A Wonderful Way to Turn 90!

Last month Chris and I flew down to Paradise, California (near Chico) and met up with everyone from the Koski side of my family.  It was Gramma’s 90th birthday and I’m so happy that we got down there so that she and everyone else could meet Chris.  For those of you who are interested, here are a bunch of pictures that I’ve posted – check ’em out!

Gramma’s 90th Birthday

And I even got it on camera!

My little brother turned 36 on the 19th. I took him bowling and we even had an extra treat – galaxy style! The lanes were all lit up with black lights and flashing runner lights and cheesy music videos. Wowzers! Happy birthday, Paul – I’m glad I’m your sister and am happy that we got to spend a few hours together this weekend. Let’s do it again sometime!

Crater…Caldera…It’s all the same, right?

I’m afraid not, my friends. That being the case, I propose that “Crater” Lake be renamed “Caldera Lake”, which more accurately reflects its origins and current state. The lake, of course, was formed during a massive volcanic explosion, which caused Mt. Mazama to collapse and form the lake at the top. As you may recall from Geology 101, a crater is formed by an impact (think asteroid impacts that form craters on the moon)…which is not the case with “Crater” (psh!) Lake.

One of our first views of “Crater” Lake. Gorgeous, huh?

At any rate, I thought I’d share a few pictures that we took when Chris and I went on a little road trip a couple of weeks ago. We headed down south through Bend to Diamond Lake, which is just north of “Crater” Lake by about 20 minutes. We camped with some friends for a couple of nights there at the Forest Service campground. First of all, what a gorgeous place to camp! Second of all, we need a bigger tent. My backpacking tent is just not much fun for car-camping, especially when the people you’re camping with have trailers and palatial tents with separate rooms for their dogs, for Pete’s sake!

We found this sign at the Crooked River overlook. Dogs are so dumb.
Our campsite at Diamond Lake. Mosquitoes are dumb, too.
These are dragonfly nymph exuvium that I found on the shore of Diamond Lake. Dragonflies are definitely kewl. I am obviously a nerd.

Our second day in we spent the day at “Crater” Lake. While it is misnamed, it *is* beautiful. Wowzers! And there was still plenty of snow up there. We drove around the lake, stopped at the visitor’s center so that I could get my National Parks Passport stamped (heh heh), then took the hike down Cleetwood Cove trail to the lake shore. From there, we took a 2.5 hour boat tour around the lake where our guide talked about the geology, mythology, and biology of the lake. We even got to see several hundred kokanee swimming below us at one point! They aren’t native (along with the rainbow trout), but the lake hasn’t been stocked since the 1940’s. It’s America’s deepest and most pristine lake, so removing the fish would be very difficult and the Park Service has decided to just let them persist. The hike back up the trail was not all that fun, but the weather was warm and sunny so I’m not going to complain much here.

Me and Chris at “Crater” Lake. The scenery was nice, too.
Our friends James, Becky, Wicket, and Willow. Even at the end of July the road was closed because there was still a little bit of snow around!
At the bottom of Cleetwood Cove Trail; that’s our boat waiting to take us around the lake.
Our view of Wizard Island from the lake surface. The water was really calm and clear.

The next day we stopped at Lava Butte National Volcanic Monument (and got another passport stamp – cha-ching!) on our way back home. It’s just a few minutes south of Bend, and it pretty darn cool. We drove to the top of the butte and you can see its huge lava flow – almost 7000 years old and the pumice field looked as sharp and jagged as ever.

The forest ends abruptly at the lava flow’s edge; yes, that wall of dark brown rubble is all sharp pumice from the flow!
Chris, in front of Lava Butte.
The view from the top of Lava Butte. You can see the lava flow extending out (dark brown) and then the forest beyond. 7000 years later and the rocks have not eroded or been colonized by plants!

Chris had a great birthday weekend, and I decided we need to go camping more. With a new tent. And possibly a queen-sized air mattress. But first thing’s first: where to go next?

Happy birthday, my love! You are smokin’!

OMG, It’s been too long…

I can’t believe how long it had been since I’d been camping, or sleeping outside in some manner. I think I was with Cecily the last time that happened…remember that, girl? It seems so long ago! Consequently, I finally decided it was time to get back out there. Chris and I picked a special weekend (his birthday, which was July 26) and a picturesque place (recommended to me from my supervisor), packed up, and hit the road.

Our destination was the Upper Lewis River in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. We started out by driving up the Columbia River Gorge, where we had incredible views of Mt. Hood and the Columbia River.

The overlook at Cape Horn

Next, we turned north and followed the Wind River up through the national forest. We stopped at the Carson National Fish Hatchery for a quick peek (they were closed for maintenance) and then continued up further into the basin where we had a spectacular view of Mt. St. Helens. This year is the 30th anniversary of the eruption, so it was pretty dang cool seeing pictures of what it looked like before, during and after, and then the view during our trip.

Mt. St. Helens from Gifford Pinchot National Forest

We eventually picked up the Lewis River, which we followed in a general north-east direction. We stopped at Lower Falls, which was spectacular. There were signs all over the place educating people about threatened bull trout, which are in the Lewis River, and happen to be a fish I work with quite a lot in my job. It was really interesting seeing the habitat they live in – that water is cold. Brrrr!!! Anyway, the Lower Falls marks the historic end of the line for salmon returning up to spawning grounds since they couldn’t get up past the waterfall. Native Americans used to fish there when the salmon returned, but fish passage issues and depleted stocks have resulted in the absence of salmon returns there now.

View of Lower Falls on the Lewis River, Washington

We continued up the Lewis River, and after driving around for a while we finally found our targeted campground, at Twin Falls. Someone had removed the sign from the main road, so it was difficult to find. I was worried that we wouldn’t get a site (there were only 5 or so), and since the campground was free, I was sure that we’d be out of luck in the middle of camping season. But it was no problem – we got a fantastic site right on the river. Our site was down an embankment so we didn’t hear noise from any of the other campers, who appeared to be a small group of under-aged kids celebrating a birthday (Tankimus Prime, apparently) the best way they knew how – by sitting in lawn chairs in the river, drinking vast quantities of beer, and smoking lots of pot out of a hookah pipe. They were friendly though, and the river was so loud we didn’t really hear much from them.

Our campsite on the Lewis River at the Twin Falls campground.

We cooked up “better with cheddar” pork sausages, drank a bottle of wine (what were we thinking when we bought that ultra-sweet blackberry wine???), and then moved on to s’mores over the camp fire. We slept in my tent, but I don’t think either of us got very much sleep (get your minds out of the gutter people, the ground was really hard and the river was very loud!). The morning light was beautiful on the river, and we were packed up and out of there by 9:30 (the Tankimus Prime group was still passed out).

Mmmmm…pork sausage with cheese inside! Nice and crispy…

We skipped over to the White Salmon River (amazing views of Mt. Adams!), following it down through the town of White Salmon, then crossed the Columbia River to Hood River where we had lunch at Big Horse Brewery. Because it was Chris’ birthday, he had two beers and I let him eat most of my corn on the cob!

Lovely Mt. Adams
Cheers!

Our camping trip ended much too quickly, but next time I’m hoping that we’ll get to spend more than one night out in the woods. Chris has proven to be a very worthy camping partner…maybe next time we’ll try a short backpacking trip! In case you didn’t get enough, you can view more pictures by clicking here. I think that Chris had a good birthday weekend – I know I did!

The Big Three-Six!

Well, I know that turning 36 is a big deal for most people…it’s such a benchmark in one’s life…so when my friend Cecily from Denver wanted to come out for a visit over my birthday weekend I said “woo hoo! Let’s do it!”. And in fact, it was nice to see not just Cecily, but my friend Andrew from San Diego, and Chris (of course). It was an action-packed weekend, which I will attempt to briefly (or not so briefly, it’s all relative) fill you in on here.

Thursday morning (Feb. 25th, my birthday), Chris presented me with a very nice bottle of wine, two gorgeous hand-blown wine glasses, and a fabulous orange Jersey Shore towel (GTL, that’s what happens at the Jersey Shore, baby) (update: a week later he also gave me a purple/magenta dance top that I wanted – so thoughtful!). I had to go to work that day, which was also incredibly awesome (heh heh heh, rolling eyes now), but after work I met Chris at Melt on 21st right by my house for happy hour. Tasty tots and falafel sliders…yum! But that was just an appetizer really – we swung by the airport and picked up Cecily, whom I hadn’t seen since our adventure in the Chiricauhuas, Thanksgiving 2008 (check out pictures here). Of course, Cecily looked exactly the same as always. Chris researched a few dinner places and we ended up at Siam Society – tasty noodles and hand-ground curry all around. When we got back to my place Chris revealed that he had purchased an angel food cake from – wait for it – a bakery. No cheesy grocery store cake for me! It was soooo good – it had a very light buttercream frosting with raspberry glaze over it, and it even said Happy Birthday Marci on it! What a sweetheart Chris is…awww…

I decided to take Friday off so that Cecily and I could try to find trouble exploring the fine city of Portland. We hopped on the streetcar right outside my apartment, which we rode to Powell’s Books. I subsequently spent way too much money there, but then enjoyed some yummy pizza at Rocco’s for lunch. We then got back on the streetcar and rode it down to the aerial tram, which we rode all the way to the top of the hill – even though it was kind of rainy out, the view was still amazing. We rode the tram back down, got on the streetcar again, then looped around and did some shopping at Buffalo Exchange (start: the Great Fedora Quest). We eventually did the entire streetcar circuit, ending up back at my place mid-afternoon.

Chris picked us up and we drove back downtown where we met up with my friend Andrew, who I used to work with in San Diego. He was in town for a conference so it was good to see him; the four of us walked to Henry’s Tavern for dinner and a sampling of their amazing beer menu (over 100 taps!).

One of our prime objectives for Saturday was to find a fedora for Chris to wear that evening. We decided to hit a thrift store on Mississippi Avenue before my dance class, but alas – they were closed until noon. WTF??? Closed until noon on a Saturday? We waited at Fresh Pot in hopes of a surprise early opening, but that did not happen, so I outfitted Cecily in some bellydance garb and dragged her to my Beginning Neo-Tribal Bellydance 2 class. I think she may have been a bit nervous about it at first, but she has a strong dance background (ballet, tap, swing) so I knew she would have no problem…in fact, I envied her belly-roll skills! I just have belly rolls, no skills. But we had a good time there, nonetheless.

After class we met Chris on Hawthorne for some thrift store shopping. Cecily bought a dress for the evening, but even after scouring 3 stores, we couldn’t come up with a fedora. We did, however, eat a slllooooowwww lunch at Por Que No which was quite delish (albeit a little stressful since I had to scarf as soon as the food arrived so I wouldn’t get a parking ticket).

Cecily and I left Chris to come up with a fedora (and other outfit components) on his own, and later that afternoon, my brother Paul, Anne, and Adelaide came for a visit to my apartment. That kid sure is growing fast…and Abbey knows it (or as Adelaide calls her, “Dabby”). Clearly, the biggest draw for her in coming to my place is Dabby and the choo choo (aka the streetcar that runs down my street every 15 minutes).

The weekend highlight for me was definitely Saturday evening. I’ve alluded to us getting prepped for the night…and for good reason…I purchased tickets for me, Cecily, and Chris to go see The Royal Tease, a burlesque show at the Bossanova Ballroom on Burnside. We had reserved seating with dinner, so we decided to get all dressed up for the event. And as The Baroness says, “any occasion to dress is an occasion to over-dress”. Following that advice, I went over the top, wearing a flashy red cocktail dress, short black wig, and very high heels. Cecily looked smashing in her blue dress, and Chris rocked it with a fedora he purchased at a non-thrift store – it was a combination of leather and striped material – an excellent choice!

The performance was pretty fabulous, with lots of tassels, pasties, T, and of course, A. I think my favorite performers were Charlotte Treuse (amazing tattoos), and Inga Ingenue, who did a really cool toy doll routine and an incredible performance with two giant pink feather fans. The only bummer of the night was that we were supposed to get dessert with our dinner (red velvet cake and cinnamon gelato), but that part of the meal never showed up. And my vegetarian polenta was kinda barfy too, but Chris shared his pork loin and yams so it was all good.

The following day was the last of Cecily’s visit, as she had to hop on a plane first thing Monday morning to return to Denver. We enjoyed a nice(?) brunch at Joe’s Cellar diner (mmm…egg yolk!), the ambiance of which was moodily enhanced by a non-stop musical marathon exclusively featuring Queen and Led Zeppelin. Chris then drove us via the Columbia River Scenic Highway to Crown Point State Park where we stopped at the Vista House, then to Multnomah Falls. It was a gorgeous day so there were plenty of people there, but it gave us excellent photo opportunities. We ended up back at Chris’s house for dinner where he cooked up a delicious meal of home-made crab-cakes and put us up for the night (he lives closer to the airport than me). What a sweetheart!

I’m glad I have such good friends, and that they made my 36th birthday one to remember. If you want to see more pictures, click here. Thanks for hanging in there and reading this not-quite-so-brief blog entry!

Can You Believe Teddy Will Be 16 Tomorrow?

Who would have thought – sixteen years old! When I took this dog in, I thought he’d maybe have a couple of years left in him, but he keeps on ticking. He’s doing pretty well – still whiny, loves to eat. I put him on a diet and he lost about five pounds, which I estimate will add at least another year to his life. On second thought, maybe I’d better fatten him back up…oh, I’m sorry, was that mean? Teddy knows I love him, even though sometimes he’s a pain in the ass. Such a geriatric pup…but cute (this picture was taken last year, but it’s the most recent I have, and he looks pretty much the same, except for the full-body mohawk I’ve given him).

Also, a couple weekends ago, Mom, Nik and I went to the Escondido Renaissance Faire. Nik and I dressed up – go ahead and take a look at the pictures (there’s a slide show link at right). Yes, I know I’m a dork.