Adult Field Trip – Portland

Adult Field Trip – Portland

We thought it was about time to share another one of our Adult Field Trips, taking in Portland.  This place is made for an AFT.  , While we have been there a few times, the opportunity to explore had not been present as our main client has an office in the Portland area.  When we finally had a weekend off and the time to see downtown, the focus was on finding what the must do things were.  Beer, bikes, and Blues (well music) were the pieces to put together.

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Safety First

Portland has wonderful museums and galleries, a great place to pick up your cultural requirements but we chose to go the live music route.  Josh is a big fan of Trombone Shorty and could not believe our luck to see he was playing that weekend.  After securing tickets it was time to sort out rest of our weekend.  The cycling culture in Portland is prolific, a part of the very entrenched green living lifestyle.  There are all kinds of resources to find bicycle tours around the area, covering just about any subject you are into.  We found a place that rented bikes and decided that we would try out one of the brewery routes.  Now I’m not gonna lie, I am in no way proficient on a bike and this whole idea was a bit scary.  Amazing how much more confident I got after each stop, LOL.
Josh had participated in a guided bike and booze tour of New Orleans (Confederacy of Cruisers) and says it was the highlight of that trip, I can say that I am now a convert.  In bike friendly cities like Portland this is really the way to see things.  We crossed bridges and peddled through neighborhoods.  There is a delightful amount of street art.  On one of my first trips to Cincinnati my BFF Becky took me on a culinary tour, teaching me the art of trying a signature cocktail and snack at each stop.  It was the perfect way to see and taste the city.  We tried to do the same thing with our brewery tour.  Nearly all of these places served a small menu and it’s a very veggie friendly place.

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In all we stopped by Burnside Brewing Co., Hair of the Dog Brewery, Green Dragon, Buckman Botanical Brewery, Base Camp Brewing, and The Commons Brewery.  After all this a nap was in order, HA.  The Old Town area of Portland is laced with music venues and is a great place to hop around taking in tunes and enjoying even more local beers on tap.

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On day two with the Trombone Shorty concert later we decided to lounge about a bit and search out some of the spectacular food in the area.  I am a HUGE fan of farm-to-table restaurants, mostly because they offer a wider variety of vegetarian entrees.  Downtown Portland is home to some of the coolest boutique hotels available and it was in one that we found the Urban Farmer.  Honestly it wouldn’t matter which one you chose, but I would recommend adding a restaurant within a boutique hotel to your list, it’s a way to see two unique parts of Portland culture, even if you don’t stay at one.  We rarely do, as our travel is a bit different and we have negotiated rates with many large chains.

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While we didn’t visit a VooDoo dounuts this trip, it is a don’t miss.

So here is your list:

1. Portland Breweries, this is a mecca of micro brewing and a wonderful experience, new trends are set here.  There are about 70 breweries in the city proper and over a 100 in the metro, so even if you could try them all, would you remember it?

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-If you are a wine drinker then boy oh boy would Portland make you happy, we didn’t have time to stop at wineries on this trip but we had helped host a wine tasting party earlier this week.

2. MUSIC, it doesn’t matter where you go or really what you find the scene is so much fun

3. Think alternative transport, we got around the entire time on bike and Lyfts

4. VooDoo Donuts, they really are that good

5. Art and green living are essential to Portland life, you will see so many cool ways the two cross and how they like to keep local culture alive.  This is not the land of chains.

6. Find the food trucks!

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Bear and Flies, all of them Black

When Josh and I lived a sedentary life the possibilities for indulging in hobbies was near endless, fiscal resources aside.  In our first few years on the road it was an adjustment to pursue interests that also matched our nomadic lifestyle.  Dropped were the sewing machine and woodworking tools but we became avid backpackers based on our enjoyment in camping.  Having limited space for extra items in our tour vehicles forces choices to be made as to what you take and what you give up.  So why not indulge in travel related hobbies?  We dive, we hike, “he” fish.

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Day one, let’s go

Last week the opportunity presented itself to hop over to Shenandoah National Park, a favorite and frequent destination for us.  Since our break was a nice chunk of time we decided that starting with a four-day hike was just the ticket.  The plan was to do about 40 miles total on trails new to us.  It would be pretty much going up the mountain each morning and back down the other side near water in the afternoons to set up camp.  Evidently the local black bear population had similar ideas.  We were just into the first day when another hiker mentioned seeing a black bear on the trail.  So onward we went, keeping an eye out.  Josh was about 50 yards ahead of me on the trail when, and I’m NOT exaggerating, a small black bear fell out of a tree about 10 feet BEHIND him after he walked under a tree next to the trail!  Yes, the little guy pancaked onto the trail.  Flopped around for a second to get his bearings (tee hee) and scuttled off.  Now I have very little experience with bears but I remembered that you are supposed to make yourself big.  So I did, I put my arms up but then I got scared and made Josh walk back down the trail to come get me.  It was a bit unnerving and from the small size we were not sure if it was a cub or not.  But onward we marched, having a laugh about “Flapjack” the Bear (seriously he landed like a pancake out of that tree).  While the trail was a bit advanced and the miles high, it was all worth it.  Day two rolled around and it was another perfect day, slightly overcast but dry.  We were going into a higher trail, more forest than stream for most of the day, so one would think we wouldn’t have another bear encounter.  Well that was incorrect.  About midday Josh scared up another little fella, this one on the ground thankfully, I made myself big and Josh again had to walk back and get me.  Now laughing at my “getting big” reaction.  The third day was a stroll (not really it was a tough trail) to the bottom of another valley and stunning run with some large pools.  After a post hike dip we got to our set-up duties.  We each have tasks we prefer when it comes to get the camp set up.  I like to put up the tent and filter water, while Josh tends to deal with cooking and putting up the ropes for securing food at night (you know from BEARS).  While ensuring that we were parasite free and hydrated I got my first look at a full grown Appalachian Black Bear, they are similar to humans in size.  She was about 150-200 lbs and wholly unimpressed with my presence.  I got big, yelled for her to go away, she just chuffed at me and continued milling about the stream.  Thankfully Josh heard me and knew I needed some help.  He came over and banged rocks together; seriously there are so many things to remember when it comes to bear scaring.  She got the message and sauntered off.  So yeah we got the full bear experience and realized the other two were likely young adults on their own.  Not yet savvy to life without Mom.  Our little adventure didn’t stop there, round about 4am it started raining and we realized there were leaks in our rain fly.  YUP!!!  So….we decided around 6am to just pack up and hit it, we had 8 miles uphill to be made before we could get to a park store and some dry.  While it was a fairly miserable day, the trail was stunning, excluding the plethora of ever swelling river crossings, and there were NO BEARS.

Day two, one bear down

Day two, one bear down

Mountain high

Mountain high

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Day 3

Day 3

Day 3

Rain Rain GO AWAY

Rain Rain GO AWAY

We spent the next two nights at one of the park’s lodges, to dry out, and well, there are some real perks to this job.  I don’t say this often about hotels but it was very romantic, I think we will repeat that experience at some other parks in the future.  Upon getting to the lodge and airing out our gear, we examined the tent and discovered more than just a leak; all the glue had disintegrated from the seams and plastic windows! While this might seem like a deal breaker for some on more camping, Josh felt like it was nothing that a couple hours and roll of duct tape couldn’t fix.

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The View

The View

That very refreshing stay (along with the tap house at the lodge restaurant) put us back in the mood to hit the trail.  Off we went for a three-day jaunt on one of our favorite trails along Big Run.  This was going to be a ten-mile loop with the most perfect campsite at the bottom.  The plan was to make a paradise, it’s really that lovely, and spend two nights.  Relaxing on the middle day fishing and day hiking. At the top of mountain it was a touch buggy but after the rain with the sun out, which is to be expected.  Off we went, laughing about the cute bears we had seen from the car playing peek-a-boo with us (yup, add two more).  During the descent, the black flies started to get worse and worse, to the point where we were using our pack towels like horse tails trying to clear them from our faces every second.  Without the flapping, about every two steps, you were swarmed with flies dive-bombing our ears, eyes, and noses.  We busted the five miles down and set up the tent just to get a break and eat.  During the ten seconds the flaps were open for us to load in at least 30 of those little SOB’s followed us in.  There had been some hope that at the lower elevation and water the swarm might taper off, this was not the case.  A decision was made to just scrap the 3 day trip and get the heck out. (Or you might say bug out).  That’s how we made a 10-mile death march (haha Dave) all the while being attacked by black flies.  Just to add some spice to the end we ran into a momma back bear and her two cubs, although at this point I had no time for their shenanigans and ran them off hollering while slapping at black flies.

So ambitious

So ambitious

 

We were exhausted and bitten, but Pippi-less.  She stayed with a nice family outside the park for all this. Pippi is not a hiker.  Honestly she isn’t much for nature.  When we do go camping she fusses until we zip her into the tent.  Weird dog.  We boogied out (doing those ten miles and all the elevation in 6 hours) heading to Luray.  Instead of a pleasant day of fishing we played tourist and took in the caverns.  It was a lovely tour but the place is a TOTAL tourist trap! (If you can only do one, go to Mammoth in KY)

This pool of water is only 6 inches deep but looks 10 ft

This pool of water is only 6 inches deep but looks 10 ft

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So at the end of the day, it was a hoot.  Being road warriors you should consider hobbies that will enhance your travel and give you options in the places you go.  We hike and we dive. Over the mountains and under the oceans.   While many people might recommend choosing hobbies that don’t require “gear” these probably aren’t lifers.  Sometimes you just wanna have your own stuff.

***This is part of a series of posts called “Travel Tuesday“, each covering topics unique to our lifestyle***

Momento App

I have a thing for tracking apps.  I like Swarm (formally Foursquare), Untappd, I’ve got an Apple Watch that tracks well just about everything, you name it I either use it or have tried it, but until recently I didn’t have a good way to search all that data.  That’s where Momento comes in, this app links to all the others and creates a sort of diary that is also searchable.  For example I had a friend who wanted to know where we stopped to eat after attending a rugby match a year back, I just loaded that day on the app and scrolled into the time log.  Boom I found that place.

It can also be set to send you an alert each day with a breakdown of what you did that day in the past from all your connected apps.  I always find it interesting when we are back in the same place at the same time years later.  This app has settled a few arguments as well, there is a way to see when we were someplace before LOL.

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While you might not be into tracking everything from how much water you drink to where you stayed last night, I love it.  Momento is a just an easy to use database (with a diary function) that lets me indulge a little.

***This is part of a series of posts called “Travel Tuesday“, each covering topics unique to our lifestyle***

 

Adult Field Trip – Fredericksburg Texas

Texas is always good to us, allots us opportunity to visit with our family and all our rowdy friends. This past spring we set out to see San Antonio via an Adult Field Trip, while in the area Fredericksburg also made the list. Whereas San Antonio is full of historical sites and notable bars, Fredericksburg is all natural beauty and cultural gems. We once again started this AFT with a stop for lunch.

There is always something that makes a community unique, not all embrace it and create a sort of destination from it. Fredericksburg Texas or Fitzburg to some locals, is a flourishing German community in the heart of cowboy country. We have been lucky enough to spend a good deal of time in Ohio and have an affection for German beer gardens, well in Fredericksburg they are truly Biergartens, so we figured it was appropriate to find a lunch spot serving sausage and liters. Silver Creek fit the bill; a little bit Texas, a whole lotta German, and as I gather a little dash of what is Fredericksburg. They have a really lovely outdoor space where live music can be found most days and nights, a unique bar area, along with an actual restaurant space. The menu had plenty of light snacks and just the perfect listing of german fare. As for the beer menu we were able to choose between German brews, some area micros, and for the less adventurous there were domestics. Honestly this place has something for everyone. We chose very well, enjoying the beer, food, and a little music.

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There are a few choices in this area for your enrichment activity, one could spend a poor weather day indoors taking in the National Museum of the Pacific War. We did consider this but the day was absolutely stunning and a hike at one of the many area state parks won out. It was off to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area for us. We do most of our trail miles on mountain or forest paths, dessert and prairie trekking is always unique but big ol’ rock domes are something to see. What is more fun than scrambling up rocks and climbing around openings to see who will go into the crack and crevice? It was a great way to spend a few hours but alas we became a bit, cough couch, parched.

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The plan had been to take the scenic route back “home” and find a winery to stop at on the way. Honestly this is getting easier to do just about everywhere across the country. While this would technically be called a detour, we actually did find a detour. While in route we figured out that we were in the same place as the cool folks of GoPetFriendly.com. Stopping for a brief visit is just the kind of treat you want on an AFT. It didn’t take long to find a winery and winner included a little lesson on the emerging Texas wine industry. While I wouldn’t say that Kerrville Hills Winery is some hidden gem, it was a lovely place. The wines are still made with mostly imported (outside of Texas) grapes but that is changing. This large facility has been built up in anticipation of some interesting prospective growth. According to the proprietor, the soil in this part of Texas (and others) is quite similar to regions in France, allowing vineyards here to establish new growths of some unique varietals. Will be interesting to see how this industry develops over the next 10 years.

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Like many of our other Texas AFTs we were joined by a good friend, Scott is always up for adventure and his work schedule often allows flexibility to come play with us. This trip is a great example of creating an interning and fun day in any area.

SCOTT!!

SCOTT!!

***This is part of a series of posts called “Travel Tuesday“, each covering topics unique to our lifestyle***

What To Eat

I mentioned Sunday that we have been able to connect with a bunch of friends and family over the last few months.  If we are lucky our route crosses with the great folks at GoPetFriendly.com and a dinner full of “have you tried this ensues”.  Outside of our coworkers, there aren’t many people we know who really understand the love and difficulties of living and working on the road.  We usually exchange woes and any cool gadgets but this time it was a little more focused on what we have been trying to maintain a healthy diet.

 

Amy and Rod are always looking at new options for low-calorie, high protein, whole foods that are convenient.  After looking at their list of gems and some of my own staples I thought it might be interesting to share a little on here.  It is a struggle to maintain a healthy diet when so many of our meals come from a restaurant.  Like many of my fellow road warriors we often start the day with a shake, having access to a refrigerate in our truck these have gotten fairly good by adding things like coconut water and lactose free milk.  Using a protein powder is all well and good but no one wants to haul those giant container around, so my pro-tip here is to invest in a powder container like this one from Jaxx, this gem holds three days worth of powder.

Now that breakfast is covered lunch is a whole different struggle.  When we are set up for a show it is easy to take the time during lunch to make a good choice and many of the places we end up are nearly amazing restaurants.  The hard part is staying on pace during travel days.  Truck stops are not known for their low-calorie selections, I’m not going to claim we don’t eat fast food (some days you just need fries) but we always have other options in the cabinet.  We love GoPicnic meals, Josh is addicted to the hummus one.  I’ve preached about these before and highly recommend trying one.  They are moderate in calories and match a number of dietary needs.  We also pack plenty of meal bars that are made with whole ingredients.  Seeking to stay organic and simple.

And this brings us to dinner time.  Now after a shake for breakfast, a bar for lunch, and a light snack it’s time for something hot.  I will admit that 90% of the time we order takeout, thank you Grubhub!!  This is where we struggle, often ordering too much food and the wrong kinds.  I would like to say that we make the better choice and stop at a grocery store after work instead of ordering pizza but it just doesn’t happen enough.  That is actually a great option for itinerants like us, take advantage of the portioned fresh choices and even some spectacular deli options.  We do try but after a long day we often just want to get check into the hotel and shower, figuring out dinner comes second.

 

The one thing I would absolutely recommend adopting is the use of a calorie counter, at least when you start making diet changes.  Not only will you get a picture of your calories but some trackers like MyFitnessPal are full of nutritional info.  Being a pescaterian I struggle to get enough protein.

I don’t think there is any one perfect method but putting any effort into maintaining a balanced diet is going to make road life better.  No one enjoys a day of driving with a funky tummy.  I’d love to hear tips you have.

***This is part of a series of posts called “Travel Tuesday“, each covering topics unique to our lifestyle***

Adult Field Trips

We all have memories of childhood trips to museums and monuments, getting drug around  a parent to, UGGG, learn some history.  For some these events ignited a passion getting to know what makes a community special, in others they are antidotes for how they don’t want to travel.  Well, Josh and I think we have stumbled upon the perfect combination for seeking out history along with relaxation.

While it is true that we travel constantly, we are also working and don’t set our own schedule.   There are places I’d love to visit, but we often need to wait until our schedule puts us close.  This desire to take advantage of our days off and passion for museum going has led to what we call “Adult Field Trips”.  Combining some lovely community monuments with other cultural elements (typically one you couldn’t enjoy as a child).

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During a recent trip to San Antonio we took an Adult Field Trip, honestly Texas makes these really easy.  We met a friend for lunch at one of the lovely bar/restaurants on the Riverwalk, made our way to The Alamo, and finished up with a cocktail at the Menger Hotel.   Each spot is delightful but having a drink where Teddy Roosevelt met his Rough Riders is just one more way to connect to the city’s history.  Visiting The Alamo as an adult is in itself unique but to combine it with some other fun and relaxing spots is what an Adult Field Trip is all about.  While I don’t mind spending an entire day in a museum, when I have but one day off and little time to spend with friends I want to throw something else in there.  That next weekend we took another Adult Field Trip to Fredericksburg, TX.  The day started with lunch at one of the festive beer gardens, a day hike at Enchanted Rock, then a stop at one of the quickly growing Texas Wineries.  You’ve got your cultural element, a stunning piece of nature, a little education into Texas botany, and the necessary relaxation.

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So this is my challenge to you, don’t get caught up in wanting to see it all but instead find ways see it as an Adult.  Find a way to see the other elements of a community than just their famous monuments.

***This is part of a series of posts called “Travel Tuesday“, each covering topics unique to our lifestyle***


Amazing Amazon Lockers

Something we often get asked about is, how we get our mail.  Managing your post is a fairly difficult aspect of road life.  Most people we know have a mailbox (not a PO box but a UPS Store or the like).  This requires calling and arranging for the collected contents to be shipped out.  We have had issues in the past with particular places falling short in expected service. It is a headache but a necessity.

Online shopping is whole different ballgame.  Choices have to be made based on logistics, should I ship to my mailbox and pay for it to be shipped to me later or figure out a time when we will be at one hotel for an extended period.  Amazon has come up with a way to help us out, Amazon Lockers.  These gems save us and provide some logistical wiggle room.

The bright yellow lockers are located in a variety of locations (think 7 Eleven), allowing us to ship not to a hotel but to a locker that might just be on the way to an event site.  We are stuck at a hotel if we need to wait for a package.  With the Locker delivery option we just grab a cell phone, scan in the code at the selected locker and let getting a package fit into our day.  These were implemented due to issues some customers were having with packages getting stolen from their front step.  While we aren’t the typical user, it’s truly amazing.  I would recommend these to anyone shopping Amazon, take a look and see if there is one along your commute and for those road warriors, enjoy another wonderful benefit of Prime.

***This is part of a series of posts called “Travel Tuesday“, each covering topics unique to our lifestyle***