Free Admission To The Portland Art Museum And More This Saturday

Hat tip to Daraius at Million Mile Secrets

This Saturday, the 28th, is the Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day Live event.  This means that across the country admission to participating museums will be free.  To qualify for free admission you have to download a ticket and the ticket is good for you and one guest.  In Portland there are four museums participating in the Museum Day Live event. They are:

The Portland Art Museum

The Oregon History Museum

Blue Sky the Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts

The Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center

Of these four the two that I would be interested in visiting would be The Oregon Historical Museum and the Nikkei Center (as an aside the PAM is great but I was just there a few months ago).  I am a bit of a history nerd so the Oregon Historical Museum is probably self explanatory, but the Nikkei Center is about early Japanese Oregonians.  The center also includes exhibits about the Japanese experience during World War II.  Unfortunately, I will be going to Eugene this weekend and not able to participate.

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Apple And Pear Harvest Is Here: Time For The Fruitloop

If it were not for the terrible weather forecast, this weekend would be a great time to go do the Hood River Fruit Loop.  I really enjoy this Portland day trip and we have done it for the last couple of years.  This weekend has a few things going on that make it a great time to visit the orchards and enjoy the harvest.

The Fruit Loop is a loop through the Hood River Valley which is home to a lot of pear and apple orchards.  The loop is made by Highways 35 and 281.  Along the way are orchards, farms, and vineyards.  We like to go do the Fruit Loop in late September when Honey Crisp apples are ready to eat and the cider is flowing.

We are planning on getting out there this weekend because not only are the Honey Crisp apples ready, but there are also a couple of fun events taking place as well.

First, is the Kiyokawa Family Orchards Desserts Galore event.  Desserts Galore is a dessert tasting feature recipes made with the fall harvest of pears and apples.  Kiyokawa also has hay bail rides for the kids and wine tasting for the parents.  Kiyokawa is number 18 on the map above.

Second, is Apple Valley Country Store Pear Dumpling Day and BBQ.  This is a great place to stop for lunch or dinner and enjoy some good BBQ and some amazing pear dumplings. We visited on this same weekend last year and tried the pear dumplings for the first time. The were amazing!  The country store is number 22 on the map above.


Finally,  we still owe ourselves a trip to the Marchesi Vineyard.  We tried to visit on our last trip out to Hood River but never made it.  We have not been there before but have heard good things.  The vineyard is number 26 on the map above.

Now if only the weather will cooperate.  Saturday looks like it is going to be nasty, but Sunday, at least early on, is looking like the day to go.

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Summer Is Almost Over, Get Out and Enjoy The Weather

Last week we had a bit of a scare weather wise.  We had a nasty storm roll through the area for a couple of days that seemed more like a november rain storm.  September is generally my favorite month here in Portland.  The weather is great, the temperatures are not usually too hot, and of course football has started.  With the nastiness last week I was going to have this post be about enjoyable indoor activities.  Fortunately, the sunshine has returned for the time being so here are some ideas to get outside and enjoy the last of the great summer weather.

The Coast: September is a great month to get out to the coast.  The weather is still fantastic, no rain, and lots of sun.  The temperature will be a little cool (or maybe a lot cooler if you go closer to October) but the crowds are gone, so that is a big plus.

The Columbia River Gorge:  I really like going out to the gorge in September.  In fact we will be returning to Hood River in a couple of weeks to pick apples and visit the apple valley country store for BBQ and pear dumplings.

Hiking:  There is a lot of great hiking around Portland, not just in the gorge but around Mt. Hood, and the coast range as well.  An hour and half to the south is also Silver State Creek Falls.

Parks:  You don’t have to leave Portland to enjoy the remaining good weather. The Zoo, Waterfront park, Forest Park, Washington Park, the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, and many more city parks are great places to spend a few hours enjoying the sun.

Patio Dining:  When you go out for a drink and/or food, take advantage of the weather and find a place with a good patio.  Departure, Cascade Brewing Barrel House, Veritable Quandary, On Deck, Lucky Lab, Nel Centro, and Lardo all have great patios where you can enjoy a nice drink and good food outside.  Also don’t forget the food cart pods.

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Frank’s Noodle House: Amazing handmade noodles

Seriously folks these noodles are killer.  I would say they are the best chinese noodles in town, but frankly they may be the only handmade chinese noodles in town.  I think there are a couple of food carts trying to serve up the same type of stuff but I am not sure if the noodles are handmade like Frank’s noodles.  Regardless, the noodle’s at Frank’s Noodle House are really really good.

We went to Frank’s a week or so ago.  I had been here once before for lunch and I have been meaning to take my wife there.  Well we finally had the opportunity when we dragged the in-laws and the kids here for dinner.  We all ordered noodles except for my mother-in-law (not sure what she was thinking).  I, naturally, ordered the pork belly noodles.

Frank's Noodle House Pork

The noodles are always amazing, and the thin pieces of pork were also dynamite.  The pieces of pork had the right combination of meat, fat, and flavor that makes pork so delicious.  If, sorry, when I go back I don’t think I am going to bother ordering anything else. Perhaps a side of kalbi beef as an appetizer but I’m going to stick with the pork noodles as my dish of choice.

My wife ordered the noodles with squid.  Much like I am a sucker for pork, my wife is a sucker for good calamari.  She generally liked her plate.  She loved the noodles but she thought the quantity of squid was lacking.  As for the pieces of squid that were there, they were good.  Not too rubbery and good flavor.  I took a bite of her dish and it was pretty darn good as well, but the pork was better.

Frank's Noodle House Squid

Frank’s serves their noodles on a hotness scale of 1 – 4.  I ordered a 2 and my wife ordered a 3.  I am a fan of heat, so long as it does not take away from the flavor of a dish.  Heat that just overwhelms is pointless in my book.  I did not think the 2 was hot at all.  As for my wife’s plate, the 3 had some heat to it but nothing overwhelming.  However, it did feel like the heatness (is that a word) of the level 3 could build up over the course of eating an entire plate.

One last great thing about Frank’s noodle house, is the price.  We each got a big plate of noodles for $11 – $13.  That is a pretty darn good deal, considering the quantity and the effort that goes into making these noodles.  The lunchtime prices are even better at around $7-$9. The quantity isn’t the same but good enough for lunch.

Frank's Noodle House on Urbanspoon

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The Columbia River Gorge: One Of America’s Great Scenic Highways

Vista House View

Gary McFarland

The Columbia River Gorge is one of those places that is hard to describe with words.  It is a green, scenic, lush, beautiful, watershed, barely 30 minutes from Portland.  It is 74 miles of beauty stretching from Troutdale to Hood River.  It really is one of the top scenic highways in America.  Sound appealing?  I hope so, because not only are the views great but there is also some great hiking to be had as well.

This past weekend my in laws were visiting from Detroit.  My father-in-law is really into photography so we spent Sunday out at the Gorge.  Some of the photos in this post are his and some are mine (you can visit his website: here, and if you live in the Detroit area he does commercial photography as well).  We started our journey through the gorge at the Portland Women’s Forum and ended it at Hood River.  We had stops along the way at the Vista House, Wahkeena Falls, Oneonta Gorge, Horsetail Falls, an attempted stop at Marchesi Vineyards, and ended our day at Full Sail Brewing.  We skipped Multnomah Falls on this trip but I will include it in my discussion below since it is a popular stop.

To get to the Columbia River Highway take I-84 east to Exit 22.  Follow the road to the top of the hill and then veer left.  Turn left on to the Columbia River Highway and your first stop, the Portland Women’s Forum, is just a few minutes down the road.

Portland Women’s Forum

Portland Women's Forum

Our first stop in the morning was the Portland Women’s Forum.  Unfortunately, for us when we got there it was raining.  Nonetheless the views were still pretty amazing.  The pictures I took did not do it justice.  There is also an old road that you can hike, but there is much better hiking awaiting you further in the gorge.

Vista House

Vista House

Our next stop was the Vista House.  Prior to reaching the Vista House and just a mile or so down the road from the Portland Women’s Forum is the turn of to go up Larch Mountain. We did not stop at Larch mountain on this trip but there are some spectacular views from Larch Mountain and some hiking.

The Vista House is a short drive from the Women’s Forum.  The Vista House was built to be both an observatory and a rest stop for travelers along the Columbia River Highway. I’ve been to many a rest stop in my day and I can’t think of a prettier one.  The views from up here are also pretty spectacular.  The photo at the beginning of this post was taken by my father-in-law from the Vista House.

Wahkeena Falls

Wahkeena Falls

Wahkeena Falls Creek

Gary McFarland

Our first hike of the day was at Wahkeena Falls.  It is a very short hike from the parking area to the top.  There is a bridge that crosses right in front of the falls and is so close you feel like you can reach out and touch Wahkeena Falls.  The hike is only 2/10 of a mile to the bridge but it is a bit steep.  It is another half a mile to the top where there is a lookout.

At the base of the trail back by the road you can hike a half mile to Multnomah Falls.  There is a lot of parking around Wahkeena so if the parking lot is full at Multnomah Falls consider parking here.  If you walk along the road and skip the trail, Multnomah Falls is only a quarter mile away.

Multnomah Falls


We skipped Multnomah Falls on this particular trip.  If you have never been, however, it is a must stop.  There is a lodge that offers food.  My favorite thing to eat here is actually at the snack bar on the side of the lodge that sells ice cream cookie sandwiches (vanilla ice cream squished between two chocolate chip cookies, yum!).   There is a very popular mile long hike to the top of the falls.  I really enjoy the hike and it has a lookout you can walk onto right at the top of the falls.  If you continue hiking along the trail it will take you to the top of Larch Mountain.  The hike is a 14 miles roundtrip and will take you 5.5 to 6 hours. Once you get a little bit past Multnomah Falls the crowd virtually disappears.

Oneonta Gorge

Oneonta Creek

Gary McFarland

For us, our next stop was at Oneonta Gorge. The hike is almost entirely along a creek bed. The picture above was taken about a quarter mile into the hike when you reach a point where the gorge is blocked by a couple of big boulders and fallen trees.  If you want to continue the hike you will have to climb over this obstacle.  Be careful climbing over, especially if it has rained.  Once you are on the other side though, the scenery is gorgeous.

Oneonta Gorge

This is a picture I took from the other side of the log and boulder obstruction. Normally, you would not have this to yourself but because it was raining most of the day not that many people were out hiking. It was pretty cool being along at the bottom of this beautiful gorge.

Oneonta Falls1

This last picture was taken from where I stopped along the creek bed.  You can just see the falls around the corner.  This was the last stop for me because I did not bring a change of clothes and you have to do this to make it across:

Oneonta Deep

This is one of my favorite spots along the gorge and a great place to go to escape the heat on a really hot day. The beginning of the hike is also a great place for kids.  The water is about puddle deep before the obstruction and my two year old had a blast splashing in the water and throwing rocks.


Horsetail Falls

Horsetail Falls was our last stop along the Columbia River Highway.  The falls are right off the road and we stopped to get a quick picture and use the restroom.  There is, however, a great hike here that is only 2.5 miles long.

Marchesi Vineyards

Once we left the Gorge we got back onto I-84 and continued to Hood River.  Our next stop was supposed to be at Marchesi Vineyards.  However, once we got here hunger took over and so we decided not to stay and go get an early dinner.  I have not been here before so it is on my list of places to stop when we return to Hood River next month to pick apples along the famous fruitloop.

Full Sail Brewing

Full Sail Stout

Our last stop of the day was at Full Sail brewing. I have a funny relationship with Full Sail. I think the beer you can buy in the store is mostly ok. The brewery, however, offers some beers not sold in stores that are really good.  Whenever I am in Hood River I always stop at full sail to at least grab a pint.

Full Sail 26

After eating dinner at Full Sail we hopped on I-84 and took the quick drive home. We started our day at 10:30 am and got home around 7:00 pm. It was a fun filled day filled with lots of pretty views and some good hiking. I think the Columbia River Gorge is a must for anyone visiting the Portland area.

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