Hiking in Silver Falls

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This Sunday we drove down to Silver Falls State Park for a family hike. It was the perfect weather for it, not too hot and not raining! Since it was Rowen’s first real hike (woohoo!) we decided to take an easy route to start and go from there. She ate up the first loop in no time, and soon we were faced with the choice of heading back up from South Falls to the lodge and being done by noon, or pushing on to Lower South Falls and facing the arduous switchback climb up Maple Ridge. Anyone who has done that loop knows that while the distance is a very manageable 4 miles, it’s the ascent that gets you, especially when you’re a four year old with little legs. Rowen took it in stride. Apart from some stops for snack breaks on a couple of benches she just kept on plugging up the hill, red-faced and rosy-cheeked, but smiling and laughing the whole way. We were very, very impressed.

Rowen at Silver Falls

Rowen standing at the top of South Falls. This is the start of the hike, just down from the lodge.

South Falls

The impressive South Falls waterfall.

Stu at South Falls

Yours truly, smiling at the start of a great hike.

Silver Falls State Park

Rowen and Meaghan investigating monster caves behind South Falls.

Playing in the stream

Playing in the stream.

Silver Falls Hike

A throne fit for a queen. Rowen theorized that this could be used for her castle.

Lower South Falls

Celebrating our arrival at Lower South Falls. It’s a steep descent in places and despite having cobbled steps, it can be quite slippery. Rowen was happy to be down. We hadn’t told her about the impending “up” yet. 🙂

Silver Falls State Park

“I’m building a fairy house, Daddy!” Rowen loves collecting things along the trail to build houses with.

Silver Falls State Park

Using her fishing pole (a stick she found) to catch fish in a nearby stream. This was very near the end of our four mile journey, so we stopped on the bridge to play for a while and enjoy the lovely day.

We’re definitely going to be doing more hiking this summer and I’m excited that Rowen had such a good time. When we were finished with our loop and eating sandwiches at the lodge, she asked if we could go on another hike this same day! I’m super impressed, baby girl. Well done!

Weekend in Astoria – Part One

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Meaghan and I are spending a nice long weekend in Astoria at the Cannery Pier Hotel. It’s a nice change to relax, unwind, and enjoy the Oregon coast together. So far we have been extremely lucky with the weather. The sun has been shining and there hasn’t been a cloud in the sky. We arrived on Friday evening, checked in, and were promptly invited to join a wine tasting in the hotel lobby just a few hours later. A good start!

After getting settled into our room we decided upon a place for dinner and reserved one of the hotel cars. The Cannery owns and operates three classic cars for the use of their guests to get around town, a 1938 Packard (pictured below), and both a classic Cadillac and Buick. They look like something out of a 1930s gangster movie and were a special treat. After enjoying some cheese, biscuits, and free wine at the tasting our chauffeur was soon driving us to our evening destination; the Ship Inn. Boasting traditional English fish and chips, we each enjoyed a battered Halibut and several more glasses of wine.

Astoria June 2010-Cannery Pier Hotel  Astoria June 2010-1938 Packard

The weather was so nice that we decided to walk home after dinner instead of calling our driver for a return journey. The sun was setting as we perambulated down the river-walk back to our hotel. From the balcony of our suite we were treated to the most beautiful sunset. What a great first evening.

Astoria June 2010-Fish and chips at the Ship Inn  Astoria-June 2010-Boat on the river at sunset-Cannery Pier Hotel

Before falling asleep we watched several boats and ships sail down the river and past our balcony. After the sun had finally set we sat and stargazed for a while before finally calling it a night.

Working in an interesting neighborhood

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My latest software consultancy contract has me working in SouthEast Portland.  It’s a fairly industrial area and most of what there is to see is fairly functional.  I work close to a railway line, and just outside the parking lot is a rail crossing bridge that looks exactly like a place you might go to get mugged.  I had to get a photograph to post on the blog, so a couple of days ago I took my camera on my lunchtime walk.  I was able to find a few good shots of the area to really show off its…charm uniqueness.  Along my route I was able to see: the rail crossing bridge (which I don’t cross or even go near), some very prominent graffiti, and a house that was being gutted and torn down.  Amidst all of this, sitting in the parking lot, was a brand new Lamborghini.  Off all the places to see a brand new Italian supercar, this was not one that I would have picked.  It just struck me as a really interesting contrast to the otherwise worn-down and distinctly industrial feeling neighborhood.

Personally, if I owned an Italian supercar it wouldn’t be a Lamborghini for one, it would more likely be an F355 Spyder.  However, even if I did own a Lamborghini or any supercar for that matter, I certainly wouldn’t park it in this parking lot.  Cool to look at though!

SoftSource Christmas Party 2006

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Meaghan and I attended the third annual SoftSource Consulting Christmas party on Friday.  The party was hosted at Blue Hour (L’Heure Bleue) on the corner of 13th and Everett, right around the corner from the Rogue Ales Pub and one of my favorite restaurants: Le Bouchon.  I’d never been to Blue Hour but it was easy enough to find and the valet parking made it painless to get in.  The private dinner hall in which the party was being held has a separate entrance a little further down Everett from the main restaurant door.  Having obtained directions from the concierge, we ascended the stairs, deposited our pair of white elephant gifts (thanks to Meaghan for the beautiful wrapping job) and began to mingle with the crowd.  There were four wines available, a domestic and Spanish red, and two white wines.  Having obtained a glass of the Spanish red, we began introductions.  I was proud to introduce Meaghan to all of my coworkers and to meet many of their significant others for the first time.  The first glass of wine was good.  Just at the point I was about to set my glass down I heard “Refill sir?”  Yes please!  The night was off to a good start.

Mingling continued unabated, introductions occured, name soup ensued.  It might require meeting on a few more occasions before I am able to solidify the name->face correlations of everyone we met that night within my cerebral cortex, so apologies to anyone whose name I temporarily misplace.  Shortly thereafter, the announcement came that we were to take our places for dinner.  The menu informed us that dinner would consist of a mixed greens salad appetizer followed by a selection from one of four entrees topped off with chocolate soufle.  Discarding the vegetarian option on the entree list, we chose the New York Steak over the Snapper and Pork offerings, although we were later informed by both Ellen and Brian (sitting to our left) that they were both quite delicious.  The steak was accompanied by a fantastic potato side that consisted of mixed layers of smashed potatoes and cheese.  We’re still trying to identify the cheeses and figure out how to emulate the recipe.

As the crowd finished chasing chocolate soufle around their plates, Shaun announced that it was time to begin the white elephant gift exchange (the link explains the typical rules – note that SoftSource consider a gift to be frozen after it has been stolen twice).  Meaghan and I made the fatal error of placing our gifts on the floor next to the somewhat crowded gift table (see first picture below), a mistake that resulted in them being two of the final gifts to be taken.  Despite that fact they later proved to be quite popular, being stolen a couple of times each, so it all worked out OK.  Laura took the dubious honor of choosing the most popular gifts of the night, resulting in her making multiple visits back to the gift table as each of them was stolen respectively.

The pictues below show (from left to right):
(1) Laura opening her first gift (a grill I stole later)  (2) Me holding my stolen prize.  (3) The full dinner hall as we sat to eat.
(4) John with his new bedpan.  (5) Leslie opening her wine (the last time she’d see it).  (6) Shaun reading out the first employee gift.

The white elephant giveaway was going well.  John had received a new bedpan, leslie unwrapped her bottle of wine, and I had successfully stolen the grill from Annie who had already stolen it from Laura, thereby freezing the prize and making it mine.  W00t!  Interwoven with the white elephant prize selection, Shaun and Cheryl were running a second “employee only” prize handout.  The white elephant gift action would pause periodically whilst an employee was called up to select a black envelope containing a mystery prize.  I received two Regal Cinema movie tickets, which at current cinema ticket prices equates to about a $20 prize.  Nice!  Other gifts included certificates to Best Buy and Starbucks.

The second round of prize-swapping involved Leslie’s bottle of wine, which was stolen by Cheryl and then in turn by Brian.  Cheryl appeared quite reluctant to part with it at first but the victory shots below depict the action fairly well, including Brian looking smug and Cheryl inspecting her new gift.  The last two (bottom middle, bottom right) are of Leslie opening one of the bags we brought and Mark opening his first gift, disappointed that it wasn’t a second head scratcher.  He later hunted down and stole the original head scratcher.

Nathan (picture 6 below) was lucky enough to receive a movie night in a box, consisting of a large sausage and a brand new copy of Brokeback Mountain.  He was seen sneaking out shortly thereafter, presumably to avoid having his prize stolen.

The final collection of pictures show (from left to right):
(1) Shaun giving his speech.  (2) Laura showing off her head massager.  (3) Mark displaying the same head massager after stealing it.
(4) Kyle opening a bag of chocolates.  (5) Amod admiring the stolen chocolates.  (6) Nathan proudly displaying his copy of Brokeback Mountain.

All in all the party was a great success.  The food was great, the wine was very enjoyable (and in plentiful supply), and the company was outstanding.  It was a really nice way to celebrate my first partial year with SoftSource as well as a great opportunity to get to know more about the people I work with and meet their significant others.