Vitae Springs Christmas Tree Farm is our very favorite place to purchase our annual Christmas tree. Saws and hot chocolate provided! Bring your boots and walk through the stands until you find just the perfect selection. Our boys are old enough to do the "heavy lifting" this year! Bonus: A portion of proceeds goes to local organizations/school programs. It's how we start the holiday right....
This past Thanksgiving, we walked off all those extra turkey calories with a Friday hike to Shellburg Falls. An easy drive from Salem, this was a wonderful and family-friend hike.
To reach the falls....
1) Drive East of Salem on Hwy 22.
2) Turn Left at Fern Ridge Rd (Just before the "Gingerbread House" restaurant.
3) Travel about a mile up the road.
4) Turn into the small parking lot with the "Shellburg Falls" kiosk. You may see several cars parked along the road, as well.
5) Walk past the gate - through the pasture and up the gravel road. At the bridge (above Lower Shellburg Falls), climb the stairs (labeled Shellburg Falls).
The path is very well marked and maintained. Visitors can walk behind the falls or down to the pond below. Keep going on the trail behind the falls and you'll find yourself in a campground with picnic tables and bathroom facilities/outhouses. Retrace your steps back to the car for a total of 3.5+ miles and a morning of true beauty in Oregon.
Our boys are old enough now that they often hike ahead. I remember when they would dawdle along the path without any concern for speed. Now, I have to holler across the canyon for them to "Wait up!"
I have to admit, seeing their eagerness to explore -- I wouldn't have it any other way.
Earlier this year, I had the good fortune of discovering
Portland's Culinary Workshop.
Through the owner's generosity and support, my boys and their Lego Robotics teammates benefited from an in-home demonstration of safe knife skills. The hour long demo taught the basic of slicing and dicing, as well as efficient and handy ways to prep food in the kitchen. The demo held the kids' attention, included great info, and was a HUGE hit with adults present as well!
Fast forward a few months, when my husband and I went on a double date to Portland's Culinary Workshop kitchen in NE Portland for the Principles of Cooking class, and my praise continues. Together the class participants, sauteed, braised, seared, baked, and pan fried five fabulous dishes that I now (regularly) make at home. I had no idea curry chicken would become a family favorite - but it has and my taste buds are grateful!
Looking ahead to Spring Break, I know there will be kids' cooking camps available and the Culinary Workshop is also planning a May 3rd Cooking Together Family Day. Do your stomach a favor...and register for delicious learning!
Yesterday's clear skies were the only motivation our family needed to visit Mary's Peak, just outside Corvallis. The views from the 4,097 feet summit (the highest point in Oregon’s Coast Range) were absolutely amazing! Looking across the valley we could see snow capped Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, Three Sisters, and even Mt. Bachelor.
There are a variety of "paths" to the summit. We traveled the "Meadowedge Trail" and found it perfect for families. Not too long/not too short (1.8 mile loop), includes both forest and meadow, picnic tables at the ready for snacks at both trail head and summit: Ideal for young explorers and parents.
To get there: From Salem, travel time is approx. 1 hour 15 minutes. Take I-5 South to Hwy 34 (through Corvallis and Philomath). After passing through Philomath, follow the brown information signs north onto Mary's Peak Road. Once driving up the mountain, you'll come upon Conner’s Camp (5.5 mile loop hiking trail to summit from this point). Keep going another 3 miles and you'll see a paved road to your right that leads to the Mary's Peak campground. Once you've entered the campground, take the left loop and you'll see a place to park and a picnic table just right of the trailhead map. 50 feet after entering the forest, you'll see the sign (below).
Once on the trail, it is easy to navigate. Take water, snacks, a camera to capture the view and give yourself plenty of time to explore the beautiful trees along the path and the joy of the summit. This trail is a highlight of the mid-Willamette Valley.
A little more than 14 years ago, my husband and I spent a long weekend in Seattle. It was fabulously fun.
This August we returned, we our two favorite companions.
Our boys loved the big city as much as we do. Going by train makes it a super easy, close-to-home, family adventure that can't be beat.
Here's a few of our favorite activities:
Our family made a quick beach-run a few weeks ago. It was a good way to beat the summer heat of the Valley. Here's a map that shows you a few of our favorite spots in Newport:
Salem Sunday Streets is coming to
downtown Salem in September!
Open to all ages.... Salem Sunday Streets is a fun, free, community event designed to promote healthy and active living by opening up city streets for people to play and explore together. This year’s event will feature: food carts, farmer’s market, music on a pedal-powered stage, interactive art projects, hula hooping, disc golf, yoga, and more...
Bonus: You can join a neighborhood bike caravan and get to Salem Sunday Streets in a healthy, fun, sustainable way!
Bike caravan routes lead from four Salem locations.
Routes can be found at http://goo.gl/0QIvXT.
Join your neighbors and enjoy the ride, Salem!
For years, we've heard about the Valley of the Giants outside of Falls City, Oregon. This summer, we finally dedicated one of our days to visit this close (but oh-so-far location) and found that the adventure had mixed reviews
1) Big trees. Huge trees. Place-your-child-next-to-it-and-wowza trees.
2) Crystal, clear, beautiful water.
3) 387 shades of green: Moss, Ferns, Lichen, Ground Cover, Trees...
4) A well marked, easy to hike trail.
5) The middle of nowhere: No traffic sounds. Lots of bird songs.
1) The same beauty found in other (easier to find) Oregon locations.
2) Very muddy path (for approx. 50 yards in June).
3) Seriously long drive on a very bumpy gravel road.
4) The middle of nowhere: Come prepared.
Once on site, my family enjoyed the hike and marveled at the large trees. The path winds among the Douglas Fir trees - sometimes over fallen logs, sometimes under, and (at one point) squeezing right between two sawed-halves. It really was a fun path. However, the momma in me shuddered when my youngest asked (for the 2nd time) why it took two hours to get to this coast-range location, when it usually takes us just over an hour to drive all the way to the beach. One good look at the map answered that question and confirmed that my boys continue to like the "doing" more than the "seeing". We won't be making a return trip - but I'm glad we took the adventure.
You can receive driving directions to the Valley by calling the BLM (503-375-5646). I see now that they discourage "passenger cars" on the road. Oops! The area is certainly remote, so I would definitely recommend having a spare, being very clear about your return route, and not relying on cell phone service.
Each year, as we prepare for the new school year, my boys and I have a tradition. We go school shopping one-on-one. A rare chance to be alone with Mom, my boys choose their supplies and then have the rare treat of 'going out for a doughnut'.
I'd like to say they love the one-on-one part, but I'm pretty sure it's the doughnut part that they find most exciting. Either way, we get a chance to talk about the year ahead; their concerns, their hopes and expectations.
We started this tradition in preschool and I've cherished it every year. As the years pass, the crayons have been replaced with a compass and protractor, but the marking of another year gets me every time.
On the Go