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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Nature Passport: L.L. Stub Stewart State Park

Posted on: September 19th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

 

Come explore L.L. "Stub" Stewart State Park, using the Nature Passport as your guide to great wildlife watching.

Come explore L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park, using the Nature Passport as your guide to great wildlife watching.

What’s next on your must-see wildlife watching list? Whatever it is, use our Nature Passport to help you find it. The Nature Passport’s pages take you through all of the Tualatin Valley’s nature hot spots—even as the weather starts to cool down! Today we’re looking at a year-round favorite: L.L. Stub Stewart State Park.

L.L. Stub Stewart State Park is one of the most versatile places for outdoorsy play in the greater Portland region. With trails for biking, hiking and even horseback riding, the active-minded have fun exploring its 1,800 acres of green forest and earthy hills. While on the move, get ready to see an environment brimming with flora and fauna.

The forest is alive indeed! Let us know if you sight any of the following in the park’s deep canyons or on its woodland trails: Salmon Berry, Black-Tailed Deer, Roosevelt Elk, American Beaver and Thimble Berry. Add to the excitement in the park’s picnic and camping areas, complete with an 18-hole disc golf course and cozy cabins.

With so much eye candy around you, don’t forget to pack that camera. Whether it’s capturing a deer having breakfast in the morning light, the breathtaking view of the Coast Range or an artful stargazing time-lapse, share the best pictures from your visit with us via the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest. Who knows? Your picture could win you a prize package of pro-photography loot worth $2,500!

L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park
Location: 30380 NW Highway 47, Buxton, OR 97109
Phone: (800) 452-5687/ (503) 324-0606
Hours: dawn to dusk

Past Nature Passport Blog Posts:
Banks-Vernonia State Trail
Cook Park
Cooper Mountain Nature Park
Fernhill Wetlands
Jackson Bottom Wetlands Loop

Order your Nature Passport and share your pictures with us on Twitter and Instagram. Tag your photos with #WaCoNature and the #tualatinvalley.

stub stewart collage

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

 

The Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway Turns One Year Old!

Posted on: September 15th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

 

Happy 1st birthday to the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway!

Happy 1st birthday to the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway!

 

Happy birthday to the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway! We can’t believe the 10th designated scenic bikeway is already a year old. It seems like just yesterday that we were cutting the ribbon to celebrate the bikeway’s Inaugural Ride.

With a year of happy cyclists merrily pedaling the 50 mile route, it’s safe to say that the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway will be enjoyed for years and years to come. Intermediate and advanced cyclists journey through the quaint downtowns (with coffee pit stops aplenty) and friendly farms (with seasonal farm stands ready for mid-ride snacks). Cyclists of all skill levels can then together enjoy the 21-mile tail-end of the bikeway, the Banks-Vernonia State Trail, with its lush greenery and paved path.

In addition to everyday cyclists, there have been plenty of accolades coming in for the bikeway. Allison George of the Washington County Visitors Association received Travel Oregon’s Tourism Development Award for her dedicated work to launching the bikeway. Grant McOmie of Grant’s Getaways jumped in on the bikeway love, as well, in a feature segment. Plus, this video from Travel Oregon caught the bikeway—and some of its adoring riders—in action:

We could gush on and on, lovingly sharing turn-by-turn details of the bikeway…Oh wait! We already  have! Check out the blog’s Wheel Turn series for an in-depth look at all 50 miles of the bikeway, stretch by beautiful stretch:

Have you ridden the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway yet? When you do, be sure to share your experience (and some fun pictures) with us over on the bikeway’s Facebook page. Help us celebrate the bikeway’s first year and beyond.

P.S. Ready to cycle through even more of the Tualatin Valley? Sign up for the September 28 Harvest Century Bike Ride!

Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest is LIVE

Posted on: September 2nd, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

It’s time to start snapping, shutterbugs! The Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest is now live! Head to the contest page for all the specific details and submission requirements. The gist of the contest is to take amazing outdoor photos of the Tualatin Valley now through November 30, share the photos in our Flickr group and potentially win one of these top-notch prizes:

Drool-worthy photography gear are the prizes for the photo contest.

Drool-worthy photography gear are the prizes for the photo contest.

1st Place:
Canon EOS 70D DSLR Camera, UV filter, camera bag, and Canon Pixma Pro-100 printer from The Shutterbug, plus onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $2,500)
2nd Place:
Binoculars from Leupold Optics and onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $555)
3rd Place:
$100 Visa Gift Card and onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $280)
Honorable Mention:
onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $180)

This fall, make the time to savor (and snap pictures of) the Tualatin Valley’s beauty. Book a room at one of our charming lodging options in order to get a good night’s rest and be near the action. The Century Hotel overlooks the serene Lake of the Commons. The McMehamins Grand Lodge hosts an impressive garden and is an easy drive to some of the area’s most beautiful nature spots. The Orenco Hotel is homey yet luxurious—and its MAX accessibility will help you travel around Oregon’s Washington County without the fuss of a car.

With sleeping arrangements covered, here are some tips and tools on how to best fill your daytime photo shoot hours.

Let the Nature Passport guide you to some of the Tualatin Valley’s best wildlife watching viewpoints, such as the Fernhill Wetlands.

Photo of Fernhill Wetlands by Mary Lane Anderson

Photo of Fernhill Wetlands by Mary Lane Anderson

Take an afternoon spin through the Vineyard & Valley Scenic Tour Route where winery views, romantic old barns and flourishing farms await.

Picture of Grossen Farm, along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route, by Christopher Pokorny.

Picture of Grossen Farm, along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route, by Christopher Pokorny.

With your photography gear safely packed onto your bicycle, pedal the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway. The one-year-old bikeway loves to show off all of the colors of autumn.  

Clover field along the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway captured by Melissa Hay.

Clover field along the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway captured by Melissa Hay.

Share photos on social media with the #tualatinvalley hashtag. We’ll be sharing these tagged pictures throughout the season.

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

What is biodynamic wine?

Posted on: August 25th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Reap the rewards of Cooper Mountain Vineyards biodynamic practices: great Oregon wine!

Reap the rewards of Cooper Mountain Vineyards biodynamic practices: great Oregon wine!

When you take that first sip of an amazing Pinot, does it feel as though the wine is speaking to you? That voice may come from the wine’s terroir. And that terroir may have come into full fruition via biodynamic winemaking. A biodynamic practice is akin to homeopathy within agriculture, embracing a holistic understanding of the agricultural process. We met up with Barbara Gross of Cooper Mountain Vineyards  to learn why biodynamic farming—which Cooper Mountain Vineyards embraces—makes for great wine with great terroir.

Cooper Mountain Vineyards lives by the philosophy that “wine is memory of land.”  This idea is further explained in John Nossiter’s book “Liquid Memory,” which states that good terroir is representative of a wine’s history, connection to place of a place and very essence. Drinking biodynamic wine is therefore one of the best ways to taste the Tualatin Valley.

Barbara explains that biodynamic winemaking allows Cooper Mountain Vineyards to craft authentic wines with minimalistic intervention while respecting the soils from which the wines originated. Allowing for a self-sustaining farming mechanism to evolve brings a vineyard’s grapes closer to terroir. Barbara says “the less manipulation, the more your terroir speaks.” And each terroir speaks differently. For instance, an older vineyard may be more grounded in its soil and grape-growing process, which subsequently will create more grounded wine. Expect earthy notes of mushrooms and minerals. On the other hand, a younger vineyard with different soil may speak a completely different terroir, filled with punchy bright notes of fruits and herbs. What matters is that biodynamic farming and winemaking allow for a wine’s terroir to speak authentically and purely.

The biodynamic process is gaining momentum in the wine world and Oregon’s Washington County holds a large component of Oregon’s biodynamic wine puzzle. Along with Cooper Mountain Vineyards, Montinore Estate is among Oregon’s largest producers of sustainable and biodynamic wines. For a day of earth-minded wine-tasting, plan a trip with our sustainable wine trail itinerary!

Next month, we’ll uncover some of the distinct vineyard personalities found in Oregon’s Wine Country that par lay into truly standout Oregon wine.

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

End of Summer Events

Posted on: August 20th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

We’re in the home stretch of summer, with just over a month until the Autumnal Equinox. We plan to soak up every last drop of summer sunshine and shenanigans. See below for the best of the best of the Tualatin Valley’s end-of-summer events.

Bask in the fading glow of summer, made easy with a Labor Day wine tasting at Plum Hill Vineyards.

Bask in the fading glow of summer, made easy with a Labor Day wine tasting at Plum Hill Vineyards.

Oregon Renaissance Festival
August 23-September 21, weekends | 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. | Washington County Fair Complex | $7.95-$15.95
Encounter a magical 16th century European village of knights, fairies and more. Bonus: learn medieval lingo!

WinCo Foods Portland Open
August 20-24 | varying times | Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course | $15
Don’t miss your chance to see the next Bubba Watson or Keegan Bradley battle for one of 25 PGA Tour Cards.

Wapato Showdown
August 23 | all day | Brown Park | free
Car enthusiasts show off their tricked-out cars and motorcycles with fun contests to boot.  

Labor Day Tasting at Quailhurst Vineyard Estate
August 30 | 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. | Quailhurst Vineyard Estate | $10-$20
Watch Quailhurst Vineyard Estate’s beautiful horses while sipping the winery’s fine Pinot.

Labor Day Wine & Art Show
August 30-September 1 | noon to 6 p.m. | Plum Hill Vineyard | No cover charge
Celebrate the long weekend with wine from Plum Hill Vineyards and great local artists.

Summer Festival at Garden Vineyards
September 11-14 | noon to 10 p.m. | Garden Vineyards | free
Live music, wine, and delicious food…Garden Vineyards does the end of summer right.

Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day
September 13 | all day | McMenamins Grand Lodge | free
The McMenamins Grand Lodge can’t wait for St. Patrick’s Day. Enter, an Irish-themed party now

Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival
September 20 | 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. | Valley Art Gallery | free
Release the artist within! Create a colorful sidewalk masterpiece in historic downtown Forest Grove.

Annual Corn Roast
September 20 | 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. | Pacific University | no cover charge
Feast on fresh roasted corn as a tribute to the last of summer’s harvest.

OMSI Star Party: Autumnal Equinox Celebration
September 20 | 7 p.m. | Stub Stewart State Park | free
Welcome the new season with a star party. Experts will help you catch a glimpse of Venus, Saturn and Mars.

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

Nature Passport: Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve

Posted on: August 18th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Where has your summer led you? Or perhaps more pointedly, have you been using the Nature Passport to get yourself to outdoorsy hotspots in the Tualatin Valley? The Nature Passport is a handy—and free!—tool to use year-round. Bird and botany aficionados are using the Nature Passport to discover everything our parks and reserves have to offer, from its roots to what flies in its skies. Today, we’re flipping the page to the Jackson Bottom Wetland Preserve page in the Nature Passport.

Open dawn to dusk, the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserver offers shows off its birds against vibrant sunrises and sunsets.

Open dawn to dusk, the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserver offers shows off its birds against vibrant sunrises and sunsets.

The Jackson Bottom Wetland Preserve is more than 600 acres of natural bliss for birders, wildlife watchers, hikers and kids. The wetlands are fed by the Tualatin River floodplain. The preserve is marked by four miles of easy hiking trails via the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Loop.

So, what exactly are you going to experience while looping around the preserve? Majestic eagles, ribbit-happy frogs and the clove-like scent of the golden currants all create a symphony for the senses. Of course, what you see will change with the seasons. For a seasonally organized list of birds seen at the Jackson Bottom Wetland Preserve, check out the Bird Checklist.

Curious kids and ever-learning adults should visit the preserve’s Education Center. See the first authentic bald eagles’ nest recovered from the wild on display and get the nitty-gritty details on the plants flourishing outside. It’s easy to see why the Wapato Native American tribe once was hunters-and-gathers from this fertile land.

Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve
Location: 2600 SW Hillsboro Highway, OR 97123
Phone: (503) 681-6206
Hours: Dawn to dusk; Education Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Past Nature Passport Blog Posts:
Banks-Vernonia State Trail
Cook Park
Cooper Mountain Nature Park
Fernhill Wetlands

Order your Nature Passport and share your pictures with us on Twitter and Instagram. Tag your photos with #WaCoNature.

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest

Posted on: August 8th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Previous photo contest entries. Credits clockwise from top left: Christopher Pokorny, Joel Zak, Christopher Pokorny, John Gaudette.

Previous photo contest entries. Credits clockwise from top left: Christopher Pokorny, Joel Zak, Christopher Pokorny, John Gaudette.

Visit. See. Click. Share. Win.

Yup, that’s what you’ll need to do to take part in the “Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest.”

Visit
As the contest runs from Labor Day through Thanksgiving weekend, you’ll have ample time to take a photographer’s getaway to the Tualatin Valley. Stay in style at one of our plush hotels. Take advantage of the McMenamins Grand Lodge Adventure Package for its picture-worthy aerial tour at Tree-To-Tree Adventure Park.

See
Of course, you can’t take great photos without great views and subjects. Not a problem here. There are countless “Focus on Autumn” options. If you love wine, capture the fog rolling over the vineyard while wine tasting. If you’re a sucker for fall foliage, take a ride on the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route to see burnt orange and rusty red leafage. And the migratory birds at our wetlands and nature parks are colorful models.

Click
With so much beautiful wildlife around, all that’s left to do is to play paparazzo and click away! The contest is open to all ages and to professional and amateur photographers alike. Take pictures that are meaningful and beautiful to your own eye.

Share
Between September 1, 2014 and November 30, 2014, any photos uploaded into the contest’s Flickr group will be considered an entry. Additionally, share photos on social media with the #tualatinvalley hashtag. We’ll be sharing these tagged pictures throughout the season.

Win
Your photo could win you some fabulous loot!

1st Place:
Canon EOS 70D DSLR Camera, UV filter, camera bag, and Canon Pixma Pro-100 printer from The Shutterbug, plus onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $2,500)
2nd Place:
Binoculars from Leupold Optics and onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $475)
3rd Place:
$100 Visa Gift Card and onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $200)
Honorable Mention: 
onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $100)

We can’t wait to see how you capture the beauty of the Tualatin Valley.

For all the nitty-gritty details and submission requirements, visit the contest page.

What is the Tualatin Valley?

Posted on: August 6th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Oregon's Washington County is the Tualatin Valley (and we're proud of it!).

Oregon’s Washington County is the Tualatin Valley (and we’re proud of it!).

What is the Tualatin Valley?

Geographically speaking, the Tualatin River runs through the Tualatin Valley with the Tualatin Mountains creating a north and east border for the region. In fact, the Tualatin Mountains are part of the  Northern Oregon Coast Range, which create that tickle of cool Coastal Range air that visitors love while enjoying the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway  and Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. The Tualatin Valley is lucky enough to be a part of the Northern Willamette Valley and the northern part of the Chehalem Mountains, which makes for rich soil and diverse winemaking opportunities (which our winemakers fully embrace and celebrate). The Tualatin Valley encompasses the towns and cities of Aloha, Banks, Beaverton, Cornelius, Hillsboro, Sherwood, Tigard and Tualatin. Plainly put, the Tualatin Valley is Oregon’s Washington County.

Historically speaking, the Tualatin Valley is grounded by the Native Americans and Oregon Pioneers who first called this fertile land home. The regions namesake comes from the hunting-and-gathering Atfalati tribe of the Kalapuya Native Americans who lived in villages peppered throughout the valley.  The community is also known as Tualatin Native Americans. In the mid-19th Century, Oregon Pioneers came to the land and began calling it the “Twality Plains,” which had a similar mouth feel to the name of the Atfalati tribe. Over the years, Twality Plains has evolved into the name of the Tualatin Valley. Today, whether you hear the Twality Plains, Northern Willamette Valley or Oregon’s Washington County, know that all of these monikers are synonyms for the Tualatin Valley.

Poetically speaking, the Tualatin Valley is breathtaking greenery intersected by large stretches of vibrant farmland. It is the cool Coastal Range air creating soft, whispering breezes between the tombstones of Oregon Pioneers. It is the taste of juicy summer berries and the best Oregon Pinot wine. The Tualatin Valley is zip-lines through beautiful treetops and vineyard vines reaching their roots deep down into volcanic soil.

So, what is the Tualatin Valley? Quite simply, the Tualatin Valley is us. And we can’t wait to share the magic of all that is here with you.

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway: Wheel Turn 6

Posted on: July 30th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Are you ready for the crisp air from the Coastal Range, apple orchards and even a dinosaur? We’re back with our sixth installment in the “Wheel Turn Series” of the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway. As a review, you can cycle backwards and read the previous Wheel Turn blog posts:

There's a myriad  eye-candy along the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway.

There’s a myriad eye-candy along the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway.

Continuing up NW Porter Road, the bike path will transition into NW Visitation Road. As the road forces a left onto NW Osterman Road, cyclists have the opportunity to take a side road, NW Evers Road, as an easy and paved shortcut, jumping a few miles of the bikeway. That said, we encourage savvy cyclists to journey on the bikeway; your efforts will be rewarded turning right onto NW Kansas City Road with the sight of a Triceratops. Yes, you read that right. A Triceratops named Breezy is a delightful roadside attraction that also marks your entry into the foothills of the coastal range. Enjoy the crisp—even breezy—air that it brings.

Pedaling on, Kansas City Road is also home to Bull Run Cider’s founding location. Oregon’s newest hard cider producer has lovingly planted acres of young heirloom apple trees. Repeat riders of the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway love taking a moment of pause to see how much the young trees have grown since their last visit. In addition to the orchard, the cidery also has a romantic old barn for a picture-perfect photo-op.

If you prefer your agricultural landscapes to air more toward the savory than sweet, then you’ll be happy to see the fields and fields of corn and wheat on NW Greenville Road. You can measure the wind by the sway of the wheat and corn stalks. The rural scene continues on as cyclists turn left onto NW Roy road and then left onto NW Mountainside Road. The Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway is nearing its final, glittering stretch, but we’ll save that for next month.

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

Ask a Local: Cooper Mountain Vineyards’ Barbara Gross

Posted on: July 28th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey 1 Comment
Barbara Gross of Cooper Mountain Vineyards gives visitors her inside scoop on the Tualatin Valley.

Barbara Gross of Cooper Mountain Vineyards gives visitors her inside scoop on the Tualatin Valley.

When it comes to vacation planning, nothing is more valuable than the local scoop. So, we turned to Barbara Gross of Cooper Mountain Vineyards. As a born-and-raised local of Oregon’s Washington County, she has the ultimate tips.
 
What makes Cooper Mountain Vineyards so special?
The soils. The place. We own and manage four vineyards throughout Oregon’s Washington County. And our philosophy is simple: craft authentic wines while respecting the soils and the land they originate from.
 
What do you love most about interacting with visitors?
The most satisfying interaction I have with visitors is being able to point to the specific acre of Pinot Noir, tell them the story of how Mother Nature provided us with that vintage and have them taste the Tualatin Valley.
 
What will visitors find happening in the vineyards now?
The North Willamette Valley is buzzing during the summer. She wears her colors well. Full canopy on the vines. Toward the end of the summer, the grapes begin to change color. Clear blue skies provide visuals of the mountains, reminding us of the volcanic nature of the soils where the vines reside.
 
Other than a visit to Cooper Mountain Vineyards, what’s one can’t-miss attraction for visitors to the area?
All the other wineries!
 
Describe a perfect day in Washington County.
Picnicking on one of our vineyards, with local Pinot Noir in your glass after you’ve spent the morning at a local berry u-pick farm.
 
What’s a favorite “hidden gem” of the area?
NAK WON! The Tualatin Valley boasts some of the best Korean and Vietnamese restaurants in the country. And Syun Izakaya has been a longtime and outstanding gem.
 
Where do you go when you want some seriously good grub?
See above! In addition, decarli restaurant and The South Store Café.
 
What should every visitor take home as a souvenir?
I would hope they would take away the impactful memory of the beauty of the place. And come back and visit.
 
Describe Oregon’s Washington County in 5 words or less.
Where the city meets the country.

Other tips from locals:
Curiosities Vintage Mall’s Travis Diskin
Maggie Buns’ Maggie Pike
Clean Water Service’s Sheri Wantland
SakéOne’s Steve Vuylsteke
Bag&Baggage’s Scott Palmer
Vine Gogh’s Jenny Schildan