Monday, April 21, 2014

Weekend Hike - Rogers Camp and University Falls, Oregon

Rogers Camp Trail.

We traded in another opportunity to find Cedar Flats, for a much closer to home hike - Rogers Camp.

With half the driving time, we were just as sore afterwards as we were on the Jawbones Flat hike!

For five miles round trip, we enjoyed an overcast (but dry) Easter in the trees.

Don't let the distance fool you, with the hilly terrain and rocky path, this was a crazy workout!

Being a holiday which most spend with family, eating ham, the trails were completely empty of other hikers.

We passed one mountain biker, a family enjoying the cool water of University Falls (there's another hike directly from a parking lot to the falls - for those out-of-town visitors), and a parking lot full of four-wheelers and motorbikes!

University Falls.

Lush greenery and trees engulfed us as soon as we entered the trail-head. With the dog loose, we were free to enjoy the scenery, avoid the mud puddles, and talk about life!

If you don't mind the occasional revving of an ATV, then Rogers Camp Trail is a fun little hike for the Portland wanderer.

Yours in exploiting life!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Alone in Mt. Hood National Forest

In our quest to take advantage of every weekend, we chanced an April camping trip in Oregon.

Turns out, we're lucky we did. Last weekend was absolutely perfect!

Clear skies. Warm (and even hot in the afternoons). And quiet.

Yes, quiet. Where was everyone? They were definitely not in Mt. Hood National Forest.

Granted, we did pass by a few campers and wilderness explorers on our way in and out of the forest. But some how we found a spot where no one else was looking!

Down a dusty, worn, potholed road off of NF 46, we found harmony and solitude. Our only company being ourselves, our dog, and the occasional bird.

We relaxed.

Surrounded by green pines and sun all weekend, we read, we laughed, we napped, and we talked.

The afternoons brought Caesar salad wraps and chips.

The evenings, a camp fire from gathered sticks, hot dogs, and (of course) S'mores!

The solitude was great for the soul. We had escaped from our daily lives and our daily routines. Gone were the stresses of work. Here we could do absolutely nothing, but still feel refreshed and at peace.

The night sky was completely free of clouds - and bugs. We laid out an air mattress, staring at the ceaseless number of stars as they revealed themselves through the black abyss.

The moon glowing brightly, had us up out of bed and in the road marveling at the clarity by which we could see our surroundings. Our shadows danced as we basked in the world's wonder.

Though our sleeping bags and blankets fought off the creeping chill, at 2 a.m. (and cool 29 degrees) we made our way back to the car's engulf - for a cramped and uncomfortable night's sleep.

Morning brought the snaking sunlight back to the forest. Eventually giving us renewed energy to...make French pressed coffee! (Yes, we're those type of car campers. Though to be fair, we were testing out our backpacking gear - and I must say the JetBoil worked perfectly...)

On our way home, we stopped at a steaming natural hot spring. Just off the side of the road and (to our surprise) and unused! Alone, we waded into the river. The mix of mountain snow melting (beginning its long journey to the ocean) with the bursts of 200 degree sulfured hot water (bubbling up through the rocks under our feet) was an unforgettable sensation.

The rarity of nice April weather was not lost on us. This would eventually pass. Replaced with rain and clouds, as summer has not yet arrived. But even the fleeting opportunity to marinade ourselves in a sunny weekend, helped to satisfy our winter cravings.

The only question I have now is...what will next weekend bring?

Yours in exploiting life!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Weekend Hike - Cedar Flats, Oregon. Huh, maybe Jawbone Flats?!

We walked.

We walked some more.

We passed through a small town.

We continued walking.

We crossed a river.

We hiked.

We left markers where the path forked.

We stopped and ate lunch.

We looked around.

We did some quick math.

We turned around because we were definitely on the wrong path!

Where are we?

After a great 11.5 mile hike, we did not reach our Opal Creek Wilderness destination!

Jawbone Flats

Through a light rain and low lying clouds, we traversed part of the Jawbone Flats trail - though not entirely on purpose. This was a great easy/moderate trail (at least the parts that we hiked) and I would recommend this to anyone who wants a good break with Mother Nature!

You do need a Forest Pass but you can tent camp overnight in the area too.

Cedar Flats

Our original plan for the day was to end up in Cedar Flats, eat our packed lunch, and get back to Portland before dinner time. Still a decent hike for us - 10.5 miles round trip - we hoped the flat road/trail would help our minds overcome our bodies.

We followed the map to the trail-head, a good hour and 45 minute drive from Portland, but then (for some reason still unbeknownst to me) decided there wasn't a need to check the map for the trail!

The 'town' we passed through was a forest center, whose purpose is to maintain and education on the Opal Creek watershed. They have overnight stays and activities for the public - looked like a future trip to me!

We'll be back!

We had a blast, even being wet! It's amazing how few people are out in the rain. Hey, this is the Pacific Northwest, get outside!

We still want to see Cedar Flats, but thanks to a wrong turn, maybe next time...

Did you hit a trail this last weekend? Where at?

Yours in exploiting life!

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Best Two Restaurants in Portland, OR

I've been too spoiled by good food the past two weekends to enjoy anything for awhile...I hate it when that happens!!

On each of the past two weekends, my wife and I have visited a favorite (and I would consider the best) Portland restaurant - Ox and Biwa.

There is something to be said about those 'top restaurant' lists in magazines and blogs...sometimes they really are the best restaurants!

Both Ox and Biwa are usually ranked pretty high in Portland, with Ox being listed as one of the best 2013 restaurants in the U.S.!!

Both establishments also do not take reservations - they obviously don't have too - so waiting is a standard practice.


To beat out the crowds at Ox (on a Saturday night), we showed up at 4:30 p.m. (the restaurant opens at 5 p.m.)! Luckily there is a bar next door that is associated with the restaurant and you can grab an appetizer and drink while you wait...p.s. the oysters are amazing!!

[A little tip, the restaurant hostess will come outside to add you to the wait list if you arrive before 5 p.m. - how great is this?!]

Ox really is our number one restaurant in the city.  We were a little worried that going back our expectations wouldn't be met, but have no fear, it was better than the first time!!

Everything on the menu sounds, smells, and looks delicious!

I would recommend the Beef Empanada, the Roasted Sea Scallops, and the Cocoa-Braised Lamb Shoulder.


As our second favorite restaurant in Portland, Biwa has your Japanese hunger fix!

Melts in your mouth sashimi. Savory ramen. Crunchy seaweed salad.

Our favorite tradition is to go to Biwa and order the Omakase.  This is where the chef decides what to make and bring out - you are completely in their hands for the night. In another blip of fortune, Biwa's Omakase was listed as one of the Portland Diner's Month (sorry, ended in March!) items and we arrived with just three days to spare!!

Plates, upon plates of perfected dishes were brought out to us. At first you think that with such little subsistence you'll never get full, but after the fourth round of food, you start to wonder if you'll make it all the way through the meal.

Ruined on food!

I think this weekend I'd better not try to compete on the food front, my taste buds need to come back to the real world first.

What are your favorite restaurants?

Update 4/5/2014 - Okay, this only lasted one day. Last night we hit Radar (on N. Mississippi) - the Char was melt-in-your-mouth succulent. We followed the meal up with ice cream from Ruby Jewel. I'm satisfied for another weekend!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Darling, Let's Chase Adventure.

Darling, let's chase adventure.

My amazing wife made me this picture the other day!

I love it!

I love its message. I love the photo (our favorite mountain water hole). I love that this means she wants to chase adventure too. I love that I've found someone that shares my passions!

I hope everyone can find such an awesome partner in exploiting life!

Yours in exploiting life!