Sunday, August 28, 2005

She's gone....

She’s gone…. This morning (really, really early) Sita had to go back to the Netherlands. Waking up before 6 am (and that’s a sunday morning) is not really my thing and saying goodbye for another ten weeks after having so much fun for a couple of weeks was not really a motivation to get up either. But hey, that’s life; so we drove to the airport at sunrise which offered an awesome view of Mt. Hood, one of the cascade mountain range’s volcanoes we had left less than twelve hours before.

Saturday we did the “Mt. Hood loop” a scenic route through the Columbia River Gorge, along the river, passing a couple of falls, historic landmarks and circling Mt. Hood with bypasses up the hill. We started off at Crown Point, a viewpoint with a fantastic view of the gorge. From there we visited Latourell falls, Wahkeena falls and Multnomah falls. At Multnomah we walked all the way up to the top of the fall where there was a great view. Of the river that is, because you could hardly see the fall itself. From there we moved on; saw the Bonneville Dam, the Bridge of the Gods and the Hood River village. Then we went up the hill to the Mt. Hood meadows and we arrived at Timberline Lodge at about 9 pm. That’s where we had dinner and when we came back outside we were surprised with the ultimately dark night sky. I don’t think I have ever seen so many stars…

The downside of the dark night was the ride down the hill. Deer along the road and only sight for as far the headlights of the car allowed us to see. We came home at about 11 pm and drank a bottle “goodbye-wine” with Martin and Angee, followed by a very short night, the ride to the airport, a double espresso on an empty stomach and unfortunately saying goodbye for real. Well, it’s only ten weeks, we’ll survive and it’ll give us something to look forward to.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Monday morning (early again!!) Sita and I started of our journey to Seattle by walking to the bus stop. Turned out the trip planner wasn't accurate or we made a mistake but line 38 that was supposed to take us to Portland did not stop there... So we walked to another bus stop and took another bus that eventually brought us to the train station where we boarded our Amtrak train for a 3.5 our ride to Seattle. Great view of the washington lakes on the way and a comfortable way of travelling.

When we got out at King street station in Seattle, we got a great view of the former Kingdome (now known as the qwest field) and Safeco field stadium, homes of the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Mariners. We walked down to Seattle's waterfront and got lunch at Red Robin's on the Pier. We actually were served by a waiter with a dutch mom that could speak a fair amount of dutch. What are the chances for that? After lunch we walked p to Pike Place Public Market where we saw the famous flying fish and I bought a couple of cheap used records at the Holy Cow record store (finally bought "the gray race" Bad Religions best album ever, "Remanufacture" by Fear Factory and a SNUFF album). We wlked up Pike hill towards the monorail to Seattle Center where the 1962 world fair was held and where the famous Space Needle is situated. Our hotel (Inn at Queen Anne) was only two blocks away from it and right across the key arena (home of the Seattle Sonics and many great concerts), so we checked in and went back out. We took the monorail back downtown and walked around the city some more and had a great dinner at the waterfront at Fishermans. Seafood with a view on Elliot bay, very nice. After that we went to the Imax theatre at Seattle center to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If you haven't seen this movie yet, you should; the Depp-Burton thing worked out fine again! It was midnight when we came back out and we decided to walk up onto Queen Anne Hill to have the famous view on Seattle's skyline from Highland Park; Absolutely fabulous!

The next morning we visited the Experience the Music Project, which is weird building with all kinds of music exhibitions and a really cool piece of art made out of guitars. Really fun! After strolling around for a couple of hours we went downtown and took a cruise on Elliot Bay to get a great view of Seattle from the water. Besides Sita getting hit by a seagull-bomber, this was really fun too. We spend the left hour walking through Pioneer square back to the station. The ride back was shortened by watching "Madagascar", a pretty fun movie too. Back in Portland we took a bus to Portland Community College where Martin picked us up.

After a long night of sleep I spend today recovering, reorganizing and updating this blog; which is done right now....

Lincoln City August 15-21

Monday august 15th we went back to Lincoln City again. This time we stayed a week and it was even more vacation-like. For the first days we didn't do much but hang around the pool and on the beach. And we tried the hotel's cocktail mixing skills which weren't disappointing at all. Wednesday Sita and I went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium where Sita once again displayed her extraordinary love for sea otters (which I must admit are quite fun to look at). Thursday we toured down highway 101, which is a north-south highway along the Oregon coast that has a nice ocean view almost all the time. We went south to Florence where we visited the world's largest sea cave; Sealionscave. And yes that does mean there are a lot of sea lions there, they're just not in the cave, but right outside of it. Well there was one in the cave but compared to the tens of californian sea lions outside that's nothing. After this stop we went further south and stopped at the Oregon Dunes Area. A huge area with high sand dunes where all the real Americans can have fun with their outrageously big four wheel drive cars and small dune buggies. Since we didn't have an outrageously big fourwheeldrive car we walked up the dunes which appeared to be harder than it seemed. But when we arrived at the top puffing like a ... (hm, does anyone know something that puffs really hard; besides an old steam train or a woman in labour?) it was really worth it.

Friday we wanted to do a similar tour north. First take a look at cascade head, a conserved nature area with a great view and then maybe move on to Astoria or Tillamook. Well, we kind of underestimated cascade head where we spend 5 hours hiking from the foot of the mountain to the top and back. After that we were kind of tired so we skipped the rest of the plans. Cascade head is a part of the cascade mountain range that covers the northwest of the USA from california to canada. Cascade head sticks out into the Pacific at the point where the salmon river enters the Pacific, which offers a great view. Unfortunately it was really foggy when we were there so we couldn't see very far but the weird sight of a fog covered Pacific was pretty cool too.

On saturday we visited the Tanger Factory outlet stores in Lincoln city cause Sita needed shoes and wanted to buy a skirt. Being a woman as she is, we came home with a reasonable amount of clothes, but none of them could be called shoes nor skirt. Still it was a pretty succesful trip and even I bought some clothes more exciting than socks (which was the only thing I bought there last time) . When we came back we met up with Martin, Angee and the kids on the beach and we all walked to Mo's for dinner. After that we got same great icecream and walked back to make a fire on the beach and there were s'mores for everyone this time.

Sunday we packed everything up, went for a final swim in the pool and headed home. Sita and I stopped by the Tigard mall and finally got her a set of shoes. Before we went to bed we had some Taco Bell's (which should definately open some locations in the Netherlands) and watched Sleepless in Seattle, which is actually kind of a booring movie, but Sita and I were to go to Seattle the next morning so the views of Seattle were a nice preview.

The best news that evening was that Ian found a car and when all paperwork is done I can drive my '90 Honda Accord....

More great pictures can be found shortly on my photoblog...

Bridge pedal/stride

"Birds sing there's not a cloud in the sky
August 8th is a beautiful day...." (NOFX)

Monday night august 8th I went to the airport to pick up Sita. Yeeeeh! It's just that I was waiting by the wrong gate... Well, the Netherlands to Portland, that's an international flight right? That's what I thought, forgetting the transition in New York which made the flight to Portland domestic and thereby arriving at gate 9 and not 10.... It didn't take me too long to realize my mistake though, so I walked over to gate 9 too meet up with Sita. Really good to see her again.

The rest of the week I was still working and Sita added a nasty cold to the jetlag which tied her to the bed pretty much. But at the end of the week my vacation began and the fun could start! Friday night I went out with Ian (Angee's brother) on the hunt for an acceptable, afforable used car. Unfortunately enough only one person on his list of selected ads answered the phone. We went down to take a look at this Toyota Camry which seemed to be ok. But back home we checked the VIN and the car turned out to have a history of being totalled and stolen, so that deal was off and although it was a fun night it wasn't very succesful. Saturday Sita and I went to downtown Portland, wandered through the city, hang around the waterfront and had dinner at the Rock Bottom Brewery, where they serve some nice food and excellent beer. Back home we subscribed for the anual Portland Providene Bridge Pedal on sunday.

During this event all ten bridges that connect the parts of Portland east and west of the Willamette river are closed of for cars and there are biking and walking tours that cross one or more bridges. Because we didn't have bikes and didn't want to go through the trouble of renting them at 7 in the morning we decided to do the bridge stride which is a walking tour of 5 miles crossing 2 of the ten bridges; the steel bridge which is an industrial looking bridge and the Fremont bridge which is a very high bow bridge.
From the Fremont bridge you have a very nice view of the river and the city. We walked from 8 to 10 am and visited the Bite of Oregon Festival afterwards. This festival at the waterfront features typical Oregon cuisine and might be more fun at a later time of day when you are actually feeling like eeting salmon and stuff and tasting a lot of local wine. At about 11 am it's fun to see and we got a great fresh strawberry lemonade but it's not very exciting.

Lincoln City August 5-7

After we dropped off my parents at the airport (Max: You can come back anytime you want!) on friday august 5th, we moved on to the coast for a short weekend at the beach. Angee came later since she had to work. A lot later actually since she was one of the tires of the car ran flat on her way down to the beach. Fortunately she had just renewed her AAA subscription so everything worked out fine but it was past midnight when she arrived and the car needed new tires the next morning. We didn't do anything too exciting that weekend but breath some nice ocean air and enjoy the beach, the pool and the hottub. We walked the beach over to Mo's for diner on saturday, flew some kite and spotted some seals. When we walked back we had to go through the "kietelgras" (which is the dutch term for tickly grass that Max uses to describe the dune grass).

Later that night I got invited to a real guys thing Max and Martin use to do on the beach; Make a fire.. "But, don't tell Bella, cause she can't come...", whispered Max in a conspirative voice. Once the fire was lit I was introduced to some more Americana; "S'mores". S'mores (if that's how you write it) are made of crackers with a little piece of Hershy's chocolate which is melted by a marshmallow straight from the fire and squashed by another piece cracker. Ultrasweet, but in moderate amounts very very good!

On sunday Martin and I went back cause we were expected at work on monday morning and the last time we tried going back early on a monday morning we didn't arrive at work till moday afternoon :)

Sorry, here we go again....

So it took me quite a while to post again. My humble apologies to all of you that thought something terrible had happened to me, but actually something good has happened; Sita is here! Yes and after not seeing my girlfriend for three months, you'll understand I kind of prioritize (is that even a word?) her above updating this blog. But after spending a week at the coast and a couple of days in Seattle I'm back in Lake Oswego and I'm using this day to rest and reorganize before I'll go back to the lab. Might as well report about the past couple of weeks then, right? So here we go, the next couple of posts will tell it all; prepare for a informative ride.....

Friday, August 05, 2005

the Pearl district

Since my parents are flying back to the Netherlands today we went out for dinner in Portland last night. It had been a very hot day with temperatures over 100F (about 35C) and it was still rather hot in the evening. We went to Fratelli, which is an Italian restaurant in Portland with a Dutch chef, named Paul. Martin and Angee now this guy so we got a great table and he came out of the kitchen for a talk. Man, this guy can cook! We were very lucky in our pick of the evening. It was the first thursday of the month and we were in the Pearl district in Portland. This is the most trendy part of Portland with a nice mixture of old warehouses, new appartment buildings, fun shops and a ton of art galleries. Well, the first thursday is the traditional start of new exhibitions and there is some sort of art market on the streets. Since it was such a hot evening the streets were flooded with people. Two types of people really sticked out of the crowd; there were these really arty looking alternative people and the really trendy people (and I quote; "Women come to the Pearl district to show off their new boobs"). As I mentioned before we had a nice table with a clear view on the passing crowd so we enjoyed ourselves watching the diversity pass by.

Afterwards we went for a walk through the Pearl again and hopped into Powell's. Powell's is the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world and it's somewhat of a readers mecca. I am proud to say that I left the store again without buying any books. But who am I kidding, let's quote the governator "I'll be back". After this we dropped by Mio Gelato and got ourselves a VERY tasty gelato. I would recommend it to everyone that visits Portland. Enjoying our gelato's we walked back to the car and Martin took us home with a 100-turns detour through downtown Portland to show stuff. Altogether it was a fantastic evening, I was enjoying myself greatly (it would have been even nicer with Sita around, but you can't have everything and I think we'll visit the Pearl when she's here in a couple of days) and I think my parents couldn't have wished for a nicer last evening in Portland.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Bella's Birthday

Bella turned two today. She got a lot of presents (including a very nice red bike). All very cute, some of 'em slightly too big for her, but at the age of two growing is not really a problem... After the early morning arousal ("it's my birthday") there was a "little" party at local park. And yes, little is a word that could only be used to describe the size of the birthday girl, since the party itself was anything but little.

Lots of people, lots of presents and the food and drinks section had a large selection of .... well too much too tell actually. I must mention the cake though. There was a "button" theme to the party, so Angee made a cake all topped of with buttons. It looked very professional and tasted great.