Sunday, October 28, 2007

USC vs Oregon Football

This weekend we took 997 Airlines (our Piper Arrow) south from Bellingham to Eugene for the USC vs. Oregon football game. Lucky for us game day came on a good weather weekend.

We flew down on Friday and arrived at the downtown Eugene Hilton at about 4:00. The official hotel was in Portland, so that was where the pre-game rally was held. You can imagine our surprise at seeing the USC band warming up the parking lot as we arrived. We hurried outside just as the band headed towards the Hilton Convention Center. We followed and discovered that a Witfawn Tours group led by Barbara Cotler was having a rally of their own. Barbara graciously invited us to join the group to hear the sophomores of the Trojan Marching Band led by Dr. Bartner perform their hearts out. There were about 80 students including the Band, Song Girls, Spirit Leaders, Silks (tall flags) and Tommy Trojan. Thank you Barbara - you made our day!

The next morning we headed for the game early. It is an easy walk from the Hilton to Autzen Stadium. After crossing the footbridge over the Willamette River, paths take you through Alton Baker Park to the stadium. We arrived just in time to see the USC Football Team arrive on buses escorted by the Oregon State Police. That's two days in a row that we were in the right place at the right time.

Autzen lived up to its reputation as the loudest statium in America. According to The Register-Guard, "a sound-level reading of 127.2 decibels — louder than a jet plane at takeoff [was recorded] during No. 5 Oregon’s monumental win over No. 9 USC." Part of this was undoubtedly due to the "largest crowd in UO history, 59,277." We sat across from the student section and my ears agreed.

OK, we weren't happy with the 24-17 final score, but the whole weekend was memorable. We got a great pre-game show, a chance to personally greet our team and experience an enthusiastic crowd at the game. Even surrounded by revelling Ducks all the way back to the campus, we were made to feel welcome. Then we ended our busy day with a great dinner at the Misako Japanese Restaurant.

Sunday had 997 Airlines winging us back north. Fortunately, good tailwinds and mostly clear skies got us back to Bellingham in record time. Fight on!! -- Margy

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Powell River Lakes Loop by Quad

This time of year you need to take full advantage of sunny (even partly cloudy) days. When we start a quad ride from town, we have to get up early and take our boat down the lake. Our destination -- the airport hanger where we store our quads on a tandem trailer.

We head south of Powell River on Highway 101. It’s hard to believe, but this is the northern extension of the same highway that passed our former home in California. A left turn at Dixon Road takes us off the pavement and onto Goat Lake Main. The main is a busy logging road on weekdays and has plenty of potholes, but is safe to travel with our large trailer in tow on weekends and holidays.

We like to park at Tin Hat Junction where there's a large turnout and map signboard. Today we are taking what I call the Lakes Loop. We offload our quads and continue north on the main to intercept Spring Lake Main branching off to the left. This junction is well marked with signs pointing to Lewis Lake and Tin Hat Mountain.

Logging in the area has created new roads through cut blocks. Following the most traveled sections we came to another sign at the entrance to the Lewis Lake Campground. We were surprised to find a large camper topped by a canoe towing an enclosed quad trailer. He must really trust his rig to bring it so far back into the bush, but what a way to see the country.

We had our lunch at the lake and Wayne tried a few casts from the wobbly dock.

After leaving Lewis Lake, we took the narrow trail down to Spring Lake. This lake is small and shallow, but there’s a beautiful view between the trees that shade the hand-built picnic area. The last part of the trail had a steep spot. This is exactly why I got my Yamaha Kodiak 450 with 4-wheel drive, but did I remember to turn it on? NO!

After a little tipsy-turvy spell, I came to a stop facing a tree. I engaged my 4X4, backed easily onto the trail, and the rest of the way down.

Back on Spring Lake Main we turned onto Giavanni (Giavanno on some maps) Main. From its lofty track we could look down on the head of Haslam Lake (Powell River’s water supply) and then Giavanni Lake. This part of the ride was very familiar to me. We popped out into the remains of Fiddlehead Farm (only a few apple trees now) and then onto Rainbow Main, skirting the southern edge of Powell and Goat Lakes. It's been a few years since there has been active logging along this section and the steep sides have grow over with alders and brush. That was good for me and my fear of heights ("Quad Acrophobia" in Up the Main).

At the junction of Goat Lake Main, we headed back south towards the truck. But first we made a short stop at the picnic area at the north end of Windsor Lake and then the Powell River Canoe Route portage at the north end of Dodd Lake. Time (and sunlight) was running out, so we made a dash down the main past Ireland and Nanton Lakes without stopping. Our trusty truck and trailer were waiting to receive us and take us past our final lake of the day, Lois Lake.

That was our Lakes Loop day trip. There are so many choices for short, long, easy and hard rides right at our doorstep. Want to read about more of them? ATV adventures in and around Powell River, BC, are the focus of the books Up the Main and Farther Up the Main. You can go to to get more information.

Also, stop by Tourism Powell River to purchase the new Powell River recreation map.

Do you ride a quad or bike? What are some of your favorite places to get away, relax and see the backcountry? -- Margy

Friday, October 05, 2007

Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro

When we are in Bellingham, Wayne and I like to try new places to eat. Here's one that was a big hit on our list.

On Railroad Avenue across from the Farmers Market in Bellingham we found a local watering hole that brews its own. The on-premise brewery at the Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro supplies great beer for thirsty patrons and other establishments throughout the state. You can also purchase “beer to go” in half-gallon growlers, gallons or kegs. I had a pint of their Amber Ale with a cup of French onion soup and a large soft pretzel for only $9.25 including tax and tip. The restaurant is open from 11:00 a.m. for lunch through dinner daily. The food is good whether you get a full meal or snacks with your brew. Watch their website for special events and free evening entertainment.

Tomorrow I plan to go to the Bellingham Farmers Market. You know where I'll be for lunch. Maybe I'll see you there. -- Margy

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Fall Cruise to Cortes Island

If you watch the weather, you can usually find two days in a row to take a quick cruise on the Strait of Georgia. Wayne and I were able to squeeze in one such trip to Cortes Island. In September I told you about a cruise we took to Cortes with stops at Von Donop Inlet and Gorge Harbour. The destination for this second fall cruise was Cortes Bay.

We again loaded our bicycles so that we could tour the island. When we arrived at the Cortes Bay government dock, we decided to tie up for the night rather than anchor. That's one big advantage of off-season cruising. Just after we arrived, a motorcyclist stopped and proceeded to walk down the dock looking at the boats. She was helping the harbour master and took our overnight fee. There is also an honor box at the top of the ramp.

The road from Cortes Bay to Manson's Landing are pretty hilly. Even more so than on our previous trip. But the scenery was beautiful and the weather just right for pedaling. We exited the marina and turned left on Bartholomew Road. This road takes you all the way to Sutil Point Road. At this junction we weren't sure which way to turn for Manson's Landing. Wayne tried to flag down a driver, but he just thought we were waving. The second driver stopped and gave us directions, turn right. We were in luck today. There was a farmer's market in progress at the community center, Manson's Hall. Even if there isn't a market in progress, this is a great place to stop. It is the meeting place for islanders and has a post office and thrift store inside. After we ate lunch at the Sunset Restaurant we went across the street to the market and had homemade peach ice cream cones for dessert - YUM!

Rather than head straight back, we continued on to Seaford Road until we reached Hague Lake. This is a great swimming spot. After a refreshing dip we retraced our path to the boat. Seaford Road will take you to Bartholomew, but it's a steeper route.

Back at the Bayliner, we were ready for a quiet night on the dock. We were the only occupants other than working boats waiting for their captains. If you like solitude, its a great time to travel.

Want to read more about our boating adventures? Take a look at Up the Strait available at -- Margy

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Astoria Stopover

September is usually a good month to fly north (or south) along Victor 27. Not so last week. We had to time our departure from Cable Airport (KCCB) to slide between storms passing through the Pacific Northwest, dodging clouds all the way. We are IFR capable, but the low freezing level kept us in clear air.

We stopped for fuel at Eureka/Arcata Airport (KACV) then pressed on to Siletz Bay Airport on the Oregon coast. We set up our tent, had dinner at the Side Door Cafe and settled in for a much needed rest. Even with George (our autopilot) back in operation, eight hours is a lot of flying for one day. As we slept, another storm hammered on our tent's roof.

The next morning brought a low overcast with about 5 mile visibility underneath. We hopped from airport to airport, making a go/no go decision as we passed each one. As we approached Astoria Airport (KAST) at the mouth of the Columbia River, the skies began to open up to welcome us.

Astoria is an easy fuel stop with a self-serve pump. It has good IFR approaches and long runways. The Flight Service Station from the 80's now houses the airport's FBO. But, as of May 2009, the wonderful little Runway Cafe is no longer serving good eats and strong coffee for weary traveler. It's part of the sad times for general aviation in these tough economic times. Hopefully, when things get better, they and other wonderful little "100 dollar hamburger" spots will reopen so we can re-fuel our tummies as well as our tanks.

Astoria is also a good overnight destination. We like the Shilo Inn (about 4 miles) for a quick stopover. When we want to get to town, we opt for the Red Lion on the city side of the bridge. From here you can walk the waterfront to several nice restaurants. Have a little more time and want to see the coast? You can rent a car with airport pickup and go to nearby Seaside. This quaint town has a nice Shilo Inn right on the water, restaurants and tourist shops. They have an airport of their own if you can handle a 2360' runway.

So, whether you are looking for fuel, a good meal, a place to rest or sightseeing, stop over in Astoria, Oregon. Lewis and Clark new a good place when they saw it. Plus, it gets two wings up from us.