Portland with family

All previous visits I have taken to Portland have been in the winter time. Which translates to rain, cold and overall unpleasantness. Sure the trees are beautiful, and the fog rolling over the mountains is breathtaking, but when you are shivering and can't feel your toes, both are a little hard to appreciate. Hoping to make Portland our future home, Ty decided it was high time he and I took a trip to the Rose City in the summer, when temperatures are up and rainfall is nearly nonexistent. Enter our 2013 summer trip to Portland.

We jumped in the truck and decided to take our time getting out to Oregon. A stop at Shoshone Falls, a little car camping, and an in-and-out at the Pendleton Outlet the next morning (where I successfully talked myself out of a $350 coat, thank you very much) had us rolling into my in-laws house around noon the next day; beautiful. I like the two-day approach to the drive -- 12 hours is just a tad too long to conquer in one sitting, plus stopping along the way makes the drive an actual part of the adventure, you know? Also, did you know Evel Knievel tried to jump over the Snake River Gorge in Idaho? True story. And we drove right past it.

Fast forward to Portland; it was a balmy 88 degrees most days while we were there, and needing sunglasses rather than a raincoat and ear muffs while riding bikes all around the city with my sans-car brother and his family was right up my ally. In our 7 days, we visited fountains. We went to the beach (sidenote: all Oregon beaches allow dogs -- ALL of them. The coolest.) We hit up the boardwalk rides (also sidenote: the tilt-a-whirl is not for the faint of heart. One time is more than enough for me for one lifetime). We barbecued. We went on a boat cruise. We did some evening slacklining. We hiked to waterfalls. Portland is quite the festive place in the summer time, let me tell you. It was so festive, in fact, I'm thinking that as long as I have myself a good pair of wellies and a nice raincoat for winter, I could probably call Portland my home someday.

While we were planning all the outdoor festivities for our trip, Lower Oneonta Falls was a hike that kept coming up. "You can't miss this hike," the blogs insisted. And so, we made sure we didn't. We managed to squeeze it in the afternoon before we jetted off to Maui, and we loved it. The part where Hank fell to the bottom of the log jam was kinda scary -- more on that below -- but as a whole we loved it. In short, the lower falls hike is about 1.5 miles total and has you walking through a stream in a lush slot canyon that is just teaming with moss and plants and trees high above you. When you get to the back of the canyon, you are greeted by a lovely little waterfall about 100 feet high. It's beautiful. And totally worth an hour of your time. When we were researching the hike, I didn't find a ton of personal accounts, so I wanted to give a few thoughts in case some would-be hikers happen upon this post. Here is a quick rundown of specifics if ever you wanted to give it a go:

1. The log jam at the beginning of the hike is nothing too overwhelming if you are agile. But if you are a crazy puppy that moves at lightning speed throwing all caution to the wind, or if you have a bum knee, it is slightly more treacherous. Everyone (Ty, hank and I) got over on the way there without incident, but on the way back Hank took a spill that left him panicked at the bottom of a 10-foot-deep, log-strewn hole. I climbed down to him along a rotting log (read: precarious) and it took some forceful shoving to get him to climb up a collection of slanted smaller logs to safety. Everyone came out with no more injury that some rattled nerves (thank the heavens), but it was touchy there for a while. If you decide to bring a dog with you, the log jam may not be a cake walk. If you can carry them and safely get through yourself, do that. If they are a pretty sure footed pup with a bit of gumption, they should also be fine. But be careful with nervous or flippant pooches -- climbing into and out of that hole was no fun.

2. Wading through the water in the gorge is super fun, but not for weenies. That water is COLD. Even in mid August. Mostly you are wading about ankle to knee deep (nbd), but one part in particular had me up to my chest in water for about 20 feet. So. Just be prepared for that frigid little jaunt. I saw some people trying to scramble along the side of the canyon to get around the water, but it looked much more difficult and dangerous than it was worth.

3. Appropriate attire includes a swimsuit and some water-friendly shoes that have good grip. I wore chacos. A pair of Nikes you don't care about getting wet would do fine too. Good gripping is the key here, so just steer clear of slick bottom sandals or shoes, okay? You promise? Okay then. Don't want anybody getting hurt. I also wore a pair of board shorts and a shirt, but the shirt ended up being superfluous, so no need for one of those. And don't bring a napsack -- wading through the water with it will be a pain, and you don't really need to bring anything with you. Besides maybe a camera. Grab a dry sack if yours isn't waterproof to keep it extra safe.

Happy hiking.


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