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COMING UP IN PDX

Posted on April 26th, 2007 in Uncategorized.

Let’s take a quick look at what’s happening in Portland next week,
i.e. April 27-May 2.

Dance: Oregon Ballet Theatre presents “Eyes on You, a tribute to Cole Porter, at Newmark Theatre (503-2ballet). Opera: “Cosi fan tutte” at Portland State University’s (PSU) Lincoln Hall (503-725-2950). Theater: “Bad Dates” at Portland Center Stage 503-445-3700).

Music: Johnette Napolitano appears at Berbati’s Pan (503-226-2122); Haley Bonar is at Towne Lounge (503-241-8696); CocoRosie is at Wonder Ballroom (503-284-8686); Dorado is at Fez Ballroom (503-221-7262); and Arctic Monkeys appear at Roseland Theater (503-224-499); also, Leon Redbone and Victor Wooton are at Alladin Theater (503-233-1994); “!!!” are at Someday Lounge (503-248-1030); the Third Annual Shaker’s Ball takes place at Kennedy School, converted into a microbrewery (503-249-3983); Kings of Leon, Andrew Bird and Mastodon all appear at Crystal Ballroom (503-224-4400).

Visual Arts: Frans Lanting’s “Jungles,” stunning photos by one of the great nature photographers of our time, at World Forestry Center (503-228-1367). Live & Curious: Piranhas and Stingrays on display as part of “Vicious Fishes and Other Riches” at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (503-797-4000). Lecture: part of the Saward Lecture series, Carlo Petrini discusses how we can change “From Fast Food Nation to Slow Food Nation” at Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research (503-335-2466); and Rebecca Zorach talks on “Love, Truth, Orthodoxy, Reticence: Botticelli’s Primavera” at PSU’s Whitsell Auditorium (503-725-2950). Reading: author Charles D’Ambrosio at PSU’s Smith Memorial Union(503-725-2950).

Don’t miss “First Thursday,” when almost 40 art galleries open their doors wide and welcome browsers who love art. This is one of the most popular events for Portlanders and should be on your calendar too.

Finally, “Cinco de Mayo” fiesta at Tom McCall Waterfront Park is a major celebration in Portland, whose Sister City is Guadalahara. If you’ve never been, plan on it — the food, music and other attractions are not to be missed.

Lodging: The Fulton House (503-892-5781), located in SW Portland, is very close to all these venues, and we offer the quiet and privacy you’ll want after attending one or more of next week’s events.


KEEPING MY PROMISE

Posted on April 24th, 2007 in Uncategorized.

In my last blog, I introduced you to the Mazamas, the largest climbing club around, and promised to tell you more about the organization. So, here goes….

The Mazamas own their own brand-new clubhouse in S.E. Portland. It’s staffed, so members and interested parties can telephone for information or just drop by. The facility contains a library containing several thousand books and videos on the outdoors, covering virtually any subject you wish to read about. Members can check out books and videos; my wife, who is a teacher, uses them for her school’s Outdoor class.

Another building, this one so far from new that it’s grandfathered into Mt. Hood Forest land and is impossible to duplicate, is owned by the club. It’s the Mazama Lodge, located just outside of Government Camp at the final turnoff up the last few thousand feet to Timberline Lodge. It’s very convenient for both downhill and cross-country skiers as well as to climbers and hikers who are Mazamas or Mazama guests.

The Mazama Lodge is an overnight facility, where for a nominal fee you can awaken the following morning just minutes away from spectacular outdoor activities, regardless of season. Live-in lodgekeepers who are excellent cooks will make you and your party a great dinner and a hearty climbers’ breakfast, again for very nominal cost. There’s a “great room” for just plain old relaxation, and lodge staff plans many fun events with dinners, movies, slide shows and other programs throughout the year.

You must be a member or be accompanied by a member to enjoy the amenities offered at either headquarters or the lodge.

The Mazamas work with Forest Rangers every year as volunteers in a Steward Program, mapping new trails, tending trails and cleaning up treefall and other debris to open trails in the spring, and many other activities. The club has members who lead Wildflower Identification Hikes for those interested in the Pacific Northwest’s flora. Mazama members are offered discounts at ski shops, outdoor stores, boot outlets and in-city climbing wall shops.

Special activities are planned by an “Old Timers” group within the club. In addition to leading more than 100 climbs each year, Mazama members also lead backpacking and day outings across the PacNW. There are car camping adventures and in-city rambles. Mazamas also lead treks across the globe — upcoming are adventures in Peru, the North Cascades, the White Cloud Mountains, the Olympic Peninsula and in Turkey.

Every Wednesday evening at Mazama headquarters there’s a slide show or movie about exotic places and happenings narrated by an expert. Upcoming topics include “Southwest Explorations in Utah and Technical Canyoneering,” “Classic Yosemite Valley Climbs,” “Hiking in Europe: From Greece to the Pyrenees and Norway, A Thousand Miles of Hiking,” and “Classic Hikes Near Portland and on the Pacific Crest Trail.”

So check it out, and remember that The Fulton House is located only about 2-1/2 miles from Mazamas Portland headquarters, and about 1-1/2 hours from the Mazama Lodge. If you want to visit either facility or learn more about the club, plan on staying with us. Your hosts, John and Wendy, are both Mazamas for many years and we have climbed numerous Oregon and Washington peaks. We are also avid backpackers who have trekked hundreds and hundreds of miles on various trails in the PacNW. We’d be happy to share some of our experiences with you while sitting on our patio enjoying a glass of wine.

By the way, The Fulton House is not too far — only about 10 minutes — from R.E.I. where, for a very reasonable charge, you can rent ice axes, crampons and slings for your climb, or backpacks, daypacks, stoves and most gear for backpacking.


IN SHAPE? GO CLIMB A MOUNTAIN!

Posted on April 22nd, 2007 in Uncategorized.

Here’s an idea if you’re in shape and really want to impress your business associates back home at the water cooler. Wait for the right moment and drop into the conversation that you just climbed Mt. Hood, the highest point in Oregon, or Mt. Ranier, the second highest mountain in the “lower 48.”

Climb season in the Pacific Northwest starts in earnest in May and continues into early October. There are dozens of mountains and dozens of approaches in Oregon and Washington to tackle, and there are climbs rated from “A” (easiest, though ‘easy’ is a relative term when you’re hiking up a peak with crampons on and wielding an ice axe) to “E” (most difficult and requiring proficiency in several specific mountain climbing skills to qualify for the climb).

Wendy and I have belonged to the “Mazamas,” the largest climbing organization around, for many years, and we’ve both bagged a bunch of peaks. If you are at all interested in climbing a mountain or want additional information, write to “Mazamas, 527 SE 43rd Ave., Portland OR 97215” or telephone at 503-227-2345 or log onto their website at “www.mazamas.org”. Ask the office to mail you a 2007 Climb Schedule. You don’t even have to be a member to climb with a very experienced “Climb Leader” and “Asst. Climb Leader.”

However, once you have summited a mountain, you just might get the itch to do it again (and again!), so you might consider becoming a Mazama member and really impressing your friends. Dues are cheap and the club offers so many extras that my entire next blog will be devoted to the 2,749-member organization. Incidentally, many Mazama members live far from Oregon, on the east coast and in the midwest.

Don’t be shy — the Mazamas offer “Classic Climbs” for those 55 years of age or older, “Novice Climbs” for those with no climbing experience, and even “Hike-to-the-Summit” climbs for experienced hikers who want to begin with a moderate effort.

Almost every mountain is within an easy day’s driving distance from The Fulton House, and many are only a couple of hours away. You can reach Mt. Hood, for example, in only about a 1-1/2 hour drive from us.

Happy climbing!


SPECTACULAR NEWS FOR FISHERMEN AND HUNTERS

Posted on April 22nd, 2007 in Uncategorized.

The “Outdoors Editor” of our daily newspaper reports something I was unaware of: “You can catch a salmon somewhere in the state every day of the year.” He goes on to add: “Portland is the world’s only city with a premium salmon run swimming through the heart of its skyscrapers” (i.e., the Willamette River).

Look at an Oregon map and you’ll see that our state sits squarely between the world’s largest ocean and its deepest canyon. In between lie the rushing rivers, streams and lakes that teem with fish — salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, trout, walleye, stripers, shad and all sorts of warm water varieties. Then there’s the Pacific, where you can surf fish or fish from a jetty or go out on a boat and fish for albacore tuna and bottom fish like snapper, cod and redfish.

Did I mention that you also can crab in our bays for Dungeness, hunt for clams (more than a half-dozen edible varieties) in our tide flats and beaches, and trap crawfish in our coastal streams.

Oregon is also a hunter’s paradise. Deer and elk abound, and there are seasons for bear, cougar, bighorn sheep and varmints. Oregon has one of the largest elk herds in the entire country and deer in almost every area of the state. Bird hunters also find Oregon plentiful, hunting for ducks, geese, wild turkeys, and upland birds like pheasant, quail or chuckers.

Many of the areas offering incredibly good hunting lie within a couple of hours from The Fulton House, so the hunter in the family can go out a day or two or three while the non-hunter in the family shops in Portland, absolutely sales tax-free and mere minutes from The Fulton House.

To learn more about fishing and hunting opportunities, contact Oregon’s Department of Fish and Game, either directly or on the internet. Or contact any store with an outdoor department and get a complete set of rules and regulations. Or, if you’re making reservations in advance of your stay at The Fulton House, ask John or Wendy to mail you a copy.


LIVE ENTERTAINMENT UPDATE

Posted on April 18th, 2007 in Uncategorized.

In and around Portland, there’s a whole host of happenings due.

If you’re free this coming weekend (April 20, 21 & 22), it’s the “Northwest Home Show” at the Oregon Convention Center. Right now through May 6, August Wilson appears in “Fences” at the Portland Center Stage in Gerding Theater at the Armory and now through June 10, “Bad Dates” is staged in the same venue.

The Oregon Symphony is sponsoring several shows at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall (fondly referred to by locals as the (Schnitz)in April and May: on April 21-23, Amy Schwartz Moretti will play violin in bidding a fond farewell to the former concertmaster in a “Farewell Concert”; Brahms “Piano Concerto No. 2” with Stephen Hough on piano will be featured on April 29 & 30; and Schumann’s “Cello Concerto” with Alban Gerhardt on cello will be staged on May 5 & 6.

Back by popular demand, “Eyes on You,” a smash-hit tribute to Cole Porter featuring soprano Pamela South, is in Portland from April 27-May 5. “The Boxcar Children,” a live bluegrass ensemble produced by the Oregon Children’s Theatre, will provide the music at Keller Auditorium on April 22 & 28-29.

The Dayton Contemporary Dance Company prevides “a triumphant celebration of the African-American presence in modern dance” (Cincinnati Enquirer) on the evening of April 25 at the Schnitz, and on May 10, the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, with choreography by Twyla Tharp and Jorma Elo, comes to the same auditorium.

Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” will be staged by the Portland Opera on May 12, 15, 17 & 19 at Keller Auditorium. On Sunday, May 13, Bill Cosby comes to town, as well as pianist Lorie Line; since this just happens to be Mother’s Day, taking Mom or the mother of your children (or maybe both!) to either makes it a very special evening. Once a month in May, June, July and August, there’s a series of Sunday Afternoon Summer Concerts in Skamania, on the Washington State side of the Columbia River, about sn hour from The Fulton House: first, the Portland Baroque Orchestra Chamber Players; then Portland Taiko; next, “Show Brazil”; in July, Trio Voronezh; and finally, the Icicle Creek Piano Trio in August.

“Chicago,” the award-winning Broadway musical made into a motion picture will be staged at the Keller Auditorium on May 29-June 3.

Outdoors, fans of bull riding and bronco busting can go to the 72nd annual St. Paul Rodeo, about an hour from The Fulton House, which also features a professional art show, barbecues, dancing, a parade, fireworks and a carnival in a week-long period from June 29-July 4. Call 800-2375920 for further information.

Don’t forget our national pastime, baseball. Throughout the summer the Portland Beavers will be playing plenty of home games at PGE Park. And there’s nowhere I’d rather be on a hot summer day than sitting in the stands watching a game with an ice cold beer in my hand!


COMPLETE GUIDE TO OREGON

Posted on April 16th, 2007 in Uncategorized.

The State of Oregon is as proud of its past as it is of its present. Detailed descriptions of both can be found in the “Oregon Blue Book,” published by the Secretary of State’s office every two years.

According to The Oregonian, Oregon’s largest newspaper, the Blue Book has been around since 1911, when it was born out of Oregon’s Progressive movement and reformers’ urge to reveal who was playing partisan patty-cake with whom in the smoke-filled, liquor-lubricated back rooms of the state Capitol and Salem’s Marion Hotel. Over the years, it has evolved into a premier source not only for governmental goings-on but also for state history, peculiarities and publicly anointed personalities.

Today, there are two versions of the Oregon Blue Book. There’s an online edition — about 2,500 pages! — and a 560+ page print version. The first can be found at
“www.bluebook.state.or.us”: for the printed verson, write the “Office of the Secretary of State, Salem OR.”

Both versions contain a state history, a chronology of important events since 1543, when one Bartolome Ferrelo supposedly planted the first white man’s feet on its soil. In the opening section, there’s an almanac alphabetizing significant but oft-neglected facts about Oregon, e.g., the official state animal (beaver), mushroom (golden chanterelle), nut (not one of our legislators but rather the hazelnut, also called the filbert), and rock (thunderegg).

The reason the on-line edition is so much longer is that it contains features not found in the printed edition: subsections like “Oregon oddities” — trivia from all over the state; “Quiet on the set” — trivial facts about movies with a connection to Oregon; “Put me in, Coach” — facts about Oregon sports and those who play them; “What’s in a name?” — odd names of actual geographic places in Oregon, like “Gouge Eye” or “Boo Boo Lake”: and for those suffering from sleeplessness, a 50-page rendition of the Oregon Constitution.

One of the best things about Oregon — a reason in itself to visit us and shop in Portland — is that there is NO SALES TAX. The Fulton House is a half-block from buses that take you downtown, so you can shop at major stores like Nordstrom and Macy’s without the expense or hassle of parking; also, once you get downtown, light rail is free.


WINE LOVERS PARADISE (Part 2)

Posted on April 14th, 2007 in Uncategorized.

Fine wines in the Pacific Northwest are not limited to Oregon, they are also produced in Washington State, with many of them just across the Columbia River from Oregon in the Yakima Valley, about a 3-1/2 hour drive from The Fulton House. Take I-84 east to U.S. 97, drive across the river on the free highway bridge and 60 miles later right into the heart of wine country, where about 25 fine wineries are just waiting for you to discover.

Established in 1983, the Yakima Valley appellation was the first officially recognized viticultural area in Washington. Wines produced in the area include cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petite verdot, cabernet franc, lemberger, pinot gris, port and sherry, zinfandel, riesling, pinot noir, chenin blanc, gewurztraminer, chardonnay, muscat canelli, orange muscat, lemberger, syrah, rose’, semillon, fume’ blanc, icewines and champagne. Enough varietals and specialty wines for you?

Many of these wineries have tasting rooms; please, if you taste too many, don’t drive all the way back to Portland….stay locally!

Several of these wineries have picnic areas, fresh fruit and produce stands, magnificent views, special events, and tours illustrating their winemaking prowess. If you come from a state like Oregon or Montana, which have no sales tax, just show your driver’s license and you won’t be charged Washington sales tax.

The biggest event of the year held by Yakima Valley wineries is “Spring Barrel Tasting,” held the last full weekend of April. This is an ideal time to immerse yourself in the area’s wine culture and sip samples of wine direct from the barrel, as well as finished wines from the bottle. Take a tour, talk with a winemaker and dine on excellent Northwest foods. It’s great fun and can be a terrific learning experience for oenophiles.

And if you can’t make it in April, any time of year can be really entertaining!


FRUITS WITH A KICK!

Posted on April 14th, 2007 in Uncategorized.

Did you know Oregon is also famous for producing some of the finest eaux de vie — that translates to “waters of life” — in the world?

About twenty years ago, a Portlander dedicated to purity of taste, started distilling Williams (Bartlett) eau de vie using two small pot stills he purchased in Germany. Using Hood River (OR) pears and traditional European techniques, he bottles an award-winning pear brandy under the “Clear Creek” label. Today, his product line has expanded to include the original pear brandy, pear brandy in a bottle with an actual pear grown in it, barrel-aged brandy, kirschwasser (German for cherry brandy), blue plum brandy and framboise (raspberry brandy).

He also produces and markets a grappa made the original Italian way, using pomace — the pulpy residue from wine grapes after crushing and pressing — he purchases from numerous fine wineries in Oregon. Finally, he distills a traditional wine brandy, made from Oregon wines and aged in barrels.

Clear Creek products should be available in fine liquor stores in your state.

Hood River is about an hour’s drive east of The Fulton House just off I-84. The town is famous not just for its orchards (pear, apple, cherry and more) but for world-class wind surfing and paragliding on the Columbia River, specialty shops and excellent restaurants as well as the “Full Sail” brewery, which produces hand-crafted beers and ales sold throughout the U.S.

And that’s not all. According to the director of the Oregon Brewers Guild, the boutique hard liquor industry will experience “the most dynamic growth over the next five years….expect to see more rums, whiskeys and fruit brandies made from Oregon ingredients — you’ll see distillers experimenting more.”


PLAY CARDS, LAUGH, JUST SIT & LISTEN, AND EAT HEARTY

Posted on April 12th, 2007 in Uncategorized.

There’s so much to do in and around Portland that makes us special.

Like blackjack? From April 27-29 the Chinook Winds Casino is sponsoring a tournament with $40,000 in prize money. This Resort is located in Lincoln City, a beach town about two hours driving time from The Fulton House.

Is comedy your thing? On the evening of May 16, John Oliver of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” will appear in the Heritage Ballroom at the Governor Hotel in a fund raiser for young people. Spendy at $150 per seat, but for a very worthy cause, “New Avenues for Youth.” You can also enjoy laughs at live theaters –“Beyond the Fringe,” a British farce about capital punishment, WWII propaganda, stupid media people and Shakespeare; “Don’t Dress for Dinner,” a French bedroom farce; “Mail Order Bride,” a Charles Mee comedy; or “The Theory of Love,” a musical romp. Call John or Wendy at 503-892-5781 for details.

How about some music? Norah Jones and the Handsome Band are coming to town and tickets are certain to go fast; tickets for Pink Martini are on sale now for a two-day May appearance; Brad Paisley does his thing in nearby Vancouver (WA), also in May; and if you’re classically inclined, the Portland Baroque Orchestra will give a concert in Stevenson (WA), about an hour’s drive from Portland. Information and tickets for the first three events are available now from Ticketmaster (503-224-4400); for the last event, call 509-427-7047.

Portland’s restaurant scene is boiling! The inaugural Food Network Awards 2007 has selected Portland as the “best food destination in the nation.” We deserve the award, with dozens and dozens of restaurants to suit every taste and every budget. Also, Gabriel Rucker of Le Pigeon has been named one of the country’s “Best New Chefs” by Food and Wine magazine (July issue)

One further thought…. If you live anywhere from Vancouver B.C. to Eugene OR and are sick of driving or flying, you might try Amtrack’s Cascades train. They’re currently running a sale from Portland to various cities (Seattle, Eugene, Bellingham and Vancouver B.C.) which also might apply from these cities to Portland. Check their website @ www.AmtrakCascades.com


WINE LOVERS PARADISE (Part I)

Posted on April 11th, 2007 in Uncategorized.

California may have a bigger reputation, but Oregon produces many of the finest wines on the planet. Here’s what the Oregon Wine Advisory Board has to say about our wines and winegrowers: “Oregon wines reflect the essence of the land where they grow and of the people who craft them. The soils, the weather and the gentle, sunny slopes in Oregon enable winegrapes to ripen slowly during the summer and fall and to develop exquisite flavors. Winegrowers and winemakers exhibit deep appreciation for the land, knowing that this special ‘terroir’ makes it possible to create palate-pleasing world-class wines. Although Oregon’s largest wineries are small by world standards, their wines are truly handcrafted reflections of the winemakers and the land — they are produced in small lots rather than corporate quantities.”

Come, taste wines and purchase your favorites at winery prices. It’s easy: find your way to Portland by air with rented car or by automobile, check into The Fulton House and enjoy a restful night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, and set out on a wine adventure the next day. There are dozens upon dozens of wineries, featuring numerous varietals and vintages, within easy driving distance from Portland.

If you wish to roam farther, head south down the lush Willamette Valley or east along the Columbia River to visit southern Washington’s wineries, also world-class.

Oregon wineries are located in 5 major areas in the state — North Willamette Valley, South Willamette Valley, Umpqua, Rogue, and Columbia River Valley/Eastern Oregon. Closest to Portland is the North Willamette Valley region, where more than 40 wineries can be found, all no farther than 60 miles and most much closer.

Oregon is rightly famous in every corner of the world for its Pinot Noir, but it also produces world-class Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Muller-Thurgau, Muscat, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Nebbiolo, Zinfandel, Baco Noir (little known but one of my personal favorites), Tempranillo, Dolcetto, Gamay Noir, Lemberger, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir Rose’, a range of Champagnes and sparkling wines, Eiswine and Port and a variety of dessert wines.

At last count, there were more than 180 different wineries to visit in Oregon and several dozen more withn easy reach in southern Washington. Many of them have beautiful grounds for roaming with areas with tables for picnicing, most have tasting rooms, and some sell gourmet foods. Many feature special events like cooking demonstrations, gourmet dinners or live music by big name performers.

Oregon is truly a wine lovers paradise. Come visit us at The Fulton House and get some maps and directions. Four wine retailers with huge selections of wines from throughout the world are located near us — walk to one and the other three are within 5 minutes driving. You can purchase at discount (usually 10%) if you buy a half-case or case of mix-and-match and ship home or to a friend living in any state that permits this (most do).