BY DAVE FITZPATRICK
Grab your flip-flops. It's time to tour raunchy rivers, placid pools, kick-ass cliffs and wild
waterfalls. These holes are given redneck ratings from 1 (not so bad) to 10 (hide the wife, bring
Ask Southeast's sweatiest where to cool your cut-offs, and they're bound to mention High Rocks Park, an urban institution sandwiched between Interstate 205 and Gladstone. While it's not as 'necky as it used to be now that it has lifeguards, High Rocks maintains a diehard following among Rose City rockers. Redneck rating: 7
Take 99E south to Gladstone. Hang a left on Arlington and a right on Clackamas Boulevard. Ditch your wheels at Cross Park and walk upstream to the footbridge to cross the river.
Eagle Creek is an important stop for the discerning cliff jumper. While the creek boasts numerous pristine pools wherein one can moisten the mullet without wandering far, Punch Bowl Falls is worth every inch of the two-mile walk. Featuring a 40-foot drop into glacially chilled waters, Punch Bowl is not for Winger fans. Once you splash down, you'll still have to swim your welted ass downstream before you can climb back up to the main Eagle Creek Trail. But you might as well jump lower Punch Bowl while you're down there. Those in the know stash a few beers along the trail for that long limp back to the car. Redneck rating: 8
Hit I-84 east, take exit 41 and keep right. $5 for a day pass.
The reddest of redneck swimmin' holes, the Wilson River is the place for happenin' heshers to pop a few pounders and soak up the summer. If the four-wheel drives or the broken glass are any indication, the footbridge at mile marker 20 is quintessential Skynyrd country. Fans of this notorious party spot leap from trees, back-flip off the bridge and swing from the cliffs. Denizens also delight in wandering wasted along the Wilson's network of cliffside trails. Fistfights are not unheard of, nor are occasional grievous injuries. Turn it up! Redneck rating: 10
Head west on U.S. 26, follow OR 6 and then pay attention to the mile markers. Park on the left at marker 20 and be careful crossing the highway. Bridge jumpers risk a trespassing violation.
BY ELLEN FAGG
When you live in a hiking town, it's easy to fall into an outdoors rut, where, by the time you manage to steal away on a weekday evening or weekend morning, you're too tired to find new ground. To help you make a claim on some new urban territory, we offer less-traveled routes to two alternative views.
Old favorite: Macleay Trail, Forest Park
New view: Maple Trail, Forest Park
Access: Heading west on Highway 30, turn south at Saltzman Road, park at the gate and walk a half-mile south to reach the Maple Trail.
Reward: Mountain views and big trees. And did we mention the away-from-the-maddening crowds thing?
Heading north is the simple secret to getting away from the crowds in Forest Park. Avoid the well-loved Thurman Street trails, and instead explore big trees and moss in the less-traveled sections of Portland's urban forest. Once you hit the Maple Trail, head east to hook up with the Wildwood Trail for a five-mile loop that--on good days--offers views of Mounts St. Helens and Rainier.
Old favorite: Angels Rest, Columbia Gorge
New view: Devils Rest, Columbia Gorge
Access: Take the Bridal Veil exit off I-84 east, turn left and drive two miles on the old Columbia River Highway to the Wahkeena Falls trailhead.
Reward: A higher, less-crowded Gorge ridge.
On sunny weekends, the panoramic view from the top of Angels Rest draws a pack of dogs and their hikers. But a less-traveled hike of about six miles in the same Gorge neighborhood leads to Devils Rest, which, paradoxically, is 800 feet higher than the angel resting below. For this steep hike, start at Wahkeena Falls and enjoy views of multiple waterfalls on a trail leading up steep switchbacks.
Next, you'll head east following the Vista and Angels Rest trails, until you reach the intersection with the Foxglove Trail, which offers a steep climb to the top. Just below the ridge, on the Devils Rest trail heading east, is where you'll find the spectacular view.
Insider tip: For more information, check out the website www.friendsofforestpark.org, and Paul Gerald's 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland ($15.95, Menasha Ridge Press).
BY DAVE FITZPATRICK
Ten bucks and a 45-minute drive are all it takes for a cruise along one of Oregon's finest waterways.
First, round up a few friends, two cars, plenty of rope, and several old backpacks. Then drop by Affordable Tire and Brakes (711 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 235-1808, $10 per tube) and purchase your yacht, which Affordable staff refer to as a "7.50 x 16 inner tube." Don't forget an extra to carry supplies.
Next, inflate the tubes and ready them for transit. Master yachters accomplish this while their companions busy themselves buying gas. Don't be shy with the air, either. Like many things in life, that big ol' donut will shrivel when it hits cold water.
Favored vehicular-securing techniques include the rope-around-the-roof method and the shoved-in-the-back-seat system. Those lacking in nautical knowledge should remember that if you can't tie a knot, just tie a lot.
Once everything is ship-shape, head to Estacada's Milo McIver State Park on the lower Clackamas River ($3 per car, directions at www.oregonstateparks.org/park_142.php). Upon arrival, drop one car at the lower boat ramp and the other car, crafts and cohorts at the upper boat ramp. Staying out of the refreshments greatly aids in the execution of these tricky maneuvers. Getting directions from park staff is highly recommended for first-timers.
When everyone is assembled near the upper ramp launch site, affix the backpacks to the least-comfy craft by unfastening the shoulder straps, wrapping them around the tube body and rebuckling. Again, creativity with knots may be required. Fill the packs with libations and then draw straws to see who gets to trailer the supply tube behind their vessel.
Insider tip: Under no circumstances should anyone wear a backpack while tubing. A soggy pack is a one-way ticket to senseless drowning. Always wear a personal flotation device, especially since the biggest rapids, known as the Minefield, are directly downstream from the upper boat ramp. Stay on through here and the rest of this two-and-a-half-mile run is a nice blend of gorgeous scenery, small rapids and lazy drifts.
BY JOHN MOTLEY
If mention of the word "paddle" elicits images of spanking, you've been spending too much time indoors. According to some outdoor enthusiasts, the only remedy for this backroom fever is to take to the water and learn to kayak.
Scappoose Bay Kayaking offers guided paddling tours ranging from a three-hour tour of the bay's scenic wetlands ($45) to a gruelingly paced, four-day "Pushing the Envelope" tour ($450). The bay's inlets and waterways, which are seldom traveled by boats, are hotspots for migratory birds and binocular-toting bird lovers. All tours include the rental of a kayak, skirt, paddle, PFD (that's personal floatation device, landlubber) and an experienced guide.
To prepare: Additional instruction is available in the on-site practice pool. To repair: Panini, wraps, microbrews and wine are available at the oh-so-rustic Baywatch Bistro, 'cause nothing's better than a cold beer after a hard paddle.
Scappoose Bay Kayaking, 57420 Old Portland Road, Warren, 397-2161. 9 am-8 pm daily.
BY CHAD DUNDAS
It's shaping up to be a hot summer for racing, as Portland International Raceway features a full slate of rubber-burnin', ear-deafenin' action.
Billing itself as the "best racing series on the West Coast," the Oregon Motorcycle Road Racing Association brings the thunder to PIR on Aug. 8. Among other attractions, the OMRRA speeds into its second year of pocket bike races, where riders as young as 5 put their kneecaps on the line rocketing mini 50-pound bikes up to 50 miles per hour around PIR's track.
OMRRA is looking for riders and volunteers for summer events (221-1487, www.omrra.com). No experience necessary. Really.
If you prefer your racing on four wheels, check out the Portland Historic Races at the raceway July 9-11. Classic hot rods from 1930 to 1970 match up to see who's got the gusto. It's one part motor oil, one part drool for the true auto aficionado.
For a schedule of races and ticket information visit www.portlandraceway.com. Portland International Raceway, West Delta Park, 1940 North Victory Blvd., 823-7223.
BY AARON SCOTT
One way to keep your cool during the summer is to go underground, into the bowels of the earth: caving.
Most first-time spelunkers don't need fancy equipment or knowhow, just a few pointers and a desire to conquer your fear of the dark.
Basic caving kits include: hardhat (rock-climbing helmets are perfect); three sources of light; sturdy shoes; a long-sleeve shirt and pants (avoid cotton, don't avoid layers); a small first-aid kit; and a backpack. Make sure someone knows where you're going and when you'll be back, and never cave alone.
This list of caves should be enough to get you started. If your appetite is whetted, check out the Willamette Valley Grotto at http://home.comcast.net/~WVG/home.htm or visit the National Speleological Society at www.caves.org for more information.
Ape Cave, on the side of Mount St. Helens, is a single lava tube broken into a lower, easier stretch and a longer, more difficult stretch. This is a great first cave, since it's impossible to get lost. From Washington Interstate 5, take Woodland exit 21. Drive east on Washington 503, and eight miles past Cougar make a left on Forest Service Road 8303.
Derrick Cave is a large cave that was used at one time as a nuclear fallout shelter. From Bend, drive about 20 miles east on Highway 20. Just past the Horse Ridge Summit, turn right on Road 23, the second gravel road. Bear left at the fork and continue on Road 23 to Derrick Cave, about a 47-mile drive from the eastern edge of Bend.
South Ice Cave is a nice cave with lots of ice formations year-round. From Bend, go 30 miles south on U.S. 97, and then 25 miles east on Road 22. Make sure to bring extra layers.
And please, respect the caves. They take longer to form than your mama is old, and unlike your mama, they don't clean up after you. So, in the words of the NSS, "Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but carefully placed footprints, and kill nothing but time."
Insider tip: If you bring knee and elbow pads, gloves and a camera, you won't be sorry.
BY CHAD DUNDAS
Strap on your water wings--Portland's outdoor pools are now open! At $3 for adults, $1.75 for kids, it's a bargain-priced family outing. The Parks Bureau offers seven outdoor facilities all over town. Here are some of the best:
Grant Pool: Planners of Grant Park did their best to hide this pool, constructing it in a sunken, bricked-in bunker in the shadow of Grant High School's ominous smokestack. The pool itself is shaped and divided like a two-chamber sink, with a wading area walled off from the seven-foot deep end. A spacious concrete patio provides room for lounging with picnic tables and even some wooden bleachers. The facility is accessible to the disabled, complete with a wheelchair ramp on the pool deck. 2300 NE 33rd Ave., 823-3674.
Montavilla Pool: An ample wading area and two blue and orange, tube-shaped slides (one for big kids, one for little tykes) make Montavilla an obvious hit with the young'uns, while the deep end boasts depths of seven and a half feet. The pool is splashing distance from the intersection of 82nd and Glisan, which could make Montavilla one of the noisier pools in town, but who cares? Slides, man, it's got slides. Entrance, locker room and restroom are disability accessible--the pool itself is not. 8219 NE Glisan St.,823-3675.
Peninsula Pool: Back in 1957, according to Portland Parks and Recreation, Peninsula was home to a flock of Humboldt penguins while the birds waited on the completion of their permanent home at Washington Park Zoo. These days, only humans are allowed. The single-tub pool runs from two to eight feet in depth and is attached to the Peninsula Park Community Center, which offers foosball and ping-pong and is home to the Peninsula Pitmen wrestling club. No disability access. 700 N Portland Blvd.,
Sellwood Pool: In continuous use since 1910, the Sellwood Pool was built as a replacement for municipal bathhouses closed due to increased pollution in the Willamette River. The oval structure was once surrounded by a 10-foot privacy fence to preserve the dignity of segregated sexes, who swam on alternating days. Judging from the 10-foot slide and water fountain, business has really picked up since those stodgy old days. Though the pool basically sits at the curb of Southeast 7th Avenue, Sellwood Park's dense evergreens give the whole place a secluded feel. Facility is fully accessible to the disabled. 7951 SE 7th Ave., 823-3679.
BY JOHN MOTLEY
We all know what an all-star angler you are. You've plumbed rivers, lakes and streams with lusty lures until the whole sport just seemed totally empty to you. Sigh. If only there were something deeper...but there is. Jambo's is a guide service that fishes the Pacific Ocean, Puget Sound and Neah Bay for halibut, salmon, sturgeon and--those elusive trophies of the deep--bottomfish. Available any day of the week throughout the summer, a daylong bottomfishing trip ($115) is a relaxed enterprise full of mystery and intrigue. You don't know if you've caught a rockfish, a lingcod or an old Firestone tire until you reel it to the surface. Jambo's 37-foot charter boat can hold six anglers and is outfitted with top-of-the-line gear--Penn and Shimano reels, G. Loomis and Lamiglas rods, a heated cabin, coffee (most importantly)--which is the real hook compared to other fishing services. You, however, will be responsible for bringing your own Dramamine.
Jambo's Guide Service, (425) 788-5955 (main) and (206) 595-9526 (cell), www.fishingthepacific.com, Duvall, Wash. Reservations and deposits required.
BY JUSTIN NIESSNER
Communing with nature is your best bet for quiet reflection and solitude. There's nothing worse than backpacking the countryside with a sluggish partner who chews your ear off with chitchat and objections about the direction you're taking. That said, sometimes it's nice to go hiking with a bitch--the dog kind, that is.
Best Hikes with Dogs: Oregon by Ellen Morris Bishop (Mountaineers Books, 284 pages, $16.95) highlights canine-friendly trails with tips ranging from poop-management etiquette to dog CPR. Here are a few Scooby snacks from Bishop's recommendations:
The Warrior Rock Trail to Sauvie Island's lighthouse is easy on the paws; however, it's a wildlife refuge and therefore requires a leash. Watch out for dead salmon washed up on the beach; one chomp can kill a dog.
For a no-strings romp, the Cascade Head Trail takes a secluded zigzag through Cascade Head Experimental Forest. The boggy marsh is forested enough to keep panting to a low slobber.
Ramona Falls near Mount Hood is a popular hound hangout, so don't bring any bad-attitude scrappers. With plenty of shady creeks, Portage Trail is the preferred route for four-leggers. Break out the leash once you reach the falls, though, or Fido's going to ruin someone's picnic.
Insider tip: In the dog days of summer, overheating is the No. 1 threat to your pet. Bring some extra water (and a bowl), stop to sniff the flowers and chill out.
For more information, contact Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (for Warrior Rock Trail), 621-3488; U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station (for Cascade Head Trail), 808-2592; and Mount Hood National Forest Information Center (for Ramona Falls), 668-1700.
BY JOSHUA HEINEMAN
Climbing around on sheer-faced cliffs is a great way to renew perspective without the drugs, but you need to do it safely. Here's a couple of stops to make before a vertical climb.
The Mountain Shop (628 NE Broadway Ave., 288-6768) is a great place to begin collecting the safety essentials--which aren't exactly cheap, but this is your life we're talking about here. The shoes ($90-$145) should be snug but not gangrene-inducing tight. Likewise, a good fit is of utmost importance with the harness ($45-$100). You're also going to need some belay devices ($60-$95), a locking carabiner ($10-$20) and a chalk bag ($12-$20). Equipment prices have come down a bit in recent years, so take advantage.
For newbies, it's a good idea to visit Portland Rock Gym (21 NE 12th Ave., 232-8310), which offers a class ($49) Wednesdays and weekends in basics like knot tying. You might also get in some quality climbing time on the huge indoor walls.
For the ultimate beginners, nothing beats a stop by the Pearl District's new REI store (1405 NW Johnson St., 283-1300). The 22-foot-high "Pinnacle" is a great place, at whatever age (as long as your chin hits the counter) to try getting to the top--without the big drop.
BY STEFFEN SILVIS AND DAVE FITZPATRICK
Quick cultural excursions from the city needn't depend on cars. Here are three call-in-sick-midweek ideas for getting out of Portland and letting someone else do the driving.
Take in Tacoma's new Museum of Glass. This city by the Sound has become an impressive place for sightseeing and dining. One can grab a late-afternoon Amtrak from Union Station (4:05 pm) that will put you in downtown Tacoma three hours later. There are numerous hotels to choose from within the downtown core. In the morning, you can grab breakfast at one of the many coffee shops and cafes around the city center, then venture down to the museum on Dock Street (admission $10, 866-468-7386). After lunch, hop the Amtrak back to Portland in time for dinner (round trip $45-$51).
Though buses aren't the most delightful way to travel, they are less stressful than driving. So pack a few plays in your bag and grab a Greyhound to Ashland (round trip $109). Leaving the Greyhound terminal by Union Station at the ungodly hour of 5:45 am, you'll arrive in Ashland at 1:50 pm, with plenty of time to scout out an inn for repose. That night you can catch a play (tickets start at $29) in one of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's theaters. Late-night dinner can be had at any number of good restaurants nearby. In the morning, stroll through town before jumping on the Greyhound for the trip home (if you want to stay a while, see page 27).
For the bike-bound, a pastoral pedal around Washington County is a joyful junket. Load yourself and your wheels aboard the MAX to Hillsboro. Then ride west along Oregon 8 for five miles and seek lodging in Forest Grove. McMenamins Grand Lodge ($45-$185 per night, mcmenamins.com) is a safe bet, whimsical art aside. Recreational opportunities abound and surround the 'Grove. Quiet farm roads lead to wineries, waterfalls, a sake factory and Oregon's longest-running community theater. Hagg Lake, a few miles south of town, offers bumps, jumps and stumps. Whatever your speed, don't forget the sunblock. After all, you're sick, right?
BY AARON SCOTT
Do you like hurtling through urban landscapes but can't afford a skateboard? Then look to across the pond, to the French, who are the most avid followers of a sport that can best be described as Spider-Man meets The Matrix. It's called parkour or freerunning, and the goal of its practitioners is to move through the everyday landscape in a fluid and flowing manner while running, jumping, rolling and climbing over obstacles encountered. Think of an urban obstacle course, but with style and tricks. You might have seen it in the Nike commercials where the guy jumps from roof to roof. Here's a brief guide to get you started:
To learn, study the basic movements on the Internet (www.urbanfreeflow.com and www.parkour.com).
Take your moves to the city, all the while experimenting and building up your knowledge. Soon, you'll be flipping off walls and bouldering buildings; you'll never look at a park or a square in the same way again.
There are groups that practice together and face off all over the world, but we have yet to find one in Portland. Be the first. If you don't start a trend, at
least you'll look cool.
Insider tip: This is extremely dangerous and, in some situations, probably illegal. Don't be the first freerunner to land in jail.
BY ELLEN FAGG
This season, while big-name stars like Phylicia Rashad and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs are drawing theatergoers to a Broadway revival of Raisin in the Sun, you can watch the same story unfold on the boards at Ashland. What you'll save on airplane and theater tickets will pay for a getaway with a summer camp-for-adults vibe in Oregon's southern outpost of culture. Here are some notes and numbers to help you plan your liberal-arts escape.
It all starts with the theater, dah-ling. For Oregon Shakespeare Festival tickets, visit www.osfashland.org or call (541) 482-4331. Even if a play is sold-out, you can still snag tickets. Call in advance for possible group cancellations. Once you're in town, hit the courtyard--"the bricks"--with exact change at 5 am the day of the show (you'll beat the 9 am crowds), or later at ticket-release deadlines, 12:30 or 6 pm.
Don't miss: One sparkling hit of the early season is The Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare done up casino-style. There's also the rare chance to see the trilogy of Henry VI historical plays.
Between plays, you gotta eat. Breakfast: Morning Glory (1149 Siskiyou Blvd., 541-488-8636) is slammed on weekend mornings, but high-end brunch food--tofu scrambles, mushroom-and-brie omelettes, and stuffed French toast so sweet it puts cinnamon rolls to shame--are worth the wait.
Lunch: For your multicultural vegan or veggie fix, there's creekside dining at Pilaf (18 Guanajuato Way, 541-488-7898), or you can rub shoulders with locals at the deli counter of the Ashland Food Cooperative (237 N 1st St., 541-482-2237).
Dinner: Choices abound, but foodies rave about two newish restaurants, the French-accented Amuse (15 N 1st St., 541-488-9000) and the Northwest cuisine of the Peerless Restaurant (243 4th St., 541-488-6067). Old-school favorites include the very classic French Chateaulin (50 E Main St., 541-482-2264) and the eclectic menu and garden charm of the Winchester Inn (35 S 2nd St., 800-972-4991).
Outta town: Head north to Talent for slow food--and a remarkable wine list--at Vernon and Charlene Rollins' six-table, funky New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro (2210 S Pacific Highway, Talent, 541-535-2779). Note: You'll need reservations, usually about a month in advance, and don't count on rushing your meal to make a curtain.
Sometime you gotta sleep. Luxury lodging choices include the historific Ashland Springs (212 E Main St., Ashland, 541-488-1700, ashlandspringshotel.com), with its gracious, Southern-styled fan-filled lobby and Sunday-afternoon high tea, while the new Plaza Inn (98 Central Ave., 541-488-8900, plazainnashland.com) is a chain with the feel of a boutique, thanks to the Shakespeare quotes printed on the comforters, a pillow menu and free post-theater peanut butter sandwiches. (Bonus: The hotel's just steps away from the creekside Blue Giraffe Day Spa, 51 Water St., 541-488-3335.) For the budget-savvy, there's convenience and charm at the Columbia Hotel (262 1/2 E Main St., 541-482-3726, columbiahotel.com), but you'll want to consider paying extra for a private bath and air conditioning. For more complete listings, consult the Ashland B&B Clearinghouse Reservation Service (800-588-0338, www.bbclearinghouse.com).
BY CHAD DUNDAS
Fly a Kite. A great way to explore man's fascination with flight without actually leaving the ground, kiting isn't just for kids anymore. Paint The Sky Kites (828 NW 23rd Ave., 222-5096) can set you up at any age. Owner John Reinschreiber has kites ranging from $3.99 to $300, including kites shaped like butterflies for Mom and Dad and black, skull-and-crossbones kites for the little ones. You can pick up a copy of the Associated Oregon Kiters' newsletter for a list of organized summer events.
Bustin' Caps (the safe and legal way). One way to relieve stress is to get your hands around the cold steel of a handgun and blast a few magazines--while under the supervision of trained professionals, of course. The Place to Shoot is an indoor pistol range and firearms accessories store (904 N Hayden Meadows Drive, 283-1995) near Delta Park. For $25 per visit (with valid ID and required waiver signed) plus $6.50 for gun rental, plus the cost of ammo, you're free to fire away. According to the range's website, The Place to Shoot offers NRA-certified instructors and accepts all major credit cards. If you REALLY like it, there is a lifetime membership option for $399.
Go Fish. For total novices, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife offers several good resources. The ODFW's cleverly titled Let's Go Fishing brochure is available at any of the agency's offices, and a weekly recreations report is available at its website, www.dfw.state.or.us. Just be sure to buy your license (available at G.I. Joe's and most supermarkets, including Fred Meyer and Wal-Mart), or you'll be guilty of the dreaded Class A misdemeanor. Annual licenses are $24.75 for Oregon residents, with one- to seven-day licenses also available. This season, Oregon is also requiring licenses for shellfish harvesting, at $6.50 for residents.
Golfing on a budget. A little browsing at pawn shops can get you into a set of used clubs for dirt cheap, but the more discerning golf novice might want to check out resale sporting-goods shops like Play It Again Sports (10355 NE Halsey St., 254-4993, and other locations) where you can get a mix-and-match set for under $100. As for actual golfing, best bets include Rose City Golf Course (2200 NE 71st Ave.) and Eastmoreland Golf Course (2425 SE Bybee Blvd.), where during the week a nine-hole round costs just $14 and $15, respectively.
BY JUSTIN NIESSNER
The mountain bikers I know don't need a silly excuse like good weather to hit the trails. Still, summertime fills out the canopy of Portland parks for a shady ride that's lusciously green and nicely sheltered from afternoon sprinkles.
Mount Tabor may not attract riders from all corners of the biking world, but locals take advantage of a convenient spot that's not too shabby. While widely considered a beginner's-level set of paths, Tabor does throw in a few surprise inclines with just enough cobblestone roughage to keep you on your toes (or your face). Just don't get carried away staring at the kick-ass view of the city skyline or you might clobber a pedestrian or dog. Mount Tabor Park, Southeast 69th Avenue and Yamhill Street, 823-7529.
Gigantic Forest Park has the same pedestrian hazards you'd expect from any urban park but boasts such an extensive network of trails that traffic is hardly a problem. Terrain ranges from semi-paved to heavily graveled dirt. Saltzman Road is a three-mile stretch layered in grapefruit-sized stones that'll work out your arms as much as your legs. Rookies, beware of Holman Lane, an exclusively uphill trail that's surely the park's most brutal climb. Forest Park, Northwest 29th Avenue and Upshur Street, 823-7529.
Insider tip: Weekends are all about spontaneity, so it's handy to have so much mountain-biking turf nearby. City slickers in lesser metros have to drive hours to find this many trails. So seize the season, and watch out for those pesky hikers. For more information about other great rides, check out the Bike Rider's Guide available from TriMet.
BY JOEL SMITH
We know that if the ballooning price of gas can't dampen that American instinct to cram your family behind the wheel and shuttle them off to God-knows-where this summer, then neither can we. That's why we compiled this handy list of advice from local family counselors and travel experts, so that if you don't return home happy, you might at least return with most of your hair.
Start your vacation now. Prevent stress by preparing early. Make packing lists. Pick up a kids' road atlas and let them help plan the route. Make reservations. Tune up the car. Make sure you've got all the tools you'll need.
Don't prepare too much. Experts insist that rigid expectations do much more harm than a flat tire. Travel to travel. And make sure that everyone will get something out of your itinerary. Relax!
Hit the road. When traveling with kids, add one-third more time to your schedule. Stop frequently. Run around. Change seats. Yield for speeding cars. This isn't a race.
Eat right. Avoid road calories. Bring your own sandwiches and fruits and vegetables. Pack them within reach. Skip the drive-thru and picnic at a rest stop for unstructured kid time. Look out for truckers.
Sit down and shut up. Forget Disneyland. Forget Civil War battlefields. Go into nature. Be quiet. The kids might resist, but they'll never forget it.
Keep the kids happy. Let the kids pick some toys; you pick the rest. Hide a few to bring out at just the right time. Sing songs with definite endings. Bring headphones.
Send your mother a postcard. You never call anymore.
BY DAVE FITZPATRICK
How did the Columbia Slough become the summer spot for Portland paddlers' urban expeditions? For decades this network of backwaters and wetlands bore the brunt of industrial pollution. Nowadays, thanks to groups like the Audubon Society and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council, this greenbelt teems with wildlife.
From the slough's beginnings at Fairview Lake to its Willamette River confluence, it's an untamed adventure park. Great blue herons wade and wait for unsuspecting snacks, enormous carp swim the muddy shallows, beavers cruise the cottonwoods and bald eagles dive-bomb bass.
While an 18-mile source-to-mouth trip is possible, a headwaters launch can prove difficult. Many people begin their voyage at 16650 NE Airport Way, where the city maintains a dock. For a short trip without the need for an extra vehicle, paddlers row east into an intimate maze of channels and ponds. For Willamette-bound adventurers, this launch provides access to the route involving the fewest portages.
Nevertheless, paddlers must still surmount two large levees and a water-level pipe. Below the final portage at 1880 NE Elrod Street, the slough rises and falls with the tide. Boaters should consult the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for a reliable tide table (325-4341). At best, rowing against the Pacific Ocean proves difficult, and at worst it can leave one stranded on a mudflat.
Those who know nothing about canoes or sloughs are encouraged to visit Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe (250 NE Tomahawk Island Drive, 285-0464. Canoes, $10 per hour or $40 per day). With 20 years of experience, Alder Creek offers rentals, trips, maps, safety products and priceless advice.
And for a decidedly different view, check out Explorando el Columbia Slough (Whitaker Ponds Environmental Learning Center, 7040 NE 47th Ave., 281-1132. 1-5 pm Saturday, June 26. ) This multicultural celebration features free canoe trips, music, bird watching, food, drink and a chance to practice your Spanish.
This could come in handy because you never know whom you'll meet at the Columbia Slough Regatta (9363 N Columbia Blvd., 281-1132. 9 am-1 pm Sunday, July 25. $5 suggested donation per person). This annual event attracts hundreds of canoeists and kayakers. Aside from making some new friends, participants in this family-oriented event get a T-shirt, refreshments and maps of the slough.
BY CHAD DUNDAS
Since the banishment of lawn darts from the leisure-sports scene back in 1988, backyard athletes across the land have hungered for action. Finally there is an answer: For those who seek a game that blends the ball-bumping fun of croquet, the pinpoint projectile tossing of horseshoes and the screw-your-neighbor antics of shuffleboard, there is bocce.
One of the oldest of all lawn sports, this Italian import's relaxing, grappa-friendly pace is far more Vito Corleone than Tony Soprano. Players roll or toss balls down a dirt or grass alley, attempting to be closest to a target ball (called the pallino) to score points. You can purchase bocce sets ranging from the bare-bones ($16 at Target, 1400 N Hayden Island Drive, 247-0331, and other locations) to the extra-fancy ($99.95 at Sharper Image, 700 SW 5th Ave., 228-4110).
The game can be played anywhere it's flat, but if you'd like to gather with other bocce players, head downtown to the North Park Blocks near the corner of Northwest Glisan Street, where you can join amateur and expert alike. Portland even has its own Bocce League Federation, which plays on Monday and Wednesday nights. (Email email@example.com for info.) Although it's too late to partake this summer, if you practice, you might quash the competition next year.
Insider tip: Bocce sets for play in the North Park Blocks can be borrowed from the Park Kitchen restaurant (422 NW 8th Ave., 223-7275), across the street from the bocce courts.
BY MARGARET SEILER
What could be more relaxing than a few summer days in a country that is not a prime target of international hatred, surrounded by locals who speak your language but still seem just a little exotic, less frantic, more...Canadian? Maybe it's because they don't have to fret about health care, or maybe it's just the therapeutic scents wafting out of the downtown Lush store (1001 Government St.). Whatever the reason for their relaxation, a little bit of it will rub off on visitors to Victoria, B.C.
Getting There: You'll want to leave your car in the U.S. Taking your car on the Port Angeles ferry costs almost $50 round-trip, you have to line up hours in advance in the summer because it doesn't take reservations, and walking around Victoria is much more pleasant than battling wily Canadians for parking spaces. You can spend up to $200 on Amtrak and the super-comfy Victoria Clipper through Seattle (amtrak.com, victoriaclipper.com--it's cheaper to book well in advance), but to save money and time drive to Port Angeles. Go through Tacoma and Bremerton, or take the more scenic way and wind up the east side of the Olympic Peninsula on 101--stop for a cold one at watering holes with names like the Geoduck and the Whistling Oyster. After a four-hour drive, park your car for $4 a day in a lot three blocks from the ferries and walk on (cohoferry.com, $9 each way, 90 minutes, or victoriaexpress.com, $10 each way, 60 minutes--see websites for sailing times).
Americans need proof of citizenship (a passport or a certified birth certificate--a Social Security card doesn't cut it) and photo ID. Pick up a government tax-back brochure in the ferry office, just in case you blow enough money on shopping and hotels to get your GST back ($200 total pre-tax, each purchase at least $50 Canadian).
Being There: To travel is to eat, of course. Work up an appetite with a Juan de Fuca shore walk at Beacon Hill Park, then have appetizers at one of the touristy oyster bars along the harbor (Nautical Nellie's is a good one, 1001 Wharf St.). For dinner, you could wait for a table at the trendy, juiced-out Re-Bar (50 Bastion Square), but you'll have a better tour if you head up the hill a bit. Sweat with the locals at the steamy J&J Wonton Noodle House (1012 Fort St.). If you want schnitzel and accordion serenades dished out by real-live Germans, try the Rathskellar (1205 Quadra St.)--it's far enough away from the tourist core that the lederhosen and beer steins don't seem cheesy. Wander back downtown and have a beer at Big Bad John's, a bra-draped "hillbilly" dive tucked into the Strathcona Hotel (919 Douglas St.). For sleeping, check out the Helm's Inn (600 Douglas St., helmsinn.com--free muffins!), or if you want to save your money for Victoria's English candy shops, try the Ocean Island Hostel (791 Pandora Ave., oceanisland.com), where all ages are welcome.
Insider tip: For dessert and a fancy drink, hit the Bengal Room at Victoria's grande-dame hotel, the Empress. It's as if the British Empire is still at its peak.
BY KELLY CLARKE
The transient carnivals that pepper our state like adolescent acne aren't pleasure cruises. But we've got a strategy for better riding: Next time, judge a ride's "Puke Factor" by tuning in to its musical soundtrack.
Tilt-A-Whirl workers pair Parliament-Funkadelic's fun, thumpin' grooves with their swirling, twirling booths (Puke Factor: 2), while screechy peals of electric guitar from 1980s hair-metal gods like Ratt and Warrant bitch-slap riders as the Flying Bobs bobsled ride makes its washing-machine spin-cycle revolutions (PF: 6).
We were only stumped once, when faced with the deceptive threat of a small, squat ride called Crazy Train. It body-slams its shrieking captives about like space travelers to hell--to no music at all. After crawling out onto the ride platform and spying the ride operator's smirking face (he estimated that two people lose their lunch on Crazy Train daily--PF: 9) we suddenly understood: One can't hear Ozzy Osbourne through a solid wall of screams.
Insider tip: The big daddy this summer: the Oregon State Fair, 2330 NE 17th St., Salem, (503) 947-3247. 11 am-10 pm Sunday and weekdays, 11 am-11 pm Friday-Saturday, Aug. 26-Sept. 6. $8 and under. Call or visit www.oregonstatefair.org for info.
BY KIM COLTON
Face it: You are too old for summer camp. That means no lanyard-making, no singing 'round the campfire and especially no camp-counselor worship, right? Wrong. You might not have an all-girls or all-boys overnight experience in the woods, but that doesn't mean you can't make the most of your free time this summer. Here's a quick list of summer-camp alternatives:
Cheer Camp: Start your own cheerleading squad fashioned after Portland's own troupe of gonzo activists--the Radical Cheerleaders. Gather friends in the back yard for brainstorm sessions, hit the thrift stores for mismatched uniforms, sabotage this summer's outdoor festivals with a little of the rah-rah and voilà! You've got your own cheer camp.
Geek City: UV rays getting you down? Go inside this summer and save your skin while fostering that inner techie in one of Free Geek's volunteer programs. The local nonprofit salvages computers and is always looking for coders, programmers, interns--you name it, they need it. Free Geek HQ, 1731 SE 10th Ave., 232-9350.
Adults Gone Wild: OK, OK. You need to be outdoors. You need structure. You need to meet new people. You need a ropes course. You want a team leader. Let the parks bureau's Outdoor Recreation program be your guide. Sailing, rafting, fishing and cycling are among the adventures that await the big-kid campers. Check out www.portlandparks.org, and take your pick.
BY JUSTIN NIESSNER
Something about urban concrete and car exhaust makes summer heat infinitely yuckier than is necessary. Fortunately, Portlanders don't have to go too far to surround themselves with untouched nature. Day-trippers can even score countryside horseback riding and still be home for supper. Hey, how else can you sit on your butt and call it a rugged sport? Giddyup.
Cow Creek Ranch in Banks, 30 minutes from Portland, sticks to the horse business rather than fancy guest-ranch amenities. Trail rides are $25 an hour, so don't get too addicted to it or you'll have to move into the stable. 41670 NW Lodge Road, Banks, Ore. (503) 324-5983. Rides available daily by reservation.
A one-hour drive to Yamhill takes you to the Flying M Ranch. The guided tours range from quick, hourlong outings to all-day rides of the trails at a meandering, laid-back trot. Assemble your own posse for a private tour, or take the Starlight Couples ride to get your cowboy moves on by the bonfire. Flying M Ranch, 23029 Flying M Road, Yamhill, 662-3222. Four departure times for short rides from 10 am to 2:30 pm daily, $20 per person; daylong rides 10 am-3 pm on designated days, $80 per person. Reservations recommended.
BY DAVE FITZPATRICK
As the epicenter of the sailboarding world from mid-May through late September, the healthy hamlet of Hood River boasts spectacular scenery, blistering breezes and ample opportunities for windsurfers of every level.
Fear not if you don't know a jibe from a tack or a boom from a bow, because Hood River hosts numerous sailboarding schools, including Brian's Windsurfing. Owner Brian Schurton, 47, never skips a beat, teaching in Bounty Bay, Jamaica, during the off-season and the Gorge during the summer. An instructor for more than 20 years, he's a former U.S. National Champion and Masters Racing Champion, U.S. Sailing Certified, a high school soccer coach and possibly the most patient man alive. "We never yell," he explains of his school philosophy. "We recognize that each person is different."
Another difference is that students don't get wet right from the start. Schurton's low-key, safety-oriented method begins on the shore with wind theory, board and sail handling and equipment introduction. Novice sailors can expect a pop quiz on a land-based simulator, a board that pivots atop old-school skateboard wheels, allowing the student to learn to turn in a stationary environment.
When it's time to hit the water, don't sweat the flotilla of surfers and grain barges populating the Columbia River. Schurton baptizes beginners at The Hook, a small bay at the west end of Hood River. By the end of a lesson, you'll know how to tack and jibe, and just exactly what the leach end of your sail is. Now if you could only point that bow a bit better... Brian's Windsurfing, 100 Marina Way, Hood River, (541) 490-2047. $60-90, including equipment.
Insider tip: After your sailing sortie, head uptown to El Rinconcito Taqueria and prepare yourself for the best burritos, tortas, quesadillas and tacos you've ever had. A Hood River institution, El Rinconcito is the place to eat, be it après surf or work. El Rinconcito Taqueria, 1833 Cascade Ave., Hood River, (541) 386-9435.