Saturday, September 8, 2007

Trip to the Midwest

August found us on a plane to go back to my homeland.
After landing late Tuesday night/Wed. morning, we hop in the rental car and head for Six Flags Great America! I hadn't gotten there since college, and with how much Steve loves roller coasters, this was a "must stop".
Knowing that the week we were there was the first week they cut their hours down to close at 7:00, we were hopeful it was because the crowds started to thin out as kids went back to school.
We were right! From the minute we got there, we pretty much walked on to almost every roller coaster we wanted to get on. By 11:30 we had ridden all of the major roller coasters already, so, we went around for another lap on all of our favorites and picking up some of the non coaster rides. In the end, we almost all of them twice and Raging Bull three times!With no lines, we wrapped up our day early and left after 5:00.
Having some time to kill until my parents could get to Chicago to pick us up, we went in search of food. Not finding anything good off the freeway, we take the exit for O'hare and end up driving towards Des Plaines. After finally getting out of hotel/chain food territory, we find a pub. Perfect! Beer and burgers to top off our day! The place is packed! Turns out it's $1.00 domestic pint night-no wonder it's packed! Out back, we see a sand volleyball court and what we thought was horseshoes. Turns out it's the latest thing sweeping the midwest-bean bag toss! Really! Stay tuned for more on that. After having a couple of pints, by accident, (we ordered another water and the waitress brought us more beer. Oh well!), some burgers and pizza nuggets (yum), we're on our way to drop off the car, meet my parents and head back towards Madison. On the drive back-we get our first thunderstorm. Hooray!
Thursday-wake up SICK! Pretty much sick all day. We won't count it. Did eat some good Wisconsin bratwursts though. Yum!
Friday-get a start in the afternoon to head down to central Illinois to see the relatives. Plan to stop on the way and get a little hike in at Starved Rock State Park. Well, there had been a lot of rain in the midwest the few weeks before we were there. Our first indication of trouble is that the first entrance to the park is closed and everyone is sent to the other entrance. Once we get there, we take a little hike, and make our way to the lower parking lot. Hmm... turns out there's a little water there.

Should have taken out the trash before the flood!

Up to the roof of the picnic shelter>

All of the trails we planned to take were under water, leaving only one hike up to "Starved Rock". Gives us a great view of all of the flooding of the Illinois River.
Then, after a picnic lunch, we head down to Charleston to find a room for the night.
In the morning, head out to Grandma and Grandpa's new (to me) house for a visit. Joining us there was my Aunt Jane, Uncle Pat and their kids.

Mom, Jane and Grandma//Jane, cousin Jenna and her bf Rory

Jane, Mom, Grandma, Grandpa

Steve and Lovee

After enjoying a delicious lunch, letting Grandma and Jane watch the wedding video, all too soon it was time to start the 5 1/2 hour drive home.
There is a LOT of corn in central Illinois. and some soybean fields as well. I don't think Steve had ever seen so much corn. The rest stop captured it well:

Even though we'd spent hours in the car, we took a side trip on the way home to swing by Monroe to see my High School friend, Heidi and her family. I
It was a very brief visit because it was such a long day already. But, I got to meet Ms. Kortney and see how big Kyle had gotten! (Only the pic of Kortney came out)

After recovering from the drive, we spent Sunday making pizza and visiting with Josh, Dawn and my nieces and nephew. Unfortunately, between pizza making and window installing in the shop, I never managed to capture any photos.

Monday was supposed to be a day at Noah's Ark water park, but. after waking up to thunderstorms that continued all morning, that got scratch and instead, we headed down to New Glarus for a brewery tour. After purchasing some samples to take home and taste, and touring the town, we headed back to Cottage Grove.

Already, it was Tuesday and time to head back to Oregon. After rounding up some last minute Wisconsin delicacies like cheese curds, we headed out for the airport. A blessedly uneventful flight home and we were back in Portland! Seasha was VERY happy to have us home!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Portland Challenge-for the challenged

5th annual Portland Challenge
August 19, 2007
Jacki, Pete, Ryan, Malea, Coop, Bryan, Amber, Heather

This event met our wacky guidelines. Start at bar. Go to river. Get across river. Shower in fountain. Go back to bar and party. And, the bar was the Slammer! Doesn't get much better than that. Excpet we wanted to kick it up a notch, by starting at Mt. Tabor and ending at Council Crest. Details were worked out, everything was ready to go. Until it rained. Not wanting to swim the Willamette with CSO (yum... Sewage), we went with hastily drafted Plan B. Everything but the swim (and the bar).

So the motley crew starts our at Mt. Tabor. After eventually finding Pete, we're off.

First stop-giant Salmon. Since we're running down Salmon St. we may as well have an ode to a Salmon!

We've made it to the river. We thought we would all hang out with former mayor Vera Katz for a while. Some of us refined:Some people jumped her into their gang.

And of course, on a long run, you've got to stop and refill your water bottle sometime. However, we tried to warn Malea against drinking out of this "special" fountain.
After all of that, we finally reached our destination, Council Crest. Oh, there were some porta -potty stops along the way, but, we spared you those and instead, the view from the top!
Some kind folks were generous enough to take a picture of the Portland Challenged, now much sweatier and smellier than a few hours previous.

And of course, what could be more challenging than finding our way back to Mt. Tabor (harder than it should have been!) and finding a place to enjoy some drinks outside at Dingo's Taco Bar.
While enjoying tasty libations, Ryan tried to convince the server to marry him, but as it turned out, I had a much better chance of marrying her than he did. Maybe next time Ryan!
Special thanks to Jacki for organizing this and to Bryan's awesome Inspector Gadget-esque camera for the photos along the way!

a little absence

I promised myself I wouldn't be that person again. The one who starts a blog and doesn't keep up with it. What can I say, dial up at home and the computer in the basement not working for me. But now, I have so much to share. I hardly know where to start. So, here go several rapid fire entries to catch up!
Hopefully, I can make Picasa work for me so I don't have to keep embedding all these photos directly intot he blog and take up so much room...