My birthday weekend! The fourth weekend that I’m in Hood River, Oregon, and the West Coast! — Saturday: Ribs and climbing

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My birthday weekend! The fourth weekend that I’m in Hood River, Oregon, and the West Coast!  — Saturday: Ribs and climbing

Saturday, 11-July-2015

Waking up happens! Then heading for Breakfast!

Yes, it was a capital “B” for Breakfast, since it was pretty large and definitely excellent. We hit up a not-so-small place right by my house that I’d been eyeing since I first started moving… it labeled itself as a pancake house, and I was curious exactly what that meant, in regards to delicious breakfasts…

Turns out – it means that they have excellent pancakes. I know, I know… I should have known. But I don’t like assuming things until I have empirical evidence. And that evidence took the form of three monstrous pancakes covered in bacon and strawberry jam.

That’s right. Bacon pancakes with strawberry jam. And that’s not even counting Brian’s omlette-with-three-pancakes meal.

The car’s already packed, so we roll out to Horsethief Butte, the climbing spot that I’ve been scouting out earlier in the week. And since Brian is around, we don’t need to stick to the short climbs anymore – my trad rack is on my harness and Brian is giving me a belay almost as soon as we get there, and we’re exploring the routes…

ROCK CLIMBING!

  • What I’m calling “the entrance arrete” – 5.9/5.10, trad, Ben leads… partially. I finished up the first section, but after that it got a little too committing for me – so I lowered off, and we walked around to build an anchor. Then proceeded to crush it on top rope.
  • Middle Canyon routes – 5.easy, maybe as high as 5.6? All on trad, with Ben leading. These are fun routes, though no real technical difficulty. A few spicy moves make it fun, and the gear placements are definitely enjoyable. It sort of reminds me of Hammond Pond, back in Boston. The climbs are clean and solid, and there’s a ton of variants that can be done.

We climb ’till a little after noon hits, and then head back toward Hood to start the ribs cooking. We stick to my old-school recipe, and sauce them up before tossing them into the oven.

And now… we wait. But waiting is boring, so we head into town and explore a bit. Checking out the wind surfers and kite boarders, jumping in the water… you know, the usual. Because everywhere has huge populations of kite boarders, right?

The goal of the evening is hosting a dinner party – not a big one, but a small one for myself, Brian, and the folks who’d hosted me at the Airbnb rental when I first came to Hood River. We’d gotten along quite well, and so they’d made me promise to keep in touch as I got settled into town. I figured that a birthday dinner party would be ideal, and an especially good chance to show off my cooking skills!

So… I show off my cooking skillz. Everyone shows up around 7:00, and we relax and eat and chat and have a good time. The drink of the night is a Moscow Mule, which somehow goes super well with Ribs and cornbread and veggies. And Alexandra brings along raspberry tart, which is completely amazing and disappears quite quickly.

The rest of the night is chilling – chatting some more ’till they head out, then Brian and I light a fire out in the pit out back, and sip beers and poke fires ’till we get bored.

My birthday weekend! The fourth weekend that I’m in Hood River, Oregon, and the West Coast! — Friday

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Friday, 10-July-2015

This one goes in as a simple bullet post – Friday’s are always fun, but they’re never really the highlight of the adventure… you know?

  • Work is good! I actually get to run an engine for the first time – it’s not as insane as one would think, but it’s definitely loud.
    Short story: I was standing behind the propeller, doing the main engine start. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to tell when the engine actually kicked in and was running on its own… until I actually felt the engine go. Yeah… I am now quite confident that this thing can launch a plane through the sky at break-neck speeds. I won’t say that I got knocked backwards… but my shirt definitely turned into a sail until I stepped out of the engine wash.
  • Anyways, so I left the office later than I’d planned. But I drive fast, and I-84 is beautiful, so it was all good. Soon enough I was easing into the parking spot in Washington Park of Portland, right by the international rose garden to meet Brian.
    That’s right – Brian Bostwick, who had flown out to Portland on a whim, to help me make ribs and have adventures on my Birthday.
  • So we met up… after way too much “where are you?” “I’m here, where are you?” “I’m walking there now!” “No damnit now I’m there!” Stooges-esque shenanigans. And then we headed into Portland proper, aiming for one of the things that I love most about Oregon – the sheer number of brew houses.
  • We chose Rogue, the brewery of the famous Dead Guy Ale. Everything on the menu looked good, but Rogue had the best burger that I could think of – A ½lb burger, with bacon and cheese, topped with pulled pork.
    And of course, they had Rogue ale. Which was kind of an excellent part.
  • So we ate, drank, and made merry – catching up and hanging out and chowing down before the drive home.
  • And you know how, usually, drives home are shorter than the drive out? Not so much, this time. Too much food makes for a tired Ben, which makes for a long drive.
    Thankfully Brian kept me talking and conscious, an soon enough I was giving a tour of the house. And with the tour done, and the couch pulled out into a surprisingly cushy bed, we crashed.
  • And by “crashed” I mean “grabbed beers and stayed awake” – though I admit that we did hit sleepland way earlier than I expected. Downsides of flying lots, and Brian still being on Eastern Standard Time.
  • We do take the time before bed to prep the ribs though – cooking Baby Back Ribs isn’t actually all that difficult, but it takes prep work head of time.

Exploring the rock climbing of Hood River – Horsethief Butte

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Exploring the rock climbing of Hood River – Horsethief Butte

Various points during the week between 06-July & 10-July

Day 1

I love climbing.

Yeah, I know. Huge surprise. Hush.

But now that I’m in a new town, I’ve got to explore the area! I had an entire new landscape to adventure in – I’d never been to the Pacific Northwest, much less climbed all the fun stuff it had to offer. And the Columbia River Gorge is beautiful – with huge soaring cliffs every few miles.

I needed to climb some of those cliffs.

So I looked up routes on Mountain Project, and found the closest solid crag that I could – a place called Horsethief Butte, about a 20min drive from my new house. So, even though it was right around sunset, I hopped in the car and headed toward the butte.

And… I’d left too late – by the time I got there, it was too dark to really think about climbing. So instead, I pulled my headlamp out of my pack and headed in to do a quick recon run of the area.

First thing: The view of Mt. Hood is amazing from Horsethief – It’s a solitary peark, so it stands out beautifully from the rest of the landscape. And since I’m on the Northern side, there’s still snow on the peak, which makes it just that much more picturesque.

But, since there wasn’t any climbing to be had, I didn’t stay too long. Just a quick exploration in prep for the next day…

Day 2

This time, I left the house almost as soon as I got home from work. Just left enough time to have a quick snack and grab my climbing gear.

And this time, I hiked in with a crash pad on my back… Which normally doesn’t really make much of a difference. But the Columbia River Gorge is windy. And a crash pad is, at it’s heart, a large piece of foam. Which acts like a sail.

Basically, I just mean that the hike in was kind of more interesting than I expected.

As far as climbing goes? It was fun – there’s a ton of climbing to be done at Horsethief; the problems ranged from easily done to “wait… what?” levels of difficulty. I enjoyed it; I don’t know the sames of any of the routes, so I couldn’t comment on difficulty or anything. But I enjoyed it, and that’s what matters.

Even got home in time that dinner wasn’t even too late.