Monday, September 27, 2010

A Pleasant Surprise

Since I moved to the Pacific Northwest in the beginning of May I have been trying to make the most out of my days here. I wake up early in the morning to kayak, spend a day working hard at Wet Planet and finish the day with an adventure with friends. On this particular day, I was beyond exhausted and couldn’t image doing anything after work aside from sleeping. Even though a group of my friends were heading to my favorite Hot Springs after work, I decided to go home and sleep on the couch (aka a van seat). It was 9:00pm and I had been sleeping hard for a good hour or more. I was awoken from my sleep by a voice saying, “Lori, get up, it’s time to go to bed. Lori, you should really go to your bed.” I opened my eyes to this voice that sounded unusually familiar to me. There, in my living room, at my home in the woods stood my mom and Lenny. I quickly jumped up from the coach and began to cry. I was so shocked and overwhelmed I didn’t know what to do with myself. All I could say was, “Mom, I can’t believe you’re here” or “how did you find me?” After the initial shock and many tears, I composed myself enough to show them my tent, the office where I work and found them a place for the night.

I went with them on their journey to find this cozy bed & breakfast tucked on the top of a high hill overlooking the White Salmon river valley with an amazing view of Mt. Hood. Still overwhelmed that they were here visiting me, I insisted on staying with them their 1st night.

I was fortunate to get the next day off of work to give them a taste for the area which I now call home. We started our day with a delicious meal at the Husum Highlands Bed & Breakfast. This filling breakfast would be much needed for their day with me J Our first adventure was to hike up 400 feet in elevation to the top of Steamboat Mountain. After a little huffing and puffing on the way to the top, they were able to enjoy a classic view of the area. The peak of this hike reveals 4 snow covered mountains: Mt. Hood, Mt. St Helens, Mt. Rainier & Mt. Adams. I was very grateful to share this amazing view with two people I care so much about. Once we took our photos and enjoyed the view with a gentle breeze, it was time to make our way down for the next adventure, whitewater rafting with Wet Planet!

Yes, for those of you who know my mother well, this adventure may seem unfathomable. For a woman who dislikes being wet, cold and terrified of swimming willing signed up for whitewater rafting on the Wild & Scenic White Salmon river. Lenny didn’t have any time any problems signing up for this adventure too! After getting outfitted we were on our way to get a sneak peak of the grand finale, the legendary Husum Falls. Keep in mind this is one of the largest commercially rafted waterfalls!

After a short drive to the put-in, Lenny & my Mom were about to get a taste of whitewater. From the moment they both sat down on the raft an instant smile came upon their faces. As we made our way through the first rapid, Triple Drop, I heard my mom giggling like never before. This was an uncontrollable happiness followed by spitting out any water she swallowed and finished with a smile. When it came time to jump off a 20’ cliff into the water, they both passed.
Finally, at the end of our journey came the legendary Husum Falls. This waterfall has an established reputation that gives even the most experienced rafters butterflies in their stomach before going over it. In fact, the rapid just before it is named Butterfly just for that reason. Much to my surprise, my mom & Lenny both chose to go over it. Even though I have photos & video to prove this whole excursion took place, still people don’t believe it. The woman who hates being wet, cold & swimming perhaps overcame one of her biggest fears. My mom, Lenny & I all got to share this experience as our first time over Husum Falls. Even though I have lived here for months, I have always walked around it. I am thankful that my first time going over this memorable waterfall was with people that I love so dearly. In the end it was beyond rewarding to show my mom & Lenny the river that I spend most of my days on. Thank you Wet Planet for going above and beyond to make this happen for us.

They weren’t done with their adventures for the day just yet. We made a journey into the little town of White Salmon to try some local micro-brews at Everybody’s. We started with the sampler which included 9 different beers. After the taste testing we each ordered our favorite one. But, we didn’t have much time! We still needed to go back to my home and cook supper. I wanted my mom & Lenny to get a true taste for life out here. We finally finished our supper at 10:30pm and they were off to bed.

I woke up early the next morning to pick some fresh black raspberries & plums to send them on their way. I wasn’t the destination for their road trip, just a stop along the way. Thank you Mom & Lenny for visiting; it was truly a pleasant surprise.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Gourmet Breakfast

Breakfast (aka brekkie) is probably my favorite meal of the day. Living in the backwoods of Washington, it can be hard to find a good place to go. Unlike Minnesota, there are only a couple places that make breakfast on the Washington side of the Columbia River. So, on my day off, my friend Jen offered to make me one of her signature breakfast dishes at her house. I was in for a real treat!

Jen started with freshly sliced mushrooms, onions and garlic sautéed in extra virgin olive oil. She then added some fresh spinach and let that steam for a short while on top of the other veggies. The next step was to create “nests” in the spinach for the eggs. After all the eggs were in, she covered them in more spinach and allowed them to steam. This steam and moisture from the veggies then poached the eggs to bring them to a delightful finish.

While she was preparing our main course, I sliced some potatoes & onions for hash browns and added some of her fresh ground pepper. Never before have I seen peppercorns crushed in such a fashion. Check out the photo of Jen’s making her own pepper!

All of this was served on a tortilla with freshly grated cheese. This delicious breakfast was served with French pressed tea for a phenomenal combination. This breakfast was so delicious, I tried to recreate it when my family visited. You’ll have to ask them what they thought of this gourmet breakfast…

Friday, July 30, 2010

Morning Adventure

This brief blog is dedicated to Danielle Magnuson! Thanks for reminding me I need to keep this update. I love reading your blog ( I hope that I too can write like you!

I love going on morning adventures. The sun here is awake far before most of us even think about setting an alarm. This past month or so I have been trying to get up earlier & make the most our of my days here. My favorite thing to do in the early morning is to paddle on the glacier fed waters of the White Salmon river. Sounds exciting... right!??! For those of you less adventurous folks, you can experiment by filling a bath tube with ice cubes & splash around it in the morning. ;)

On this particular morning I went on a different kind of adventure, a little hike. Lindsay was the brave trooper to wake up early & go. We decided to check out Rattlesnake Falls.

It was an easy hike to a deep little canyon. Check it out! This little journey is about 15 minutes from my tent. And... for my mother, I made sure to put some people in the photos ;)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Learning about a whole new kitchen…

From the kitchens of Minnesota to the tent life of the Pacific Northwest, my diet has surely changed. No more milk & cereal for breakfast but instead yogurt & granola (from Trader Joe’s preferably) or oatmeal. The option of running to McDonalds, Burger King or KFC for a quick lunch is no longer an option. I now indulge in leftovers, chicken sausage (which I had never heard of before moving here) or some other simple meal option. Snacks now consist of avocado on toasted whole grain bread, locally made tortilla chips, or Cheerios & Dr. Pepper. I found that I couldn’t give up on my lifelong combination of Cheerios & Dr. Pepper. This will probably always be my favorite snack.

When meals are cooked at camp, items no longer come pre-manufactured or from a can (with the exception of beans). Instead, fresh veggies are chopped and sautéed in extra virgin olive oil & typically served over white or brown rice. I also took part in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where we get a batch of fruits, veggies & greens delivered every week. This is extremely interesting for me as I haven’t heard of most of the veggies & greens before. At times it feels like a weed in Minnesota is a cherished source of nutrition out here. Recently we had “lambs ear” which is a green that I swear up & down that my mother used to always pick as weeds.

I really had to laugh when we made our first salad. We didn’t have any dressing so, the Midwestern in me, thinks about going to the store to pick some up. Oh no… we make our own here! It really caught me off guard that after adding the extra virgin olive oil, fresh ginger, organic honey & fresh garlic that we were still missing an ingredient. Brian & Nicki made the dressing and, after tasting it, came to the conclusion it was missing rice vinegar. Rice Vinegar? Never before had I heard of rice vinegar! This is just ONE of the many examples of how life in the kitchen has changed. Fresh ginger & garlic are now common “household” items.

One of the funniest moments was when I volunteered to cook family dinner. Every Saturday night someone from Wet Planet offers to cook supper for everyone & Wet Planet buys the groceries. I thought sauerkraut & dumplings or tater-tot hotdish would be perfect for my night of cooking. Ryan called & volunteered to help… perfect! The only catch was instead of making my tater-tot hotdish (which, by the way, no one out here had heard of) we were going to use up some Japanese noodles instead. After searching in Todd & Jaco’s cupboards for 20 minutes looking for these noodles, Nicki came to my rescue & found them in less than 2 minutes. What was going to be a Midwest meal now turned into a huge learning experience for me, Asian cooking. It was off the grocery store with Ryan & Jaco where I would continue my education in foreign cooking. After lots of team work, chopping of fresh veggies & adding a little “zest” (graded parts of lemon, lime & orange peels) another successful family dinner came together.

This little story doesn’t do justice to how many things I’ve learned in the kitchen. I practically learn something new every day and it’s awesome. Before I left Minnesota Jodi, Drew, Emily & I were having a gourmet co
oking competition. (Drew & I always have to make things a competition) I’m getting more confident that I will be able to return this winter & make a meal that they won’t forget. The best part is I probably won’t even need a recipe because out here I’m learning about a whole new kitchen...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Curious Gorge...

I have officially been in the State of Washington for two months now and finally starting to expand my horizons. Since I arrived in May, my focus has been on work and paddling as much as possible. I know there are many other things to explore in the Columbia River Gorge aside from the awesome whitewater. So, with a little motivation from a group of friends from Minnesota, I began to explore some of the hikes & waterfalls that I have heard so much about.

Eagle Creek is a well-known hike whose reputation far exceeds the Gorge. As you can see from the photo, it's breathtaking canyon walls are one of the many reasons this hike is so famous. If the mossy green walls aren't enough to lure you onto this hike, perhaps the notorious Punch Bowl Falls will! This is just one of the many waterfalls that you will see if you complete the 6+ mile hike through Eagle Creek.

Another famous waterfall, Falls Creek Falls, got the best of my curiosity as well. This 3 tier, 220+ foot waterfall provided quite the adventure trying to arrive at it. After dropping some friends off to paddle a nearby river, Nora, Chris & I started our journey to explore this phenomenal waterfall.

We started up the trail (supposed to be 2 miles) around 5:30 pm. We thought we would surely beat the crew off the river, little did we know what we were in for! We were all caught up in the tall, mossy tree scenery which followed along the creek. Seeing as we all love whitewater, we were imagining what it would be like if you were able to kayak it. After walking for over an hour, we started to wonder if we took a wrong turn. We turned back to go on another trail we had seen a short while back. After hiking an intense trail up the side of a mountain we were wondering if we would actually reach our destination. Just when we were about to give up, Chris wandered off to find a scenic overlook which gave us a sneak peak of the waterfall. We decided it was time to indulge in a well-deserved beverage and enjoy the view.

As the darkness started to set in, we decided to keep hiking until our drinks were gone and then we would turn back. I think we all will be forever thankful of this decision. Just as we finished our drinks, we stumbled upon the most gorgeous waterfall ever, Falls Creek Falls. We got to stand 6 inches away from the top of the 1st tier of the 220+foot waterfall. Words cannot describe an experience like this. After recomposing ourselves, we started our glorious hike down, right next to the waterfall on a root ladder stopping at each tier to take photos.

With the sun already set behind the horizon, it was time to hike out... and quick! We ended up running about 2 miles in the semi-dark trying to make it out on time. I strategically chose a nice soft dirt spot on the trail to trip on a rock and take a HUGE digger. I felt like a kid sliding head first into home plate. Nora arrived just in time to see me completely laid out on the ground. No injuries, just a little bruised knee as a friendly reminder of what happens when rocks jump up and trip you!

If you plan to visit the Columbia River Gorge, I would highly recommend a book by Scott Cook, Curious Gorge.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Home Sweet Home . . .

When I arrived in the Pacific Northwest the only thing I knew was I had a job, a Monte Carlo & a cousin in Portland. The minor detail I was missing was a place to live. After a little roommate searching and commuting (1 hour & 15 minutes each way) from my cousin's house in Portland, I found an opportunity that I knew little about, calling a tent my home. So... as many of you have been asking about it, here it is!

My home is actually borrowed from fellow Minnesotan's Nate & Heather Herbeck. My dream is to own a tent someday. (The key is to invest in one you can stand up in.) I have come to love this new life and feel so fortunate to be able to come home to my tent every night. We did experience unseasonable amounts of rain when I learned the importance of not having your blankets or pillows touching the side of the tent. Needless to say, that was a rough night which ended with me sleeping in the "hard top" aka Monte Carlo.

This photo is of our community tent that which we like to call, "The Big Tent". (We're pretty original). You can see the water hydrant in the lower left hand corner, sink setup on the right and cook top stove in front of the tent. Inside this luxurious estate is a picnic table, small refrigerator, wood stove & tons of laughter! We recently received a huge TV so we will be partaking in movie nights soon. You will also see Norm the Yellow Lab in front of the tent. He is my favorite roommate!

One of the best things about living in a tent is hearing your surroundings. This is a photo of the White Salmon river that runs in our backyard. I fall asleep and wake up to the sound of this river everyday. It is a constant reminder of how lucky I am to be here, living in a tent. Words cannot describe how amazing it is to live in a tent. If you have never tried it, I would highly recommend it! I cook supper under the stars, fall asleep to a river rushing with life and energy and wake up to the breathtaking hills of the Pacific Northwest.

I always have to laugh at people's reaction when they hear I live in a tent. Most people who know me are not surprised at all. Those who don't know me feel bad for me. The end result is the same, I am beyond lucky to call this tent, home sweet home.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Let the journey begin . . .

The morning of May 2, 2010 marked the beginning of a whole new world, adventure and way of life. As I pulled out of the driveway, I was leaving all that I ever knew behind me. I would no longer be waking up to the rooster’s cock-a-doodle-doing outside my bedroom window or hearing my niece, Jill, come racing up the stairs in the morning. I packed up my Monte Carlo, put my play boat in the passenger seat, strapped my creek boat to the top and took whatever else would fit. With the sun still sleeping behind the horizon, I started my journey to the Pacific Northwest.

This journey had many new firsts for me. The first time I moved out of Minnesota, the first time I drove this far by myself and the first time I knew I was on the right track. About 100 miles into South Dakota I passed a hitch-hiker headed east. I called my sister right away to ask if this was an omen of how I would someday return to Minnesota. After passing the windy Black Hills, sneaking through Wyoming and heading through rain and snow in Montana I decided it was time to stop for a good night of sleep. My family, knowing how I normally travel, insisted I stay at an actual Hotel or Motel versus “sleeping in the hard top” as I like to call it. (They never understood sleeping in my car, especially in the trunk next to my kayak!)

I awoke well rested from my 16 hour day and ready to finish the drive. As I passed through the Mountains in Idaho I realized I wouldn’t want to get caught up there with snow. Once I passed the mountains and arrived into Washington I was attacked by tumbleweeds! Never in my life have I experienced such horrendous winds or visibility so poor because of dirt and gravel whipping about. Finally, after getting terrible gas mileage, I began my descent into the place I was about to call home. The Columbia River Gorge is the place I’ve never seen but heard so much about. This national scenic area is so breathtaking; it can’t be described in words.

I am excited to start this new adventure, chasing a dream to find a balance between work, play and life. This “new” life will be amazing but so was the one I left in Minnesota. I am so lucky to have been blessed with incredible family, genuine friends and more adventures and hilarious stories than I can even remember. A special thank you to my mom, sisters and brothers who have always been there for me and always will be. A friend once told me that I, “wear the world like a loose garment”, you should try it sometime… you never know where it will take you! So… with that, let the journey begin…