Shrimp scampi pasta

Shrimp scampi pasta

I haven’t commented much on food exploration for a while due to the busyness of exploring the Portland area. Hopefully, I will dig into this a bit more this fall (as the sun leaves us 😦 ).

I have recently gotten a bit burned out on shrimp and haven’t indulged in it in a while. I am realizing that I need more protein and variety in my diet so a week ago I decided to make a shrimp scampi. I searched the web for a tantalizing recipe and came across this one. Not only are the photos beautiful, but the dish is absolutely delicious as well. It’s simple and flavorful. I forgot to take a photo this time so the amazing photos on this site will have to suffice. 😦


I substituted capellini noodles (slightly thicker than angel hair) for the linguine noodles (thicker and flatter than capellini). Fettucine noodles would have been delicious as well. I also opted to not include the hot red pepper flakes although I think they would have been tasty. I added multi-colored organic carrots and zuchinni for a healthy twist. It paired nicely with sauvignon blanc and some bread.

Cascade Locks and Portland Spirit Sternwheeler Cruise

Cascade Locks and Portland Spirit Sternwheeler Cruise

What a gorgeous cruise enjoying the last bits of the summer sun!  My husband and I took a 5 hour boat cruise down the Columbia Gorge on the Columbia River starting at Cascade Locks (45 miles east of Portland) on a sternwheeler.  It was perfect for taking photos on the way out and then relaxing and enjoying dinner and a 2nd view of the scenery on the way back.

The cruise is run by Portland Spirit and is called the “Landmarks of the Gorge.”  The main landmarks were Multnomah falls, Beacon rock, and Bonneville locks and dam.  We selected this particular cruise to supplement our recent drive out to the Gorge on the Washington side and the Bonneville locks and dam on the Oregon side.  It costs $84 per adult and runs only June-September on Tuesdays 10-3 and Sundays 2-7.  We were served a buffet style snack of cheeses and crackers, etc. a couple hours into the cruise and then a dinner buffet 2 hours after that.  There were a couple of bars open during the entire cruise.

We were early to arrive at Cascade Locks so we ate lunch at what appeared to be the local haunt next to the Bridge of the gods and took photos of the sternwheeler finishing it’s prior cruise and sailing past our window seats.  🙂


Cascade Locks (foreground) is not very big compared with the Bonneville locks and dam.  The Bridge of the gods in the background.

cascade locks

Bridge of the gods

Another informative website about the bridge:

bridge of the gods

bridge of the gods

bridge of the gods

The Sternwheeler coming in to the Cascade locks with the gorgeous mountain and river context


Here is a photo of the Portland spirit Sternwheeler at Cascade locks before our cruise.


This boat has 3 decks and holds up to 500 people.

Port of Cascade Locks information about the sternwheeler

We got quite lucky in being among the first few to board the boat and we were able to sit in the very front 2 seats on the 2nd floor bow of the boat!  It was an amazing view out front and to each side. 🙂


columbia river

Everyone who boarded the boat was assigned seating.  Not all of the tables were along the edges with a window view.  We were quite lucky to be a smaller group of 2 and received an assigned seat right by the door and with a beautiful window view.

window view

window view

Cascade locks

Another useful website on the Cascade locks:

Sacajawea and Seaman statues

I particularly like how Sacajawea appears to point to the mountain in the background in this photo.  Seaman is the dog at her feet (not pictured).


Coming up on Beacon rock (basalt)-Washington side of the Columbia River.

beacon rock

Much closer to Beacon Rock

beacon rock

Fishing boats

fishing boats

Bonneville locks and dam

bonneville dam

bonneville locks

Bonneville dam from the parking lot 2 weeks ago

bonneville dam

St. Peter’s dome (left) and Rock of ages (right) (Yeon mountain)

st peter's dome

Multnomah falls (and lodge)

A couple on the boat nicely took our photo with the falls behind us as a backdrop. 🙂

multnomah falls

multnomah falls

Multnomah falls at the Multnomah lodge from 1 year ago

multnomah falls

This is a gorgeous photo from the state archives of the falls:

Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives

Amazing rock formations!

rock formation

rock formation

rock formation

We cruised up toward a small island and the captain got closer to see if there were any sea lions on it.

sea lion

Sure enough.  This little guy was sunning himself on the rock. 🙂

sea lion

We then cruised upon alongside an Osprey nest.


The Osprey didn’t seem to like us being so close and beautifully flew off right in front of us.


Ah, the beautiful mountains and river at the end of a relaxing cruise…



At the turn around point of the cruise there was an opportunity to see the Vista house on Crown point overlooking the river, but we missed it.  From a distance, it looks like this amazing photo from the Oregon state archives:

Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives

So, we decided to check it out the following weekend.

It is a gorgeous panoramic view of the Columbia River and mountains as you walk from the parking lot to the Vista House.

vista house at crown point

crown point

I didn’t think to take this shot of the Vista House with the Crown Point sign and the mountains in the background:

Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives

The Vista House was built with spectacular materials including marble floors inside and an amazing roof inside and out!

vista house

vista house

Check out this movie for more information about the Vista House and Crown Point:

Vista house movie of its history (4:37) (2004)

Mt. St. Helens

Mt. St. Helens

Mt. St. Helens was absolutely breathtaking!  These photos don’t do full justice.  On a tip from a friend to wait to go until September to miss the mosquitos, we were very disappointed that one of the main visitor centers had closed after Labor Day weekend due to budget cuts.  This wasn’t on the website and so we were surprised when we arrived.  Nonetheless, the other visitor center and the observatory were well worth the trip-as well as the entire drive following the mountain on the way up.

The official gov’t website

Mt. St. Helen’s informational website

Photo library


Volcanogram (live camera)

Virtual drive via google maps (It’s amazing what we can do these days with technology :-))

We took the northern route at the Castle Rock exit off of I-5 as the website mentioned that the Windy Ridge interpretive center was closed due to construction.  We’ll check out the southern route at Woodland/Cougar off of I-5 another time to check out Windy Ridge (apparently an amazing view of the 1980 blast/avalanche/landslide devastation), Ape cave, and Lava canyon.

There are helicopter tours for a small fee, but we opted to take our own route.

Our first stop was the Seaquest visitor center at Silver Lake.  The fee was $5 per adult.  Summer hours at daily 9-5.  Run by the Washington state parks department.

visitor center

mt st helens

Mt. St. Helen’s forest learning center (closed when we arrived :-()  This would have been free and it’s said to be the best exhibit on the mountain.  There is an eruption chamber.

We stopped at most, but not all of the viewpoints along the way (hwy 504-Spirit lake memorial hwy).  This map lists many of the viewpoints.

Toutle river

Sediment retention center-closed for construction

We didn’t stop at the Coldwater ridge visitor center.  We thought it was just a restaurant. 😦

Debris avalanche deposits

Along the way we started to see interesting mountain-like or hill-like deposits of ash/rock that we later learned were called “hummocks.”

Elk rock viewpoint

We didn’t see Harry’s ridge or there was no turnoff to stop.

Bridge across Hoffstadt creek



Castle lake viewpoint

castle lake viewpoint


Loowit viewpoint

mt st helens

mt st helens

mt st helens

We were really curious about the mountain range to the north of the volcano that we saw along the way up the mountain.  One of the peaks had a “tabletop” shape.  When we got almost to the top of the mountain to the observatory we saw an information map that finally mentioned that it was the Mount Margaret Backcountry and Minnie Peak.


Johnston ridge observatory (Named after volcanologist David Johnston who was on the ridge observing the volcano when it blew)  The fee was $8 per adult.  Open May-October (depending upon snow) M-Su 10-6.  Run by the US forest service.

View of the lava dome from the observatory

We watched an interesting movie about Mt. St. Helens in the theater and it was quite an impressive scene when the movie was over and they raised the projector screen and there was the mountain!

mt st helens

Minnie’s peak from the observatory

Minnie's peak

The panorama of the Cascade mountain range from the observatory was amazing!

We didn’t see the “pyroclastic flows” at Pumice plain.

We’re looking forward to checking out the mountain during other seasons and checking out the southern route another time!

First Friday Art Walk/Tommy O’s

First Friday Art Walk/Tommy O’s

My husband and I stumbled upon the First Friday Art Walk after indulging in dinner at Tommy O’s (Hawaiian) in downtown Vancouver.  While we enjoyed our Kahlua Pork, we discovered that we prefer the location in Camas that has a sushi bar and a larger menu selection.  It was lovely live music during dinner, however. 🙂

We only caught a few of the art galleries that were open for the First Friday Art Walk as we wandered around following the “art” signs.

Our favorite was Art on the Boulevard (next to Woody’s Tacos).

I particularly liked the abstract painting entitled “One Wave” pictured on this blog.

I also really liked the watercolor artist Denise McFadden.  My mother-in-law would have loved her bird watercolor paintings.

This one of hers had very distinctive tie-dye-like water patterns on it.

Asian Eye Indian silk “bandhani” scarves

Asian Eye Indian silk “bandhani” scarves

I’ve been on the hunt for more Indian “bandhani” scarves since purchasing the one at the Portland Art Museum (Asian Eye) and the Chinese Garden (Neeru Kumar).  So, I contacted Asian Eye for retailers in the Portland, OR area and was directed to two stores:

Not Too Shabby in Vancouver at 1515 Broadway and Oxalis in Portland at 1824 NW 24th Avenue.  Neither store has a website so I went down to check out their selection.

Not Too Shabby had some gorgeous selections in colors that I don’t wear like red, but they also had an amazingly beautiful larger shawl size that was black and white with a spiral pattern of the tie dyed peaks.


Notice the little peaks of material from this view.


I had shared my color/design preferences when I purchased this shawl/scarf and was added to a list to be called when they obtain new scarves.  I was surprised that they remembered and called me back less than a week later with a couple of new amazing scarves to look at.  It was a challenging decision, but I selected this gorgeous whispy slate grey/blue silk scarf with a spiral bandhani pattern.  I think it’s my very favorite of all of my silk scarves. 🙂


It looks even more beautiful on. 🙂


Oxalis had an extensive array of silk and silk shiffon in quite a range of colors from red to black to turquoise/aqua and blue.  I particularly liked this one with the range in colors from icy blue to medium blue to dark blue and black.


Notice the intricate patterns of peaks that look like stitching since they’re so small.