Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lights Out in Portland

Last night, I went to my friend, Elliot's, birthday party and the power in SE Portland went out. Being a somewhat rare occurrence in P-town, there was a lot of speculation as to what caused it and text messages were flying as we tried to figure out how widespread the outage was.

We then lit some candles and continued the party anyway.

And when the power finally came back on, we didn't bother to turn on the lights.

But we did eventually venture to the garage to have dance-offs on Elliot's arcade-style DDR machine (an engagement gift from his fiancee).

C-lin and I went head to head

The birthday boy

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


As some of you may or may not know, music is really important to me. I listen to music at work, on the bus and while running. When I get home from work, one of the first things I do is turn on my home audio system to get the night started. And once, years ago at my request, my friend, Josh, mailed me a set of travel speakers to Argentina. I now take these on all of my travels.

Lucky for me, Portland is a great town for music! I try to attend concerts regularly, especially if it is an awesome, local band. Last week I attended 3 in all. That's more than I usually attend in one week and sometimes even in one month, but there were some concerts I just couldn't pass up.

Drew Grow

This guy is amazing. He has a great voice and lyrics, and he really gives it his all while performing, even disconnecting from the audience and closing his eyes most of the time. Also, he played at The Woods, my new favorite venue in Portland. It used to be a mortuary and I believe that the artists now perform where bodies used to be laid out for viewing. That sounds morbid but it actually makes for a really good space.

The Head and the Heart

My new favorite band! This is a picture of them doing a sound check from outside The Crocodile as my friend and I stood outside in the rain asking anyone if they had extra tickets to this sold out show. After driving all the way to Seattle, I was ecstatic to eventually find tickets and then to enjoy a fantastic performance before making the long and late drive back to Portland. I'll be going up to see them again in January.

The Dandy Warhols

A Portland staple, this band formed in 1993. I also used to take yoga from the wives of two of the band members while working at Wieden + Kennedy. They played at the Crystal Ballroom and I wasn't in a great position to get a good picture but I like the combination of the green lights and the old chandelier.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Christmas Markets of Germany

Last week, I had an awesome opportunity to visit Germany, a country I have never visited before! I spent the weekdays in Husum for work and then took the train to spend the weekend as a tourist in Hamburg. My exploring was hindered somewhat in both Husum, due to it being dark when the workday was done and then in Hamburg by coming down with what I believe to have been the flu. Regardless, I tried as I always do, to make the most of the situation and have some fun.

Unexpectedly, the theme for my week was Christmas markets. Before coming to Germany, I had no idea they were such a big tradition here. They are seemingly in every town and date back to the late middle ages. A Christmas market will have booths selling food, the traditional drink of warm mulled wine called Glühwein (pronounced glue-vine) and local arts and crafts. While walking through, one's senses are assaulted. The aroma of roasted chestnuts and grilled sausages fills the air while Christmas music floats in the ears and decorations and Christmas lights can be seen everywhere. But more than that, people seem to be genuinely happy standing in the freezing cold talking with friends while holding a warm cup of Glühwein in their hands. The whole experience definitely gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

My very first Christmas Husum and joined by my awesome work colleagues

A warm fire to warm my colleagues and I as we enjoyed a post-work Glühwein

In of the many Christmas markets and the historical Town Hall which amazingly survived the bombings in the war

Walking through the booths in another part of town

Unseen from the city center, Hamburg has a large harbour and busy port with many cranes and ships

The waterways help give this town a beautiful ambiance

A night scene on the lake

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Denmark for the 3rd Time

If someone had told me before I started working for Vestas that I would be visiting Denmark 3 times before the year was out, I think I would have said, "Really?! Wait...where exactly is Denmark again?"

As it turns out, Denmark is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, is bordered by Germany and is a large peninsula with weather patterns tied to the North sea. It is also a beautiful, albeit flat, land with friendly people who seem to have a strong sense of tradition and family.

During this visit, I had the good fortune to stay for a week in Aarhus, a town with many good restaurants, a bit of a nightlife and some new friends, catching a ride to and from work with a colleague. I was also invited to stay with another colleague and his wife for the weekend in their home in Skanderborg, enjoying home cooked meals and some local sights and scenery.

Tomorrow, I leave to spend a week in Germany.

An eerily empty, modern hallway in the Copenhagen Airport - the gateway to Denmark

Vestas and the moon

A local pub in Aarhus full of characters and good live music
This band played "In a Sentimental Mood" by Duke Ellington for me

Denmark's highest point: Møllehøj sitting at 561'

A German bunker with an antitank defense by Skanderborg Lake

They even grow things patriotic here

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Clear Lake Cabin Lookout

This week, yours truly skipped two days of work to venture to a fire lookout tower in the Mt. Hood National Forest for an overnight retreat. Only open to regular citizens in the winter months (when fires and the need to look for them are nonexistent), people must usually book their stay way in advance as I did with this one in May.

Bringing two of my friends along, the three of us hiked in two miles with water, gear and food in our packs and enjoyed a night of the simple life: staying warm by a stove, playing games and sipping good drinks. With a pretty good cloud cover on the way in, we were quite pleasantly surprised by our morning view.

Sitting at 4400' with a 360 degree view of the surrounding hills and mountains through its many windows, we were determined to call in a fire if we happened to see one

C-lin and I enjoying a snack after getting settled in
(photo courtesy of Josh)

I was hoping this was a wood-fired sauna, but it ended up being the cutest outhouse ever

Josh, C-lin and I exploring the area and getting in some bouldering

Josh hauling up some firewood with a view of 1 of 2 lakes in the background

Whoa....woke up to Mt. Hood in your face

Morning coffee on the deck: It doesn't get any better than this

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Below are some pictures I took on my walk through the picturesque Lone Fir Cemetery this morning. After seeing all the old growth trees full of fall colors, I've sort of fallen in love with this place...

A perfect tree

Love these shadows

A smattering of color underfoot

On fire

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fall Rock Climbing

Saturday was a beautiful, crisp fall day here in Portland. It was also amazingly without rain. As such, my friends and I took this opportunity to get in what may be the last outdoor climbing day of the year.

Heather taking a timeout to smile

Chilling out on a ledge & planning out my next moves before climbing the rest of the way up

Elliot's impressive finger move as he gives it his all trying to get up his challenging 5.11 route

Monday, October 11, 2010

Team Event in Denmark

A few weeks ago, I found myself back in DK for the second time this year. This time I was there to join in on a weeklong team event with my awesome colleagues from around the world. With 2 Americans, 1 German, 2 Chinese, 1 Spaniard, 1 Ghanaian and about 20 Danes (only 2 women in total), we spent the week in a town called Vejle attending meetings and working on our IT issues together. However, it wasn't "all work and no play". Our manager had quite the surprise for us. On Thursday, a bus picked us up and took us to an old military base where all in 1 day, we drove ATV's, rode in and steered a helicopter and sat shotgun in a corvette with a professional driver going speeds of 220 km/hour and doing 360's! It was a grand day of adrenaline and some of the Danes were even equating it to the best day of their whole lives. Adrenaline aside, it truly was an amazing week. We covered a lot of topics but more importantly, we bonded allowing for better teamwork and the ability to put faces with names we typically only see over email or IM.

Beautiful Copenhagen
I spent a night here on my way to and from the team event

View of the fjord from my room in Vejle

Lined up and ready to go on our ATV's

Kofi, with his easy manner and ever present laugh, after flipping his ATV

Being taken for a ride more fun than a roller coaster

A Systems Administrator? Or Denmark's top spy?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Death of an Uncle

He taught me to play backgammon
he taught me to read maps
he taught me how to use a laptop.

We hiked
we kayaked
we danced
we fished
we ate crab
we theorized.

He was fun
he was a listener
he was patient.

He was my Uncle Stan.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Barcelona, Spain

When I first arrived in Barcelona, I inherently loved it. It reminded me so much of Buenos Aires (a city in which I lived for a month in 2008) that I couldn't help but feel good vibes all around.

It was late when I left the airport and some of my first views of the city were in the dark. However, over the next 5 days, I explored much, walking old narrow streets and observing a myriad of historical buildings, seemingly happy people and a nice coastline. Dinners were not until at least 9 pm and tapas or paella were typically what was on the menu.

When it came time to leave, I definitely was not ready. I took a timeout for myself daily trying to balance out sightseeing (and the crowds that go with it) and relaxation. As such, I did not get to see all I wanted to see. However, taking life slowly and stting outside at cafes in non-touristy parts of town watching the locals go by was definitely worth it. I will just have to go back sometime to complete what I missed!

A night scene (and large shadow) on the Barcelona streets

A tapas of mushrooms. Yumm!

These recycling bins can be found at various places throughout the city

Continuing in their seemingly green initiative, these bikes that are part of a bike sharing program can be found around the city as well

A respite from a heavy thunderstorm

The perfect place for a daily siesta at my charming guesthouse

Castell Montjuic

Montjuic is a castle that sits above Barcelona and offers some amazing views. In it's present form, it has been there since the mid-1700's and has a dark history of war and executions.

The Castell

An ancient pathway

A modernization


Translated to Serrated Mountain, Montserrat is 50 km NW of Barcelona and easily accessible by train. At about 725 meters, sits the monestary of Montserrat. Founded in 1025, about 80 monks live there today, and a boys choir sings daily in the Basilica. Surrounding the monestary are many peaks including the tallest one, Sant Jeroni, at 1236 meters. As a last minute decision, I decided to hike to its top despite being in a dress with shoes that would later suffer some holes in the bottom. Regardless, it was a good choice. The views, being out in nature and having the trail mostly to myself were just what I needed.

The monestary of Montserrat situated between two mountains

A grave stone with no markings due to age and erosion found along the trail

An old church found closer to the top

What's this guy doin' here??

Hanging out at the top of Sant Jernoni

An expanse of Spain

La Sagrada Familia

Started over 100 years ago in 1882 and still not complete, La Sagrada Familia is the vision of Antoni Gaudi and some say later his obsession. Despite being incomplete, it is one of the cooelst churches I have seen. It is said that Gaudi loved nature and had a dislike of straight lines, both things that can be seen throughout the church. Guesses as to when it will be complete range from the 2020's to the 2040's.

La Sagrada Familia (picture courtesy of the internet as I did not have proper camera or angle)

Sitting amongst the pillars at the front (or is it back) of the church

A sculputre of Longinus on the Passion Facade

Probably some of the most photographed construction workers in the world

Columns with branches at the top to represent trees