Ralph and Jan come to visit

After nearly 5 months on the road we finally had our first visitors! My parents swung by Denver for a long weekend and we walked, ate, and drank our way through the city. Since Matt and I had only been in Colorado for three weeks at that point, we were doing a lot of exploring of our own.

We started the weekend off with a visit to The Health Center for some lollipops before heading to the Five Points Jazz Festival. The festival was held in the Five Points neighborhood, which was a prominent performance location for many Jazz greats including Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and Nat King Cole. The music was great, but Jan’s favorite part was probably the dancing woman in a crop top. We downed some bratwurst and pulled pork, washed it down with beer and a hurricane, and called it a morning. That officially checked off everything Ralph wanted to do during his time here and it was only 11am!

The weather was amazing (it is Colorado, after all), so after a brief nap poolside, we walked miles around the city. Our first stop was at Great Divide for a couple of flights and a brewery tour. The winners were the Titan IPA, Old Ruffian (a barleywine), and the Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti (an imperial stout). The brewery was impressively large; their tank farm is outdoors and you can see if driving or walking by. We walked by Coors Field on our way to dinner, but unfortunately there wasn’t a game that weekend ūüė¶ Dinner was at Park and Co. where the burgers were nice, but the Brussels sprouts were lacking.

IMG_5701.jpg

We ventured up to Boulder on Sunday for some hiking and general exploring. Boulder is a quick 40 minute (30 mile) drive from Denver, and very worth the trip. We headed to Settler’s Park to hike the Red Rocks trail; a 2 mile loop that meanders up to some red rocks which are perfect for scrambling and offer some spectacular views. The trail starts out through a valley before climbing up to the rocks. Matt, Jan, and I did some scrambling while Ralph and Snickers hung back and served as our photography crew.

IMG_5713

IMG_5718

WP_20160522_13_29_13_Pro

The 2 mile loop was a great intro, but Mount Salinas had us wanting more. Luckily everyone was game, so we began the climb.¬†Despite what Ralph and Jan say, we weren’t actually trying to kill them with the hike…altitude just really takes a toll. This trail was very busy and we passed (or rather were passed) by many people going up and down. The views from the top were well worth the climb, and I think that Ralph may have found his new favorite spot. After the hike, we stopped for some lunch and beers at Twisted Pine Brewery (I hear they have a Ghost Face Killah beer made with ghost chiles that will melt your face off) before wandering around Pearl Street.

WP_20160522_14_01_14_Pro

IMG_5726

IMG_5731

IMG_5734

The rest of the trip was much more low-key since Matt and I both had to work, but we still managed to squeeze in some fun. Jan and Ralph hit up the zoo, which we’ll have to add to our list of things to do before we leave. We walked to Cheesman Park – one of our favorite places to walk/run, ate tacos at Dos Santos, and gorged ourselves on desserts at D Bar. Seriously, if you like sweets, you should definitely try this place out. We split the prix fixe and the chocolate cake got 8 thumbs up. We couldn’t end the trip without some beer, so we walked down to Colfax and got some suds at Lost Highway Brewing. They’ve got some really neat 32 oz. “crowlers” (cans) that they’ll fill up for you to go. The bartender also made us a chocolate banana brew that was a mix of the Longest, Wickedest Wit and Fourth Estate (a Belgian chocolate stout). The Fourth Estate was like drinking chocolate, but all the beers we had were equally tasty.

Before we sent them off, we sent Ralph and Jan to Voodoo Donuts. Since they didn’t make it out to visit us – and the original shop – in Portland this was the next best thing. We didn’t get anything crazy, but the apple fritter, glazed, and custard filled hit the spot.

IMG_5745.jpg

 

 

Thanks again for visiting us, parents! We really enjoyed having you in town.

 

 

Loveland Basin May Skiing

Nothing better than the skiing/snowboarding in Colorado, right??  We did this on our first weekend in Denver.  Even though it was the end of the ski season for Loveland Basin, there was still so much snow to be had with over 90% of the runs open.  Check out my Garmin tracks below and enjoy the pics.

https://connect.garmin.com/activity/embed/1159688069

The weather was a sunny low- to mid- 40’s at the beginning of the day, but 2 hours in to the fun the¬†lightning¬†and¬†thunder started and slowly one-by-one the higher ski lifts began to close, so we made a frantic run to the highest ones while we could. ¬†When the front finally¬†washed over us the bottom dropped out- the temps dropped about 10 degrees and a hard, driven hail pelted us as we were going up the ski lift. ¬†It was bad enough to drive us into the mountain top chalet with about 2 dozen other folks. ¬†We proceeded with a few more runs¬†about 15 minutes later when the worst was over.

We scarfed down some extra-loaded chili dogs back at the base.  It was such a fun, cheap ski trip!

The end of Portland

We’ve officially closed the chapter of our Portland adventure. While we could go on and on about the things we did there, this will be our last post (for now) about the Pacific Northwest.


Portland Report Card

Food A
Beer A+
Walkability A
Cost B-
Weather C+
Parks B
Activities A
Overall A-

Portland was an unplanned stop on our journey, but we couldn’t be more happy with the decision to spend the first part of our year there. We went in with low expectations for the weather, but were pleasantly surprised with how mild it was. Sure, it rained a lot, but with the exception of one 3-week span at the end of February, it was a light, misty rain that cleared up to sunny skies in the afternoons. The weather got really beautiful at the end of March and through April with lots of sunshine, warmth, and blooming flowers all across the city. They don’t call it the City of Roses for nothing. The food scene was great and we could give recommendations out the wazoo for places to eat (Por Que No, Apizza Scholls, Pok Pok, A. Thai Basil to name a few). If you haven’t checked out Matt’s post about beer, head over and take a look. Portland has no shortage of craft beer and we imbibed accordingly. There is so much to do in and around the city, and we took full advantage of the hiking and the ocean that were a mere hour’s drive away.¬†We were really starting to get into a groove and love it after three months that it was really hard to say goodbye.

Would we go back? Absolutely! Would we live there? Definitely maybe.

Until next time, Portland. We love you.

IMG_4971

IMG_4961

IMG_4699
Lardo
IMG_4760
Bridges!
IMG_5142
Old Town
IMG_5241
Mt Hood
IMG_5244
Hiking part of the PCT
IMG_5336
Mt. Tabor
IMG_5337
Cherry blossoms at Mt. Tabor
IMG_5374
Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival

IMG_5386

IMG_5390

IMG_5393

IMG_5396

IMG_5406

IMG_5411
Washington Park
IMG_5444
Timbers game

IMG_5495

IMG_5543

Beer in Portland

Long overdue! ¬†But now that we’re done with Portland, we can try to put a pin in them. ¬†We went to so many more beer-oriented places and events than the pictures describe, but I list a few of them here.¬† I can’t even begin to list all the Portland beers we had in bottles and taps in restaurants and food stands around the area.¬† In no particular order, breweries we visited!

Breweries

Zwickelmania РAnnual one-day beer event throughout Oregon, breweries open door for tasting and tours.  Occurs in February in 120+ breweries across Oregon (probably 80+ in Portland).  We visited near a dozen breweries this day, were able to get several tastings from each one, free shuttle service, but we used public transit.

WP_20160213_15_01_22_Pro

Base Camp Brewing РGreat outdoor area, dog-friendly patio/tent, and permanent, delicious food trucks.  Great location near other breweries, too.

WP_20160205_16_34_51_Pro

Rogue РA force in Portland, sponsors a lot of beer- and social- related programs including nano-brewers and has plenty of good brews.  We would hang out at Rogue Hall on the PSU campus.

WP_20160213_13_11_45_Pro

Green Dragon – “‚Ķdedicated to the education & appreciation of craft beer.”¬† ok, I’m sold.¬† This one has so many rotating taps from local and regional breweries, as well as taps from the nano-brewers.¬† Food available and dogs welcome!

Cascade Brewing Рan all sour brewery?  Be still my heart!  Some tasty barrel-aged brews.

WP_20160213_14_05_52_Pro

Baerlic Brewing Co Рa new (opened just a couple days before we went) brewery.  Beth attended a yoga session in the brew room.

WP_20160213_15_01_36_Pro

Ground Breaker Brewing – a gluten-free facility!¬† They make their brews from lentils, hazelnuts, etc.¬† These are not your grandma’s gluten-free ciders, they include many hop-a-licious offerings including IPAs and Saisons.¬† They offer a full gluten-free kitchen at the same facility.

WP_20160213_15_38_02_Pro

Culmination Brewing– located conveniently near a VooDoo Donuts, has some fine taps and nice-looking kitchen menu.

Full Sail Brewing РWe made the 1-hour drive to Hood River, OR for a March brewmaster dinner- a nice event pairing a 4-course dinner with their beer.  There are other breweries in the area that are worth a visit, too!

WP_20160310_20_58_48_Pro

StormBreaker Brewing – offers a wonderful selection of beers and a great dog-friendly patio and fire pit.

WP_20160312_17_21_18_Pro

Ecliptic Brewing Рhas a great beer selection and a hell of a fine kitchen.  It is also located with a nice view of downtown Portland on the patio.

WP_20160312_18_18_43_Pro

Ex Novo Brewing – Wonderful neighborhood setting, dog friendly, serves good food and is dog-friendly outside.

WP_20160410_17_07_07_Pro

Bottle shops and other

Belmont Station – great local and regional tap list and so many bottles to purchase

Imperial Bottle Shop – Another extensive list of taps and great bottle selection, arranged by brewery

Ground Kontrol – Put on your neon pink ankle warmers and grab your quarters! ¬†You are going to love playing classic arcade games and pinball machines. ¬†And… Oh yeah, DRINK BEER!

WP_20160304_18_47_45_Pro

Extra-Portland

Cannon Beach Hardware and Public House – while not a brewery, this hardware store/pub and restaurant had a nice theme “screw and brew”.¬† Great stop if you’re hiking the Pacific Coast 100 miles West of Portland.

WP_20160227_15_35_33_Pro

Rooftop Brew Co РSeattle, WA??  Well, we visited during a weekend trip.  Great beer and order-out for pizza!  Dog-friendly patio.

WP_20160319_21_07_55_Pro

Q1 Work-Life Update

We’ve successfully maneuvered the first quarter of 2016! [edit: I guess it’s ¬†technically the first 1/3 at this point]¬†High fives, all around! I’m¬†here to give an update of all things in the work-life spectrum and answer all your burning questions: how is the travel going? how is working at home? is Snickers still maintaining her 20-hours-a-day sleep schedule? So, without further adieu….

Matt’s jet-setting lifestyle is probably more interesting, but until he decides to give an update, you’ll have to settle for mine.

Work

In short, the first three months haven’t been much different work-wise than while we were in Louisville. While I’ve had to post-up at some not-so-ideal locations (I’m looking at you, half table in a tiny Santa Cruz apartment), my boss and job are flexible enough that the transition has been mostly seamless. January was a little all over the place since we weren’t stationary and I also hadn’t yet told my boss that I was no longer in Louisville. Couple that with sometimes spotty internet and it was a little stressful, to say the least. Thankfully it was temporary and with February came Portland and insanely fast and reliable internet all provided by Matt’s company! Score!

Right now I’m still working EST to keep in line with my meeting schedule. Since I told my boss we moved, she gave me¬†the option of working Pacific time, but ending at 2pm every day just happens to be a nice perk :). I have an office set up in the bedroom, so I pretty much roll out of bed at 6am and log in before walking the pup and brewing some coffee or tea. It’s not the most ideal set up; the desk isn’t ergonomic and the room gets zero natural sunlight, but it works for now.

Life

The biggest adjustment has probably been to apartment living, which hasn’t been easy coming from living in single family¬†houses for the last 5+ years. While the units themselves are pretty quiet thanks to concrete walls and floors, we still experience a lot of outside noise.¬†The biggest offender is the trash compactor, which is right below our unit and tends to run between 4-5am daily; we didn’t really think a lot about the logistics of a second floor apartment when we moved in. Live and learn. Also, since we don’t have a yard we’re having to walk Snickers a lot more. It’s actually not too bad since we were already walking her 3+ times a day, but sometimes it’s raining and the last thing you want to do at 6am is take the dog out for a poop.

IMG_5334
Cherry blossoms at Mt. Tabor

Otherwise, life in Portland is going great. Snickers and I have settled into a routine during the week which goes something like: walk, work, eat, work, walk, eat, work, walk, work out, eat, walk, sleep. Sure, we miss Matt while he’s gone, but we’ve found plenty of activities to keep ourselves entertained. I’ve found a great little yoga studio – Yoga on Yamhill – that offers some intense¬†power vinyasa¬†classes, is all donation-based so it’s accessible to everyone, and is only about 1/2 mile from our building! I also stumbled upon a bodybuilding gym (Loprinzi’s) that I’ve been going to a couple times a week. The gym hasn’t been updated….ever, so the equipment (and, boy, is there a lot of unnecessary equipment) is straight out of the 50s. We’ve also enjoyed weekly visits to Mt. Tabor¬†– a park in the city built on a volcanic cinder cone and has lots of hiking trails and a large off-leash dog area, and runs/hikes around Forest Park. The food and beer scene is great! We’ve been trying to hit up all the places and drink ALL THE BEER but we find ourselves¬†going back to Base Camp Brewing¬†for their beer and awesome patio (and, yes, that is a toasted marshmallow on my s’mores stout in the picture below) and Por Que No for the stellar margaritas and tacos.

IMG_5317
Mt. Tabor
IMG_5283
Happy hour tacos and margarita at Por Que No
WP_20160205_16_34_51_Pro
Base Camp Brewing in Portland, OR

I could go on and on about the food and beer, but that’s a post for another day.