Columbia River Inn: Home Base for Adventure

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Nestled in an azure bay of the Columbia River

When the sign says “Best Western Plus” along the Oregon side of the Columbia River we have learned THAT’S where to stay in the Columbia Gorge Scenic area. We’ve shared many stories about Hood River Inn about 20 miles east of the  Best Western Plus Columbia River Inn. This trip we decided to soak up the culture, history, hiking, biking, paddling, wine or beer sampling and fishing by staying in Cascade Locks at the base of the incredible “Bridge of the Gods.”

Cascade Locks, Oregon, is located in the middle of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, approximately 40 minutes east of Portland International Airport and 20 minutes west of the windsurfing Mecca of Hood River.

On the drive to the Columbia River Inn we passed many scenic waterfalls available from the road or by short hikes. In fact we were surprised to learn how the beauty and diversity of hikes had survived what had been a tough fire season in 2017. Oregonians love their wilderness and are at work restoring trails and natural areas. We learned about so many hiking options which would be amazing in the Fall. William Sullivan’s book, 100 Hikes in Oregon is a great reference – also his website. Some hikes to explore are Gillette Lake, Trout Creek and Snag Creek, all putting you in the footprints of adventurers on the Pacific Crest Trail. Summer volunteers are at many trailheads, if you visit in Fall or Winter, you can check out ReadySetGorge.com for up to date information.

As paddlers, our focus is usually on planning our down wind paddles and fun on the Columbia River. Once we settled in to our spacious river view room at the Columbia River Inn and looked out at the Bridge of the Gods we got curious about what this area was all about. Over the next few days we were much better visitors after spending a few hours at the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Museum (Stevenson, WA). Armed with an appreciation of the history and people who carved out amazing lives and industries we toasted their grit over local wines. The Columbia River Gorge wine region is known as “a world of wine in 40 miles.” bw-6

Recreational options nearby include world-class white water rafting, mountain biking, sail and kite boarding, and year round skiing on the slopes of Mt. Hood. Cascade Locks even has their own historic sternwheeler, the Columbia Gorge, departing daily from the nearby Marine Park for tours of the river.

bw-4We loved planning our day on the sheltered patio just outside of the pool area at the Columbia River Inn. Over coffee in the morning or a local wine in the evening (beer for me) we never tired of the view.

A warm, to-order breakfast that’s included with the room is always a bonus. We loved heading next-door to the Bridgeside Restaurant for local favorites prepared our way. I love crispy hashbrowns. All it took was a request and the golden brown goodness was all mine to enjoy with eggs my way and tasty sausage. There are choices for all tastes, including juice and beverage. Best of all, locals love to eat there, too. We met through hikers off the Pacific Crest Trail as well as other travelers.bs-1

It’s time to look forward to Fall and Winter is this wonderland. Enjoy your trip.

 

Save Our Ocean: Carolina Cup

The 13-mile Quiksilver Waterman Carolina Cup lived up to its reputation as one of the toughest races going, but this year it was hailed as even more fun than ever. A course reverse allowed for some calm flatwater and downwind bumps that added excitement.

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Zane Schweitzer book signing with NC Coastal Federation Board member, David Cignotti

A different sort of excitement was playing out at the North Carolina Coastal Federation. As the non profit and featured recipient for funds raised at the event, Catherine Snead, who has the role of development for the Federation, decided to get creative and connect with Zane Schweitzer for a unique collaboration. For each book, Beneath the Surface, sold at the Carolina Cup, $5 would go to the Federation. nccf-booky

Catherine arranged for a life sized poster of Zane to be at the booth so people could have a selfie “with Zane.” The most fun was when Zane spent time at the booth chatting with readers and doing what he does best – sharing stoke and the Zaniac way of doing things.

You can get your copy of Beneath the Surface directly from Zane or on AMAZON. (ebook or print version)

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Captain Liz Clark: Swell and Awakening

lc-1Last night (April 13, 2018) the Patagonia store in Bend, Oregon had another of many great events (shop local and talk story). It was kick-off night for the Gerry Lopez Big Wave Challenge at Mt Bachelor over the weekend. The BIG story was the stellar presentation by sailor, surfer, author – Liz Clark.

Listening to her stories about living life on a sailboat while traveling around the world (although there were many challenging and difficult times) gave me a flashback to the very first sailing adventure hubby Ed and I took – on our honeymoon in 1970.

Liz took on the Pacific Ocean and the world, then wrote her incredible book, SWELL.. We simply took on the amazing and unspoiled Abaco, Bahamas of the 70’s. On a chartered 25′ sloop we were adventurers – in our own minds- living off the land and sea, because we had no money to spare. It was all here in photos (and a journal) to re-live today after hearing Liz.

Liz was introduced by two of the team at Changing Tides Foundation. A powerhouse of talented and dedicated women, Changing Tides has many ways we can be “Better Together” when it comes for taking care of the Ocean. Through mentorship and outreach they are changing lives. My favorite was the become engaged with their mission starting immediately is the Plastic Swear Jar Challenge.

lc3Liz shared so many nuggets of genius and inspiration. Not the least, “Living from the heart makes everything possible.” Her message was not about herself or her incredible accomplishments. It was all about staying awake, being vulnerable and connected while living our own best life with purpose.

Yes, you can get her book and really dive in. (published by Patagonia Books)If you’re like me, her final words really hit home – “Take pride in what you do for Mother Earth – she needs you!”

 

Love Your Ocean – Treasure the Whales (and all the marine life)

judyIt is possible to standup paddle all the way from Maui to the Molokini “seems like a crater but isn’t” area off the coast, but the weather and your paddling buddy need to be spot on. So we were fortunate to get aboard the Pacific Whale Foundation’s boat, Voyager, for a snorkel trip with entertaining and so capable, Capt Doug Hunt. The day dawned sunny with barely a breeze. Whales were breaching and rolling, nursing their young and putting on a show all the way out. (Learn more here)

boatThe snorkeling was great in spite of hundreds of people in the water. Once eyes were aimed at the reef and the antics of the wide variety of tropicals it seemed like we had the area to ourselves. On board, we were served fresh fruit, breads, juices and coffee by highly experienced crew, all with degrees in some form of marine biology and environmental studies. They were personable and shared information in the most engaging manner. download

ornate-butterflyHuge mahalos to Emily, Karin, Mel, Liv, Jamie and Mariah!!! After our second dive at Turtle Arches (wow, even cooler diversity of tropical fish) we had the best cookout! Veg burgers, ballpark steaks (beef hotdogs) and grilled chicken – with sides … and there were cookies! Can’t get all that on a SUP!

The best part of the experience was the knowledge that more than 80% of our ticket price goes directly to the Pacific Whale Foundation, everything we purchased in the store and our membership dollars all support dedicated people serving the source of “every second breath we take” – the Ocean.

If you love watching the whales of Maui at play – or wish you had…. go ahead and learn more about the Pacific Whale Foundation>

 

Beneath the Surface – With Zane Schweitzer

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Photo by Matty Schweitzer – Mat5o Media

It’s almost like having a visit from Zane on Christmas morning, Your favorite paddler, surfer or Ocean Enthusiast will dive right into this first edition book before the last piece of pumpkin pie has been served.

Click below and get ready to be the most popular Santa on the beach! (Sold on Amazon.com)

I know it seems impossible to imagine InZane (Zaniac) Zane Schweitzer sitting down long enough to wrote a book. The truth is in the title, BENEATH THE SURFACE! Because Zane has been keeping a daily journal since was 13 years old, all of his adventures, challenges, journeys, travel, friends and family stories were there – ready for this incredible collection of life stories. journal write zane

Enjoy this video while you wait for your books to arrive.

Surf’s UP: Hampton Inn PDX

Flying to Mexico, Hawaii, California or points more exotic for your standup paddle or surf adventure. Traveling with a SUP or longboard is an adventure (not always a good one) in itself. We had to drive from Bend to Portland in order to catch a plane that would carry a board longer than 115″ (LXWXH). Rather than have the drive and negotiate the timing to make our morning flight, we decided to come in the night before and stay somewhere that would safely keep our car for a good value price.

Imagine our delight at the experience we had at the Portland (OR) Airport Hampton Inn. We checked in about 6 PM (using the Stay and Fly process found online) and were delighted at our clean, modern, large room. Before crashing for the night we decided to drive the short distance to the north side of the airport to enjoy the view, the beer and the grindz at The Deck. It is a unique “secret” place well worth the hunt.

Back at the Hampton we had a nice cup of tea and enjoyed a movie on the flat screen television. Wifi is free so we did some Facebook updates then off the sleep. We had time to hit the clean, well-equipped fitness room for an hour of cardio, catch up with the news and some balance and strength training with the kettlebells and medicine balls. By then we welcomed fresh fruit, coffee, eggs and sausage for the complementary breakfast. The waffles looked great but we had beaches waiting for us.

We arrived at the airport easily 90 minutes before our flight – rested, exercised and well fed. Consider the Portland Airport Hampton Inn when you fly to your SUP or surf destinations.

Progression Technique:SUP & Ski, Snow & Sea

I recently had the absolutely joy of watching the “Progression Project” film   Nine of the world’s top SUP surfers hit the waves with Erik Antonson of PaddleWoo. Antonson is responsible for some of the most progressive media in paddlesports, producing free content via his PaddleWoo podcasts and blog posts to help expose and advance the industry. The Progression Project documents nine of the world’s best standup paddle surfers in Costa Rica showcasing the sport in its most progressive form in one groundbreaking SUP film. Left to right in the photo above: Sean Poynter, Caio Vaz, Ian Vaz, Kieran Grant, Fisher Grant, Zane Schweitzer, Giorgio Gomez, Erik Antonson, Mo Freitas and Noa Ginella. (Featured Photo above: Chandler Williams/Modus Photography)

The film is now available at no charge online. Erik explains why he is offering the film for free, “My hope is that by releasing it for free, we get some curious surfers to watch the film and realize there is so much more in paddle surfing than they realize.” A brilliant way to bring understanding and mutual respect out on the water.

The film hit home in so many ways.Let me start with a totally unrelated story – the first chair lift ride of my ski season at Mt Bachelor this year. We were heading up with a snowboarder talking about skiing vs boarding. Since the guy did both, he was balancing his joy in each sport as both different and very good. One statement he made about skiing, just an off-hand comment, changed my entire season.svs

Just like the guys in the Progression Project film talked about small things they learned from each others style and technique away from competition, the guy shared one insight and it made all the difference for me. He simply said, “I love that feeling in skiing when you initiate a turn with your toe and move to mid-foot, then the turn locks in so easily.”

He might have said more, I don’t know, because that one statement stayed with me. I didn’t think I was much aware of the exact mechanics I engaged when initiating a turn – so many things to think about. But that one statement, stuck and my technique and level of fun on the show has soared this season.

ppzzIn the “Progression Project” film again and a again each of the water athletes is interviewed and each share what they observe, respect, appreciate and can analyze from the very people they perform against in competition. One small thing, one observation could bump a skill up a level. It was great to experience the camaraderie and fun these elite athletes maintain. The shared respect for each other and for their sport – and the most amazing SUP surfing footage you’ll enjoy again again – make this a unique and special project!

A huge “mahalo” to that guy on the chairlift! And to all the athletes in the Progression Project. I may have even subconsciously picked up a SUP surfing tip, too.