The Great Oregon Road Trip of 2013

More Great Oregon Road trip posts.

In an effort to stay connected with my family (and refresh my Aussie accent), we make an effort to head home to Australia every other year. In the off year, members of my family will travel to Oregon. Usually it’s my Mum and sometimes my Dad comes as well. If we’re lucky we get an unplanned visit or two from my brother, Ben, and his family. (Note to my brother Jono: It’s been too long).

Between everyone we have averaged about one or two visits from family or friends each year – which means many, many visits to the Rose Gardens, Multnomah Falls and Cannon Beach. I think it’s safe to say that, as tour guides, we have covered the Portland Metro area and then some.

This year, when my parents came to visit, we decided to get out of the city and explore areas a few areas of Oregon that we hadn’t seen before. And, while we’re at it, why not cross over the border into Northern California?

So, in August, all six of us piled into the mini van and embarked on a ten day sightseeing tour of Southern Oregon. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll share photos and details of our trip including where we stayed and what we saw – the successes and the things we probably wouldn’t bother with if we did it again.

I’ll start the adventure with a map of our trip – all 840 miles (1352 Km) of it…

Oregon Road Trip Map 2013

…and a few photos of the drive down through the high desert to our first stop in Sunriver.

Coming soon: I hate mosquitos but love a good Water Park… and Volcanos!

Summer in Oregon: Lavender Daze Festival

A couple of weekends ago I dragged my family of boys to the Hood River Lavender Daze festival.

It’s easy to be festivaled-out by the middle of Summer here in Portland. By the time we reach August it feel like we’ve already had a street fair in every major neighborhood and festivals celebrating everything from Beer to Blues to Tulips. And just when you think there can’t be anything more to be festive about, you’ll see an advertisement for the Portland Pirate Festival or the Naked Bike Ride.

Not that we’ve attended many festivals this year. The age of my children and my husband’s aversion to crowds means we spend more time being festive in our own backyard than in some hot tent-covered gathering of like-minded individuals. While I might make it to the Zombie Walk one day (probably not), for now I’m mostly content enjoying our own little corner of the city…with one exception.

The Lavender Festival had been on my radar for a while and, this year, I was determined to make it happen. So we set off on a beautiful, sunny, hot Saturday morning to take a road trip through the Gorge to Hood River.

I can quite honestly say that the Lavender Festival is the most relaxed Summer event that I’ve attended in a while. It helps that as soon as you exit the car, you are hit in the face with the most amazing scent of Lavender. The flower is known for it’s relaxing properties and, if I didn’t fully believe it before, I do now. I have never felt more calm and collected after an hour long drive. It’s like I couldn’t even hear the children bickering. anymore Or maybe they weren’t fighting at all. That’s the answer – fill my house and car with Lavender and the fighting will stop. I think I’m onto something.

Did I mention that it was sunny? VERY sunny. Which meant a lot of very bright photographs. Not that I was deterred. I took three or four (or 50).

One day I’ll go back and take a photo of this scene without the people, and the tents and the cars.

We quickly grabbed some lunch after we arrived – amazing wood fired pizza. I started with the cherry and sausage and we all shared the blueberry and lavender pizza for dessert. When in Rome…

Apparently bees REALLY like lavender. It took a lot of courage for the boys to walk (gently) through the lavender fields. Thankfully, no stings.

But lots of direct overhead sunlight.

After lunch I managed to avoid buying anything while we checked out some of the vendors. The boys picked up some free “divination rocks” – cast-off pieces of blown glass courtesy of a very talented glass artist. Then I talked them out of needing a “Lavender Wand” after explaining that it was decorative and not magical. P.S. We’d just come off a week of Magic camp.

Then it was time for some more frolicking through fields of flowers.

Until Samuel declared it was too hot and we took a time out in the shade.

And then picked a bunch to take home.

After about two hours of lavender overload, we headed home – stopping on the way to buy some fruit and enjoy an apple cider slushie (for the kids) and some harder cider (for the adults).

This is also where we took a few crazy photos by the red wall.

And then we headed home. The car smelled incredible and both boys fell asleep. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

A Thousand Shades of Green: Hiking the Salmon River Trail

On the second (and last) day of our mini vacation to Mt Hood, we decided to hike the Salmon River trail. (You can read about our day one hike up to Mirror Lake here).

This hike came highly recommended as a great option for families with small children and it didn’t disappoint. The trail was mostly flat and free of treacherous drop offs, so the kids were able to run ahead until I felt the need to call them closer out of fear that they might dive into the frigid water. They’d return for about three minutes and then run off again. It gave me time to relax and enjoy the scenery and, of course, take a few photographs.

The walk itself can best be described as looking like a scene out of Jurassic Park with about a thousand different shades of green. A light rain was falling when we first first set out on our hike but the sun started to appear on the way back which changed the scene so much that I joked to Kei about walking it again just to retake the photos. OK, I was only half joking.

Recently, Samuel has been telling me that he sees a faces and objects in trees, clouds and other elements of nature. He told me this one looked like a face. Should I be worried?

But I’ll admit that I can see the monkey hanging from the tree in this one.

And then he made a face of his own in an apple…

We stopped for a quick snack.

After which the boys sang me a song in Japanese (I bribed them with my Luna Bar).

We then took a few minutes to skip some rocks. Kei took this next photo of me. It’s not the most flattering and shows my poor rock-skipping skills, but I suppose it’s proof that was there.

Side note to the people who left their trash in a fire pit (including an old pair of socks): NOT COOL. I can only assume you’re not Oregonian because an Oregonian would never do anything so thoughtless and disgusting. We carried out as much of the trash as we could but I am not your mother. Rant over.

Finally, after a little more exploring, we headed back to the car and then home to Portland.

We only left for two days, but it really felt like an escape and it was just what we needed.

Mirror Lake (Without Much Mirror)

As I mentioned previously, we headed up to Mt Hood on the weekend for a short birthday/anniversary/just-needed-a-break vacation. It felt good to get out of the city, even if we only had to drive an hour to get there. We stayed at The Resort at the Mountain which was nice. Nothing extra fancy but a pretty good deal at about $125 a night for the fours of us. If the weather had let up a little then I’m sure we would have made better use of the amenities like the basketball hoop and croquet field. But, bad weather means fewer people and we had the mini golf and swimming pool/hot tub all to ourselves so there was a definite upside to the rain and cold.

The bad weather also meant very few people braved the hiking trails, which was a definite win for us. On Saturday morning we set out for Mirror Lake, a 3.2 mile return hike. It wasn’t too difficult but the distance to the lake was all uphill and the kids were pretty tired by the time we finally saw some water and even a little snow. It was good thing I pulled together an impromptu scavenger hunt before we left the hotel. At times, I think that might have been the only thing that motivated Thomas to keep going.

We found almost everything. I think the ants and worms decided to hide from the rain and expecting to see a feather and nest might have been a little ambitious. Still it kept the boys occupied for the first part of the trek, especially after I reassured Thomas that Samuel would still be able to open an early birthday present (the reward) even if we didn’t find everything. The important thing was that we tried.

The walk up to the lake itself wasn’t particularly interesting. And I realize that, by saying that, I have just shown how much I have become accustomed to the beautiful nature that surrounds me every day in Oregon. So, when I say that it wasn’t very interesting, I mean by gorgeous Oregon standards. I’m sure people who live in Arizona feel the same way about the desert.

The hiking trail was muddy, and at times slippery with steep drop offs. We also expected it to head downhill at some point because aren’t all lakes at lower altitudes? Apparently not, because just when Kei and I were growing concerned that we’d missed a turnoff, we stumbled upon this…

It was beautiful. The hike was worth it and I’d even consider doing it again on a better day just to see this place in the sunshine.

I could see where the naming inspiration came from. There was still a little bit of mirror even on a grey, dreary day.


If you’re looking for a relatively easy family hike on Mt Hood, then I’d definitely recommend Mirror Lake. I read that the trail gets crowded during the busy late Spring/Summer season but it was almost deserted while we were there. I’d also recommend that you buy a parking pass from the Ranger station before you head up so you don’t have to leave a note on your car promising that you’ll get one later. We thankfully didn’t get a ticket and followed through on our promise the next day.

Coming soon: More hiking adventures.

Chaos and Color

This week is shaping up to be a doozy. I need to work around some childcare issues which means interrupted workdays, I’m heading to Seattle for a day trip on Wednesday and that’s on top of the usual Karate/Soccer/Swimming insanity. My brother is coming to visit for the weekend so I’d better squeeze in time to tidy up and clean the bathroom and, to top it all off, I’m taking photos all day Saturday at TEDx Portland. I’m already exhausted and the week has barely begun. I’m just thankful I had the foresight to schedule a couple of May vacation days as a little birthday present to myself. I’m going to need them.

On the upside, the sun is shining and I have a billion photos of tulips to share. I know you’ve been eagerly awaiting them so I’ll just get right to it. I’d apologize for the number of photos in this post but what would be the point? 🙂

P.S. I’m thinking about submitting a photograph to the TulipFest photo competition but I can’t decide which. Please let me know in the comments if you have a favorite.

Photo by Thomas.

Photograph by Thomas

Photograph by Kei.

Adventures at Frog Lake: A Preview

No time to write a full post today, but I do quickly want to share a couple of pictures from our weekend at Frog Lake. It felt like we were away for a lot longer than just two days (in a good way). Of course now I need to catch up on laundry, unpacking, prepping for my parents’ arrival on Thursday and then there’s my day job…

I’ll be back to share more pictures and words from our mini vacation soon.