Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oregon Trail: Bonneville to Klamath

Out of Portland, we stopped by the Bonneville Dam, fish ladder and hatchery.

The hatchery specializes in many different salmon species. Unfortunately it was not hatching season, but some of the tanks still had a few salmon fry left.
Hey, small fry!

When they are big enough, they are released back into the wild, though all of them are tagged so you can see how many make it back home later in life.

I've been to the salmon hatchery before as a child, but since then they added a sturgeon viewing center.  They had monster sturgeon!
Sak fed some of the resident rainbow trout, and then we headed over to the fish ladder.

Inside, staff count all the fish that swim by.

I remember being a bit bored the first time I came here, probably because my parents stayed here *all day* counting fish! I guess that means I'm getting older, because this time I didn't have a problem taking a seat and staring at the fish windows for a while.
Giant water turbine! 
Afterwards, we crossed the river into Washington, just for Sak to say he's "been there".  (And yes, Pretzel, I know this doesn't count! We'll do your state properly someday, promise!)

We headed home via Bend, Oregon - passing Mount Hood along the way.

We pulled over along the road due to a "museum" sign, and ended up at the High Desert Museum.  It was pretty cool - a mixture of Native American, Lewis and Clark, and early mining history - as well as Oregon animals!
Not on exhibit, but the squirrels were the cutest!
They had a replica lumber farm set up, including a working mill!

And outhouse...
(With squirrel in front!)
And even a grotesque display of carrion!
Love the kid's expression. Whhhhaaaaatttt???
We met a docent there, who was originally from the Peninsula, and had a nice conversation about the pros and cons of moving to Oregon.  Obviously there were more pros, but who could blame him? He gets to be a museum docent and dress up like an early settler, lucky guy!

Anyway, continuing South, we stopped by Lava Butte, a big pile of volcanic rock.

Nearly a mile up, the view from the top was spectacular!

Trees, trees and more trees!

Our last stop was at Klamath Falls, which apparently is the equivalent of California's Bakersfield. A bit of an armpit.  But their armpit at least has a lake!

And this store called Fred Meyer (an Oregon chain?).  It was a pretty crazy department/grocery store, kind of like a Super Walmart and a Whole Foods combined.  Mind blowing!  Seriously, they had a vitamin/grain dispenser section that "smelled like Whole Foods", and everything from jewelry to clothes to your standard bottles of Gatorade.  An everything store!

Anyway, our trip was even more amazing than I had hoped it to be, and I'm glad we had the opportunity to go! I'm also glad that we didn't get sick of each other in the car for so long, and that I didn't run us off any cliffs or anything.

For you that live in Oregon, take pride in your beautiful state - and for those who don't, it's well worth a visit!
Personal MPG record! Woooo!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Oregon Trail: Portland

So if Oregon is all about the trees, Portland must surely be all about the bridges. And I thought the Bay Area had a lot!

We spent a couple days in Portland, and found we liked the city quite a bit.  It almost had a San Francisco vibe (hipsters, hippies and the just plain crazy), only it was cleaner, less confusing directionally, and the downtown light rail was free. Free! This poor MUNI prisoner was in heaven.

Anyway, upon arriving, we checked out the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.
It reminded me of the Tech Museum in San Jose, which means we definitely enjoyed ourselves.  And though there are inevitably a lot of children at these types of museums, they aren't just for kids.  The exhibits are informative, and if you take time to really read through them, you'll find you learn a lot!
Giant mouse made with a bowling ball, and tons of "brain puzzles".
Seriously, they had patent books! I'm so glad they didn't give my man Tesla the Edison-shaft like he usually gets.
They had a Bodyworld-esque exhibit of fetus development that was just amazing.  It showed babies in each week of life, and though fascinating, it was also pretty somber knowing that it was the actual baby shown, and that the kids never made it for one reason or another. Obviously no pictures there.

No pictures allowed either for their special exhibit on gaming.  Let's just say Sak and I spent more than half the museum time there...playing old favorites of ours like Lemmings! It was basically a big arcade. Very popular.
They also have a submarine, though we didn't go inside.
For dinner, we went downtown to Thai Peacock.  I don't know why, but there is an abnormally high amount of Thai food in Oregon.  Not that I'm complaining though, it's delicious!
Pineapple fried rice! Yum yum.
Followed up by a visit to the exalted largest independent bookstore ever: Powell's.

It was a maze of fantastic finds, and I left with some postcards and a used Star Wars novel. I liked that they even had vintage maps and posters of Oregon, and a "rare books" section on the top floor.

The next day we had breakfast at Kettleman Bagel Company - Stumptown coffee and an Oregon lox bagel! Mouthwatering.

Then it was off to the zoo!
Loved all the little statues placed around the zoo.
Bobcat and bear!
If I were a zoo creature, I wouldn't mind living at the Oregon zoo. It was very green and spacious! They even let the bears climb up the trees!

Though I was bummed that the beaver family was sleeping, there were still lots of other animals out and about!
Wolf and giraffe!
Then I saw two meerkats in a bland little habitat with a water cooler for a home.

But it turns out these guys are senior citizens, and can't handle a steep termite mound. :P

After the zoo, we headed back downtown for lunch.
These water fountains were all over the place. Are they drinking fountains?
We ended up on a row of food trucks, where we had a Korean burrito and a horchata!

Then we kind of did the "wander" thing.  And I took my obligatory Chinatown photo.
This marks my 7th Chinatown location.  Someday maybe I'll go to real China.
Though, from what I saw, Portland's Chinatown was mostly restaurants.  A day later we returned to the area to do the Shanghai Tunnel Tour, which I loved-loved-loved.  Sak and I were huge fans of the Cities of the Underworld series on the History channel, and it was just like that! (Actually, I'm pretty sure it was an episode.) We went through the storefront service entrance manhole-thing, which we have a ton of in downtown SF.  Makes me wonder whether there is interesting bits of history in our underground lairs!

Not too far from Chinatown was the famed Voodoo Doughnuts!

Though I wanted to try all the weird ones, we stuck with a bacon maple bar and a classic voodoo doughnut.

Though the bacon maple bar looks really simplistic, it was amazing.  So amazing that I think next time I buy doughnuts I will put bacon on top of them. A definite, no-fail, food pairing. It was worth the line and prices for this place.

Though we only had a little taste of Portland, we definitely liked what we saw! I would definitely visit again, maybe for an anime convention? That would be fun!
Me and the world's smallest park. Nothing screams "tourist" than standing in the middle of a intersection and posing for a picture! :D  Thanks Marie for all your trip planning help!

Up next we had the long (but fun!) trip home.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Summer of Cold Noodle: Sesame Noodles

Even though it's just now starting to really warm up here in the Bay, it's officially the last Friday of the summer!

For this last cold noodle dish, I tried to make Chinese cold sesame noodles from a NY Times recipe.  I was a little scared though since the dish called for the dreaded "chili" word.
Forever a hot-sauce wimp.
I bought some fresh egg noodles from Ranch 99.

And went to town mixing the sauce up, only to find that it smelled suspiciously like hiyashi chuka sauce. I'm guessing hiyashi chuka is an adapted version of this?

Anyway, I went easy on the chili sauce, and mixed it all up together, adding peanuts and cucumber to the top.

Sesame noodles!
Seriously my favorite hashi ever, Kristin. Love you.
But when we went to eat them, it was like eating straight up peanut butter! It was so heavy and sticky!
They look good though.
I shoved the rest in the fridge and decided I'd figure out what to do with them the next day.  However, when I tasted them on day two - surprise! They were delicious. Not too nutty at all! And the chili sauce mixed in nicely with the sesame paste and peanut butter, so it wasn't too spicy.  I think maybe letting it chill a bit and soak into the noodles while in the fridge was the key.  So next time I make this dish, it'll be day-in-advance type of food.  Plus Sak and BIL were wondering where the meat was, so some chicken will probably be added as well.

I've had fun finding new cold noodles to try this summer, but I know there's plenty more out there to be had! I will do research in the off-season and hopefully continue my cold-noodle-chronicles next summer!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Oregon Trail: Newport & Tillamook

If I could describe Oregon in one word, I think I'd have to pick "trees".  There are SO many trees in Oregon! Firs and pines galore!

Anyway, after driving through a seemingly endless forest, we reached the coastal town of Newport.

First we hopped to the Aquarium, and though it was much smaller than the big giants like Osaka and Monterey Bay Aquarium, it was still very well put together.
Loved the door handles!

They had an incredibly fun and active puffin/sea bird exhibit, some otters and seals, and a big octopus. I also really enjoyed a unique section featuring tanks with baby sea-life, like this baby dungeness crab:
Grow up so I can eat you!
He was only an inch or so, and fast - hence the blurry picture. Baby rock cods and other fish were so cute.

Anyway, after the aquarium we continued South to Seal Rock Beach.
Dude, I've got a serious Gollum pose going on.
Unfortunately it wasn't quite low tide, so there wasn't much tide-pooling to be had, but the beach was still beautiful.
And still teeming with life!
Mussels and crows? What, did they scare the seagulls away?!
Hungry, we headed into town for some sea-side fare.
Nope, not raw chicken legs or briny sea lion snout.
Now, growing up very, very close to the Monterey Bay - I have a high standard for judging charmy-coastal-towns.  Newport didn't disappoint. It definitely had charm.

Of course, there are two things you can always find in a quality coastal town. First - clam chowder.

We ate at Mo's, which has a bit of a chain around coastal Oregon.  Though I liked the addition to shrimp in my chowder bowl, they put bacon in it which totally overpowered the poor clams.  And just for the record - my favorite chowder is from Monterey's Fisherman's Wharf, my favorite bread bowl is from San Francisco (the more sour the better!), and my favorite overall is Splash Cafe in San Luis Obispo, because they toast their bread bowl and put butter all over it. Chowder is very near and dear to my heart!  Anyway, Sak had fish and chips because he loves fried fish, and they were amazing in chunky, flaky, juicy goodness.  Probably the best fish sticks I've ever had. Mmm.

To be good Oregon-tourists, we ordered a piece of Marionberry Cobbler to go, and then searched for the second Coastal-town-staple: salt water taffy. Yum.
College flavors, and butter!
The next day we left early and stopped at a beach called Devil's Punchbowl.
Creepy morning beach fog!
No one was there, which was romantic and eerie all at the same time.
Mini lagoon?
It was also low-tide, which meant lots of critters to look at!
What is that black shell thing on the right?
Now, I had to look up why it's named Devil's Punchbowl, and I find out (after the fact, *sigh*) that there's this nearby:
Ughh now I have to go back so I can actually see it! :P

But beautiful beaches aside, it was high-time we got to the point of this trip - the cheese!

The Tillamook Cheese Factory was pretty cool, and the best part is that it's free!

We walked around the self-guided museum, and got to see people packaging the local cheese.

And of course there were cheese samples and discount cheese you could buy.

Squeaky cheese was my favorite - it literally squeaks as you eat it!

I think I'm a Tillamook convert now, especially after I figured out Lucerne cheese isn't actually made in Lucerne, CA.  What's up with that?!

We topped our cheese trip off with some grilled cheese sandwiches and ice cream!
Sticky bun ice cream is a great flavor, fyi.
After just a day and a half in Oregon, I decided I really liked the state. It wasn't the always-raining, hermity-mountain-man kind of place I hear about in the California-elitist propaganda. @_@.  Kidding, of course. California would never do that...

Next, it was onward to Portland!