Tuesday, February 24, 2015

hikes with kids: catherine creek

On a grey and cold day last month, we decided to head north and east in the hopes of catching a little sun. We did not really catch much sun, but we did have some lovely views and got to go on a new hike. We headed out to Catherine Creek, in southern Washington, near the town of Bingen. The trail is known for having lovely displays of wildflowers in the spring months, and for its universal access trail, which is paved and accessible for wheelchairs. We didn't walk much of the paved trail but instead headed on a trail on the other side of the road to head up to the Natural Arch and up to the bluffs.

The hike was short, and really great for kids, but also interesting enough for adults. Certainly not my favorite hike as it is pretty short, but a nice little jaunt through some landscapes that are not super common in our part of the country. The lower part of the hike is filled with an oak forest and the creek was the most beautiful icy blue color. It looked really stunning amongst the dry grasses and old oaks. We missed even the earliest wildflowers when we hiked in January, so we will have to visit again. I really love the winter landscape though. 

As for hike directions, it might be helpful if I give you some. Park in the parking lot on the north side of the road. You will see a little sign/trailhead there and two different paths to take. Take the path on the right until you come to the rushing creek. There is a small wooden plank to cross the river, it's a little hard to see at first but it's there. Basically for this hike, anytime you see a fork on the path, stick to the right. A little bit past the creek is a gigantic natural stone arc. It was blocked off a bit, but you can still get a good look at it (see the photo above). Head on the path to the right up the hill. The trail forks again a little bit after the hill, and again, turn right. Then you will come to a beautiful overlook of the Columbia River. Then you basically head down the hill and to the road. We walked the last little bit back to our car on the road (it's not busy), but there might a less direct way that doesn't necessitate walking on the road. I thought the portion of the hike on the car with it's soft bright green grasses and mosses to be surprisingly pretty and it made me feel like I was in a different country (Ireland, perhaps?). Anyways, it's only a few hundred feet on the road before you are back to the paved access trail and the parking area. 

One of the reasons I find this hike so great and easy for little kids is because the only real drop-offs on this hike are fenced off (with a beautiful fence in my opinion). I feel totally comfortable with my two year old hiker hiking without help or hand holding during the whole hike. She happened to be abnormally tired, so she was in the baby carrier for most of the hike this time. One word of caution is that everything I read said there is lots of poison oak near the trail. I am guessing it is mostly on the lower part of the hike where all the oaks are. When we hiked there was none to be found, as it was January. But if you are going anytime in the spring or summer, its probably best to wear long pants (there were also some tick warnings) and familiarize yourself with what poison oak looks like ("leaves of three, let them be" was my California girl scout mantra). All in all, it was a lovely little hike somewhere new! 

Sunday, February 22, 2015


Today was a lovely Sunday. The sun was out and shining, which always makes things pleasurable in the winter. Josh had to go to work for a bit, so the kids and I made smoothies and almond butter toast (a regular, simple breakfast around these parts) and sat in the backyard in the cold winter sun and enjoyed. 

While the kids created various chaos in the backyard (tying themselves from ropes in trees, creating a mud pit, etc.), I cleaned up some of the winter debris in the garden. Josh heavily pruned many trees (mostly our figs, lilacs, and butterfly bush) in our yard in the fall, so we have been slowly composting the branches that have been sitting in big piles in the yard. Pulling out giant mullein stalks and cutting down our pearly everlasting and oregano flowers. Envisioning the changes I want to make this year, and the things I want to plant. Swept the patio as best as I could and put tools and toys in their proper places. 

Then we headed out to the tidbit food carts for lunch. I have been really enjoying the food at Namu, which is a Korean/Hawaiian cart, and pretty dang delicious. I have been experimenting with a gluten free diet for the last couple months to see if it helps with some of my health symptoms, and Namu has lots of items I can eat. The sun was still shining so we decided to walk up to Salt & Straw (this might have been the second visit this week- sunshine and ice cream just go together!) and get some cones. This month they have been collaborating with local Portland chocolatiers on their flavors, and there are some really delicious flavors right now. I think tied for my favorite are "Cocanu's Coffee and Craque" and "Xocolatl de David's Brown Butter Chocolate Bars"- yowza! 

We stopped at the new-ish Little Otsu store on the way back, which I have been meaning to check out since they opened. I picked up a sweet little winter-y card by Ayumi Piland (one half of APAK) for the kids' nature table and a birthday present, a little space themed iron on patch, for my boy. Back home for uploading photos and listening to podcasts while the kids play at the park for a bit, which is one of my favorite things to do. I really love to have the house to myself for even 20 minutes and to go through my photos uninterrupted. 

Now it's time to get the house ready for the week, put away laundry and start dinner. I think our tummies are still pretty full, so I think we are going to stick to something simple- I will whip up some peanut sauce and chop up a bunch of raw veggies and bake some tofu and that will be dinner! 

Hope your week is bright and good. 


 A portrait of my little ones, once a week, every week in 2015, see more here

U: playing on your little kid bike. you made a mud pit today with your sister. 

S: building our new bean teepee and planting sugar snap peas. every day since we planted them you have asked if we can eat them yet. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Shoshana making her first valentines for her friends at playgroup. Beeswax crayons and watercolor paints- lots of fun to play with! 

I think this is the first year Uzi didn't make these for his friends, instead he cut up some plain paper and drew a special little drawing he thought each friend would like. I had no role in any of it, so some of them might have been a bit a bit scrappy, but hey, he did have to make 24 of them!

Sunday, February 15, 2015


A portrait of my little ones, once a week, every week in 2015, see more here.
Swinging at the park right before sunset. 

U: Lost your two front teeth. Still making up lots of jokes. Want to spend all your free time at home making things. 

S: Love the old song "the fox went out on a chilly night" and can sing pretty much the whole thing on your own. Could swing for hours. Love being out and about.