Summer Family Vacation Part II: Portland, Oregon

Here's Part II of our Pacific Northwest family summer vacation.  We left Seattle in the early afternoon and headed to Portland.  As soon as we were out of the city, the weather started to clear up and we were happy to see blue skies and sunshine! 

We arrived at our rented apartment from AirBnB, unloaded our suitcases from the car and freshened up for dinner.  Our AirBnB was in a great location close to so many of the best food spots in town!  We met up for dinner at the Country Cat with some good friends who'd moved to Portland a couple of years ago from Las Vegas. The restaurant was small and cozy and we had a great table right up against the window and not in the middle of the restaurant.  That was great for us with the kiddos! Afterwards we made our way to Salt & Straw on SE Division St. for ice cream.  The ice cream shop had a long line and we probably waited a good 30 minutes before we had our ice cream, but it was worth it! Plus, time went by fast since we were chatting and catching up! Thank goodness our apartment was just around the corner, because we were stuffed and ready for bed. 

 Before heading out  to explore on Monday, we grabbed breakfast at one of the awesome food truck pods that are all over the city.  We chose Fried Egg I'm in Love because they had great reviews on Yelp and with breakfast sandwich names like  Smells Like Protein Spirit and Free-Range Against the Machine, we knew they'd be good! They did not disappoint. Bellies full we took off on our day trip to the Colombia River Gorge area and got to see the famous Multmonah Falls and drive along the river and visit the countryside. We were a little early in the season for berry or cherry picking but we got to feed and pet some alpacas so that totally made up for it! Plus, the craft beers and gourmet food truck at the Gorge White House really hit the spot after our long day.  Once we were back in Portland we picked up some groceries at New Seasons Market. It's a local(ish)grocery store chain in Portland/Vancouver areas that is similar to Whole Foods.  We were beat after our long day but so happy we got to spend some time in nature and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

We planned to stay in Portland on Tuesday.  We started our day with a cool make-your-own-pancakes place called Slappy Cakes.  The food was ok and the pancakes weren't amazing, but the kids really enjoyed making their pancakes into different shapes! It's a nice place for kids, but don't expect an amazing meal.  We did lots of walking and sightseeing in Portland and visiting a lot of the major attractions, such as the Japanese Garden, the International Rose Testing Garden, Voodoo Donuts, Powell's Bookstore, and eating from yet more food trucks.   We met up for dinner with our friends again at Deschutes Brewery and Public House, which was another not-so-great place.  The wait was long, the food was mediocre, and the service was poor. We were disappointed, especially since there are so many other good places to to eat at in Portland. I don't recommend it. 

We took another road trip on our 3rd day to visit the Oregon Coast.  Seriously would love to spend a full weekend out there!  The coast is so beautiful and we really enjoyed Cannon Beach and Astoria! We got back to Portland just in time for dinner and we chose to visit another food cart pod, this one was on SE 28th Pl and Division. We were totally diggin' the vibe there and we all ended up picking up our meals from different carts! Diego had pizza, they actually had a brick oven! Elysse chose mini corn dogs (not so adventurous this day) Jason had sushi, and I chose Indian.  We were pretty tired from our trip, so rather than eat it there, we took it with us and enjoyed a nice quite evening at the apartment. I also took advantage of the washer and dryer and ran a load of laundry.  Not exactly what you want to be doing on vacation, but it was just 1 load and it made packing easier. Plus, it was one less thing to do when I got back home!  

 Our last day started off with a quick breakfast in the apartment while we, and by we, I mean mostly I, packed everything up to check out.  We then met up with our friends for lunch at Lardo.  Do yourself a favor and go there for lunch next time you're in Portland.  I crave their Korean Pork Shoulder sandwich and the Pork Meatball Banh Mi! So so good!! The rest of our day was spent at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry! I didn't think we would spend the entire day there, but there was so much to see and do that it really did fill up our whole day. Then it was off to PDX to head back home to Las Vegas! One worse thing about the flights back home to Vegas is that they're usually filled with folks ready to party, while we're always tired and grumpy our vacation is ending and theirs is just starting! LOL 

Seriously though, it's hard when vacations end but I'm always so grateful we got to go! We visited some amazing places, enjoyed cool weather, ate some delicious food, and made lifelong memories together.  What more could we ask for?!? What are some fun places you've visited this summer? I'd love to hear some of your favorite vacation spots ever too! 

Summer Family Vacation Part I: Seattle, WA

As I mentioned in my last post, I got to run the Rock N Roll Seattle Half Marathon last month. And, having never been to the Pacific Northwest, we decided to make it a family vacation, adding Portland and the Oregon coast to our trip.  Today, I'll be sharing all about our weekend in Seattle first and Part II will go into our 4 days Oregon.

Since our trip ended in Portland, that's where we flew into.  Whenever we have trips where we are visiting a few cities or doing a road trip once we land, I prefer to fly into the city we'll be visiting last.  The main reasons I prefer to do this are 1: Renting a car one-way is a lot more expensive than returning it at the same airport.  2: It's less stressful to be near your airport at departure than having to calculate for a few hours drive.  I'd hate to miss our flight due to unforeseen traffic or getting lost. 

The drive to Seattle from Portland took longer than anticipated due to traffic, but we had plenty of time to pick up my race packet at the expo and then make our way to Pioneer Square for our walking tour by Beneath the Streets.  We'd heard about these tours from some friends and when I saw they were giving 1 complimentary tour to Rock N Roll runners, I figured we'd give it a try.  We don't normally do group tours on vacation because I prefer a more authentic vibe, plus with little ones, you just never know if they'll find them interesting.  Well, to my surprise the kids, who aren't so little anymore, did enjoy the tour.  They found it interesting and even asked some really good questions to our tour guide.  Afterwards, we stayed in the area and enjoyed some of the fun games they had in the square.  

Our next stop was Pike Place Market.  The market was closing when we arrived but it was still super crowded.  I know this is an icon Seattle tourist spot, but I wasn't really impressed.  I think there were just way too many people walking around aimlessly and being, well, tourists.  We originally planned to walk around the market, watch the famous fish throwing, and eat from a few of the popular food places.  With the market closing, we didn't get to see much and we only made it to one place Beecher's Handmade Cheese for some mac n cheese.  It was cool to see the cheese making process through the window, but it wasn't really amazing mac n cheese.  The best part was seeing all the beautiful flower stands.

Afterwards, we checked into our hotel room for the night and we were all so tired & a bit cranky from waking up early for our flight and walking around all day, that we just ordered a pizza and salad and had it in our room.  

It was another early morning for me on Sunday to get up and run the half marathon.  It was a great course and I really enjoyed it and the VIP lounge area.  You can read the race recap on my previous post HERE.  After the race, we made our way to Seattle Center for a closer look at the Space Needle and to grab some lunch before making our way to Portland! I wish we would/could have spent more time in this area.  I would like to go back and check out some of the museums, but we still enjoyed our time walking around the pretty gardens and the kids had a blast at the playground there.  Our last stop was to go see the Fremont Troll under the Aurora Bridge.  Such a quirky spot and I'm so glad we got to see it! 

Although it was a bit of a whirlwind, our weekend in Seattle was a ton of fun.  Coming from Vegas, we welcomed the gloomy and rainy weather.  It never really rained but we did have a few drizzles.  Ideally, I think 3 days in Seattle would have been perfect and would have allowed us to visit a museum or two and not crammed so much into 2 days.  

Have you been to Seattle? Besides the museums, what else would you recommend we do or see on our next trip to Seattle? What side trips would be worth a visit from Seattle? Thanks for stopping by and be sure to come back for the rest of our PNW trip!  

Race-cation | Southern Califiornia Getaway

One of the best reasons to choose a race in a different city is the opportunity for a race-cation! You know, where you sign up for a race and plan a trip around it!  Because I love to run and I love to travel even more, it's no wonder most of my races are out of town.  I love being able to combine two of my favorite things!  Mostly, these are just weekend getaways like for the L.A. Marathon and sometimes they are full-on family vacations, like for Disney's Wine and Dine Half Marathon in DisneyWorld.  Either way, it's always exciting to get away and run in a new place!  

Last month I got to race the Ventura Beach Half Marathon and we made a nice little family trip out of it.  The kids had already started school, so we let them play hooky and we left Friday morning.  We headed straight to L.A.'s The Grove shopping center where Elysse had an appointment with a personal shopper at the American Girl store!  You can read all about her amazing experience and my recommendations when visiting this store HERE.  While Elysse and I shopped and had lunch at the American Girl Cafe, Jason and Diego spent their afternoon catching PokeMon Go at the nearby La Brea Tar Pits.  They also grabbed a bite to eat and even did a little shopping too.

In case you didn't know, Friday afternoon traffic through L.A. is insane.  We thought because we were leaving a few hours before rush hour that we would be ok, but it was still really congested and it took us quite awhile to get from Los Angeles to Ventura.  When we finally arrived at our hotel, I realized just how chilly the evenings are in Ventura and we were not prepared!  Elysse still got in the pool before we headed to dinner.  She's crazy and maybe I'm a little crazier for letting her get in.  But hey, it's a vacation! 

Saturday morning, was packet pickup and our family day at the beach.  The first thing we did, was head to Old Navy to get some sweaters because the morning was cold and cloudy and I knew the evening would also be chilly.  Then we headed to Trader Joe's to grab food for our beach picnic lunch later.  At this point, we're all starving, so we had to find a place to eat a late breakfast on Main St. Finally, around noon, we made it to the beach.  Packet pick up was right next to the pier and super quick to find and get my bib for the race the next day.

After all of this, it was finally time to relax at the beach for the day!  The weather was cool but it did get pretty sunny once that morning fog rolled out.  We spent the day lounging, making sand castles, and gathering shells.  Diego had gotten a skate board while in L.A. so him and Jason practiced skating along the bike trail.  It was seriously one of the most chill out days at the beach we've ever had.  Even though it was too cold for actual swimming in the ocean, it was a blast!  We were all so stuffed from our big breakfast, that we didn't even have our lunch or snacks until we got in the car to leave.  

As soon as we got back to our hotel, Elysse was ready to jump in the pool again! I don't know how she has so much energy.  But, because we didn't swim in the ocean, we figured why not! So her and Jason stayed at the pool while Diego and went up to the room to get a head start on showers and get ready for dinner.

Sunday was race day and it was perfect!  You can read all about my race recap HERE.  Unfortunately, with school on Monday, we decided to head back home soon after the race was done.  After my race, we headed back to the hotel to check-out and for me to get myself all cleaned up from the half marathon.  After breakfast we decided to take the scenic route and find the Musical Road in Lancaster, CA.  It was originally made for a Honda commercial.  It's a quarter mile bit of road that when driven on it, it is supposed to sound like  William Tell Overature or better known as the theme from the classic Lone Ranger tv show. Was it worth taking the scenic route for this? Absolutely! There are only a few of these musical roads in the world and even though it wasn't perfectly in tune, it was still a fun little side track.  

Click the photo to see and hear our drive over the Musical Road! 

Click the photo to see and hear our drive over the Musical Road! 

We also got to see one of the largest wind farms in the world as we drove back to the interstate.  We had no idea we'd be seeing that, but when we kept seeing so many rows of windmills, I quickly googled and found out it was the Alta Wind Project, also called the Mojave Wind Farm, the third largest onshore wind energy project in the world.  Pretty neat bit of trivia :) 

All and all, our family race-cation was a much needed break from the busy months we'd been having with packing and moving and the kids starting new schools.  I highly recommend when looking for your next race, consider making it a race-cation! I'm sure the idea of traveling and getting away will be a nice motivator as you put in those training miles!