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Archive for the ‘Oregon’ Category

toy museum

It’s hidden in plain sight on busy Grand Avenue in Portland in an unmarked, windowless, locked building. To gain entry you must knock, wait, and the door will be opened (when I visited, by a woman who returned to an unseen corner after speaking her only words: “Set your umbrella down—no, not there,” (the dirty worn carpet). “There.” (The dirty worn linoleum.)

The silent cramped foyer smells musty and is lined with display cases packed with shadowy objects. Enter the first brightly lit showroom on the left and be overwhelmed by cases and cases and cases of…toys.

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hi-way haven

I fully expected the WBCCI Oregon Unit members to know how to have a good time when I met their club president at the International. Expectations fulfilled: The HiWay Haven rally in Sutherlin OR—a nonstop block party with Airstreams and the people who love them—pegged the fun meter.

A little Airstream history was thrown in between the eating and drinking; the weekend commemorated the 50th anniversary of the famous Cape Town to Cairo caravan with a special lecture and a screening of two films about Wally Byam and his followers to Africa and Mexico. Other movies on the old drive in screen included the unwatchable RV and The Long, Long Trailer, unwatchable for other reasons.

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food carts of portland

When I first moved to Portland lo these many years ago, there was nothing to eat. A damning indictment, as I was fresh from San Diego where fish tacos and mud pie were as haute as one could go.

Now, you can’t open Sunset or the now-defunct Gourmet without reading an article breathlessly praising a Portland chef, or a gushy review of the culinary craze that’s been sweeping the area in recent years: the city food cart.

Until last Friday, I worked a stone’s throw from one of the main lunchwagon pods downtown but rarely visited, preferring instead to eat a piteous salad at my desk.

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ufo festival

I didn’t have directions to the 11th Annual UFO Festival but it was easy to find: I simply followed the highway signs to McMinnville, parked the car, and followed the crowd carrying lawn chairs and wearing tinfoil hats. (At the town border I was disoriented by a guy in a Jeep Wrangler flying an enormous confederate flag stenciled with the word “REDNECK”. I though that was incongruous to the nature of the event, then remembered the rich history of American abductees.)

The UFO Festival is held every May to commemorate the Trent UFO Photographs, taken in 1950 by a local farmer that many agree are among the most credible images of a UFO ever captured.

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u.s. bank old main branch

I rarely use the ATM in the garage entrance to the Portland Main Office of U.S. Bank downtown, preferring instead to step inside the lobby and waste the teller’s time—depositing a check I’m sure they’d prefer I used the machine for—just for the opportunity to absorb the atmosphere in the cavernous old branch.

One weekday morning I took a break from work and walked next door (from the old Wells Fargo Building, built 102 years ago; Portland’s first “skyscraper” and host to the downtown Raptor Cam) to use the teller line at the old U.S. Bank. Afterwards, I approached the guard who stands attentively every day in the lobby and asked if I could take a few pictures; were there any restrictions?

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cyclocross

We timed the extensive damage repair from The Incident to fall in November so the DWR could winter over at the cozy dealership where it was purchased, two years and 12,000 miles ago. On the way to George Sutton RV in Eugene, OR, we stopped along the way to take in the spectacle that is the OBRA-sanctioned Cyclocross Championship in Salem.

As an irregular viewer of The Ocho, I was unfamiliar with Cyclocross. It’s a species of bicycle race that generally occurs in autumn and winter—when it’s cold and soggy—developed as a way for road racers to stay in shape during the off season and provide opportunities for them to take advantage of local Urgent Care facilities.

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harvest fest

Under a new moon in October, all but deserted Viento State Park on the Columbia River is atmospheric and eerie. Even on the first day of modern firearm hunting season there were only a handful of campers, likely due to the park’s most distinctive feature: the train that thunders by at all hours of the day and night, blasting its earsplitting whistle scant yards from the campsites.

Saturday morning drizzle turned to a downpour as we passed the local purveyors and their lavish bins of pumpkins, squash and a dozen apple varieties on our way into the Hood River Valley Harvest Fest. Having been there before we knew to make an immediate beeline for the beer and brat tent.

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bend

Growing up, I was a hopeless nerd (shut up) and waited for each long lonely summer to come to an end so I could take my place at the desk nearest Teacher in September. This may be why, no matter where I’ve lived, that fall is my favorite season. Autumn in Oregon—especially east of the Cascades—has a refreshing vibe that feels, counterintuitively, like new beginnings.

If you paddle, cycle, ski, hike or fly fish, you already know about Bend. We spent the weekend just rubbernecking around town (Ralph applying his real estate appraisal knowledge like a tour guide as we passed through the neighborhoods) and hanging out in the sun at the campsite, drinking beer and watching the dogs roll in the dirt.

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go ems

Another grey summer Saturday in the PacNorwest. Headed south to Eugene Oregon to catch the opening day for the Emerald’s, a short-season Class A team in the Northwest League and one of the farm teams for the Padres. I’ve seen fans this rabid only once before, in the stadium in Oaxaca screaming for the Guerreros.

Had to take a secluded, mosquito-y site at the nicely maintained Richardson Park, located on the end of a large resevoir near a pretty marina. Ralph paddled out in his inflatable pontoon for a spin around a nearby bass puddle.

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painted hills

Oregon’s Painted Hills are on the little strip of highway just northwest of Mitchell (about 75 miles east of Bend) that leads up to one of the John Day Fossil Beds.

The area is dreamlike and sparse. The stripes vary in color—red, yellow, ochre—and some are marked with odd black shapes.

There are trails for hiking, and a covered observation station supplies welcome shade and a boring diagram. Like a solar eclipse, it’s impossible to take a good picture of what the hills look and feel like.

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