Before we left Portland, we were treated to a luncheon cruise on the Portland Spirit. Unfortunately, we parked in the wrong area and ended up walking over a mile to the launch area. This was not good for abuelo, so finally a pedal powered transport was located and abuelo loaded on for a ride the rest of the way to the boat. The crew was most cheerful and accommodating. They procured a wheelchair to board the abuelo and seated us with easy access to the restrooms.
I am very much a landlubber, though I am open minded about the water. I was wondering if I could tolerate even a short cruise without getting sick. As I sat at our table, pre launch, I began to feel queasy. I turned my head from the window and decided to take some pics of our party. The moving around helped. It helped settle my stomach when my peppermint tea arrived. I think I was a bit hungry and tired from the long, hot walk from the car.
The menu offered 4 choices: vegetarian yellow thai curry, parmesan crusted chicken breast, fresh pacific cod fillet and beef bourguignon. I was not in a vegetarian mood, so I chose the beef, as it included mashed potatoes and my stomach was just not in the mood for the rice pilaf, included with the other choices. Appetizers and alcoholic drinks were also available for an extra fee. The food was excellent and I felt much better afterward. A grand piano was situated in the center of the room and we were entertained with music and singing by the cruise director (who was also our server). She even sang a special Father’s Day request for the dads in our party.
As we proceeded down the Willamette River, we decided to explore the ship. The second level contained a lounge and minimal outdoor seating at the bow. The top tier had quite a bit of seating, as well as the bridge. The captain was quite pleased to let the boy take the helm and even teased that he would be going to lunch, since the boat was in capable hands. Thank God he was teasing! The boy enjoyed learning about the computerized sonar and steering the boat. We all jumped about 2 feet when the captain told him to “push that button”, which caused a loud blast of the ship’s horn. I don’t think anyone dropped their phone/cameras in the water.
We spent some time enjoying the view up top, and relaxing in the deck chairs. Then it was already nearly time to disembark. We proceeded back down to our table, collected the abuelo and awaited docking. Satisfied that I could endure a short cruise, I determined that we must try a longer one very soon.
This is a great place for the kids to burn off some energy. There are a number of sections of trampolines. One is specifically for the little ones. Older kids and adults can use all the other ones. One area is for dodgeball, one has basketball hoops, one has ramps. Make sure you bring at least a couple of bottles of water and I’m pretty sure your kids are going to need a bath afterwards. There were a lot of sweaty bodies coming off those trampolines.
This was a couple hours outside Portland, but definitely worth the drive. Dogs are technically not allowed on the trail, though there were several on leashes near the bottom. This hike is intermediate. There are some steep spots, but they level out and there are several nice meadows where hikers can take a break, have a picnic or just rest a bit and head back down. That’s what I did after about 2 miles. The other members of our party toughed it out to the summit.
Even in late May, as the wildflowers are coming to the end of their season, there are plenty of blooms to be seen, their intoxicating aroma still filling the air. Spectacular views are around every bend in the trail. Boats on the lake below look like toys. Old farm buildings dot the meadows. Distant peaks rise to shelter the valley from the surrounding metropolis.
A chipmunk takes advantage of his camouflage in some nearby scrub brush, to nibble on a snack.
I was satisfied with my decision to rest at the halfway mark, especially when my companions returned from the summit, flushed and fatigued. On the way back down, I had to commandeer my friend’s walking stick because my knees were protesting so loudly. But the hike was definitely worth it.
Ice skating is a past time that has been passed down in my family for generations. A former Minnesota native, my mom grew up skating and even aspired to be like Sonja Hennie, an Olympic figure skater. Thus, I also grew up skating, though I had no formal lessons. I usually tagged along to my friends’ lessons, then practiced with them during public skates. My children eventually picked up ice skating as well, but it stuck most with my 2 youngest sons. One a hockey enthusiast, the other, less so, but they both love to skate.
It was here that my camera suffered its final, fateful drop and I became resigned to using only my iPhone camera for the next several months. I have already invested enough money in gadgets to supply mobile internet access and the budget needs to recover a bit.
Tia Maria lives conveniently near a mall which houses everything from Home Depot to Super Target to a bike shop. In order to better facilitate walking shopping excursions. I purchased a small cart and basket from Tuesday Mornings – another new find for me. Though I have since found larger folding shopping carts on Amazon, this one is still perfect for short trips just for a few things. Maybe I’ll get a bigger one next time I’m at dad’s, so we can walk to the store.
The Old Spaghetti Factory
I had heard so much about this place, that perhaps my expectations were a bit high. Then again, perhaps they were having a bad night. At any rate, our party of 12 felt like we were the training crew for an all new staff. Though the building is impressive and the antique furnishings are exquisite, we were disappointed not only in the service, but in the food and the presentation.
We were cautioned to order small portions because the regular portions were huge. This was not the case. Our server and expediter team also forgot one of our dinners and it had to be completely re-ordered, the hapless diner having to wait, while we had to dig into our meals before they got cold. Luckily, we had ordered a few items with the intention of sharing them, so all was not lost. Bread and butter were grudgingly replenished only upon repeated requests. Drinks were forgotten and not replenished. Dessert, which was included with most of the meals, was not offered, so we requested it. At least it was not added to the bill.
Overall, we were disappointed with our experience at the Portland, Oregon Spaghetti Factory. The only redeeming feature was that our table overlooked the Columbia River and we were treated to a view of the Portland Spirit as it floated by on its dinner cruise. We knew we had to experience that!
Weeks of repairs, packing, repacking, driving, caregiving and settling in to a new routine will wear anyone down.. We decided it was time for a day trip. So we piggy-backed a little bit of fun onto a trip to pick up the central heating unit for the RV from the awesome repair lady, Debra at Holiday RV in South Fork, Colorado. About 60 miles away from our current home base is the town of Del Norte, Colorado. It was early enough that we took the scenic route on the way, picking up State Highway 15 and winding through farms, ranches, homesteads, and the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge, nestled at the base of the Sangre de Christo and San Juan Mountains. The road turned to dirt for a few miles, but we traversed it with ease, as the lack of recent snow and the abundance of sun had dried it out nicely. Around Monte Vista, we picked up Highway 160 and took that the rest of the way to Del Norte. We passed some huge cattle ranches and one charming group of horses, sharing their feeder with a very fat little burro. We had several targets on our list. The first – a dairy farm where I hoped to get some raw milk, looked deserted, so we passed on. Our next stop made the whole trip worthwhile. Colorado, strangely, considering the amount of farms here, has a dearth of organic products in the grocery stores. Big cities like Denver, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins have their Sprouts and Whole foods markets, but the nearest to us is 120 miles away in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In spring, there might be local produce stands, but until then? I’ve been soaking and scrubbing the produce in a vinegar solution and eating oatmeal. So The Organic Peddler was a great find! I was delighted with the large selection of organic coffees, teas, spices and fresh produce. I was hoping for more bulk grains, as I have not had my fresh, homemade bread for awhile. I’ll call ahead, when I get ready to tackle baking in the RV or trailer oven, and make sure I can get enough flour for a couple months. The savory aromas wafting in from the attached cafe were so inviting that we had to go in and have a little lunch. Besides, it was a warm escape from the 20 degree temps outside. The Peace of Art Cafe, built with cordwood and recycled bottles, serves a tasty portobello burger, homemade shakes and custom burritos, all made with organic, local ingredients when possible. Entrees range from $5.95 to $11.95 and an Espresso Bar and Juice and Smoothie Bar are also on site. There is so much more to The Organic Peddler that I have to recommend their website. Dine outdoors in the summer, then take a liesurely stroll along the dog walk/sanctuary by a small creek. The Great Divide Bicycle Route also passes by here. Last on our list, was to check out the honey farm. Haefeli’s Honey has a large store right downtown in Del Norte. Run by 5th generation beekeepers, I found their prices to be quite competitive, the availability of raw honey, a definite plus. Bee pollen, which I take regularly for its “bee” vitamins, is also available for a decent price. I found the price of their beeswax to be fair, as it is already cleaned (I currently clean my own). The result of our outing was a renewed sense of calm, a day of fun and found organic and raw honey resources. The change of scenery was pretty nice, too.
So what about a break from all the sightseeing and touring? How about a place for the kids to blow off steam and work up a sweat? We’re here again, in the City of Williams, Arizona, enjoying an afternoon at the Recreation Center, which also has a separate Skate Park, designed by local youth. All activities are free, just sign a waiver, adult supervision is provided (although I tend to stay here and provide my own supervision for Yak). Unfortunately the swimming pool is not open during the winter. If you find yourself here during the summer, however, the cost is minimal, $4 adults, $2 children for the summer of 2013.
A play park is in the same complex, so there is a little bit of something for everybody. Yak and I enjoyed several games of ping-pong and a few rounds of pool in the rec center one day. For movie nights and other free and low cost family events put on by the City of Williams Parks and Recreation Department, visit the Williams Chamber of Commerce website and click on Events and Community Calendar. You can also find a list of parks at the City of Williams website.
One of the few things Yak and his friends like better than swimming is rollerblading. Since we live about 30 miles away from Williams, it gets inconvenient if we forget something we need there. Not to fear, “The Shed”, as the skate park is called, stocks free loaners of rollerblades, pads and helmets, as well as skateboards. The equipment is sprayed with disinfectant after each use, just like at roller and ice rinks. Still, we’re more comfortable with our own gear.
I hope you enjoy hearing about the offbeat things for kids and families to do on the road. As we prepare to hit the road full-time, I’ve begun to think about ways for my son to continue with his hobbies and interests, and these things will also help him to find new friends as we travel. If you would like to read more about our adventures in downsizing and preparing to homestead, homeschool and live simply while traveling slowly, head over to our sister blog Around the Homestead (by Mrs. D’s Homestead).