How is it already mid-July? It feels like just yesterday I was spending Memorial Day in Seaside, and now summer is halfway over?! What is happening?? I guess the old saying holds true that time flies when you’re having fun. I meant to post this in the beginning of the month, (oops- I’m having too much fun I guess) but I’d like to dedicate a post to some of what’s been keeping me busy since I moved to Portland. I had a lot of fun reflecting on everything that I did in June, and I was a bit amazed at all that I was able to squeeze in!
First up… The Portland Rose Festival
This is a yearly weeks-long festival in Portland, the City of Roses. It kicked off Memorial Day weekend with fireworks celebrating the opening night, and the festivities lasted until the second weekend in June. Rides, food carts, and games lined the Tom McCall Waterfront Park in the city, and there were multiple parades to look forward to. One of them was the Starlight Parade, which I watched with a few friends. It took place at night (no waking up early to secure a spot!) and featured your regular marching band-type floats as well as fun & zany floats with glow-in-the-dark extras. It was fun but relaxing, so this might be a yearly tradition that I participate in.
My first major hike in June was Dog Mountain. As someone new to the area, this was one of the iconic hikes that people recommended to me over and over again. However, I kept hearing mixed messages about the level of difficulty: some accounts made it seem like it was one of the most challenging hikes in the area and required training, trekking poles, etc.; other versions claimed it wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be. Me? I decided to expect the worst, which I think worked to my benefit. It’s a 6.5-mile hike with 2800 feet of elevation gain, so it was definitely more strenuous than anything back in PA. I don’t have trekking poles, so I hiked it without them and was fine. I brought 3 liters of water, a few Cliff bars, and an apple as fuel; this all served me well. Luckily, I was with a group of rad women that were there to enjoy the day. We were in no rush so we stopped when we felt like we needed a break and had fun on the entire trek up the mountain. The views were worth the climb- once above the tree line we were treated to wildflowers all around us and sweeping views of the Columbia River Gorge. It was definitely worth the effort!
My second major hike was at Lava Canyon in Mt Saint Helens area. This one was fun and at times felt more like an obstacle course- the trail involved climbing two ladders (one was 30 feet!) and crossing a suspension bridge. To make things more challenging, parts of the trail were tough to navigate due to washout and erosion. After clambering around trees and scrambling across narrow passages in the beginning of the hike, we reached a trail intersection with a sign that said the trail we had just been on was closed! This made sense considering the trail conditions, but there was no warning at the trailhead. Regardless, we continued on and were treated to multiple waterfall views throughout the day.
One of my favorite things about living in Portland is that I’m only 1.5 – 2 hours away from the Oregon Coast. I’ve never lived so close to an ocean before, so I love making the relatively short drive out to different coastal towns. A few weeks ago I went to Astoria for the day, which sits along the Columbia River where the river meets the ocean. I climbed the Astoria Column which provided sweeping views of the area. I traveled across the Astoria-Megler Bridge (which is 4 miles long!) into Washington and went to Cape Disappointment State Park. I hiked a short distance to the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse and also stopped at a “secret beach” along the way that a friend had told me about. I traveled back into downtown Astoria and spent a few hours meandering around and browsing the many shops in town. I walked along the Riverwalk and stopped at Buoy Brewing for a snack and beer. After dinner at Fort George Brewery I went to Fort Stevens State Park, which has beach access. I claimed a spot on the sand near the Peter Iredale Shipwreck and watched the sunset before driving back to Portland. It was a long day, but I had the best time. I can’t wait to go back again.
I love to read, and with the lack of TV in recent months I’ve been reading a lot. Here’s a breakdown of what I read in June, with my own personal subjective score. I am in no way a literary critic, so my score is just my own opinion!
End of the Rope by Jan Redford- my score 5/5
I love reading about badass women, and this memoir didn’t disappoint. Jan is a rock climber, and when she was starting out as a young adult it was challenging to conquer her fears and prove herself in a “man’s” world. The memoir also focuses on her relationships, and ultimately her challenges in balancing being a wife and mother while chasing her own dreams. The coolest thing about this book is that I got to meet Jan Redford in person! Just after I finished the book I saw that she was doing a reading in a local bookshop and immediately put it on my calendar. I’ll admit that I fangirled a little bit, but I’m excited that I was able to meet such an inspiring yet down-to-earth woman.
Elmet by Fiona Mozley- my score 2/5
This wasn’t a bad novel, the story was just not my cup of tea. To summarize without spoiling the story, Danny and Cathy live with their father in the woods, mostly living off the land. They just want to live the way they choose, but when their lifestyle is threatened a dark and violent chain of events is started.
The Radium Girls by Kate Moore- my score 5/5
This was one of two books chosen for Our Shared Shelf for May & June, and I loved it. It was haunting to say the very least; even weeks later it’s still in my mind. This is a nonfiction account of women who worked in the radium dial industry, the tragic health problems they faced as a result, and their seemingly hopeless battle against the companies that didn’t protect them. Many US labor laws can be attributed to their fight, and though many medical and law textbooks cover their legal battles this is the first book that tells their personal stories.
White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht- my score 5/5
I read this novel for a book club; it centers around two sisters born in Korea during the Japanese occupation. Hana is a hyaneo, a diver who is respected on her island. She sacrifices herself in order to save her sister, and as a result she is forced to become a comfort woman for the Japanese army. While she struggles to accept her fate, her sister Emi continues to live on their home island amid more political turmoil. As an old woman, Emi struggles to accept and reflect on the darkest days of her past.
West with the Night by Beryl Markham- my score 4/5
This is the memoir of Beryl Markham- an adventurer, racehorse trainer, and aviator who was born in Britain but raised in Kenya (then British East Africa). I read a fictionalized account of her life a few years ago, and I’ve wanted to read her memoir ever since. Her memoir covers all the exciting stories and accomplishments in her life, but it also showcases her writing talent. I was blown away by some of the passages, especially when she talked about Africa. She truly made the continent come alive for me.
Portland is known for its many craft breweries, so naturally I explored a few of them this month. I went to Little Beast Brewing, Migration Brewing, and Lucky Lab Brewing. My favorite of the bunch was probably Little Beast, just because the space was so cute! It was located in a cozy little house in Southeast Portland, and we were able to borrow blankets from the bar and sit outside on the front lawn.
This month I also went to the International Beerfest with a few friends, and that turned out to be quite an experience. Overall I had a lot of fun drinking beer, but the most exciting part of the day was pie jousting. What is pie jousting? It’s when two opponents ride bicycles toward each other and attempt to throw pies on the other person! It was hilarious to watch- especially when one of the pies missed its target and hit me instead! I thought it was hysterical, and for that reason alone I want to go back next year!
Other Exciting Things
Outside of hikes, books, and beer the most exciting thing by far this month was picking up the keys for my new apartment! I haven’t had an official lease since December, so it feels so good to finally have a home. I’m definitely in nesting mode- I had way too much fun shopping for a couch and I can’t wait until the rest of my furniture arrives from Pittsburgh so I can really start making my new space a home.
The second-most exciting thing is that at the end of June I started taking Italian lessons! I have always loved the Italian language, and I’m full-on obsessed with everything Italy related: art, culture, food, you name it. It has always been a life goal of mine to become fluent in a foreign language, and though I know some Spanish I decided to give something else a try. I’m excited to learn such a beautiful language and learn more about the culture. I’ve been dreaming of returning to Italy since I studied abroad in Rome in 2009, and with a possible trip looming on the horizon I figured that Italian lessons will either help me when I travel or hold me over until I finally make my return trip.
Now that I’ve (finally) summarized my June activities, I realize just how busy I actually was! It’s no wonder that the days flew by quickly! Does that feeling ever happen to you? What exciting things have you done this summer?