Summer Adventures Part I

Wildflowers and Mt. Hood

Hi everybody! It is certainly never my intention to let so much time pass between blog posts. However, the last several weeks have been very adventurous. Sunshine in the Pacific Northwest has been a stranger this season so any opportunity to find warmth is welcoming. And I sought the sunshine! I am splitting my recent adventures into several posts because I have too many pictures to share.

I mentioned in previous posts that fruit picking is the ultimate highlight of my summers. Spending the morning in a sunny, quiet, open field collecting berries is one of the best stress relievers. This year I managed to pick mountains of fresh local berries (with Tim’s help, of course). Aside from enjoying the fruit fresh and stuffing as much as I could into my freezer, I also canned nearly 30 half pints of treasures. My resource for delicious jams and preserves is The Joy of Jams, Jellies, & Other Sweet Preserves by Linda Ziedrich. Every recipe I have made so far has been a no-fail, simple, and fun afternoon project. I’ve had my copy checked out of the library for over a month! Look at all those jars:

Bounty of jams

Then, at the end of July, Tim and I visited my family in Pennsylvania. I hadn’t been home in nearly four years so the trip was well overdue. My older sister and her family, who live in Germany, were visiting too. My sister has two children, one I had never met. I am absolutely terrible with children but homemade cupcakes and trampolines can fix my aunty ineptness:

Cookies-n-Cream cupcakes

My nephew, Kai, jumping on a trampoline from my childhood

Sunset on Lake Erie

We lounged around in the sunshine, wandered the shores of Lake Erie, spent a day at the local amusement/water park, made lots of yummy vegan food, and then spontaneously decided to drive across the country back to Portland. We took a car my dad gifted to us since our 16+ year old car has been having some troubles that are too costly to fix. We visited friends in Madison, WI and Omaha, NE along the way. It was fun, but goodness, was it ever HOT! The temperatures exceeded my comfort limits and detoured our travels. Scenes from the road:

Road in Wisconsin

Puffy clouds enroute to Madison, WI

Wind turbine

Me and my friend Tait in front of Madison’s Capitol building

Somewhere on the way to Omaha, NE

Banana Pecan Pancakes from McFosters in Omaha, NE

Cloudy skies in Colorado

Little America, a rest stop in Wyoming

Sunset over Wyoming landscape

Wind turbines in Eastern, OR (almost home!)

The road trip was exhausting, exciting, and gorgeous. It was nice to visit with friends and drive through new places. We have a few more adventures planned in the upcoming weeks and a trip to Nova Scotia with Tim’s family fast approaching. Check back tomorrow for Part II of my Summer Adventures series!

Northward to Seattle

Last weekend Tim and I visited our good friends in Seattle. We were treated to plenty of Mighty O Donuts, gorgeous weather, dinner at an amazing vegan restaurant, mini golf, homemade pizza and pancakes, and boxing battles on Nintendo Wii. That is a lot of fun to pack into one weekend!! Here are some photos of our adventures:

Thanks, Kim and Dave!

Stay tuned for tomorrow because I am posting a recipe for a fantastic sammie. You don’t want to miss it – promise!

Road Tripping

Earlier this week Tim and I decided to take a road trip to Oregon’s state capital, Salem. Considering we have lived in Portland for nearly eight years, we figured it was about time to do some exploring in a city we usually zoom past on the highway. Salem isn’t too far from Portland, maybe 40-50 miles. But, we took a more exciting route: backroads. Nice, quiet, scenic backroads. Sure the journey takes longer, but the views and adventure are worth the extra mileage.

We started by taking a peek at Willamette Falls in Oregon City. The falls are the second largest in the US, just behind the mighty Niagara Falls. Honestly, I wasn’t too impressed and spent more time photographing an electric plant and ancient paper mill located in close proximity.

We continued on toward Salem with an atlas in hand to gently guide us along the backroads. We didn’t have a set route, it was more of a “Hey, let’s take Crooked Finger Road!” approach (that’s a real road name, by the way).

We passed plenty of fruit orchards which increased my excitement for summertime fruit picking at local farms (cannot wait!!!).

We passed wide open spaces and greenhouses.

And then we finally made it into Salem, parked our car on a tree-lined street, and walked to the capitol building with homemade lunches and cameras in our backpacks. We settled on a bench underneath cherry blossom trees and soaked up some (rare) sunshine.

The capitol building was on our left and a canopy-covered sidewalk was on our right.

After lunch we ventured inside the capitol building. I didn’t take any photos. I guess I’m not all that interested in government buildings!

When we went back outside we decided to wander around for a few hours until dinnertime. I had done some research online and located a vegan-friendly restaurant with an impressive menu. We were excited to try a new place. In the meantime we probably walked about 8 miles as we took in the sights.

Finally it was time for dinner! The place we chose is called Marco Polo Global Restaurant. We were two of the three diners there and it was incredibly quiet, but it was also very early for most people to be enjoying dinner. Our table was really big and the chairs were massive, but comfy nonetheless. We started with spring rolls:

Tim opted for General Tso’s Tofu:

I opted for a pistachio-crusted veggie fillet drizzled with a raspberry glaze. It was delicious. I think the fillets may have been Gardein, but since I have never purchased or tried Gardein, I can’t be certain.

We were both pretty satisfied with our meals, the service, and the cost (just under $30 for two people). They didn’t have any vegan desserts, but our server brought each of us a little cookie in a ziplock bag simply labeled “Vegan Cookie”.  I think they were oatmeal with dried cranberries – not too bad!

And that was the final highlight of our road trip! Oh, except for the wild coyote we spotted on the drive home:

I think he wanted to bite Tim :)