Enjoying an Oregon winter with snowboarding

Mt Hood Snowboarding Trip

One of the best things about living in Oregon is how quickly you can go from enjoying the pleasures of the city to enjoying the great outdoors. A great example of this is what some friends and I planned on a whim—snowboarding at Mt. Hood.

Evan, his sister Kala, and her boyfriend Matt drove from Eugene to Portland to pick me up. The plan was to stay at a bed and breakfast named Panorama Lodge outside of Hood River, which included the price of the lift ticket in the night’s stay.

Enjoying food at Double Mountain

On our way to Panorama Lodge, we stopped at Double Mountain Brewery, one of my favorite breweries in the Portland area. This is a little hidden gem in Hood River with some delicious pizzas and even more delicious beers. If you ever plan on visiting Portland, I highly suggest making a trip to Hood River and enjoying what Double Mountain has to offer. (Full disclosure: Double Mountain is a client of mine at Watershed Communications).

We arrived at Panorama Lodge fairly late in the night, but the caretaker of the estate—a nice older lady—was very welcoming to the three-story building that was all ours that night. The lodge had a human touch to almost every room with self-shot landscape photography and odd trinkets in various cabinets and we were sad to hear that her husband had passed away a few years back. She explained that he was the one who made the place what it was and I felt humbled by how fragile life can be sometimes.

The next morning we awoke to the smell of pancakes, omelets, fresh-brewed coffee, and the ever-growing excitement to go snowboarding. As soon as we finished breakfast, we packed our gear and began our 30-minute drive to Mt. Hood on a foggy Saturday morning. However, it didn’t stay foggy for long and we all feared that the mountain was going to be an icy playground.

In between runs at Mt. Hood

We parked at HRM, which is just south of the main parking lot, and prepared for whatever snow we would encounter on this balmy 42-degree Fahrenheit day. Evan and I rode up the lift with a girl who worked at Mt. Hood and she told us that it hadn’t snowed in over a week-and-a-half, which made me afraid that we were going to be riding on ice. Boy, were we wrong.

I don’t believe that I could’ve asked for a better day to snowboard. Between the clear skies and soft snow, it was exactly what one asks for when snowboarding for his or her first time that year. In between runs, we’d go back to the truck to snack and re-hydrate, and I discovered a little bird that likes to snack as well.

Mt Hood Snowboarding Trip

Oregon is one of those places that has something special to offer in every season of the year. Whether it’s snowboarding at Mt. Hood in the winter or hiking Smith Rock in the summer, it’s always made better with great friends and some good brews.

2013: The Year of Creativity

Critical Path, Modern Sauces, and a moleskein

Three tools to becoming more creative

New Year’s resolutions—in the last few years, I’ve found them to be an entertaining way to change myself. I believe it started with a lighthearted resolution to never repeat myself when someone heard what I clearly said the first time. It was a fun resolution that I was aware of all year long. My resolution in 2012 was to be more fit and strong, which I feel like I’m still working on and with positive results. Now we’ve entered 2013—the year of creativity—and I’m already dead-set on that path.

I want to do so many different things in 2013 and I found that the common theme between all of them is creativity. Whether it’s improving my creative writing skill, utilizing new recipes in my cooking, beginning to paint, or trying out homebrewing and pickling for the first time, I want to be more creative.

I’ve made it a goal to publish writing on my blog or elsewhere at least once a week. In January alone, I’ve created a marinara sauce and a sharp cheddar cream sauce from Martha Holmberg’s cookbook Modern Sauces, which is full of delicious sauces. I’m halfway through Dan Amrich’s book, Critical Path: How to Review Videogames for a Living, which has given me plenty of insight on how to write better reviews for video games as well as offering great tips for writing in general. I definitely recommend both of those books! (Major props to Yaicha for buying the book and getting it signed for me)!

Critical Path: How to Review Videogames for a Living autographed

Dan is a super nice guy with a wealth of industry knowledge

The year has started off nicely and I only expect it to get better. Do you have a New Year’s resolution for 2013?

Top 5 Music Albums of 2012

Reign of Terror album cover artwork

SLEIGH BELLS ‘REIGN OF TERROR’ (Amazon)

Sleigh Bells’ first release was a big favorite of mine, so I had high hopes for their sophomore debut. When NPR had an early preview of it, I had to listen to it immediately. My metal self was immediately sated with True Shred Guitar and the latter Demons. But the catchiness of Crush and Road To Hell was what kept me coming back. The mixture of Alexis’ breathy vocals with Derek’s abrasive guitar hooks, makes for an band that I can love for years.

Epicloud album cover artwork

THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT ‘EPICLOUD’ (Amazon)

The Devin Townsend Project returns with Epicloud, a progressive metal album that tends to evoke a feeling of goodness and love. Sounds kinda’ strange for a metal album, right? Fortunately, with Hevy Devy at the helm, each track offers the variety that you should come to expect in a Devin Townsend Project album. Liberation rocks me like an Andrew W.K. song would. The way that Effervescent transitions into True North made me continue to appreciate what Devin Townsend decides to do for each album, evoking positivity into the world of metal. I vote this album “feel good metal album of the year.”

Fez soundtrack album cover artwork

DISASTERPEACE ‘FEZ OST’ (Digital download)

Everyone who remotely knows me understands that I have a deep passion for video games, so it should come to no surprise that I’d throw a game soundtrack on the list. Disasterpeace’s Fez soundtrack is how I love chip tune music composed. Each track evokes the emotion of the environment that I’d expect in this 2-D meets 3-D world. Although I’m not a huge fan of Disasterpeace’s other music, this album is well worth buying. If you remotely like chip tune music, I think you’ll cherish this album in your collection. I’ve also heard that the music you download has hidden secrets within it, but I’ll let you search that out on your own.

I Love You, It's Cool album cover artwork

BEAR IN HEAVEN ‘I LOVE YOU, IT’S COOL’ (Amazon)

Bear in Heaven’s album I Love You, It’s Cool was one of those albums that came out of nowhere. After seeing a review on Consequence of Sound, I decided to give them a listen on Spotify. Since that first listen, I’ve repeated I Love You, It’s Cool many times over. The songs all remind me of The Smiths meets Depeche Mode if you gave it more of a contemporary synth-pop sound. It’s one of those albums that I found too catchy to let go of and it’s definitely stuck with me throughout 2012. If you had to check out two tracks off the album, I’d go with The Reflection Of You and Sinful Nature.

Visions album cover artwork

GRIMES ‘VISIONS’ (Amazon)

Grimes’ album Visions was another one of those that I arrived a little late to the party, but which hooked me right away. As soon as Genesis began playing, I felt the great combination of her pop vocals with the whimsical nature of the instrumentals. Circumambient shows a difference in vocal styling that definitely doesn’t lead you to believe that you’re going to hear a similar song, track-by-track. This was one of those albums and artists that I have recommended to people all year long and have had no complaints from those I’ve given the recommendations to.