Trappist Abbey – Carlton, Oregon

Oddly since I have moved out of the city and closer to the mountains I am now further away from hiking trails. A situation I did not see coming when my husband and I were looking to leave the city. Turns out for hiking we moved in the wrong direction, again oddly since we are situated up against the Costal Mountain Range now.

Between prepping for my hiking trip in Ireland, getting a puppy and just generally wanting to be outdoors more and more I have been on a desperate search for trails. The one I have found so far is a trail on the property of the Trappist Abbey just outside Carlton, Oregon.

The abbey sits among some of the more beautiful bits of the Yamhill Valley wine growers region. The trail itself winds up past the monastery into the hills, leaving the lower trees which makes way for a section of oak dotted farm land and then back up into the heavily wooded areas of the end of the trail.

The hike is free, but they do ask you to be as quiet as possible when walking past the buildings as most of the monks that live on property have taken a vow of silence.

My main mistake on this hike was thinking that it would be dry. It hadn’t been raining for a couple weeks but I should have known with the amount of water we got this year the ground water wasn’t drying up anytime soon.

It was muddy, really really muddy. It was also mid poison oak bloom. So the entire hike was mostly me trying to keep a very excited 40lbs puppy from taking off into the giant fields of poison oak while having a poor footing on a three inch deep mud trial.

Poor planning.

We traversed the mud as far as possible but when the choice was ankle deep mud or shrubs I chose to turn around. From what I can tell though the trail goes quite a bit further than we managed and I plan to go back as soon as my new boots are properly broken in.

I would highly suggest the trail for anyone but in particular someone looking for some stillness. It is dead quiet on the trail partly because of the location and party because of the rules they ask you to follow when on the trail.

When visiting the abbey please be respectful of their rules. They are kind enough to offer the trail up the public but don’t have to do so as it does inevitably cause disruption to their monastic life. You will likely pass a monk or two on the trail, but as many have take a vow of silence remember to be respectful and don’t be offended if they don’t engage in conversation with you. Dogs are allowed but should be leashed the whole time, and as always pick up after them! They also ask you to not bring any electronics with you, which I didn’t realize until after I left. This includes cameras, clearly I managed to break that rule. Whoops! Now I know, next time I will comply.

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Water Front – Lisbon, Portugal

The very first day we spent in Lisbon we walked the waterfront and watched the sun go down. It was bustling with locals and tourists a like. Families walking around between work and dinner. It seemed like the entire city was out enjoying the fresh air brought up the Tangas river from the Atlantic Ocean.

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Throughout the rest of our stay we found ourselves coming back night after night, and not quite on purpose. We walked it when we went up to Belem, we had dinner there, my mom found a boat serving drinks, and a wine cart the rattles around the waterfront serving up wine to passerby’s. My husband found a hotdog vendor claiming to sell American Hot Dogs, it looked more German to me but he seemed to enjoy it.

 

Maybe we were drawn to it because we all are used to being by water, living in costal towns or on fishing boats most of our lives. But looking around and seeing everyone else made me think maybe it is just primal, the freedom of being on water, the openness and possibility.

Lisbon is without a doubt one of the most magical places I have ever been. I would go back there in a heart beat, I would agree to live there without a second thought. It is the most home I have ever felt in another country.

One of these days we will go back, but for now this post brings us to the close of my journey to Portugal, which happens to be almost a year from when first got there.

The Block House Café – Dayton, Oregon

I have an affinity to hamburgers. I didn’t eat red meat for about 20 years and when I went back to eating it I did so with gusto. I LOVE HAMBURGERS. I can’t say that I am terribly picky either, I like fancy gourmet burgers, I like burgers with crazy toping, and I like flat greasy diner burgers from little hole in the wall places.

The Block House Café in Dayton, Oregon has a nice mix of all these traits and come out clean with a burger to suit all type of burger consumers (in my opinion anyway). But most importantly they offer a mini burger that is more suited to my stomach size.

As an added bonus the restaurant resides in the building of the former First Baptist Church of Dayton Oregon. It was built by a family who opened one of the first brick companies in the area and is one of the oldest standing brick buildings in the valley. It has been beautifully restored into a small dining facility with high ceilings, bright windows and a relaxed atmosphere. The wait staff was incredibly nice, and the menu aside from the hamburgers list boasts a large selection of sandwiches and a brunch menu to die for. They also have cinnamon roll pancakes, which are truly incredible. They are located on 301 Main Street in Dayton, open only for breakfast and lunch closing at three everyday.

After we ate we walked around the town, which is mostly just three shop lined streets that flank the main square park. It is a very small town. But it does have a surprising list of places to eat, none of which I have been to yet. One of which, Archie’s is a 1950s themed ice cream shop decorated  to resemble the Archie comics I am so very fond of. Had I not been stuffed and it been a slightly warmer day I would have pounced on the chance to go in. Next time. There is always next time.

 

 

Aeroporto da Portela- Lisbon, Portugal

I wanted to really quickly touch on the Lisbon airport because I think an airport experience can really make or break your trip. So knowing what you are in for can help alleviate some of the travel pains.

Airports in general are inherently stressful, thousands of people of various back ground and cultures all desperately trying to get somewhere. On a schedule they have no control over, while they are quite likely under-slept, under-washed and underfed. I think it is safe to say that the actual getting there is often the least fun part of any trip.

I do a lot of research when planning a trip and try my best to make sure our flights are convenient and touching down on airport that I know will make our trip more pleasant.  In researching for our trip to Lisbon last year, I found a lot of negative opinions about the Lisbon airport but since there is no other viable options in getting to Lisbon on the timeline we were looking at we had no choice but to fly to it.

 

All in all I was fairly impressed with the airport, granted that might in part be due to my low expectations. But it was a lot better than people seem to have claimed. Landing, disembarking, locating the baggage claim and exiting customs was all clearly communicated and easily understood. Locating the rental car counter was just as easy and before we knew it we were on our way. My husband even left his sweatshirt on the plane and when we went back to retrieve it the flight attendant rushed back and got it for us without any hassle.

When we returned the rental car halfway through the trip, again it was all hassle free. We studied the signs heavily before returning the car since they aren’t in English and we knew going in that it would be confusing. But since we had done that pre-work we knew exactly where to go and the return was simple. The attendant was kind, the process was easy and we walked away cheaper than we were quoted originally. This was point a concern of mine as a lot of the reviews said they got hassled for more money upon returning the car. Maybe because we paid for the insurance a head of time, or maybe because we chose a well known world wide rental agency rather than a cheap local one I cannot say. Whatever the reason, it was quick, simple and pleasant.

The only trouble we had with the airport was when we left. We had a VERY early flight, and even though all the travel advice on the planet says to be at your international flight three hours early most ticket counters don’t open until 6am. So if you have a 6am flight (like we did) no one will be there until about an hour before your flight. I am not saying don’t show up early for your morning flights, because you never know who will open when. I am just saying chances are if you show up early for your early morning flight out of Lisbon don’t be surprised if the TV monitors don’t show your flight, and that there isn’t anyone to help you until slightly before your boarding time.

Since we didn’t know this, we didn’t know the airport and none of the signs were in English it took us a while to figure out what to do. So I will tell you, when you enter the airport go up the small flight of stairs to the right, and go back until you see the ticket counters, you cannot see them from the front doors and that was confusing. Once you get checked in you will have to go back into the airport even further to go through security, which is very strict for how unassuming it looks. Again we were confused but we followed the crowds and we wound up in the right place in the end. Last but not least the airport itself looks like it was built in two era’s, one part in a 1970’s sci-fi movie and another part recently renovated. All of the shops, food and bathrooms are located in the recently renovated part to the right of the security stop, and the older part of the airport is to the left where most of the boarding gates are. So now you know! Enjoy and happy traveling.

Evergreen Aviation Museam – McMinville, Oregon

The Evergreen Aviation Museum is the second aviation museum my husband and I have been to. The first being the Palm Spring Flight Museum which I have not yet managed to write up even though it was two years ago that we visited. I will get there, eventually.

The Evergreen Aviation Museum is in McMinville Oregon. It is famous for currently housing the Hughes H-4 Hercules also know as Howard Hughes’ The Spruce Goose. The wooden plane built in 1947 famously only took one flight, which was mostly a 70foot hover above the Cabrillo Beach channel in California. After a not so successful test flight the plane was housed at Aero Club of Southern California next to the Queen Mary as a tourist attraction (both of which I visited as a kid) until 1993 when the plans for Port Disney were abandoned at which time the plane was bought and moved to Oregon.

The Spruce Goose which is quite impressive, however is not the only impressive thing about the museum. The museum as a whole is two large hangars and a theater which screens a variety of flight themed movies. One hanger includes the Spruce Goose as well as other planes starting with models from the very first attempts at human flight up through modern day military and private jets. My personal favorite was this gorgeous antique prop plane. I had visions of boarding with perfectly coiffed victory rolls and a ridiculously expensive mink jacket.

I think my husbands favorite was the Lockheed SR-71Blackbird”  which I have to admit was pretty impressive. The Blackbird is incredibly advanced and modern looking especially considering it was  a stealth spy plane that was flown in the 1960s.

The Blackbird was housed in the second hanger across the parking lot along with the the space flight displays. Which included model replicas of the moon lander, Russian space crafts and model sections of the ISS.

They also had this Russian re-entry pod on display which still has the scorch marks from when it entered back into the earth atmosphere. The space display was my favorite overall, it had displays that covered the beginnings of man’s dreams to travel off planet, information about the Russian and American space race as well as the extensive collection of artifacts, information and models.

For anyone who is interested in vintage planes, modern, military or space travel I would highly suggest the trip down to McMinnville, it is a great way to spend the day especially in Oregon in the winter. It gives you a great way to get out of the house and walk around without getting soaked to the bone.

Addition Information:

  • It is located in McMinnville Oregon, a short drive south of Portland.
  • 500 Northeast Captain Michael King Smith Way McMinnville, OR 97128
  • Tickets are 19-27 dollars depending on the age of the visitor, which is well worth it as you can make a whole day of the visit.
  • They also have an extensive array of special events, so make sure to check the calendar and plan accordingly.

Azulejo – Lisbon, Portugal

If you have seen even just a single image of Portugal, chances are it had azulejo in it. Azulejo is a form of painted glazed tile, whose history dates back to the 13th century. These beautiful painted tiles are synonyms with the country and Lisbon in particular. And for good reason, they are stunning.

My research so far seem to point to Seville Spain being the epicenter of the Azulejo movement in the 13th century, at the time it was heavily influenced by Moorish culture and as such the tiling technique were perfected here.  King Manuel introduced the techniques to Portugal after a visit to Seville and the rest his history.

The Sintra National Palace has an impressive display of both indoor and outdoor tiles. We wound up skipping  it because of sick family members and a want to get settled in Lisbon before Christmas but I would love to go back and visit. There is also a tile museum in Lisbon we didn’t make it to that would probably worth the time if you had an interest in ceramics and history.

My favorite tiles I saw in Portugal were at the Pena Palace in particular the gold tile in picture above. The room was dark so the picture is terrible but I was memorized and wound up holding up a long line of tourist trying to take pictures of it.

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A slightly better picture of the gold tile seen above, but it doesn’t show off how vivid the gold was.  I just want to touch it. Which is frowned upon and often ends in being ejected from the building. So I resisted, this time…

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Pena also boasts a large college of relief tiles, I couldn’t find any information on the history of the relief tiles, though given when Pena was built I would imagine it was all the rage in the 1800s.

Where as the more standard and repetitive tiles were more common closer to the 15th and 16th centuries.

At various points in history production of tiles moved out from Spain and Portugal to their colonies, a large amount of which landed in Brazil.

Where as the blue and white tiles were more likely from the 18th century and of Netherland origin.

And the blue and white tiles with scenic motifs are possibly even newer and mass produced with industrialized methoods in the 19th century.

If you are really intrigued by the history and tile facades Lisbon Lux has a nice round up of the prettiest facades in Lisbon. Complete with addresses for each building so you can go see them for yourself if you are ever in the area.

Lisbon Lux also has a nice round up of the best tile panels in the city, if you are more interested in the mosaic picture rather than the repetitive patterns.

Jackson Bottom Wetlands – Hillsboro, Oregon

One of my favorite local walking areas is the Fernhill Wetlands but since brining the pups home we don’t go there as much. It and the Jackson Bottom Wetlands are nature and bird preserves so dogs are prohibited.

However from time to time, we find our selves without the dog for a short period of time and wanting to get outside the Jackson Bottom Wetlands proves to be the perfect place for a walk.

The area is quite large and there are a good number of trails. Some of them were still flooded when we last went so not all the areas were open, but I think it took us about an hour to walk them all (again all that were actually open that day). It was spring, everything was in bloom and it was one of the first warm days of the year. The trails are very well maintained, well marked and despite the time of year very quiet. We only ran into a couple bird watchers.

Unlike the Fernhill Wetlands there is a very comprehensive interpretive center that holds community events and classes. They have in the past even had sunrise yoga classes outdoors on the observation decks, I would love to make it down for these. Fingers crossed I can get my act together soon!

 

To Visit:

  • Address: 2600 SW Hillsboro Hwy. Hillsboro, OR 97123
  • Open Hours: 10-4
  • Cost: Free but with a suggested donation of 2$ per person.