The Great Northwest, Pt. 1

Kristen has been planning another trip to Oregon ever since we went last year. She was disappointed she didn't get to tag along with me in the spring, but when I had another press check scheduled this fall, she wasn't about to let another opportunity pass by.

Upon arrival in Portland, we visited “The Grotto” aka The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, a large botanical garden and Catholic shrine.

After lunch we drove up to Mt. St. Helens. Our first stop was the Ape Caves, the longest lava tube in the country.

We did bring one head lamp with us, but it wasn't really sufficient to light the complete blackness of the caves. And unfortunately the visitor center had just closed for the season, so we couldn't rent any additional lights. Thus we didn't make it too far in before turning back.

Next we checked out the Trail of Two Forests, a 1/4 mile loop of hardened lava formations and hollow trunk-shaped holes in the ground.

We attempted to keep driving up to a scenic lookout to actually see Mt. St. Helens, but the snow was really starting to accumulate on the road so we decided to turn around (best not to run our rental car off the road). It was foggy and rainy enough that I'm not sure we could have gotten a clear look at the mountain anyway. Maybe next time.

As we drove back towards Portland I spotted a collection gnarled tree trunks on the edge of a lake.

We had to stop because, well, I have an unnatural affection for such things.

Breakfast the next morning was provided by the Waffle Window. While we were waiting for our food, I photographed the nearby Bagdad Theatre. It seems great old theaters like this are on practically every corner in Portland.

I instructed Kristen to act casual for this cafe shot. If you look closely, you can see her mentally rolling her eyes.

Kristen's waffle was topped with banana, caramel sauce, whipped cream, and granola. Mine featured bacon, bree, basil, and peach jam. Delicious.

To be continued...


The Little Beasts Visit the Beastro

Now that the weather has cooled to the point where I actually enjoy venturing outside, I decided it was high time to get a new zoo membership. So today, I loaded up Eddie and a hysterical Violet and we went to the zoo. This is our first time going since the new Rocky Shores exhibit opened. This is also the first time I have taken Violet when she was at all aware of what was going on. She was not really happy to be there until we saw the first monkeys. She probably could've sat watching those monkeys perching on a branch all day. But Eddie is not one to linger, especially when there is a polar bear to see.

Violet was not happy about being placed in a large nest for a photo-op, but she managed a small smile. We would not be so lucky later on, as you can see below. Eddie really liked seeing the seals and sea lions. The exhibit is great because you can see the animals from above and also down below the water line. Violet laughed at the sea lion briefly as it laid on the deck making weird noises. Then she just wanted to go right back to pushing the stroller.

Next we went to see the polar bear and got a really good view. As we were inside watching the seals swim, the polar bear decided to take a swim, so we were among the few people inside next to the window as he swam around in circles right in front of us. Eddie really liked seeing the polar bear.

Unfortunately there was an unexplained "issue" with the giraffes so we didn't get to see them. Instead, we walked over and went on the carousel. You can see that Violet's mood had not greatly improved, though she did smile a bit as we went around. Violet enjoyed seeing the grizzly bears. We happened to find a secluded viewing area and shortly after we got there and Violet pressed her face on the window, all three grizzlies came to hang out with us. Perhaps they thought she looked like a snack. 

But I think her favorite part was the small animal building. She yelled at the tiny monkey to "STOP IT!" when he looked at her and she was afraid of the dark enclosure full of flying bats. I can't say that was my favorite either. Then she ignored the rest of the animals and tried to perform complex aerial gymnastics on the railing. She was not happy when I pulled her off every time she managed to get into this position. I just really didn't want her cracking her skull on the concrete floor. I am such a stick in the mud.