April 1st and it’s no joke- we went to Arizona on Spring Break! We flew into Phoenix (PHX) and drove up to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. On our way back to Phoenix we stayed in Sedona. The area was beautiful and we had many fun adventures!!! We hiked, biked, Star-gazed and witnessed some amazing sunsets over the desert views. The southwestern food was great, got jewelry made by a local Navajo artist and a print of the Milky Way over Sedona. Along the way we passed the time in the car listening to Joe Strummer’s SW influenced “The Walker” album, as well as the soundtrack to Young Guns II by Bon Jovi. “Going dowwwwwn in a blaze of glory, no I never drew first but I drew fist blood. I’m no one’s son, call me young gunnnnnn….”
After updating my 16 year old resume and taking some classes at the Vancouver Worksource, an amazing place to get some needed refreshers and assistance on writing resumes, interview skills, etc., I land three interviews after attending a job fair (all school districts should do this!!!). There is a great need in this part of the country for Special Education teachers and I accept a position in Battle Ground, WA at Captain Strong Primary. It is a 20 minute drive door to door, two exits North on Rt. 5, can it get any better? I will NOT miss my 45 minute minimum drive from Rockaway to Rutherford!! I will miss my middle school students as this is a Pre-K-4th grade elementary school and I will now be the Kindergarten-2nd grade Resource Room teacher!! What a shift- but, I like that I will be teaching kids with special needs at such a basic level and not as much content as I had been doing. I will be teaching them the basics, number sense, alpha-knowledge (letters and sounds) and phonics which can be fun! I have two weeks of new teacher training, then a week of start-up days, then off I go! Now to go through all these boxes I have inherited!
I found a cool place called Barrel Mountain Brewing Co. in Battle Ground, when is the first Happy Hour?? They have a patio and allow dogs, we will bring Roxie back on our next trip. It reminds us of Salt in Byram, NJ- a gastro-pub type place with their own beers and amazing food!
August: 28: We have spent some time driving around the county on the 70 mile scenic highway and decide to rent kayaks in Ridgefield, a little town 30 minutes Northwest of us. We kayak on Lake River, a tributary of the Columbia River near the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge. We are told to look for beavers, eagles and other wild life. Such a peaceful place, another beautiful sunny day at the end of the summer, wonder how much the house boats along the way cost?
August 16: We take Nancy to see The Grotto, the National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother in NE Portland. It is a Catholic sanctuary and garden run by the Monks of the Servite Order which opened in 1924 where a rock Grotto was carved out and which still holds outdoor services today. The Grotto is touted as a “place of solitude, peace and prayer”. The 62 acre Sanctuary has woods, gardens, multiple chapels, religious art and sculptures, shrines to Mary (the Sorrowful Mother) from all nations and cultures, a labyrinth and the Servite Monastery. It truly was a place of peace and solitude and we could not have asked for a more beautiful day to walk around and take in the sights.
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In case you want to visit, check out their website: https://thegrotto.org/ We wanted to go back for the Festival of Lights (not THAT Festival of Lights, silly!) but it was canceled due to icy weather this year. Oh well, next year!
On to lunch… We hit up some nearby food trucks for a must-do in Portland before Nancy goes home.
Sunday August 14: We start the day at the Vancouver Farmer’s Market, Nancy can’t get over the flowers. Wish we could get some for her to take home. Then we take a Trolley tour of Portland and learn some interesting history of the city. We end the day with dinner and drinks on the Columbia River at Beaches restaurant, where Nancy runs into the lady she sat next to on the plane! We are sent home with fresh caramel popcorn and amazing customer service!
Saturday August 13: We drive out to the coast. First to Cannon Beach, the town is lovely but the fog hasn’t burned off. We go out on the beach but can’t even see the Pacific Ocean. : ( We eat lunch at Bill’s Tavern, a place Ron and I haven’t been to in over a decade adn that Uncle Richie used to take us to! Glad it’s still here, now I can enjoy a Marionberry beer! Then we try to see Haystack Rock, well known to Goonies fans, but again the fog is too thick. So we head North to Astoria and visit with Chrissy’s Aunt Joanie!!!! So happy she’s back in Astoria and it’s great to meet her new hubby, John. We tour the town and then meet up for dinner at the Fort George Brewery and Public House.
Astoria is the Northern most city in Oregon. In 1811 Fort Astoria was built and a fur trading company was established the following year by John Jacob Astor, the town’s namesake.
We stop in to see Chrissy’s Aunt Joanie who just moved back to Astoria with her new husband! Uncle Richie and Joanie lived here for years and I have fond memories of visiting them and exploring Astoria. She gives us good tips of what to see around town and we plan to meet up for dinner. There is a regatta going on and she is going to the parade and to hear live music! We also popped into the Visitor’s Center and got the scoop on the Goonies House and school used in Kindergarten Cop.
We drive up to the Astoria Column, we could have hiked the rest of the Richard Fencsak Trail, but decide this is faster. The Column stands atop Coxcomb Hill, 600 feet above the town. It stands 125 ft tall and has 164 steps to the top. The Column was designed in the fashion of a Roman column with bas-relief pictures depicting the early explorers of the Pacific Coast.
This is a view of the Megler Bridge that we saw as we drove in to Astoria. This bridge is 4.4 miles long and takes you to Washington across the Columbia river. Where the bridge is lower in the water, sand bars can be seen during low tides! The bridge rises as it goes over another channel near the Washington Coast.
Ron, Nancy and I walk along the riverwalk. Astoria is home to a few microbrews, riverfront dining, shopping along Commercial Way and the Maritime Museum where Uncle Richie used to work. It is also home to his store, Bikes and Beyond, now run by his partners.
August 11-17: Nancy flew all the way out to WA to visit us!!! We are so happy to see a familiar face. We will take her from the mountains to the coast and all over Vancouver and Portland.
First day out: The Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls then Mt. Hood and lunch at Timberline Lodge. It’s going to be 90º here today, so it will be nice to be up in the mountains where it’s about 10 degrees cooler. As we drive along the Gorge we stop at a Lavender farm we see on the way.
Timberline Lodge was built in 1937, and President F.D. Roosevelt dedicated the building as a monument to the workers who crafted it as part of the WPA or Works Progress Administration. It’s known as the “People’s Lodge” because of the fine craftsmanship found throughout. Furniture, stained glass, art work, metal work, and wood carvings were all made by local artists and with native materials.
May 29: Hiking Cape Horn in Washington state along the Columbia River Gorge. We took Roxie for a day hike and views of the Gorge.
A little 54°40′ HISTORY from their website:
In 1844 the Oregon Territory spanned the modern states of Oregon, Idaho, and Washington, as well as the western coast of Canada up to the border of Russian Alaska. Both Great Britain and America claimed the territory.
President James K. Polk tapped into the public mood and the prevalent attitude of manifest destiny in the U.S. that called for expansion into Texas, California, and the entire Oregon territory. The northern boundary of Oregon was the latitude line of 54 degrees, 40 minutes. “Fifty-four forty or fight!” was the popular slogan that led Polk to victory against all odds.
Polk boldly declared to Great Britain that joint occupation would end within one year. The British were confident they could win, but by 1846 they were vastly outnumbered in Oregon by a margin of greater than six to one. In June of that year, Britain proposed splitting Oregon at the 49th parallel. Polk agreed to the compromise, and conflict was avoided.
April 26-May 1st: So it’s finally here, move in day and Chrissy’s B-day! Guess what Ron got me for my b-day, a new house!!! JK! ; ) So we found a house to rent in Salmon Creek/Vancouver, Washington. No, we did not move to British Columbia, but as the election looms closer, Canada does look pretty good! Salmon Creek is an “unincorporated” part of Vancouver. We are still learning exactly what that means and what services we get out here. We are 15 minutes north of downtown Portland and about 10 minutes north of downtown Vancouver, also known as, “The ‘Couv”. We still like Portland, but in this market, had to go a little further out to find what we needed and not sure we’re ready yet for “city-life”. The slogan for Portland is “Keep Portland Weird”, the slogan here is, “Keep Vancouver Normal”. The downtown offers restaurants, a large farmers market, breweries, an independent movie theater, record stores, etc. It’s like a smaller, cleaner Portland. : )
For my birthday we go to a little German place in Portland that we found on our last visit out here called Prost! I thoroughly enjoy my beer cheese soup, sample sausage plate and wash them down with a delicious Franziskaner Weissbeir. Prost indeed!
As they say, “only in Portland”…here’s a bike shop/bar/restaurant. Get your bike repaired while you sip a beer and chow down on a burger! It was across from a mini mall with a deli/bar, smoke shop, hairdresser, and downstairs, an antique mall! Kinda reminded me of the old Bergen Mall, it just needed a doll shop, chapel, and a baseball card store.
Our first meal in the new house, pizza! We are so crafty using the box as plates since we don’t have any of our boxes from NJ yet!
April 18-24 is Pizza Week here in Portland. Many pizzerias create a special $2.00 pizza they only offer this week by the slice. We know that $2 is not a crazy good deal by us for a slice, but when you read the descriptions of the toppings of some of these and realize what you will get, it is not bad! Plus, for only $3 at some places, they also serve it with a Widmer Hefe.
April 20th: Our first stop, De Nicola’s “The Best of Italy” slice. This was an old Italian restaurant, here for 38 years as you can tell in the decor. There was a small wedding reception in the other room and of course, maps of Italy place mats under the glass (reminded me of a pizza place in Rutherford). They wrote that the crust was “foldable with just the right amount of crunch“, but we found it a little tougher and more like a frozen crust (they do have to crank out quite a few of these each night for a week). But the toppings were good- a house made marinara sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, and basil pesto with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette.
April 22: Next stop: Sizzle Pie Northeast, “Everybody Wants Some” slice. Being that this is Portland, this pie is made with Vegetarian friendly cheese, but the picture in the paper and description made us interested. “Made with fantastically creamy vodka sauce, nestled between Sizzle Pie’s soft, floppy in the best way crust and a layer of stretchy Asiago cheese. Savory garlic wafts from the surface and adds a touch to match the bold roasted red peppers, while fresh strips of basil add a blast of Italian flavor to the slice.” This was our favorite, it was delicious, as close to a NY/NJ pie as we will probably get out here. Great crust, had to fold it to eat it and Ron loved the amount of garlic on it! It also had strips of onion and check out the picture- a bubble on the crust, nice! However, at $17-28 for their pies, not sure how often we will go back! But, you have to check out their menu, the names alone will crack you up! http://sizzlepie.com/MENUS
Not sure what an “Ol’ Dirty” is and maybe we don’t want to know, but we try the pizza.
April 24: SFNYP, or Straight from NY Pizza. The slice is called, “The Spanish Bomb.” This is a white slice with Romesco- a nuts and red pepper sauce and globs of caramelized onions. The spiral drizzle of the red sauce reminds us of the pizza at Grotto in Rehoboth. It’s good, but Sizzle Slice was better. After eating we head next door to a record shop. That’s right folks, they actually still do exist and Ron is determined to check them all out here, no matter how small. Inside they have a phone booth listening room.
April 23: Downtown Vancouver. There is craft beer outside of Portland, and if we are going to live here in Vancouver, we better check them out! First one is Heathen Brewing, at their Feral Public House. Ron orders cod tacos and I have the Caesar salad, we split their beer cheese soup- the best I’ve had since Old Forge Brewery in Danville, PA. It is made with their Arson Amber, cheddar, cream, and spices.