6-25 September 2014...On the Oregon Trail!

Well, sorta.  Not by conestoga wagon, but by plane to PDX.  We decided since son Jay was in school out there, we would take a few weeks to visit with him and travel around.  For a few days we were on our own in Portland.  To get a feel for the city, we stayed in a couple of different neighborhoods -- in Southeast at a guest house on Division St. and in Northwest in a Victorian house through AirBnB.  We walked up Mt. Tabor in the east and through Forest Park in the west.  We spent a day at the International Test Rose Garden (a must in the Rose City) and got our first views of Mt. Hood.  We ate a different kind of ethnic food for each meal, drank a lot of coffee, craft beer, and Oregon wine, and learned our way around town on buses and trains.  We loved our days here, but came to the conclusion that indeed, Portland is weird. 

We drove out the Columbia River Gorge, stopping at some of the parks.  Wow -- howling winds out at Vista House.  Who knew it could be so windy inland?  We learned that the Columbia River attracts windsurfers from all over the country because you can really get moving out there.  We met the crowds at Multnomah Falls, and it is easy to see why everyone goes there. 

Lets not forget the BIGGEST attraction in the Columbia River -- the Bonneville Dam fish ladder -- first reported on by John Johnson in the 4th grade.  Watched the salmon going through from a window underwater.  We learned how to tell the difference between farmed fish and wild fish, and were shocked that it is so much fun watching fish swim by.

Again, via AirBnB, we found a terrific place to stay out in the 'Fruit Loop' -- a little barn with a view of Mt. Hood.  We stopped at fruit stands and stocked up on pears, apples, and hazelnuts.  (More about hazelnuts later...)  Communing each night with the llama and horse out back of the little barn, we could definitely see why people from all over flock to Oregon to live.  What a beautiful place.

OK, so Mt. Hood.  We drove up to the Cloud Cap trailhead and hiked up from there.  Not to the peak, but high enough to see the top as well as Mt Adams, Mt St Helens, and Mt Rainier in the distance.  We didn't find out till later that the road up the mountain had just opened.  Big forest fires a couple of years back felled trees that were blocking the road.  Again there were fires to the west, and the smoke traveled miles.  You can see it streaking the sky in our photos.

On to Corvallis.  After picking up Jay at PDX drove south to Oregon State University.  Watched the race car being delivered from Europe and helped unpack the crate and get the car settled back in the shop.  Four races -- four wins.  Great job, Global Formula Racing!

Took Jay out to the coast.  First stop, Cape Perpetua -- beautiful rocky coast in central Oregon -- Thor's Well, Devil's Churn -- the power of the water is evident here.  Loved the hike.

Up to Newport for lunch and then on to Depoe Bay, where we stayed at an apartment right on the coast.  From the balcony overlooking the sea we saw whales!  Right there!  Next day took a boat ride to see them up close.  Easy to see -- harder to photograph.

We followed the coast north to Astoria, near the mouth of the Columbia River.  Historic port city, remaking itself as an arts center and of course a craft beer hub.  We walked up the Astoria Column for more views.  Stayed in a frilly B&B -- perfect for Jay!

Drove back through beautiful country to Corvallis.  While Jay was busy with school and car stuff, we explored, went to the farmers market in town, and visited the Tyee vineyard south of town.  Had to hit at least one Willamette Valley winery, right?  In addition to grapes, they grow hazelnuts here.  Lots of nut growers here.  Did you know that Oregon grows 99% of the US hazelnut crop?  And that it is the state nut?  Nuff said.  There is so much to love about Oregon, we were sorry to leave.  But Anhinga was waiting back in North Carolina.

July - November 2014...New Bern, NC

Once we finished congratulating ourselves on Anhinga's performance during the hurricane, we started making different plans for the rest of the 'summer'.  We knew we needed to find a safe place outside the hurricane box where we could leave the boat while traveling by air to Pittsburgh, Florida, and Oregon.  There is terrific access anywhere in the country from New Bern's airport, itself a short hop from Charlotte, NC.  So we looked for a dock nearby and were extremely happy with the Bridgepointe Marina.  Anhinga moved in, originally for 3 months, but ended staying into November!  This gave us plenty of time to get to know New Bern and the upper Neuse River, and to travel with the confidence that Anhinga would be safe. (Thanks to Jesse and Mark, the dockmasters, who watched after her for us!)

New Bern was settled early in the 18th century by Baron de Graffenried from Switzerland (hence New Bern).  Lots of interesting buildings in the old downtown from every period since then, including the Governors Mansion from the days when England ruled.  And there are still reminders of the civil war around.  In July when we first arrived the crape myrtle trees were in bloom; the town was gorgeous.  We had ample opportunity to walk in the 'Bear City' as the marina was just across the bridge.   

We took advantage of many opportunities to hear music in town, including the festival where 3 different bands played the same song on the same day (if you're gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle player in the band).  And we happened to still be in New Bern when the big Mumfest hit town.  

So, one may ask why we were still in North Carolina...  Well, long story short, lets just say that we are now qualified marine plumbers, having replaced our toilet with a sparkling new model.  John might say we stayed longer so that he could be close to the home of the Beer Army.  You know, Heroes Never Die.