Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Oregon Family Reunion Top 5

I wanted to do a recap of our family reunion in Oregon this past summer, but instead of just a random recap I liked the idea of doing a Top 5 list. We spent the majority of our time in Salem, but traveled around a bit to Portland, Albany and the coast as well. Some of my favorites are places, some of these are activities and some of these things are...well you'll see.

  1. The Beach
The last (and only other) time I've been to Oregon is when I was 12 and the Oregon coast is something I remember well. This time we were in central Oregon in Pacific city (vs. southern Oregon in Brookings when I was a kid), but if you've ever seen Goonies--and that should be all of you-- then you're familiar with Oregon's beautiful, rocky coast. I was surprised by how cold it was for the middle of summer (a general feeling I had with Oregon actually) but I know that's the norm in those parts. Thus sweaters and blankets on the beach are totally normal. If I'm being honest I prefer a warm beach experience to a cool one, but that's part of what makes the Oregon coast so unique. I do remember there being a lot more tide pools and starfish in the southern Oregon coast, but according to my brother in law there was some disease the recently killed off a lot of the starfish--must have been a doozy since we didn't see any. Regardless, I always love the beach.


2. The Enchanted Forrest

Give me a children's hang out that is a little kooky, a little charming and actually kinda fun and I'm in! The Enchanted Forest is a quaint little theme park in Salem Oregon that delivers up pint sized amusement, campy photo ops, and just enough rides for the big kids to have a good time. The one thing that was kind of a problem is that this place is built on a hill and terrible for accessibility. Even Lamp's power chair struggled up those hills. Pushing the stroller was crazy hard! I don't know how you would even do a traditional wheelchair. The nice thing about this place is that's its pretty small, so we could let the 9 year old pack run around on their own and not be too worried. Such a cool, quirky place and all the kids had a good time.

3. Berry Picking

Berry picking is certainly not unique to Oregon, but the fact that you can pick berries for free on the side of the road is pretty special. Well done Oregon. We stopped at one place for roadside picking, but then went to a berry patch and peach orchard to pick some fresh fruit for pie making. So good! Also you can see that we're sporting the family reunion t-shirts that everyone got to tie-dye themselves. (This was totally arranged by my husband. When I asked him why we're not just using RIT dye, he laughed in my face. This stuff was the real deal and that's why these colors are so vibrant. Of course it also makes it a little more scary to do with young children--this was definitely an outdoor project, and a one of the favorite activities of the trip.)


4. Hiking
The beautiful hikes in Oregon are hard to beat. I've already talked about our Oneota Falls hike as one of my favorite hikes ever, but we also did Silver Falls State Park with the extended family. Gorgeous waterfalls with lush green, moss covered rocks is definitely an Oregon favorite. Silver falls is one of those place with multiple trails where you can go a little or a long way. A few of us opted to go a long way, and it was a teensy bit longer than we anticipated, but really beautiful and totally worth it.


5. Downtown Portland
I love spending time in a new city's downtown area and Portland was no different. We did OMSI with the kids and some old friends from NYC in the morning and spent the afternoon getting ice cream at Salt & Straw, wandering around shops and of course going to Powell's bookstore. I had actually never heard of Powell's before asking for trip recommendations, and part of me thought, Really? A "must see" in Portland is a bookstore? but the people were right--it's great. We let all the kids choose one book to purchase and brought a couple home ourselves. On a personal note and for the record, I have to say I thought Portland was cool but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I preferred downtown Cincinnati to Portland. I don't mean to start any west coast/mid-west wars and yes comparison is the thief of joy and all that, but for me it was actually a really good thing to realize how cool I think Cincinnati is. Just saying.



Honorable Mention: Family
I say honorable mention tongue in cheek because of course, family. Spending time with family is pretty great. Whenever the kids are with their cousins it's like they disappear for days on end and they exist in this new world where it's one long endless playdate with meetings on the trampoline, secret code words and late night sleep-overs. The adult children get just as caught up with evening card games, ice cream and inappropriate humor. It was fantastic. Additionally, we got to see my grandpa and aunt from my dad's side of the family. My grandpa had never met my kids and my aunt and I were trying to remember the last time we saw each other (over 20 years?), but my little Lamp jumped right into grandpa's arms the second she met him and just like that, the years dissolved away. We're family.


Oregon you were great, family you were better.
Until next time.
XO

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