10 September 2011 Beer, Camping, Home Brewing, Vacation

Rafting, Raging and Returning Home

After my last post, home reno has come pretty much to a stand-still.

But for good reason. (Fair warning: novel post)

In early August, lady and I decided to take a few weeks off to celebrate a few things – her successful completion of her master’s of public health degree, our third wedding anniversary, and… everything else we’ve ever accomplished.

We first embarked on a 5-day rafting trip on the wild and scenic portion of the Rogue River.

But this was no ordinary rafting trip. The brilliant guys at NW Rafting Company and Double Mountain Brewery combined their love of hops and water to create an exceptional rafting trip, complete with 7 kegs of beer and 30+/- miles of some of the most beautiful white water Oregon has to offer (or so I’ve heard).

I had never been rafting before, so Helen basically bribed me with the beer aspect. We were a small, but mighty group of beer loving rafters. Matt from Double Mountain gives a colorful overview of our trip here, but a few highlights from the trip:

Making beer. On the river. With creek water. And a stick. Have you ever done that?  That’s what I thought.

Hiking on day two of our stay-over at Whiskey Creek… this is why they call it “Brews with Views.”

Double Mountain Matt serenading us while we imbibe.

Oops – wrong trip…KIDDING. (Old guy is a camp neighbor that came in search of beer. We were having fiesta night… and told him he could have one if he wore a dress…. things got fuzzy after that.)

Food – and oh the food. So good. Think of this as “all inclusive” rafting.

Oh yeah – we rafted a little too…

Blossom Bar:

Key takeaways from the trip: NWRC is a really great company, and if you’re thinking about rafting, definitely look into them. And Double Mountain beers will rock your world – check them out in PDX at any of these pubs, or stop by the taproom if you’re in Hood River – you won’t regret it.

After our rafting trip, we flew back to Portland from Medford, took a much needed shower, packed our bags, and flew out the next morning at 6 a.m. for Amsterdam for part deux of our vacation.

Lady and I arrived in Amsterdam and met Sean-in-law at “centraal station,” where he had arrived from his previous stint in Berlin all of Europe.

Once we arrived, we checked into a B&B we’d found on the web… had great reviews on trip advisor, but upon inspection, also had evidence of bedbugs. Ick! We politely and discretely raised the issue to the owner, who flipped out and basically kicked us out, telling me I had done the equivalent of shouting “bomb in an airplane” by bringing the issue to his attention.

We grabbed our bags, left pseudo-dutchy behind, and headed down the street to a charming little place, Barangay B&B where Wimmo served us a cold Heiniken, told us everything we needed to know about the city, and nearly made us forget the earlier incident. He also let us in on a little fact that our friend at the previous B&B is an American, living under the guise of a secondarily-acquired accent, and that he left the U.S. 18 years ago because he couldn’t stand his own kind, because they are “rude and arrogant…” hmm….

Side note: If there is indeed a bomb in an airplane, wouldn’t you shout it?

In a jetlagged daze (or should I say haze ;) ;) ) we toured the city for two days. Few highlights:

PANCAKES!

BIER!

CHURCH! Wait a second… this church has something funny in the foyer.

Following Amsterdam, we flew to Switzerland, where we met our friend Isabelle, who we first met in high school when she was an exchange student here.

Aside from Switzerland being the most expensive place in the world, we had an exceptional time. The weather was hot – 90 degrees – so we did a little swimming in the Rhine River one day, followed by a dunk in a lake the following day.

Evenings consisted of going out – usually until 4 or 5 a.m. – eek! But we had so much fun.

We took a few day trips – one to Lucerne – which is what storytales are made of – and Freiburg, Germany.



After five days, we headed to England. Upon arrival, we rented a car and drove to Bath – about 2.5 hours from the city. Let me tell you – driving a manual, on the opposite side of the car, on the opposite side of the road, is an absolute mind trip.

Although shifting with the wrong hand felt like second nature, I kept trying to take up two lanes, because I wanted the line on the road to be near to my left side. As I drifted, and the line was positioned perfectly on my left side… slash down the middle of the car, wife would shout, and I would correct.

They also don’t post speed limits on motorways in England, but there are speed cameras every 3 feet, so I was nervously going about 65-70 with the flow of traffic the entire time, just hoping I was right…  The speed is indeed 70 (which I only learned after returning home).

Oh, and roundabouts… Chevy Chase got it about right… YIKES!

In Bath, we visited the roman bath museum, walked to the top of Bath Abbey, and enjoyed the quaint little village of Lacock, which is a short drive away.

After our two days, we drove back to London, making a brief stop in Oxford, only to get stuck in an absolute downpour and awful traffic on the freeway.

Once in London, we checked into our final hotel, and did the typical tourist things. Since we were only there for two days, we toured the city on the double-decker bus to see all of the sights, and then stopped by some of my favorite places from my last trip – Covent Garden, Soho, Neal’s Yard – via the tube.

All in all, it was a great trip, but we were ready to get home. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been playing catch-up at work, and in the yard. The house looked like it had been foreclosed on when we returned – weeds had taken over and our shrubs were out of control.  But after a few gallons of round-up and a full yard debris bin, the yard is in pretty good shape, and I’m getting back to the laundry room…. stay tuned. Walls coming down today.

Posted by Kevin 1 comment
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