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Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway: Wheel Turn 8

Posted on: October 20th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
A late fall ride on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail shows off the changing colors of the season.

A late fall ride on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail shows off the changing colors of the season.

It seems fitting that just after the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway celebrated its first birthday that we’d come to the end of our wheel turn series. As much as we’ve loved talking about the bikeway over the last few months, we know that you’ll love actually riding it even more.

The last leg of the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway is a much-beloved one: the Banks-Vernonia State Trail. Novice cyclists and those riding with families often choose to simply do the Banks-Vernonia State Trail as its 21-miles of paved paths are ideal for smooth rides that don’t sacrifice a beautiful view. As for the more advanced cyclists who have just completed the 29 miles that preceded it, the Banks-Vernonia State Trails is a soothing finale to your accomplished ride.

Beyond the paved paths, what makes the Banks-Vernonia State Trail so gosh-darn wonderful? For starters, there are the 13 wooden trestles serving as beautiful bridges that connect you not only to your next part of the trail, but also to the trail’s past. Where hikers, cyclists and even horseback riders now enjoy the old wooden bridges, imagine the trestles’ first life as a bustling railway for the lumber industry that made Portland known as “Stumptown.” Thankfully, the nature surrounding the path is far from stumpy. Instead, the Banks-Vernonia State Trail is alive with dense forest, clear streams and the whistling of migratory birds. The scene is truly serene—it’s hard to believe you’re just 26 miles west of Portland, experiencing such natural splendor!

If you would like refresh your mind on the bikeway as a whole, then you can cycle backwards and read the previous Wheel Turn blog posts:

Now that you’ve read about the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway, turn-by-turn, it’s time to experience its path on your own two wheels. Request a free bike map! Not only is it easy to use, but it’s waterproof, too, for a ride day that comes with a slight drizzle!

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Focus on Autumn with Fall Harvest

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

To focus on autumn means to focus on Oregon’s bounty. Focus on the gentle breeze whistling between the Tualatin Valley’s apple trees. Focus on the bright flavor of a just-picked pear. Focus on the gleeful expression of a child finding that perfect pumpkin in the patch. Focus on the sun setting in the hazelnut orchard. And don’t just focus on these precious moments—take a picture of it for the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest!

 

A filbert farm sunset along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. Photo by Karl Samson.

A filbert farm sunset along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. Photo by Karl Samson.

The Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest is our way of celebrating all the ways people experience autumn in the Tualatin Valley. In addition to capturing beautiful moments, photographers are also encouraged to enter their photos for a chance at the prize package that is worth $2,500! With a first, second and third place prize (as well as an honorable mention), you could win premium and professional photography gear like a Canon EOS 70D DSLR camera and amazing editing software.

So, hang your camera strap around your neck and be ready to snap the magical moments you catch at our farms and markets, as well as on the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. In case you want a creative sparkplug, we’ve included a few photography ideas below:

From Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, pumpkins are a big deal in the Tualatin Valley. Our pumpkin patches are a photographer’s dream with punchy-orange gourds resting below the mountain-scape views and barrels of hay.

The ever-photogenic poinsettias will be waiting to be photographed at the Evening of Lights (November 6 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Al’s Garden Center in Sherwood; free). Here, stroll through designer-decorated holiday trees and freshly grown poinsettias as one way to usher in the upcoming holidays.

Photo contest procrastinators can rally at the Thanksgiving Wine Weekend (November 28-November 30; varying times, locations and tasting fees). Tour some of Oregon’s best wineries for stellar wines, as well as beautiful photo-ops. Just don’t forget to submit your photos by November 30.

 

A winery along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route in fall. Photo by Wayne Flynn.

A winery along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route in fall. Photo by Wayne Flynn.

Find even more Tualatin Valley photography examples and inspiration!

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Ask a Local: Urban Decanter’s Rebecca Kramer

Posted on: October 10th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Rebecca Kramer, owner of Forest Grove's Urban Decanter, shares her local tips.

Rebecca Kramer, owner of Forest Grove’s Urban Decanter, shares her local tips.

When it comes to vacation planning, nothing is more valuable than the local scoop. So, we turned to Rebecca Kramer, owner of the Forest Grove wine bar Urban Decanter. Having grown up and then started her own business in Oregon’s Washington County, she has the ultimate tips.
 
What makes Urban Decanter so special?
The cozy wine bar offers guests a comfortable atmosphere with a great selection of northwest wines, craft beer and cocktails. We also have homemade soups, panini and small plates. We have created what our guests refer to as a “Cheers” like place to gather.
 
What do you love most about interacting with visitors?
I love connecting with visitors and finding out their stories. So many of my regular guests are like family that it creates a great community around us.
 
From where do you get your cooking inspiration?
Two places: When I go out to eat and Pinterest. I am on Pinterest A LOT to keep my imagination in the kitchen fresh and creative.
 
What’s one can’t-miss attraction for visitors to the area?
You have to go see Forest Grove’s newest tap room, Waltz Brewing…Tell them I sent you!
 
Describe a perfect day in Oregon’s Washington County.
We are the gateway to wine country, so wine tasting is a MUST! I would also be sure to stop and eat at one of the local restaurants such as 1910 Main before finishing up the evening with a bottle of sparkling wine around a fire pit!
 
What’s a favorite “hidden gem” of the area?
The Wilson River. I love that river. It is so relaxing to just drive into the forest and explore.
 
Where do you go when you want some seriously good grub?
Pac Thai doesn’t have one stand out dish, but five: spicy crispy chicken basil, pad thai, pumpkin curry, crab fried rice and tom yum soup!
 
What should visitors to take home as a souvenir?
This is easy! Wine!

Describe the Tualatin Valley in five words or less.
Outdoors, libations, family, farms and picturesque!

The welcoming Urban Decanter is filled with top-notch Oregon wines and Rebecca's soul-satisfying cuisine.

The welcoming Urban Decanter is filled with top-notch Oregon wines and Rebecca’s soul-satisfying cuisine.

 
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
Cooper Mountain Vineyards’ Barbara Gross
Abbey Creek Vineyard’s Bertony Faustin

Birding Photography Ideas

Posted on: October 6th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

A little birdie told us that he wants to be photographed for the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest! The photo contest invites photography from all facets of nature—including the Tualatin River, vineyards and farms—that capture the essence of the Tualatin Valley’s autumn splendor. In the fall, our bird watching is top-notch as dozens of species pass through our wetlands, forests and rivers during their migration journeys. While the birds of the Tualatin Valley go chirp! chirp!, we want you to go click! click!

Start envisioning your day of bird watching and camera clicking by checking out the video below:

Just 10 miles from Portland, you can enter a bird (and bird watcher’s) paradise at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. With nearly 200 species of birds, the wildlife watching is diverse, surprising and undoubtedly beautiful. For photographers who like to plan ahead download the refuge’s “Watchable Wildlife” guide (PDF).

Yet another bevy of birding opportunities await at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve The birding here is so good that the preserve even offers a downloadable “Bird Species Checklist” (PDF). Snap some crisp pictures of a Golden-crowned Sparrow or Great Egret in all its glory to share in the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest.

 

A Great Blue Heron catching lunch at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

A Great Blue Heron catching lunch at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. photo: Michael Liskay

While the grace of migratory birds and the art of photography are reason enough to visit the Tualatin Valley this fall, we hope the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest sweetens the deal even more. When you enter the photo contest, you are giving yourself a chance to win a prize package worth $2,500! With a first, second and third place prize (as well as an honorable mention), you could win premium and professional photography gear like a Canon EOS 70D DSLR camera and amazing editing software.

To get a glimpse at what pictures are being entered into the contest thus far, take a peek at the contest’s Flickr page. We hope you feel inspired to then take your own photographer’s getaway to the Tualatin Valley and submit your best pictures to the contest!

Find even more Tualatin Valley photography examples and inspiration.

Pumpkin Patches in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: October 3rd, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Get organic pumpkins and gourds like these from Our Table Farm.

Get organic pumpkins and gourds like these from Our Table Farm.

How hard do you fall for the pumpkin craze each year? We’re going to be honest—we fall hard. It’s hard not to with so many adorable pumpkin patches, pumpkin-themed art, and even a pumpkin boat race. The Tualatin Valley is happily dotted with pumpkins throughout October. So, come get in the autumnal spirit with us and have a picturesque fall weekend.  

Below, we’ve outlined some pumpkin patch highlights. For a full report, access our pumpkin patch page.

Pumpkin Farms & Patches

A Maze In Grace Gardens
Pirates for pumpkins is the vibe here as a classic corn maze (with the Facebook “like” symbol as its aerial view) is mixed with kitschy “pirate ship” rides.

Hours Through October 31: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to dusk

Baggenstos Farm Store
Don’t pick your pumpkin. Instead, roll it with pumpkin bowling! Bowling alley food is subbed for the more culinary sausages and brats from Mt. Angel’s Oktoberfest.

Hours through October 31: Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Lake View Farms
The enchanted pumpkin patch feels like it’s straight out of a fairytale. Watch out! A dragon may pop out of the lake during your boat ride

Hours through October 31: Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Lee Farms
Let the kids blow off steam with a slew of activities: pony rides, giant bounce houses and kid-friendly mazes.

Fall Festival hours through October 31: Monday-Friday, noon to 6 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Our Table
Do you like to keep things organic? Find a fully organic pumpkin patch with a wide selection of decorative and edible pumpkins.

Hours through October 31: Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Plumper Pumpkin Patch
Pair your pumpkin-picking festivities with u-cut flowers and u-pick gourds. Try your hand at the pumpkin flinging machine, too!

Hours through October 31: Open daily, 9 am-5:30 pm.

Roloff Farms
Home of the Roloff family from the hit show, “Little People, Big World,” the farm goes all out in October. Come frolic in the pumpkin fun house and giant hay pyramid.

Hours through October 26: Friday-Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Halloween Groupons

Create your own Blown Glass Pumpkin at Live Laugh Love Glass. Enjoy 50% off  its popular class, which ends with your own mini-pumpkin masterpiece!

Corn Maze and Harvest Festival at Gramma’s Farm Store. This package includes a haunted corn maze, adventure, hayride, pumpkin of your choice and a turn with the farm’s infamous, giant sling shot.

For the oh-so pumpkin obsessed, use our Be A Pumpkin Head study guide to hear our picks for tasty pumpkin treats.

First Fall Events

Posted on: September 22nd, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
The Oregon Heritage Applefest is known for its tasty caramel apples.

The Oregon Heritage Applefest is known for its tasty caramel apples.

Don’t lie. Are you one of those people who wills autumn to happen? Perhaps you’ve been ordering pumpkin spice lattes since the kids headed back to school. Or maybe you’re guilty of wrapping an wool infinity scarf around your neck and slipping on some new, killer leather boots…despite a gleefully sunny day. Well friends, the wait is over. Fall is officially here with the autumnal equinox. So order that pumpkin spice latte, put on that snuggly scarf and head to one these early autumn events in the Tualatin Valley.

Wine

Crush Party at Montinore Estate
September 27 | noon to 4 p.m. | Montinore Estate | free entry
Oregon winemakers can’t help but celebrate harvest season! Come try your hand—er foot—at the grape-stomping competition.

North Willamette Harvest Trail
October 4 & 11| 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. | varying wineries | $95
A guided bus tours three wineries and a saké brewery for tastings, nibbles, and harvest activities. Use code “HarvestFriend” for $5 off each ticket.

Pacific Northwest Geological Wine Tour
October 12| 9:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. | The Grand Hotel at Bridgeport | $225-250
Oregon wine rocks…literally. Learn about the geology of the Tualatin Valley and why our soil creates such stellar wine.

Sports
12th Annual Harvest Century Bike Ride
September 28 | 7:30  a.m. to 2:30 p.m. | starts at Hillsboro Civic Center | $50-$65
Celebrate a glorious fall with a 3-mile, 45-mile, 75-mile or 100-mile bike ride along the scenic roads of the Tualatin Valley.

5k Zombie Mud Run
October 5 | 7:30  a.m. to 2:30 p.m. | Lee Farms | $20-$60
With this early Halloween run, you can choose to be a zombie or a human. Either way, you’re going to need to run through 3.1 miles of tough ‘n muddy terrain!

Color Vibe 5k
October 18 | 9 a.m. start| Washington County Fair Complex | $40-$55
In this case, fall colors are neon. Run through a Technicolor haze on this happy-go-lucky course.  

Fall Festivals

Fall Colors Paddle
October 4 | 7:30  a.m. to 2:30 p.m. | Browns Ferry Park | $10-$50
Discover the beauty and serenity of fall from a different perspective as you paddle the slow and meandering Tualatin River.

28th Annual Great Onion Festival
October 11 | 9  a.m. to 4 p.m. | Archer Glen Elementary | free
This fall festival is the best excuse for bad breath. If you think you’ve got a great recipe, enter it into the “Best Dang Onion Dish” contest.

Birds & Brew Festival
October 11 | 8  a.m. to 2 p.m. | Fernhill Wetlands | free
Birdwatchers flock to this annual event of bird tours, documentaries and talks, especially with the hands-on nature exhibits.

Oregon Heritage Farm Applefest
October 11 | 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Oregon Heritage Farms | free
It’s everything apples, plus a little bit more. This down-home day is complete with country music and hay rides.

Don’t forget to check our events calendar for even more fall happenings!

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

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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 2 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.

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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.

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