Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mom Riggott Visiting

 This past week Emily’s mom Patti came out for a long weekend visit. She arrived in Portland on Wednesday so Emily took Thursday and Friday off to hang out with her. The two spent the day shopping in Portland on Thursday before driving back to Corvallis Thursday night. When I got out of work on Thursday I met them at home and we went out to dinner at Pastini’s on 9th street for some great pasta as usual and to catch up. By the time we got back to the apartment it was late so we just watched a couple quick episodes of BBC Life on Blu-ray before calling it a night. I took the couch and let the two of them have the comfy bed while she was visiting. I actually think our big red couch is pretty comfy to sleep on!

Moth on Daisy on top of Chip Ross

Emily and Mom on top of Chip Ross
I took a half day of work on Friday and met Emily and her mom at the Flat Tail Brewery for some good lunch and good beer. We then decided instead of driving to the coast to drive up Mary’s Peak but upon getting there found the road to be closed for construction… whoops. Instead we drove back to Corvallis to check out the easy hike up Chip Ross Park instead. On the way I had Emily pull over to grab a huge stalk of the invasive flower Fox Glove to show her mom. Invasive species suck but ironically many of the ones in Oregon are actually pretty yummy or cool looking (yummy Himalayan blackberries, and beautiful purple Fox Glove). We had a nice walk up Chip Ross and hung out at the top for some great views down over Corvallis and east towards the snow-capped Sisters volcanoes. I took the camera with the tripod and got some good shots including some macro shots of a tiny moth on some daisy’s nearby.

Knights beating Walla Walla
We stopped at the Co-op for a variety of good Oregon Beers for her mom to try before heading to the Knights vs. Walla Walla game at OSU. We parked near COAS so that we could walk across the quad for her mom to see a bit of campus. The game was a lot of fun and I think she enjoyed watching some baseball in the nice weather. We almost got hit by a foul ball that went sailing over our heads into the glove of a guy above us who made an amazing catch. We got some hot dogs, beers and I had a great rootbeer float! As usual the Knights won the game. From there we headed back to the house to watch a movie called “The Ghost Writer” with Ewan McGregor who Emily and I have a lot of respect for after watching the documentaries of his round-the-world motorcycle adventures. It was a pretty good movie but both ladies fell asleep before the end… ;)


On Saturday we drove out to Gathering Together Farms for a delicious breakfast just like we did a few weeks earlier for Emily’s birthday. My ham steak wasn’t quite as big as last time but the food was just as awesome and Emily and I agreed that we have become big fans of French Press Coffee! As we were leaving we saw an alpaca farm across the street so we decided to go over and check it out. They really are super cute animals and there were a bunch of baby ones hopping around the field as well. Most had just been shaven for their coat so they only had a big tuff of fur on their heads making them look even more ridiculous! We stopped in the store and I chatted a bit with the owner who was jealous of our Nikon and told me she wanted the same exact model. I felt bad we didn’t buy anything but maybe we will go back in the future and pick something up. I did leave with a bunch of really funny alpaca photos though!

Doug and Avery

B.D. and Avery
When we got back to town we walked through the Farmer’s Market which impressed Emily’s mom I think. We then spent a few hours browsing stores around town before heading back to the house for a couple hours to relax. We left at about 5 to head over to Danielle and Scott’s for Eric and Jamie’s BBQ (Eric worked at Watershed Briefly with me before moving to California and they had a very cool son named Rhett). Emily’s mom got to meet literally everyone at Watershed I think and was introduced to the game of washers as well. I brought over the BBQ chicken legs we had been marinating and there was a multitude of other dishes to choose from as well. We definitely ate well and it was a great BBQ. We stayed until about 10pm when I could tell Patti was getting tired and headed back for a relaxing evening.

Emily and Mom Cape Lookout

Emily and Mom Pacific City
On Sunday, the last day of her visit, we decided to head up the northern coast of Oregon which she hadn’t seen yet. We had a quick breakfast in the apartment before driving out to Newport with some coffee we picked up along the way. We first stopped at Nye Beach so Emily and her mom could window shop while I went down to the beach for some photo practice. Next it was on to Devil’s Punchbowl where the wind was whipping so we didn’t stay there long either. By the time we got to Pacific City we were pretty hungry so we decided to stop at the Pelican Brewery there for lunch. The beer was good but the food was so-so and I wasn’t impressed by the very bland pulled-pork sandwich I was served. I was told later by co-workers we should have eaten a couple smaller places there instead. While we were there I saw a beautiful wedding on the beach behind the brewery and we got some great photos of Haystack Rock and the massive sand dune where young people were sandboarding, along with some great shots of Emily and her mom using some photo tricks I’d been learning.

Bee in mid-flight

Cape Meares Lighthouse
From there we headed north along the scenic coast past Cape Lookout and a great overlook where we stopped for a few photos as well all the way to Cape Meares where we pulled in for a walk. I had mentioned to Patti she might see some puffins and I felt bad when we didn’t see any there. It was a cold day and we didn’t see many cormorants on the cliffs either as they were all way out on the rocks offshore instead. I spent some time trying to capture bees in mid-flight as they were pollinating flowers around the Cape Meares lighthouse we walked down to. After walking along the trails and skipping the Giant Octopus tree this time around we drove east to Portland and got her mom to the airport at around 8pm for her 10pm flight home. This was certainly more of a relaxing trip for her than the last time she was out here when I sent her and Keith on a 1,500 mile drive around Oregon. This time she got to experience more of what it is like to live in Corvallis during the beautiful summer and I think she left with an appreciation of why we like it out here so much. Now I hope my mom will come out for another visit soon.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Silver Falls Photo Session

Lower South falls

Upper South Falls
Took a drive out to Silver Falls this afternoon to practice with Jason’s Tripod. I took backroads on the way out and tried to find a bird pond that was in the Willamette Loop Birding guide but didn’t actually see any pond where it should have been resulting in a bit of wasted time and driving. Once at Silver Falls I had further bad luck as about half the photos I set up shots for and took the time to take correctly came out terrible. This was because on my walk back along the ridge from the short loop I hiked I realized that probably should have turned off the vibration reduction of the lens while it was on the tripod… I did a quick Google search on my phone and found that everyone with the same camera noted that it should indeed be turned off, especially for long exposures… which unfortunately for me was what I was practicing that day. So, before I left I returned to South Falls and made sure I had all the correct settings and took a few more slow shutter shots which did indeed come out looking good. I guess this camera is going to be a constant learning experience for me for a while to come.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Poker Night

Poker with the boys

I'm winning!
On Saturday night while the girls were in Portland with Cassie for her bachelorette party at a drag show Kevin and I hosted poker night on our side for Garrett and his friends. Garrett had already had a bachelor party climb of Mt. Hood hitting up clubs after with his buddies so I guess this was kind of a 2nd bachelor party for him. We had a bbq and played washers with music for a while before they broke out poker chips and I added two leaves to our dining room table to make it big enough for us all. I was reluctant to play poker because I suck at it but Kevin convinced me to play and Garrett bought me with $5 bucks of his own. I got some coaching from Kevin and one of G-Dog’s friends and before I knew it I was actually doing well and had a significant pile of chips in front of me. By 1am I was able to pay Garrett back the $5 buy in but when I asked if I could cash out I was told it would be lame by Kev so I kept playing until about 2:30 when I was tired and just started vomiting my chips onto the table in ridiculous bluffs until all my chips were gone and I could step away from the table. We put on the Big Lebowski for background noise but upon Miwa’s request I changed it to my favorite, Anchorman, instead. I think everyone had left by about 3:30 in the morning. I got a cute text from Alexa of Emily in a sexy outfit in Portland and it looked like the girls were having a good time too.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Emily's Birthday

Huge Portions!
Beautiful Country Restaurant
I feel kind of bad that Emily’s birthday wasn’t a rager like I had hoped it would be. A bunch of our friends were out of town for the weekend and with Kevin and Alexa gone on their honeymoon still in the Galapagos and Colin gone we just didn’t have the regular crew for a legit party. Instead Danielle had the wonderful idea to head out to Gathering Together Farms for breakfast which we hadn’t been to yet. Emily and I were both really happy about the choice as the food was amazing. I had a duck confit omelette and Emily had poached egg meal I believe. My extra $1 ham steak on top was enormous and we all also enjoyed some Mimosa’s and my new favorite type of coffee, the french press. By the time we left we all were so stuffed we could barely walk.
We spent the early afternoon relaxing at home after the breakfast and then headed over to Megan Cook’s house for a “The Masters” BBQ for all the girls who just defended including Lindsay, Megan and Trisha. Scott and Danielle also showed up but for the most part we only knew about half the people at the party. We stuck around for a bit before heading home to head out and catch a late showing of X-Men: First Class with Colin and Amanda. I tried to make it an exciting day for Emily but, like my birthday last summer, it just seemed like a lot of our friends were just not around but we did have a great day with Scott and Danielle and then Colin and Amanda late night so I think she had a good day anyway.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Columbia Gorge and Sushi!

I got ya baby!
Scott Finding the Shrine
This past weekend, being the last with Jenn in town before she leaves for the summer, Scott, Danielle, Jason, Jenn, Emily and I all piled into Scott’s Subaru and headed up to Portland and the Gorge for the day on Sunday. We first stopped at REI to look for bike shoes for Emily’s birthday that we couldn’t find at the REI outside of San Francisco. After the quick stop and some coffee we headed into the Gorge for some hiking.

Upper Latourel Falls
Slow Shutter Upper Falls
I was surprised to find that nobody but I had hiked the trails I had planned for the day. The first short hike did was the Latourel Falls loop which brought us to both the very tall (250’) lower falls and the upper falls deep in the gorge which was 100 feet tall and a horsetail type. I had our new Nikon with me and was really enjoying practicing slow exposures to show the water in motion over the falls but found out that for longer exposures you definitely need a tripod as the majority of the photos came out blurry. Hiking up into the gorge everyone seemed to get ahead of me but I took my time walking off the trail down to the very edge of the lower falls and peering over the 250 foot tall falls down to the creek and bridge below for some photos. When I finally did catch up to the group Scott had somehow found some golden Buddhist shrine objects tucked under a large rock in the stream while looking for newts. None of us had any idea why they would be there completely unmarked… weird… From there we traveled up the trail and deeper into the gorge to the beautiful upper falls which we hung out at for a bit while Jason and I toyed around with our DSLR’s. The descent on the other side of the stream was equally amazing as we stopped first at an extremely steep overlook with a 300 foot drop which scared both Danielle and Jenn but Emily was brave enough to get a cool photo of her holding on to me at the edge. Later down the trail we came to a cool tree whose trunk hung over the trail which I had been to before. Jenn of course climbed up it and Danielle stuck her first in a branch hole for some funny shots. We ended the hike by crossing over the old Columbia Historic Highway and then under the bridge to check out the lower falls from below where I think I got the best shots of the day. Jenn decided to go on a quick bouldering adventure on the way out as well before we left the area and continued east to check out Horsetail and Ponytail Falls.
Jenn assualting a tree
When we arrived at Horsetail Falls just off the road we found some classic truck balls on a trailer hitch we of course had to get some funny shots with… What kind of person still thinks this is cool??? Must be from Eastern Oregon… Before hiking up the trail we got some photos of Horsetail Falls as well an Apple Fanboy couple who were sitting in camp chairs with two iPhone, 2 iPads and a Macbook Pro. I couldn’t tell if they were doing it to show off their tech blatantly or if they were actually working on photography and video editing which I kind of saw on the walk by. We climbed the steep switchbacking trail up to beautiful PonyTail Falls which we could walk behind just like Upper Latourel Falls. We hung out here for while getting photos and watching Scott again look for critters before Danielle indicated she was starving so we descended back down to the car and headed towards Portland.
Jenn decides to rock climb
Passing under the historic highway
On the drive we all kind of agreed on some time of sushi or thai place to eat so I got out Yelp and found a place with rave reviews in downtown Troutdale. Emily and I had never been to downtown Troutdale and were pleasantly surprised by how nice it was. We were even more surprised by the ridiculous deal we found ourselves walking into. For just $14 the special was this:
Horsetail Falls
Aww... Jenn & Jason
1 California Roll
3 Pieces of Sashimi
2 Spring Rolls
And one full entry of your choice off the menu… which we were astounded to find included all of the entry’s 10-$14 in price! Emily and I also ordered a separate roll as well and it was the first time that I left a sushi restaurant with a take home bag! Everyone was super happy and I’m sure Jenn had a great time on her last weekend with us before the summer. We will all definitely miss her! Come back soon!
Best Sushi and Friends Ever!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Defense Parties

Tonight Emily and I attended several defense parties of our friends. We first headed over to Robert and Andrea Allan’s place for Candice’s PhD defense party. Candice played on Emily’s soccer team for a while and has been over to our place for a Halloween Party. Emily and I both get jealous every time we go to their house because the backyard is so beautiful.

From there Emily had a soccer game in the sports park and then stayed for a second game there before we were able to leave and head to Squirrel’s for Lindsay’s Defense Party. Lindsay had defended the previous morning and Colin, Scott and I headed over to campus to check it out. Her study was about how Caspian Terns in San Francisco Bay effect the salmon populations there through their feeding range and habits. Last weekend we had actually been to several places where Lindsay had studied so all of her maps in the powerpoint looked familiar to me. There were a ton of people out at Squirrels when we got there but the general consensus, according to Jenn at least was to motivate and head to the Peacock which we shortly did. When I say the Peacock was busy it is a giant understatement. At one point in the night there was a line nearly two blocks long to get in and it seemed like nearly everyone I knew was out drinking, including my buddy Doug who we never see out that late! After watching some karaoke downstairs, including a skinny white boy who could legitimately rap amazingly fast, the girls meandered upstairs for some dancing while Jason, Doug, Colin, and a few others hung out downstairs with me in the front patio area. Eventually the chicks came down and weren’t allowed back upstairs due to the line so we took off around 1-2am. Apparently it was the last big weekend before the undergrads left for the summer which all of us couldn’t wait for!