I have boys that need to move AND I have a husband that needs to move. Not a family who spends much time on the couch, we’re always on the lookout for active family outings. So... we were happy to find that Roller Skating has returned to our home town. While the era of the neighborhood roller rink has passed, The Hoop in south Salem does open its doors each Friday night for families who are ready to roll!
Starting at 6pm and continuing until 9:30pm, Skate at the Hoop offers classes, birthday parties, and free-skate. Skates can be rented for just $5.50. (Rumor is that Saturday night skating will be available in March 2013).
We took the whole neighborhood over Christmas break and had a great time. Kids, teens, moms and dads were all enjoying the music, lights, skating and games. Our young boys gained balance and confidence with every new loop around the gym. No experience or grace required – this is just a chance to move!
For years I’ve heard of Portland’s Eastbank Esplanade, but have never had the pleasure of exploring the 1.5 mile path. Following along the east side of the Willamette River, the Esplanade officially extends from the Hawthorne Bridge to the Steel Bridge. Even better: there are a variety of connection to east-side destinations.
My family recently accessed this amazing bike path from OMSI. After enjoying a few hours of science museum fun, we jumped on our bikes and followed the path all the way to the Portland Saturday Market on the north end of Portland’s Waterfront Park. Highlights included the floating portions of the Esplanade path, crossing the Steel Bridge (on a level completely separate from cars), ice cream cones at Saturday Market, water fountains in Waterfront Park, and (of course) little boys who love to ride!
Here’s a bit of info for out-of-towners like ourselves. Free parking for your car, can be found just south of OMSI near the SE Caruthers Street Portland Spirit and Portland Opera offices. East access to both the Eastbank Esplanade and the Springwater Corridor are available. We rode just a bit of the Corridor near OMSI and found it to be mostly undeveloped. The railroad is on one side and the unmaintained river’s edge is on the other. That currently makes for a feeling of seclusion. The day we were there provided enough traffic that I felt safe – but generally, I would not want to take the path without my husband along for the ride. This was in sharp contrast to the Esplanade which was more open, visible from a distance and heavily in use. I felt very safe, as the path seemed expertly integrated into the urban landscape.
I recommend that all riders bring water, sunscreen, a bike-lock, and money for ice cream along the way. If you don’t have bikes of your own you can transport to the big-city: Never Fear! Kerr Bike Rentals is right along the way and has everything needed to set you up for the day (including tagalongs and bike trailers for wee ones).
Reading about the design and planning involved in this great bike connection (between the two sides of the river), I’m impressed by the undertaking. This project is an amazing model for other communities. The possibilities (and benefits) of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure await!
Thank you to Bike City, USA for a day of great family bike ride and for leading the way.
Three cheers for Gallagher Fitness in Salem for organizing Friday night fun in downtown Salem.
After catching a brief bit of the Amazing Race TV series last spring, I’ve been looking for a race(-ish) event within an urban venue for our family. A few options quickly emerged (Urban Dare and The Great Salem Race), but for one reason or another these programs didn’t quite for the bill. Then we found ‘On Your Feet Friday' in our very own backyard. Hooray!
Here's how it works:
Folks gather in the parking lot next to Gallagher's between 5:30 and 6pm to sign-up and receive their 'passport.' This shows all the groovy downtown spaces you must visit before 7pm.
Next - folks run, jog, walk, skip and dance about downtown Salem. In the crowd you'll find serious joggers, walkers, families with strollers, and just about everything in between. All this fun is then followed by prize raffles. The more stores/attractions/viewpoints you visit - the better your chances of snagging a great giveaway.
At last month's event, we visited these great local stores -- and stopped for ice cream too (The ice cream wasn't on the official program, but it was along our route and screaming our name)!
Overall, I'd say 'On Your Feet Friday' offers the very best in downtown energy, family friendly exercise and urban fun. This event is also for a great cause!
One brief stop during our road trip to Yellowstone National Park was Jackson, Wyoming. Jackson was a great place to stock-up on groceries and gas before entering Yellowstone (through the South Entrance). Jackson also has a touristy charm, as well as a wealth of outdoor “doing” opportunities.
The bulk of our time in Jackson Hole was spent on the Snake River. We participated in a Scenic Float Trip through Mad River Boat Trips: Three hours on the water, packed lunches, 6 bald eagle sightings, and two happy boys. The ride was smooth through the wonderfully beautiful and wild land. It rained on us during the last part of our boat trip. Hard, driving rain chilled us all, but the weather gear provided by Mad River made the storm bearable (and perhaps even a bit memorable). In just a few more years, we’ll be interested in their white water trips too!
When Neighbor Bill told us he wanted to organize a family bike ride, I was happy. When Bill said the ride would be along the Historic Columbia River Highway, I was thrilled. Three parts beauty, two parts exercise, and one part history this ride added up to a great adventure.
Here are all the variables:
44 wheels - Admittedly, the Gorge is a long drive from home for four families with bikes strapped to the top and back of their cars. However, one of the reasons we love the Valley is the variety of fun just over an hour from home. We drive this far to ski in the winter and/or enjoy the beach in the summer -- so a two hour drive for our 4 cars and 14 bikes wasn't too much of a stretch (and turned out to be well worth the effort).
18 feet wide - The bike path we traveled was between 10 and 18 feet wide in all areas, smoothly paved, and included guard rails as needed. I'd consider the trail 8/80 safe - meaning that an eight year-old and an eighty year-old (and everyone in between) can ride safely.
8 adults – That means one in the front of the pack, one in the back, five in the mix, and one to quickly ride back to the parking lot when you realize you forgot to place your parking-permit in the car window.
6 kids – Ranging from 7th grade to 1st, this lively crew (and all their gear, and all their chatter, and all their laughter) makes me smile!
4.5 miles - That's one way and NOT on even ground. While my amazing-calf muscles hubby made each climb without breaking a sweat, there were several times my youngest son and I had to hop off our bikes and walk up the incline. The good news - coasting down the other side offered a great thrill!
3.5 hours - Starting at the Senator Hatfield Trailhead in Hood River, we were able to ride to Mosier and back in less than 4 hours. Included in that time were: stops for snacks, lunch, water, a bathroom break, enjoying the view, and several too-good-to-miss photo opportunities.
2 tunnels –The "Twin Tunnels" of the Historic Columbia River Highway were built just before 1921 and provided safe passage for many a Model T-Ford. Now they are a highlight of the bike trail and a fascinating glimpse into history.
1 waterfall –On the way back into Portland we stopped at the infamous Multnomah Falls. The upper fall is 542 feet tall and the lower, 61. It's an awesome scene. We definitely need to return when we have more time to hike to the bridge!
0 complaints - After a full day of travel and exercise, I have to admit to a sense of Oregonian pride. Our State Parks Department has done a wonderful job of developing and maintaining these beautiful recreation areas. Back at home that night after our ride, my husband had to carry my seven year-old up the stairs to bed. Our little boy's legs were exhausted from all that pedaling. Tucking him into bed, I saw the sides of his mouth slowly curl into a sleepy, sweet grin. “I had fun!” he cooed. I leaned in to kiss his cheek and whispered back the very same words.
This weekend our family went cross-country skiing, and although I've blogged about this activity before, I mention it here because it is SO MUCH FUN!
I'd also like to take this opportunity to announce that this time around - we had the entire family on skis!
That's right, my youngest has outgrown the sled that dear- old-Dad used to drag behind him while skiing. Our boy now has feet big enough to fit into the rental boots too. Hooray!
I must admit that our first-timer was a bit cautious when first clipped-in, but within twenty minutes he was a lean-mean-skiing-machine. Those tooth-pick sized poles were almost cuter than I could bear.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous up at the snow park - an Obery Family must for snow play. The kids didn't need to wear their heavy coats and we all wore sunscreen & sunglasses. The snow was a bit icy in places which caused a few falls now and then, but overall we could not complain.
I took one fall which left me a bit sore the next day. I foolishly went down a curved slope - not realizing that the slope curved again and continued another 30 yards. It was the exact out-of-control, total abandon-of-logic, chaotic-movement that I would never tolerate in my day-to-day life. I got a face full of snow and a fit of giggles. My son called it "epic" -- Thank you very much.
And on the subject of falling: my graceful, always-in-control- of-his-muscles husband and I stood along the trail talking as the kids played in the meadow between us and our neighbors when suddenly..... his skis and poles began flailing up-and-down and side-to-side as he lost his balance on a bit of icy snow. Almost twelve years of marriage and I've never seen this man fall. It was totally worth the wait. He and I were laughing so hard I almost fell too.
My other posts have centered on where, when, and what is need for a successful family trip to the snow. In this post, I want to share the most important secret of all: the who. Take those you love - take those who make you laugh - take those who can carry you back to the parking lot if you twist an ankle.
What do you do when you want to get out
for a family hike, but have a list of must-do items
that just won't allow time for a drive up to the hills?
This urban trail offers hikers and mountain-bike enthusiasts a touch of the outdoors without ever having to leave town. Part gravel/part pavement/part dirt path: The (less than 1 mile) trail meanders down the hills of south Salem just skirting the backyards of a variety of homes.
_ Here's how we found the trail: Drive west on Kuebler Road in Salem just past Skyline Road. Turn right on to Croisan Scenic and park where the street ends. There is a gravel road that takes you twenty feet, then the dirt path leads off to your left.
View Croisan Creek Scenic Trail in a larger map
High in the hills of the Opal Creek Wilderness Area,
six amazing kids from our neighborhood held hands
in an effort to reach all the way around this cedar tree.
These tree-huggers (and their parents) were my fabulous traveling companions for a weekend get-away. When it comes to a trip to the beautiful mountains of the Pacific Northwest, here's my recipe for a perfect outdoor adventure:
1) Drive 1.5 hours north-east of Salem.
2) Park when you reach the end of Forest Road 2209 and load your food and supplies on to the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center gear shuttle.
3) Leisurely walk the 3 mile trail to Jawbone Flats. Be sure to stop and enjoy a picnic lunch, impromptu swim, and breathtaking view.
4) Enter Jawbone Flats (population 12) and have a seat in the comfort of Cabin #4. Kick back, relax, and praise an off 'the grid' system that provides lights, a full kitchen, flush toilets, and hot showers.
5) Explore the old mining community of Jawbone flats - you're sure to spot both the past (old mining equipment & buildings) and the future (ecology education programs & solar panels). Then strike out and enjoy the endless opportunities for hiking, creek walking, and discovering nature.
In my experience, two nights and three days at Opal Creek is the perfect length for families with young children. For us, such a weekend is like our own private outdoor school; a personalized family retreat; an un-plugged & off-line slumber party of fun. Climbing into the car for the ride home after this trip, my six year-old said it best: "When can we do that again?"
Today while my boys and I traveled from A to B here in Salem, we happened to pass beautiful Bush Park. Glancing over, I saw soap box derby cars racing down the hill and so quickly asked my boys if they wanted to stop and watch. We parked the car nearby and soon found a shady spot near the course finish line.
After watching several runs, a kind momma asked the age of my boys. Upon hearing that my oldest was 9, she invited him to enjoy a ‘fun run’. That’s right: the gracious folks of the Salem Soap Box Derby Association offered my son the chance to drive one of their cars down the track. Needless to say, my oldest sprinted halfway up the hill to the starting line before I finished my “Thank you – we would like that” response.
At the top of the hill a well-spoken tween and a welcoming dad gave my new recruit a quick lesson. Having heard that the cars can reach speeds up to 30 mph –I was impressed by the care taken by the volunteers to help my son. The car and driver were allowed to roll forward (perhaps 10 to 20 feet) several times so that my son could practice his ‘braking skills.’ Once cleared for takeoff, he then rolled down the 900+ foot track.
Of course, I wasn’t there to see his face at the bottom – but the smile he held, after sprinting up the greenway to meet me, said it all: sometimes the detour is the best part of the journey.
On the Go