into the Willamette.

It's a trip that I would do again, after checking the weather. I hear that there are more places to explore going in this direction. I also read up on many people with our skill level that kayak downstream from the Willamette Falls-some of them paddle up to the Falls themselves. I don't think I'll be doing that any time soon but it would be fun the kayak the other side. Maybe a post for later.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Tea party and science day

I was looking to start an activity with my two grandkids that they would enjoy. Something that would be a special once a year happening. 

Last summer I started a science day with my grandson. He loves science. I go to the library, check out age appropriate science experiment books, he looks them over and chooses which experiments he wants to do. I get all the supplies together beforehand. We continued with science day this year, he still loves science. And this year one of the books was a magic science book, with experiments that would amaze the audience using science! Mr UAW, grandpa, was the audience and my grandson had a blast. With each experiment we stop and talk about why it works, what we are learning about the world around us. He loves this stuff. 

He made one egg sink and one egg float 
The jar put out the candle flame and in turn sucked up the water on the plate 
A balloon with pins in it!

He made a kaleidoscope 
Inside the kaleidoscope 
Who can resist cornstarch and water?
We made our own butter and buttermilk biscuits

Building with marshmallows and spaghetti 

This summer, my granddaughter was old enough to have a special day, something that she would appreciate. I remember having a special tea party with my daughters as they were growing up...so I chose a tea party. She loves to make things in the kitchen and loves to play with her dolls. And she loves my many flowers in the yard. Our goal was to make everything for our special tea (turned out to be juice), pick the flowers for it, use the special flowery tea cups, the special tea pot, dress up and to invite her dolls to join us. She helped me with all the preparations for the food

Our table all set and ready to have tea!
Tea with a special doll 

All dressed up 
Flowers that she chose from my yard 

Dolls and creatures from the fairy village have their own place setting 
And of course the special doll gets her own place setting 
Some of our foods, not a traditional tea but items that were of interest to her. 

Enjoying the "tea" and food 

These are activities that I think we can use for a few years. As the kids change their interests we can change up their special day. 

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Camping at Trillium Lake 2019

Mr UAW and I went camping at Trillium Lake last year. This year we invited all of our Oregon family to come with us. It is such a beautiful place and we wanted to share it. We had a few things we wanted to do here...go kayaking, fishing, celebrate a birthday, and hiking. We wanted a specific weekend in July to do this and we wanted 2 camp sites together next to the lake for 2 nights on a Friday/Saturday. Reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance. So I had to troll the www.reservation.gov web site 6+ months ahead of time to get what I wanted. We ended up at sites 41 and 43-very nice sites. We were able to launch our kayaks from these sites, the hiking trail was close by, and we could even fish from these sites.
Mt Hood
sunset over the lake 

The fishing was great. Last year we didn’t have much luck fishing from the shore so we enjoyed fishing from the kayaks. This year we did better fishing from the shore. Fishing from the shore made it more of a family excursion and we could all help the little ones out with their poles. I lost track of how many fish we kept and how many we threw back. We did catch enough for one big meal for 6 people for breakfast and enough to take home for a dinner feast for all of us. We had 5 people fishing so there was plenty of lines in the water. We spent time fishing very early in the morning or in the evening. During the day there were other things to do.

proud fisherman and dad 
caught another one

Spending so much time standing on the shore fishing gave us plenty of opportunity to observe the birds in the area. There were bald eagles and ospreys fishing the lake. The eagles scope out the lake from a high tree, spot a fish, fly out over the fish, circle back down low to the water, grab the fish and fly off. Osprey scope out the lake from circling high over the lake, spot a fish and dive from whatever height they are at, splash straight down into the water, and come up with a fish. Two different techniques and they both work. There is another way the eagles get fish, stealing it from the osprey right after they catch it. In this case the osprey drops the fish while in the air and the eagle swoops down under the osprey, catches the fish and flys off. It is interesting to watch all of this.

Bald Eagle 

Kayaking on the lake was nice. We had good weather and it didn’t get too windy. My grandson had just learned to kayak so he really enjoyed getting around the lake. I kayaked with my grandson to see the beaver house across the lake.  My daughter and granddaughter enjoyed it too. Mr UAW and my son-in-law tried fishing from the kayaks and they got a few bites but didn’t pull in any fish.

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Beaver house as seen on our hike 

Hiking was easy here. There is a trail that goes around the lake that all of us could easily do.

This was a great place to camp if you are okay with campground camping. All campers were courteous and the facilities had the best pit toilets I've ever seen in a campground. During the day the lake gets busy with the "day use" people that come to enjoy it...the area around the dam can get crowded but it's not crowded anywhere else. Also there are more watercraft-NON motorized- on the lake during the day with the "day use" people but there is plenty of room...and it doesn't affect the fishing because the fishing is only good early in the day or in the evening-times that the extra boats are not on the lake.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Cape Falcon Trail

Last week it was hot here in the Portland area, upper 90's. So we decided a trip to the beach was in order, we needed a hike and it was cooler there. We've been to Oswald West State Park and wanted to go there again and take the trail to Cape Falcon. We try to go on these adventures during the week, less traffic, less people on the trails and easier to find parking. Our timing was perfect for this trip, just before school let out for the majority of Portland. Our trip turned out great.

The beach at Oswald West is called Short Sand Beach and when the tide is all the way in, there's not much of a beach left to walk on. Today we hit it as the tide was on it's way out. By the time we got back from Cape Falcon it was low tide. It's not often that we randomly decided to go to the beach and have the tides work in out favor.

looking south on Short Sand Beach 
looking north-Cape Falcon at the far left 
The view south at Cape Falcon 

The 2.5 mile Cape Falcon Trail begins at the northwest parking lot along Highway 101. First head towards Short Sand Beach then follow the signs to the Kramer Memorial and there will be signs directing you to Cape Falcon. The trail is easy to travel, there are no technical rocks or logs or hills to climb. You do go up in elevation and there are tree roots that you need to step over. And I suppose in wetter conditions there would be mud to negotiate. But today there wasn't much mud, just around the creeks. I would wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots. I did see some people in flip flops and on their return trip to Short Sand Beach their feet had some minor lacerations so flip flops would not be a good choice. I'm told that on a clear day at Cape Falcon you can see north all the way to Tillamook Head and south to Cape Lookout. There are no signs saying you have arrived to an official place called Cape Falcon. It's just a saddle that sticks out into the ocean covered with salal, and has many trails cut through it with great views.
on the trail

Evidence we were there

Ferns and shamrocks everywhere 

The hike was nice and it was great to get back to the beach at low tide. We checked out the tide pools at the north end of the beach. There was a lot to see:  starfish, anemones, crabs, mussels, barnacles, snails, small fish, a few small caves.
Starfish at the tide pools 
Creek on the way back to the parking lot

It is a great place to visit if you are in the area and hopefully you'll find yourself on the beach at low tide! 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Wild flower hike with great views-late April

It's spring time here in the pacific northwest and on certain trails-wildflowers abound. I wanted to go on a hike that would take in some great views plus have wildflowers. A little research and Rowena Plateau Hike and the Tom McCall Point Trail were now on our list. These 2 trails have the same starting place. It was about 1:50 from home, up I-84 to I-30 in the Columbia River Gorge. We passed the Elk Creek burn area, went past Hood River and found our destination. We went on a weekday, easy for us retired people, and less crowds.

We did the Rowena Plateau Trail first. It was easy, on the bluffs overlooking the Columbia River, and was about a mile. My research told me that most of the wildflowers were in bloom. The hike did have poison oak on it, usually mixed in with the real oak trees that dotted the landscape. It was easy to go around the poison oak and still stay on the trail as it was just starting to leaf out. I think in a month or so it won't be so easy to avoid it. I've had plenty of experience with that plant in CA. My research also said that there would be ticks around but we didn't find any...even when we got back. Again I've had plenty of experience with those in CA too. Horseback riding around Folsom Lake in CA has many challenges, some of them annoying such as poison oak and ticks. Anyway, glad to have gone on this hike when we did, not crowded, no ticks and poison oak was easy to avoid. And there were many wildflowers to look at. Some people even had their wildflower identification books with them and this was definitely the place to use that kind of book. Some of the wildflowers.... 

There was a little town across the Columbia River named Lyle. It looked so peaceful.

Some more of the views...and evidence that we were there!

This is a picture that you will see on many of the trail/hike sites on the internet. I saw it on one of the sites and wondered if in real life I could find a picture just like I was seeing on the internet. It's true...it really does exist! It's easy to see from the roundabout in the parking lot. Speaking of parking-even tho we were there on a weekday and started out in the morning the parking lot was busy, not quite full. So if you're planning on going, the earlier in the day the better.

After we went on the Rowena Plateau Trail we went to the other end of the parking lot and started on the Tom McCall Point Trail. This trail was about 5 miles, considered to be a moderate trail. It starts out flat but climbs up about 1300 feet. Here is one of the flat spots with more evidence that we were there.

I didn't think any of the trail was dangerous, there was no fencing along the edges and it didn't seem precipitous. The trail was high and on the side of a hill but with a gentle slope downward.

The higher we went the views got better.

This picture shows the bridge from Hood River to the White Salmon in Washington.

And the views at the top were great! You could see the north side of Mt. Hood

And the south side of Mt Adams in Washington

It was a great day to hike. The temperature was just right. Either hike is good. If you want an easier day just do the Rowena Hike, but if you want more views the Tom McCall Hike is for you-and it's really not that hard. In either case pack your water, food, watch out for the poison oak, use the sun screen, and enjoy the day.