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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Winter Wonder Instagram Photo Contest

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Let’s make the most out of the last weeks of winter, shall we? We want you to show us the beauty that you find in the Tualatin Valley via our Winter Wonder Instagram Photo Contest. The contest is really quite simple. Here’s the deal with it in a nutshell: When you visit a hotel, outdoor attraction, vineyard or brewery in Oregon’s Washington County from February 2 to March 20, tag your Instagram photos with the location, @oregonswashingtoncounty and the #mytualatinvalley hashtag to enter for a chance to win major swag from the Tualatin Valley (think wine, hazelnuts and other tasty treats galore!).

Here’s how to enter:

  • Follow @oregonswashingtoncounty on Instagram
  • Upload an Instagram  picture of a hotel, outdoor attraction, vineyard or brewery in Oregon’s Washington County (location must be searchable on the www.tualatinvalley.org website)
  • Please note: if your Instagram profile is set to private, you can either
    • send your image to @oregonswashingtoncounty via Instagram Direct or
    • share the link to your Instagram image with Visit Oregon’s Washington County on Twitter (@WCVA) which will allow our organization to have access to only that image on your profile
    • if you do not do either of these, your photo will not be visible to the Washington County Visitors Association and you will not be officially entered in the contest
  • Tag @oregonswashingtoncounty in your photo on Instagram
  • Use the hashtag #mytualatinvalley in your photo on Instagram
  • Name the location in your photo on Instagram in the location field, additional hashtag or Instagram caption
  • You must be 21 or older to enter
  • Abide by the full Terms & Conditions

Alright—now it’s time to begin planning your next Instagram snaps. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Hotels
Show us how you make a hotel your home away from home. Give us a peek at your delicious room service, a cozy rest by the fire or a morning yoga session in your hotel room. To start, book your room now!

Put your feet to the fire for a cozy snapshot of your time at The Grand Hotel.

Put your feet to the fire for a cozy snapshot of your time at The Grand Hotel.

 

Outdoor Attraction
Use the Nature Passport to uncover the best winter wildlife watching throughout the 727 square miles of wetlands, parks, refuges and forests in Oregon’s Washington County: The Tualatin Valley. 

An early wake-up call proves worth it for a sunrise picture at one of our wetlands.

An early wake-up call proves worth it for a sunrise picture at one of our wetlands.

 

Vineyard
The wineries of the northern Willamette Valley have a special wintertime charm. Make a romantic (and photo-worthy) sweep of them during the Valentine’s Wine Loop.

Capture the winter beauty of Willamette Valley vineyards in the winter.

Capture the winter beauty of Willamette Valley vineyards in the winter.

 

Brewery
Beervana awaits in the Tualatin Valley. With a growing list of stellar breweries, create sudsy Instagram shots. The Zwickelmania Oregon Brewery Tour is the perfect way to get behind-the-scene brewing pictures. 

Make happy hour your Instagram hour, too.

Make happy hour your Instagram hour, too.

At its heart, the Winter Wonder Instagram Contest is about having fun. So get out there, have a great time and share what conveys #mytualatinvalley, whatever that means for you.

Read the full Terms and Conditions here.

Nature Passport: Tualatin Hills Nature Park and Interpretive center

Posted on: January 21st, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
The Tualatin Hills Nature Park is an nature oasis in the heart of Beaverton.

The Tualatin Hills Nature Park is an nature oasis in the heart of Beaverton.

The casual outdoorsman may revel in the now growing number of hours of daylight as we turn the corner in the winter months. The Tualatin Valley finds plenty of ways to mix the wintertime blues with deep forest greens. Simply order a free copy of the nature passport. Tuck this nifty guide into your backpack for on-the-go exploration, including park information and wildlife watching tips for the 727 square miles of blissful wetlands, refuges, forests, rivers and parks in Oregon’s Washington County.

Among the sixteen featured nature areas in the passport is the Tualatin Hills Nature Park and Center. No matter the month, listen to the soft splashes of beavers and river otters along the Cedar Mill and Beaverton Creeks. While these creatures travel the waters, you traverse the 5 miles of paved and soft surface trails. Can you spot a black-tailed deer or ponderosa pine? If yes, then snap a picture of it and share it with us (using the #tualatinvalley hashtag!).

In addition to the 222 acres of wildlife—in the heart of Beaverton no less—be sure to stop by the Tualatin Hills Nature Center (formerly the Tualatin Hills Interpretive Center) for year-round resources. Field guides and educational displays add even more meaning to your outdoor adventure, while stuffed animals and children’s books add more fun.

Tualatin Hills Nature Park and Interpretive Center
Location: 15655 SW Millikan Way, Beaverton, OR 97006
Phone: (503) 629-6350)
Trail Hours:  Dawn to dusk, daily
Interpretive Center Hours: February-November, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; December-January, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Past Nature Passport Blog Posts:
Banks-Vernonia State Trail
Cook Park
Cooper Mountain Nature Park
Fernhill Wetlands
Jackson Bottom Wetlands Loop
L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park
Magness Memorial Tree Farm
Rood Bridge Park
Tillamook State Forest

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

The Life Cycle of an Oregon Hazelnut

Posted on: January 9th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey 4 Comments

We have just reached the end of Oregon’s hazelnut season, which also means that the life cycle of a hazelnut tree has begun again at the hazelnut tree farms of the Tualatin Valley. The Willamette Valley (of which the Tualatin Valley is proudly a part) grows 99% of all of the hazelnuts in not just Oregon, but the United States; so the start of the New Year and the hazelnut life cycle is pretty darn exciting for us. Yup, our beloved perennial shrub has dropped the last of its delicious filberts and it already using Oregon’s temperate and cool weather to prepare for next season.

The four seasons of a hazelnut tree in the Tualatin Valley.

The four seasons of a hazelnut tree in the Tualatin Valley.

The Hazelnut Growers of Oregon has created a mecca for true hazelnut aficionados at Oregon Orchard Hazelnuts. Here, get your hands on a wide variety of hazelnuts with a roast worth a boast, including salty and sweet varieties. Even out of the prime hazelnut season, you can still connect with farmers of your favorite filbert at the Beaverton Farmers Market, which returns with its winter series in February (complete with white chocolate covered hazelnuts at the Ken & June vendor)

Hazelnuts are not only delicious, but healthy, too. While the roasted nut is often used in confectionery delights, it also provides healthy fats, protein, vitamin E, dietary fiber and antioxidants. Has all this nutty talk gotten you “hangry” for some hazelnuts? Never fear! While waiting for the next crop of filberts to bloom in the spring and summer, you can try one of our hazelnut recipes to hold you over:

Hostess with the Mostess Granola
Nutty Berry Torte
Berry Baked Oatmeal
Chocolate, Cherry & Hazelnut Cookies

P.S. Learn even more about Oregon hazelnuts here.

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

Winter Bird Watching in Oregon

Posted on: January 5th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

 

Fernhill_Wetlands_Solitary_Egret_in_Fog_CREDIT_Alec_Frank

“Solitary Egret in Fog” by Alec Frank, taken at Fernhill Wetlands

Happy National Bird Day! Turn a shivering Brrr! into an exclamation, Birds! The cold may be coming in, but there’s no reason to hibernate as we stay true to the greater Portland region’s temperate weather. While the area experiences winter via rainy days, foggy mornings, nighttime chills, and occasional flurries, the geography generally offers a balmy and pleasant wintertime for visitors of both the human and fowl variety. Winter is indeed a spectacular time to go birding in Oregon’s Washington County.

Reasons to Winter Bird Watch Here:

  1. With less foliage, it is easier not only to spot birds, but also tracks leading to foraging spots.
  2. As resources are less plentiful, it’s more common for several species of birds to congregate in a mixed flock during the colder months. Seeing many species together is a special experience, as well as a chance to check multiple birds off of your “must-see” list at once.
  3. At the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge alone, an average of 20,000 waterfowl—including Canada Geese, northern pintails, and mallards—can be observed in one day. And Bald Eagles are counted as a commonly seen species. At the Jackson Bottom Wetlands and Fernhill Wetlands, catch a glimpse of the round-headed American Wigeon bobbing in the water. It truly is magic to see the Great Blue Heron nesting amidst the winter marshes, as well.

Winter Birding Tips:

  1. Check the weather report before you go! Dress right for the adventure and you’ll be happy and cozy whether it’s rainy, snowy, or foggy.
  2. Just because it’s not the dead heat of summer, doesn’t mean you can’t get dehydrated! Bring water, snacks, and sunscreen for your day in the refuges.
  3. Keep any valuable gear in check against unexpected winter elements. We suggest a harness or neck strap attached to a pair of water-resistant binoculars.

Resources:

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

What Others Are Saying about the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: January 2nd, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
See the diversity of things to eat, see and do in the Tualatin Valley.

Enjoy the diversity of things to eat, see and do in the Tualatin Valley.

As much as we love sharing our favorite tips and attractions to the Tualatin Valley, we get giddy when we come across others—visitors, travel writers and locals alike—feeling compelled to share their experiences in Oregon’s Washington County. Below, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite links from the past few months. Happy internet surfing!

Food & Booze

Outdoor Adventures

Explore Our Towns & Farms

  • The writers at Willamette Week are urban-dwellers to the core, but even they can’t resist Beaverton’s charm! They detail their favorite spots for Korean food, espresso ribs, and newt-tastic hikes in the “Happy Beaverton Day” article.
  • The blog Urban Fringe Living celebrates the corners of the world—like the Tualatin Valley—that are the crux between urban and country living. We love the photo essay of Smith Berry Barn!

If you come across some great writing about the Tualatin Valley (or if you’ve written your own!), then we want to hear about it! Share a link to the content in the comments section.

Nature Passport: Tillamook State Forest

Posted on: December 29th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

 

Tillamook State Forest's suspension bridge over the Wilson River.

Tillamook State Forest’s suspension bridge over the Wilson River.

 

Many Tualatin Valley trails offer their own sort of magic in the wintertime. With the rivers high from recent rain, damp soil cushioning your step and towering trees that hold onto their green moss and leaves throughout the year, it’s sensory overload in the best way possible. This is all especially true when you use a copy of our free Nature Passport to guide you to the best flora and fauna at each nature spot.

Receiving more than 120 inches of rain a year, the Tillamook State Forest is lush with growth and activity from its local creatures during the winter months. If you smell salt in the air, it’s because this temperate rainforest is situated in the Oregon Coast Range. Cross over the wooden suspension bridge—a stunning attraction in its own right—to hear the gurgle of the Wilson River that runs underneath you. From here, a wide range of hiking trails will be opened up to you. This unique habitat welcomes Chinook salmon, Roosevelt elk, bald eagles and you to traverse its land.

In the warmer months, the Tillamook Forest Center pairs outdoor beauty with outdoor learning. Visit the center to have your most pressing nature questions answered by a resident naturalist. To learn more about the Tillamook Burn of the 1930s and 1940s, visit the multisensory theater, where you’ll get to experience the smell of the smoke from that important time in the park’s history. Another can’t-miss is the 40-foot lookout tower—see the forest from the same viewpoint as the birds that fly over it!

Tillamook State Forest
Location: 45500 Wilson River Highway, Tillamook, OR
Phone: (866) 930-4646
Trail Hours: Trails are open year round, from dawn to dusk.
Tillamook Forest Center Hours:

Winter: Closed
Spring: Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Summer: Daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Fall: Wednesday to Sunday 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
Jackson Bottom Wetlands Loop
L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park
Magness Memorial Tree Farm
Rood Bridge Park

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

New Year’s Eve Itinerary

Posted on: December 19th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
The kitschy, yet regal McMenamins Grand Lodge is a perfect mix for New Year's Eve dancing.

The kitschy, yet regal McMenamins Grand Lodge is a perfect mix for New Year’s Eve dancing.

Let the countdown begin—we’re mere days away from saying hello to 2015. With all the holiday hullabaloo going on, it’s easy to let New Year’s Eve plans fall through the cracks. But not this year, friends! We’ve taken the busy work out of the equation—you can simply use our New Year’s itinerary for a sure-fire good time and good New Year.

First, check into a room at the McMenamins Grand Lodge or one of our other standout hotel options. Just be sure to make reservations ahead of time!

Afternoon Bubbly Excursion
Before the sun sets, hop in the car to search for some sparkling wine to pop open come midnight. Though, you won’t have to search very hard—simply head to Shafer Vineyard Cellars for the Shafer Cuveé. Open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the winery produces its sparkling wine in the traditional French champagne method, Methode Champenoise. Very classy, indeed.

Dinner: Small Plates on a Big Night
We’re looking into your future—near future that is—and we see dancing. Lots and lots of dancing. So make dinner light, yet delicious at small plates at 1910 Main. As the name would suggest, you and your dinner companions can share delicious morsels of creative cuisine. It’s a celebratory meal that doesn’t require a post-feast nap!

Party Time!
Back at the McMenamins Grand Lodge, a night of good music and revelry will kick off at 9 p.m. with  New Year’s Eve at the Grand Lodge. Boogie to live music from three different bands. Choose from Americana, rock or Motown beats.

Welcome to 2015!
Start the year off on the right foot, literally, with the ranger-led America’s State Parks First Day Hike at beautiful Stub Stewart State Park. Here, you’ll find fresh air and a fresh perspective.

Now that you’ve properly worked up an appetite from your hike, chow down at the Ironwork Grill. Using seasonal ingredients from local growers, your meal will fill you with meaningful sustenance for the first day of the New Year.

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

Winners of the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest

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

We’re on the final countdown to the winter solstice, which means it’s time to soak up the last few days of the official fall season. It has been a gorgeous few months of bright leaves, birds and skies—and we have the pictures to prove it! As entries for the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest came rolling in, we were continuously reminded of how beautiful the Tualatin Valley really is.

After much deliberation, the judges weighed in and the crème de la crème of the photo contest have now been placed and awarded. Though it’s worth mentioning that each entry was standout in its own way. See all of the entries on our Flickr page.

First place: Larry Chow, David Hill Vineyard & Winery

second place_Batmobile_88
Second Place: Corey Rudolph, Autumn’s Pass at Bald Peak

Third place_Corey Rudolph
Third place: Alec Haskard, Solitary Egret in the fog at Fernhill Wetlands

Honorable Mention_Alec Frank
Honorable Mention: Jason Lindseth, Buxton Trestles over the Banks-Vernonia State Trail

Buxton Trestle
The winning photos of the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest showcase a cross-section of the Tualatin Valley outdoor experience. Each location is easily accessible and utterly gorgeous. While the Bald Peak State Scenic Viewpoint is a thing of wonder with its wide view of mountains and valleys, the drive to it on its own—as Corey Rudolph’s photography proves—is well worth it on its own. Use a complimentary copy of our Nature Passport to learn more about the lovely birdwatching at Fernhill Wetlands, as well as smooth cycling jaunts down the Banks-Vernonia State Trail. And, of course, striking outdoor vistas include vineyard views, too. This is the case with David Hill Vineyard & Winery, whose vines gracefully exemplify the best of every season. Use these winning photos—and the places where they were photographed—as inspiration for your own itinerary to Oregon’s Washington County: The Tualatin Valley.

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

Ask a Local: Lee Farms’ Annie Lee-Bartelamia

Posted on: December 1st, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
The Lee siblings prep for the holiday season. From  left to right: Erika, Kara, Annie, Teagan and Tommy.

The Lee siblings prep for the holiday season. From left to right: Erika, Kara, Annie, Teagan and Tommy.

When it comes to vacation planning, nothing is more valuable than the local scoop. So, we turned to Anne Lee-Bartelamia, Farm Manager of the charming tree farm Lee Farms. Born and raised in Oregon’s Washington County, she has the ultimate tips!

What makes Lee Farms so special?
We are a family-run business that is a seven-generation farm! Our ancestors planted their roots in Tualatin in 1869 and we have been here since.

What do you love most about interacting with visitors?
In addition to our farm store and operations we are a kid-friendly attraction. We get to see excited kids come out and enjoy the animals all year! We have an amazing customers that we have grown up with and who are now bringing the next generation to our farm.

What’s your favorite part of the holidays?
During the holidays I feel like I get to connect with our guests on a more personal level. For each person that comes, I feel like I get to be a part of their holiday tradition, which gives me those warm fuzzy feelings that I’m sure a lot of people also get around the holidays.

What’s one can’t-miss attraction?
Well, now we have Cabela’s World Forestry Outfitter; that is a pretty exciting given for a lot of people coming into Tualatin.

Describe a perfect day in Washington County with them.
When we have guests, the first thing we do is tour some of the amazing wineries. We are big fan of Blakeslee Vineyard Estate!

What’s a favorite “hidden gem” of the area?
When we are looking for a break from farm, we love to head out to Hagg Lake and go fishing.

Where do you go when you want some seriously good grub?
Whenever we can’t settle on a restaurant, we head down to Bridgeport Village and see which smell pulls us in. I also vote for Pastini Pastaria so that I can some tortellini gorgonzola.

What should every visitor take home as a souvenir?
Every visitor should go home with an amazing bottle of wine, hazelnuts (covered in chocolate, preferably), Marionberry jam and honey.

Describe Oregon’s Washington County in 5 words or less.
Four seasons of paradise.

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
Urban Decanter’s Rebecca Kramer

Photograph Gratitude in the Tualatin Valley

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

What are you thankful for this year? Here in the Tualatin Valley, we’re oozing with gratitude for our rolling mountain ranges, bountiful farms and the way in which this fertile land creates some of the best food and wine in the country. That’s a lot of gratitude right there and we think it’s worth expressing in more than words. In fact, show us why you’re thankful for the Tualatin Valley by entering the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest

Thanksgiving weekend is also the last weekend to enter the contest (submissions close November 30!). With so much festive hullabaloo happening throughout Oregon’s Washington County, there will be last-minute photo inspiration everywhere you look:

A good turkey gobble is best followed by vineyard views at the Thanksgiving Wine Weekend. Wineries open their doors for wine tastings overlooking post-harvest vineyards. With your camera in tow, try and capture the fog twirling around the vines or dew drops dangling off the fence posts.

Fall vineyard views by Joel Zak

Fall vineyard views by Joel Zak

For photographers with a sense of humor, head to Alpacas of Oregon for the annual Alpaca Open Barn & Holiday Sale (November 28-29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Here, you’ll find goofy subjects—alpacas!—who are always curious for cameras.  

Alpacas are the best photo subjects. Photo by Joel Zak.

Alpacas are the best photo subjects. Photo by Joel Zak.

The autumn-themed photo contest can still have some wintertime flair with entries from one of our holiday tree farms or at the Helvetia Christmas Festival (November 28-30 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Noble and Grand firs stand majestic, ready to be photographed in their green glory.  

Holiday Tree Farm by John Gaudette.

Holiday Tree Farm by John Gaudette.

As if these attractions aren’t reason enough to hit the town with your camera, then maybe the photo contest prizes will nudge you of the door:

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, plus UV filter, camera bag, Canon Pixma Pro-100 printer and more (provided by 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)

Enter the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest now!