Sunday, July 22, 2012

Grace Gets Hitched!!

After college, my little sister Grace moved up to the Portland, Oregon, area. Of course, she met a boy. And she decided to marry said boy, setting the date for July 14.

Naturally, the Saad clan had to represent. We scheduled several days in Mt. Hood country to have fun and celebrate the joining of two families.

First of all, we decided to rent a big house that we could all stay in, instead of holing up in separate hotel rooms. This ended up being a GREAT idea. My older sister, Laura, found an AWESOME cabin in Brightwood Loop (off Hwy 26). Three bedrooms, plus a futon for the boys, two baths, gorgeous outdoor space (think water gardens, a hot tub, etc.), and mere steps from the banks of the Sandy River (above). Wonderful.

We arrived late Wednesday, picked up our rental car at the airport, and made the drive. We stopped at Burgerville on the way in (We were starving.), treating ourselves to cheeseburgers with Tillamook cheddar, giant Walla Walla onion rings, and raspberry lemonade. Burgerville is a chain restaurant, but they use a lot of local ingredients. Yum!

We found the cabin without any trouble, unpacked, and settled in for an early night. We were up bright and early the next morning, though. Clay and I sneaked out for secret breakfast at Cafe Aria. They make tasty stuffed waffles there. Clay chose the one with nutella and strawberries inside. I picked a savory version filled with eggs, bacon, and cheese. They also have a small shop, and I took the opportunity to load up on Stumptown Roasters coffee and gourmet sea salt to bring back home.

After breakfast, we all decided to head out to the Columbia River Gorge. Along the way, we stopped at Packer's Fruit Stand. LOVE! First of all, you have great views from this little spot. Then, you've got delicious fresh fruit. (Cherries!) THEN, you've got all the marvelous goodies they make: ice cream, tons of varieties of cookies, jams, jellies, pies, the list goes on. We spent about 45 minutes here, admiring the views, sampling treats, and choosing jams to take home. (I chose a raspberry pear variety and a cherry. Delicious!)

Next, we decided to tour Pheasant Valley Vineyards. What fun! It's a self-guided tour. You get a small booklet, and you use it to guide yourself through the markers in the vienyard. We saw the vines, hiked out to the overlook, and learned about how fruit in the field turns into liquid poetry in your glass. After our hike, we got to return to the tasting room and sample all 12 wines bottled at the winery. I absolutely LOVED their whites, and I'm usually a strictly red-wine drinker. They even have a pear wine, sweet and with a low alcohol content, that slips down the throat like the breath of August. I couldn't resist picking up a bottle for later!

By then, it was time for lunch! We stopped at Full Sail, a restaurant and microbrewery by the river. Hubs had a big glass of their pale ale and a giant burger, while I chose the steak sandwich. Service was quick, food was tasty, and prices were reasonable. They even had a kids' menu! From the windows (and the outdoor deck), you could see the kite surfers down on the water.

By this time, we were figuring that we needed to get out to the Gorge. We started with Multnomah Falls. The last time I'd taken Clay there, he'd been too little to hike. We checked out the falls from the observation area, but that was it. This time, hubs, Clay, and I all hiked up to the bridge. It was so beautiful! And at Horse Tail Falls, little man even took his shoes off to dip his toes in the (COLD) water!

Later, we hiked up to the bridge at Wahkeena Falls, and this might have been my favorite. The hike is short, and few people make it, because Wahkeena doesn't look that impressive from the road. But once you're up there, the bridge is REALLY close to the falls. You get tons of spray, and you feel like you have the whole place to yourself. Don't miss it!

Latourelle Falls was closed for construction, but we did get out and explore Vista House at Crown Point. Amazing views. Clay and Caleb loved running around Vista House, and we took lots of pictures.

After that, Laura, Mom, and I were supposed to go out with Grace and her friends, but we were completely exhausted. We contented ourselves with a grand tour of her new house, then headed back up the mountain to the cabin. As we drove, we worried. See, there was a big mountain festival scheduled for that weekend in Sandy, about 20 minutes down the mountain from where we were staying. And the festival kicked off with a giant parade on Thursday night on Hwy 26, which is the road you use to get EVERYWHERE on the mountain. This parade was supposed to start at 7 p.m. As we approached Sandy, it was 6:55 p.m.

"Dangit, we are going to get caught by this parade!" I wailed. "It'll take us forever to get through here! Maybe we should just open the sun roof and let Mom stand up and wave a little?"

The streets were lined with people stacked 4 or 5 deep. Tons of stadium chairs were everywhere. As we puttered through, we passed just in front of the entire parade. Fire trucks. Beauty queens. The whole she-bang. We barely beat them through town. We had a good laugh over it, then gratefully headed home for bed.

More to come . . .

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