Oregon Trip 2012

Nathan and i went to Oregon last week to celebrate our first anniversary/see my new baby nephew/celebrate my dad’s birthday with him. We venture out that way every couple of years, and it always kind of feels like my “home away from home.” There are all these subtle and not-so-subtle differences between here and there that i notice—the way the air smells and the water tastes, the kinds of cars you see on the road, the flora and fauna, the hilly roads—and it gives me the weird sense that i’m back in the early ’90s and this place is my home. (The dream of the ’90s is alive in Portland!)

We visited several breweries and taprooms over the course of the week and tasted something like 40 different beers. I took a lot of photos of beer to share with my brother, but i think i’ll leave those out of this post for the most part. Well okay, maybe just a couple…

Deschutes beers
I think i enjoyed my first beer the most—Deschutes’ Chainbreaker, on the right.

Cascade flight
A flight at Cascade. Very good beers, but very sour!

PDX Green Dragon
@ the Green Dragon taproom. Notice the hop tail

Voodoo Doughnut
We had to get some Voodoo doughnuts.

Those first two nights we spent in Portland. Then we drove down to Eugene/Springfield for a night & then headed out to the coast. We stopped in Florence for Mo’s and saltwater taffy and then headed north to Newport, stopping for a hike at Cape Perpetua along the way.

Cool tree on the trail
Cool tree bent over the trail

Big ol' banana slug
Big ol’ banana slug!

The top of Cape Perpetua
From the top of Cape Perpetua

In Newport we stayed at the charming Sylvia Beach Hotel (thanks, Dad!), which was within walking distance of the Rogue Ales Public House on the eerily-vacant bayfront. The beer was flat and kind of mediocre, but i discovered that they also do some distilling and have a “hazelnut” rum that tastes delightfully like caramel corn.

After that side-trip we returned to Eugene, where we took a stroll through Hendrick’s park, ate some Track Town pizza (yum!) and did another hike up Spencer’s Butte.

Us atop the Butte
Nathan & me on top of Spencer’s Butte

View from the top of the Butte
(Part of) the view from the top. It’s a popular spot!

Dumb frog
This dude was chilling on my dad’s street, right in the middle of the road. He wouldn’t move when i tried to shoo him away.

On Dad’s birthday we went to the Saturday Market with my sister & the new baby Bodhi, found some good beers at the Bier Stein with my dad & stepmom and then attended a University of Oregon Ducks baseball game with them. THE DUCKS WON! 🙂

Me and Bodhi
Me and the new little guy!

Team, BSB 2012 vs. Cal State Fullerton, June 2 Credit Eric Evans
The Ducks making the Oregon “O” | Credit Eric Evans

Birthday drink with Dad

It was a good trip, even if i sort of slept half of it away because i was so lethargic the whole time. Jet lag? Lack of exercise? I’m not sure. It’s always great to see family, and i was definitely due for some time away from the office. Here are some of my favorite moments from the trip:

  • That first beer of vacation. Ahhhh!
  • Giving my extra curry to a hungry dude on the street, even if he didn’t look all that desperate
  • Discovering goats nomming on a field across the street from the Cascade brewery
  • Nathan’s joy at finding Pliny the Elder on the tap list at Green Dragon
  • Seeing Bodhi smile at me for the first time
  • Watching the sea lions perform their cute tricks at the aquarium
  • Sneaking kisses in the park(s)
  • The start of the cool rain as we sat at the top of Spencer’s Butte all warm & sweaty
  • Later, sitting in Dad’s hot tub during the cool drizzle
  • Calling out “O!” with the crowd during the last few pitches of the baseball game
  • Cheers-ing my dad for his birthday

Until next time…


California 2010

Earlier this month Nathan and i journeyed to California to visit my family. It turned out to be quite the Adamo reunion, although we didn’t get everybody in the same house at the same time for various reasons. First of all, my grandparents and my two great aunts live in Corona. My cousin-once-removed, Jo, also lives in southern California. She has a friend who sold her All-Star game tickets to my dad, who was down there for a few days with his buddy Andy. My brother, currently something of a nomad, stopped by for the last couple days of our trip as well. And finally, four of my distant relatives from Belgium began a month-long road trip around the Western U.S. in California, on the same night that we arrived there.

It was great to see everyone, but unfortunately all of the portraits that were taken are on other people’s cameras, so i can’t share them here.

Here are some photos that i took:

Grandpa’s Oranges

We stayed at my grandparents’ house, which is awesome because they make some really tasty European dishes and they insist on feeding their guests as much as possible. Every morning Grandpa makes fresh-squeezed orange juice from the tree in his own back yard. He explained to me that they have two different orange trees; one that produces fruit in the warmer months and one that prefers the cooler months, and this way he gets oranges all year long. If you’ve never squeezed an orange to make your own juice, you really must try it.

Weird flower-looking cactus things

We walked around the neighborhood and i photographed a bunch of the plants in people’s yards because they were just so weird. I told this to Jo and she didn’t understand what kind of world i was used to. I told her “leafy trees,” but i probably should have just said “corn.”

...And we're crawling toward the coast.

We drove out to the coast on day 2, and we of course experienced a lot of traffic despite having departed in the late morning. When we got there it was cloudy and breezy and cool, and thus i was cranky. When is it EVER not beautiful in California?! We got some In-N-Out burger and then decided to lay on the beach anyway until we could check into our hotel. Gradually it got sunnier, and when we retreated to the hotel we discovered that we had gotten burned something fierce. Tip for living: if you’re a pasty Iowan, don’t just sprawl out on the beach in the middle of the day for two hours and expect not to get roasted, no matter how cloudy you think it is.

The view from our hotel room

This was the view from our hotel balcony. Did i say hotel? I meant resort. That was a surprise that came with several unexpected and incontestable fees. But what’s worse is that we were too sore to even take advantage of the amenities. We made it to Karl Strauss in Costa Mesa and the beer numbed our pain slightly, but we still turned in early and headed back inland right away the following morning.

Side note: it’s been two weeks now since we got burned and i’m still a little bit peely and itchy. I don’t even want to express what a humiliating, guilt-inducing and uncomfortable situation that was. But! We still had a really nice time in California. We wrapped up our trip by exploring the Huntington Library in Pasadena, which was huge and fascinating and could have occupied us for an extra day, easily.

Nathan getting a shot of Pinky. The original.


The bonsai trees were one of the most lovely & interesting things. How do they do that?

The Oregon Trip

We’ve been home for a week now, so i suppose it’s about time i blog about our vacation. Nathan and i flew out to Oregon together on the 28th of July to visit various friends and family members of mine and to look at Portland a little more closely.

We awoke at 4am in Des Moines to catch our 6am flight and arrived in Portland by 10:40am local time. It took about two hours to figure out how to get to the rental car place and get our wheels, but it was worth the $200 or so to sacrifice just picking it up at the airport. It was about 106 degrees by then and we were tired, so we headed to the Kennedy School b&b to have a drink and relax before checking in at 3pm.

Kennedy School is actually an old elementary school that has been turned into a b&b and hangout, complete with a heated sitting pool, a restaurant, three bars, conference rooms, and a movie theater with couches for seats. We had so much been looking forward to the heated outdoor sitting pool that we decided to take a dip despite the heat. The pool was a little cooler than the air at 102 degrees, but, being water and such, it felt warmer. This made getting out and sitting on the edge of the pool feel absolutely wonderful, and thanks to the heat we pretty much had the whole thing to ourselves.

We had some famous McMenamin’s burgers and beer and watched Year One in the theater (it was pretty bad, but i did laugh). We were too tired to check out the bars and instead had dessert and went to bed after the movie, having been up for something like 22 hours with only brief naps.

The next day we headed for the coast. Cannon Beach was so foggy that we couldn’t tell from the road where Haystack Rock was. We walked on the beach watching gulls and people on fun cycles drift in and out of our field of vision, and were just about to turn around and give up when i started to see the faint outline of one of the smaller rocks. We kept walking and sure enough, Haystack Rock came into vision.

Haystack Rock in the Fog

Tide Pool

There were a lot of tourists checking out the tide pools, having come to the coast to escape the heat inland.

We continued South along the coast and Nathan started to feel sick, so i took over driving. Gradually we fought our way through the traffic to Yachats, and reached the beach house where my sis Amy, her son Harper and her bf John were waiting for us. The next day we had a full house when my old friend Bonnie, my Dad, my bro Dustin and his friend Ryan all joined us. We had a lovely dinner and then made s’mores over a bonfire on the beach.

The next day Dad took us by some scenic spots that were unfortunately mostly socked in with fog. We saw some sea lions though, and Honeyman park was beautiful as ever. We had lunch in Florence (not at Mo’s) and bought some candy and ice cream for old time’s sake. Then it was on to Eugene.

Sea Lions
Sea Lions, from a safe distance.

In Eugene we went to the Saturday Market and went up on Spencer’s Butte and down to the park below. We got some sushi with Bonnie and her new hubby Brian, and took a stroll around their new neighborhood. The next day, Dad and Mary took us along the McKenzie river into the Cascades and showed us a really lovely resort with English gardens and some popular swimming and rafting spots. We also went to Sahalie Falls, and Nathan and i climbed up to the top of the falls and then hiked down to the next waterfall downriver. The water was ridiculously blue and enticing.

Pink Lily

English Garden #2

At the top of Sahalie

Sahalie Falls


For our last two nights, we returned to Portland and went to some recommended eateries and shopping districts, including Jam on Hawthorne, Powell’s books, NE 23rd, Montage and Genie’s Cafe. We didn’t explore the night life much, but i got a pretty heavy dose of that back in October with Dustin anyway. 🙂

All in all it was a nice getaway, and i had a great time visiting and exploring with Nathan.

Back, back to Cali, Cali

I’ve been away for a week on a dual vacation to Oregon and California. Dustin and i stayed at his friend Ryan’s place in Portland for two nights on the weekend. Friday was drunken and crazy–Dustin and i visited two bars and had a couple drinks at Ryan’s place before the three of us headed out again and hit three more bars that night.

Bar #1 - Portland
Bar #1 of the evening

The first bar the three of us visited was a piano bar in a high-rise with a spectacular view of the city lights. I had an eight-dollar mojito that really ought to have been my last drink of the night. But…

Bar #2 taps
Bar #2

..We continued on to the Deschutes bar, where i ordered a Jubelale. It wasn’t my taste, so i traded Dust for whatever he was drinking.

Dus & Steph take 2
Me & Dust

The third and final bar we visited was the Blue Moon, where i refrained from partaking in the refreshments.

Blue Moon
Bar #3

Saturday i felt pretty awful, and that was the day of Dad’s wedding. He had to get me some nausea medicine so that i would be able to to function as his photographer. It was a nice ceremony, and the Hungarian dinner afterward was delicious.

Me, Dad & Dustin
Me, Dad & Dustin

I had to stay in that night to sleep off my maladies, and the next day Dustin and i hit Urban Outfitters and Nordstrom Rack before heading back to the airport. He flew back to Oklahoma, and i headed to California to visit our grandparents. Dad and Mary joined up with me there on Tuesday, and on Wednesday the three of us headed to Laguna Beach.

Laguna Beach

Me at the Beach

We had all sorts of wonderful food and drinks over the course of the week. The Adamo family is pretty small, and all were present except for Dustin for a couple of the feasts. We talked about our ancestors and i wrote down all the dates and names i could glean from the older generation. I’m contemplating going back onto Ancestry.com to try to track down some long-lost cousins so i won’t feel this mild obligation to have children anymore. 🙂

We watched some classic movies and struggled with the new technology, listened to forties music and discussed various physical maladies. The weather was perfect, of course, and yet we never used the patio because it was either “too hot” or “too cold” to do so. Grandma got mad at me once or twice for not saying “goodnight” or “good morning”. It wouldn’t have been a trip to Grandma’s house without that happening. I think i’d better visit more often, for multiple reasons.


Mom and i went on a little vacation last week, which i shall proceed to tell the story of in photos.

The first stop has no photos though, so um, just kidding. We went to Cedar Rapids to spend a night with Tim, Angie and Jamie (my brother & his fam) and stopped to see Nina & Karl’s new place in Coralville along the way. It’s nice, i’m jealous. Tim and Jamie showed us all the flood damage in their neighborhood, which was amazing to see. Almost every house has a big orange X on it, meaning nobody can enter. There’s just stuff all along the curbs in the residential area, and there was even a house that had been carried halfway into the street by the flood waters. WAY worse than the damage in Des Moines.

From there we headed toward Uncle Dave’s house and stopped at a lake on the way out of CR.

Ladies at the Lake
I look goofy in this pic. We were afraid the water was contaminated, so we didn’t get in.

We’ve stayed with Dave three times in the last month now, which is probably more than in the past eight years or so. It was good to visit again. From Dave’s place in Long Grove, IA we headed North to the Maquoketa Caves. We only went as far as the mouth of the big one, however, because the lights had been turned off and we had no lamp. Also, it looked extremely muddy and scary.

Maquoketa CavesThe mouth of Dancehall Cave

We decided to proceed to Crystal Lake Cave, just south of Dubuque, which is well-lit and clean and illuminated by a young tour guide so disenchanted with his job that he jokes frequently about how lame it is to come all the way to Dubuque, Iowa just to see that particular cave. The “Crystal Lake” was pretty silly; it looked more like a puddle that a few people had chucked coins into like an out-of-service mall fountain. I didn’t bother to try to photograph it.

Crystal Lake Cave 1
I don’t remember what the different formations were called. Soda straws, maybe?

Crystal Lake Cave 4
Bacon strips..?

Then we went to the Mississippi River historical museum in Dubuque. I liked the animals. I’m still much like a little kid when it comes to museums.

Friendly Gators
Not doing it, just friendly.


We stayed in a cute little town called Mineral Point, Wisconsin that night at a bed & breakfast that made me wish i had a boyfriend. It was up above a brewery/restaurant which had really nice beer and food. The next morning we went to the Land’s End warehouse clearance event a few miles north. It was huge and crowded and insane, and i didn’t buy anything.

Land's End Feeding Frenzy

We drove all the way down to Kalona, Iowa that evening and stopped at President Herbert Hoover’s birthplace along the way. Turns out he was only in Iowa until he was eleven, at which point he moved to Oregon. Kinda like my life, but backwards. We had dinner in Iowa City and then headed down to Kalona, and caught an amazing sunset while driving. I couldn’t even begin to capture it, because out there in the country i could see the horizon all the way around us, 360 degrees, and it was all just beautiful.

Iowa Sunset 2

We walked around Kalona a little the next day but decided against taking a tour of the Amish community there. I probably should have taken it, since i have a hard time understanding why anyone would want to live like that. No internet? Come on. What would i do with my Saturday nights?

Going back through Iowa City the next day, we stopped to see the legendary Black Angel at one of the old cemeteries. Supposedly people tell stories of how a man commissioned the statue for his deceased wife and it turned black in a day because of her infidelity. The truth is that a woman commissioned it for her husband’s grave, refused to pay for it because she thought it was ugly, and was sued by the artist and made to pay $5,000 which back in those days was a lot of money. Her name is on the grave and the birth date is 1830something, but there’s no death date. Like maybe she refused to be buried under that thing.

The Black Angel 2
It’s not nearly as beautiful as the one i photographed in Rome. Few things are, i suppose.

After that we went shopping and headed home. It was nice to go on a little adventure for a while, but i always feel pretty relieved to be home again after a vacation. We’re settling back in now and will probably be heading to the Iowa State Fair before returning to the grind on Monday. Also rooting for Shawn Johnson tomorrow in the women’s gymnastics competition–representing iowa! Go team USA!


I’m on vacation right now, so i probably won’t write a substantial post for another week.

At the moment i’m at my big brother Tim’s house in Cedar Rapids. This was our first stop, and we still haven’t decided where we’re going next.

The apartment is pretty much all put together now, i just need a few more pieces of furniture. I’ve got internet and cable all hooked up and a new air conditioner, and it’s starting to feel like a nice little home.

I can’t wait to have a party, and i think my birthday will be the perfect opportunity…

(it’s on August 13th!)