Hood Riiiiiver

Saturday was an absolute scorcher here in Oregon (well, about 20 something degrees and sunny) so we decided to take advantage of the great outdoors. I’m so conscious that we’ll be back in the desert soon that I’m making a real effort to appreciate the trees, grass and running water while I can. We decided to go to Hood River, a little town in the Columbia River Gorge at the far side of Mount Hood, and spend the day walking/hiking. It’s about 60 miles away.

The journey was a breeze so we got there in under an hour and a half. I bought a pet barrier thingy last week for the car so Milo doesn’t need his crate anymore, he can roam around in the boot area with his toys. I think he appreciated the luxury, although he acted as nonchalant as ever.

After a little wander around the town (quaint, non?) we sat outside a cafe in the sun and had a quick lunch. A local Montessori school was holding some sort of a parade for Earth Day in the town square opposite so it was a bit hectic. Lots of dogs and people wanting to say hi to Milo. I didn’t get to snap a pic because my hands were full with sandwich and excited puppy.

After that, we went off in search of a walking trail which took us across a bridge…into Washington. Yup, we crossed a state line for the first time! It was uneventful. Over in Washington, we stopped at a little beach, which was accessed via a train line. Every fibre in my body told me walking across working train tracks was a bad idea, but apparently it was the only way.

About 10 minutes up the road we stopped again, this time at the foot of a little mountain, and decided to go for a longer hike. There was a little stream running alongside the track which Eoin dropped Milo in to cool off. He enjoyed it.

As we climbed further upwards the view got even prettier. See?

Once we got further away from the road I decided to let the dog off his leash and see what happened. He was really good! He ran around us but never strayed more than 20 feet away. If we stopped for a break, so did he. This bodes well for camping. I’m now confident he won’t leg it into the woods never to be seen again.

And just look what I spied on the way back to the car. Another snake, this time much bigger. I spotted it slithering across the road in the distance. So gross.

And so, after a quick ice cream stop, we set off back to Hillsboro, all of us pooped. That will probably be the last time I’ll be in the Columbia River Gorge since we’re leaving on Saturday. It’s so beautiful it reminds me of home. I’m sad to say goodbye, but excited to start the next chapter of this little adventure.

“Milo, stop humping your brother!”

There’s a phrase I never thought I’d hear myself say, but I did, on Tuesday, when Milo was randomly reunited with one of his littermates.

We were in Hondo Park, the lovely off-leash dog park I go to at least once a week. It was warm and sunny for a change, so the place was kinda jammers. Five minutes after I released the hound I noticed he had made a little chum who looked a lot like him. Creepily so, actually. They were chasing each other and generally having the craic, as puppies do. After a quick chat with this little dog’s owners we deduced that Milo, and his new BFF, Briley, were in fact brothers. Their whole litter had been called after Santa’s reindeer because they were born before Christmas. Milo was originally named Blitzen (yuck) and Briley was Dancer (double yuck).

What are the chances? I’d always wondered what became of Milo’s littermates and now I can say that one of them, at least, has a lovely home. Briley goes to puppy school twice a week and is very obedient. In fact, he made Milo look like the village idiot. The two got on so well that, of course, Milo wanted to take the relationship to the next level, as usual. Incest is best, wha’?

Twins! Briley (left) has an even sadder face than Milo, something I didn't think was possible

Adorbs. So familiar and yet so different

Their first ever watercooler moment. Probably talking about the Timbers opening game

"Wheeeeeeee!"

Milo, ever the sexual predator, tries to perform an act that's illegal in all 50 states. BAD DOG.

Briley’s owners said they often pop into Hondo Park so I really hope these two run into each other again before we go. They make a really cute combo, don’cha think?

On the road again

Ah Oregon it’s been real, but it’s time to move on.

Starting on May 1st, we are officially making our way back down to Arizona, where we’ll be living for the next two years or so. I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, because we were there for the first three months of the assignment, and because I was always conscious we’d be going back, I felt more settled there and keep referring to it as “home.” But on the other, my heart belongs to Portland and I’ll miss it something fierce. It’s a shame that we didn’t get to do all the things we planned while we were here, but what with the poxy weather, new pup, and Eoin’s long hours, we were restricted. I’ve made my peace with it though. And hey, maybe we’ll come back for a holiday? Two years is a long time.

Anyway, this move is going to be a little different to the last two (from Ireland to AZ and from AZ to here) mostly because we’re going it alone. Previously, The Massive Multinational Company That Cannot Be Named had been our mammy and organised our apartment, cable, internet, phone, car and furniture – everything. This time, however, they’re only looking after the house, the rest is up to us. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but we’ve been so spoiled it seems a little scary, especially the part about arriving to an empty house with only an air bed to our names. Terror Town.

Still, I’m really looking forward to it, especially as everything is more fun now that we have Milo. Eoin has already purchased some new wheels (well, new to us) and we’ve decided that we’re going to drive down and make a holiday of it because he has some much-needed time off to take. This is the part I’ve been concentrating on and I’m so excited about it. Chandler is about 1,300 miles away and we’re giving ourselves ten days to get there, taking the scenic route.

It looks long, right? Basically we’re driving down almost the entire west coast of America. The weather should be nice, especially in Southern California, so we’re going to camp when we can and just spend time by the coast before we venture into the desert for the long haul. We plan on stopping in Depoe Bay on the Oregon coast for whale watching, staying in the Redwood State Park, tasting wine in Napa Valley, spending a couple of days in San Francisco and then hitting the beaches around Santa Cruz, Pismo Beach, Malibu and Huntington Beach before heading inland to Palm Springs, and then finally “home.”

Not a bad start to the next chapter, eh?

If anyone has advice or recommendations for things we should see and do along the way, please, help a sista out.

Are you there St. Patrick? It’s me, Sarah

“Hope you’re not afraid of snakes!”

I’m in Orchard Park, my usual dog-walking haunt, and a man striding towards me has just stopped to announce there’s a snake about 12 feet from where I’m standing. I’m rooted to the pavement and suddenly very conscious of my bare ankles (spring has finally arrived, yay.)

“Don’t worry, it’s just a small one. Twelve inches max!” he adds, before continuing merrily on his way.

My life flashes before my eyes. I’m thinking about all those early morning and late night walks in the grass near our apartment where Milo likes to do his business. I’m also thinking, Why the hell didn’t anyone tell me there would be snakes in Oregon? You’d expect that kind of carry on in Arizona, but not here, in the damp, leafy Pacific Northwest. Although hang on, surely snakes, being reptiles, like damp conditions? And leaves are a great place to hide. Snakes are sneaky like that.

I strain my eyes to see if I can make out a snakey looking figure on the path ahead. There are yellow flower yokes strewn around willy nilly. I inch forward, dragging Milo for protection. And then I see it. A snake! A real life snake! Not in a zoo or a terrarium, in the wild.  I grab my phone, and keeping what I feel is a safe distance (about 11 feet) I try to snap a quick picture.

“Is that another snake?”

I’m sure the voice behind me is coming from a huge, person-sized snake but it’s just another man walking his dog.

“Are you telling me there are more?” I squeak.

“Oh yeah,” Man No.2 replies knowingly. “I just passed one up the street. Bigger than this one though. About 18 inches.”

Suddenly all I can think about is snakes. They’re everywhere. Every twig, every leaf, every movement is a throbbing mass of snakes. I never quite recovered after the boa constrictor ate the donkey in The Swiss Family Robinson. And Milo is no use. I just know if he saw a snake moving he’d grab it and try to play with it. I had been preparing myself for the inevitable day when he leads me to a dead body but this snake thing came out of nowhere. Is it on me? I FEEL LIKE IT’S ON ME.

Doggy style

If you think that animals wearing clothes is stupid or cruel or whatever DO NOT KEEP READING. You have been warned.

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