Saturday, February 19, 2011

Cross Country Ski Patrol: Mt. Hood OR

When it comes to cross-country skiing, I am a perpetual advanced beginner, so I like to go to places that are groomed regularly, aren’t too steep and are pet-free (sorry dog-owner buddies). That’s why my cross-country skiing venues of choice are the Mt. Hood Meadows Nordic Center and Teacup.

The wintry meadow

The Mt. Hood Meadows Nordic Center is usually my first trip of the season. It’s kind of the miniature golf of cross-country skiing. No need to worry about getting lost in the backcountry here! Just plenty of well-groomed terrain that loops around in a non-intimidating way. If you’re up for a modest climb, there’s a small waterfall worth checking out. There’s also “the meadow”, a wide-open area where you can really get your “kick-and-glide” grove on (and a great place to knock back a nip of Schnapps). Weather permitting, you can even have a little picnic.

A Teacup trail

Teacup is a bit more challenging, but still manageable. Again, lots of groomed trails and nice winter vistas. Even better is I've never experienced a crowd – only the occasional swoosh of fellow cross-country and skate-skiers.

Pack a lunch, because at Teacup, there’s also a warming hut where you can hunker down around a fire. Teacup is maintained by volunteer organizations so make sure to bring about $8.00 cash for the honor-system donation.

The warming hut awaits

A Few Ski Tips:

If you leave in the morning before 10:00 AM, for both Mt. Hood Meadows and Teacup, take Hwy. 35 on the way up. That way you avoid the Portland ski bus traffic on Hwy. 26.

Remember to purchase a Sno-Park pass (daily and seasonal passes are available)

To keep the muscles warm, bring a flask of something warm, yummy and spiked. I recommend hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps, or spiced apple cider with Tuaca. (Really, the liquor store dude told me this was good – and he was right!)

And if you need a reasonably priced flask, you can find one at Edelwiess, an authentic German deli in Portland.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Bitchin’ Beach Motel: Hermosa Beach CA

Whenever I visit LA, I often find myself at Hermosa Beach, a place which holds many fun memories from my youth.

Once my sister and I hit our teens, being Valley Girls, our ultimate goal was to rub shoulders with the much cooler types who always seemed to be at the beach. Finally, our parents succumbed to peer pressure and we hit the sandy beaches of Hermosa for the family vacation. Our lodgings were The Sea Sprite Motel, an iconic beach motel with a location that was – and still is – totally bitchin’. Like, right on the strand and next to the Hermosa Pier. (A primo place to watch surfers, I might add). Needless to say, my sis and I were stoked. As far as we were concerned, we were in St. Tropez.

Iconic Sea Sprite Motel
It was great to check back in with the Sea Sprite and think back to those hot August afternoons of long ago – of surf and sun, and the wafting scent of Bain de Soleil (for the St. Tropez tan, remember?) And lets not forget the surfer dudes!

It's comforting to know that a total immersion So Cal experience can still be had simply by booking a room at the Sea Sprite. If you visit, go for the ocean view if you can. For an added splash of fun, rent a beach cruiser at Hermosa Beach Cyclery, and hit the strand. A relatively flat ride will take you to the beaches of Redondo, Manhattan, and beyond.

The Sea Sprite Motel
1016 The Strand
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254