Libraries are here to pump you up.

Do you know what I adore? I adore those occasions when I can combine two things I love. Chocolate and peanut butter. Music and dancing. Ice cream and root beer (actually I hate both of those things, but damn, they’re good together!)

Guess what else goes great together? Working out and libraries. Not working out AT the library, although I do get a lot of squats in while getting down to put books on the bottom shelves. I mean work outs that you can get for free through the library.

Hoopla digital streaming has SEVEN different videos from Jillian Michaels, and most of those have more than one work out. If your library subscribes to Hoopla then that means you can get a ridiculous exercise ass kicking any time you want. For free.

Hoopla and Freegal, another subscription service that many library’s offer, can also help you put together a sweet mix to work out to. I would give you some examples, but I don’t necessarily want to own up to what music motivates me (*cough* Pitbull).

Checking out the library’s book and DVD collections can also prove fruitful. Check your library’s data base for key terms like yoga, tai chi, pilates, zumba, or strength training. Or try searching for a trainer or training program. Sometimes just browsing the 613 sections of your library’s book or DVD collection can help you get started with your fitness goals or get you out of a work out slump. Like how this book helped me build up my library squatting muscles.

I like going to the gym as much as the next girl, but it’s also nice to know that I sweat to the oldies in my living room too.

Bubba’s Brew is the best little coffee stand in the Gorge.

Here’s something I don’t like to admit about myself: I drink the same espresso drink each day, and ordering that drink from a stranger requires me to utter about 26 syllables. Yes, I’m one of THOSE people, and yes, it is embarrassing. Does this stop me from ordering it every day? No, it does not.

I’ve always made it a point to support the little coffee shops of the world, and believe me when I say I’ve tried just about every coffee stand, shop, and cart in the Columbia River Gorge. Now that you know my coffee credentials, here’s five reasons why Bubba’ s Brew in White Salmon is the best of the best in my not-so-humble espresso-drenched opinion.

1. Bubba’s uses Longbottom Espresso beans. I like my drink to have a little punch, and Longbottom espresso totally delivers the face punch aspect without any bitterness. Each sip delivers a smooth, slightly sweet slap to the face that says, “wake the hell up.”

2. Ashley and her employees will make your drink the way you want it. If you come by regularly, she’ll remember your drink (in my case it’s posted in her regular’s book), but still ask you each time if you want the same thing before she makes it, because you never know when a person might get crazy and substitute a sugar-free flavor for their regular white chocolate.

3. Speaking of which, she has a sugar-free caramel sauce that will knock your damn socks off. I may have converted for good (probably not).

4. I won’t embarrass her by giving away her age, but let’s just say that I admire Ashley for being a young entrepreneur. She’s smart, she’s nice and she’s good at what she does. I’m telling you, if I’d had my act together the way she does, I’d probably be retired already.

5. She’s a committed animal lover. She has several cats and a huge, goofy puppy of her own, but she’s also fostered animals in the past and participates in fundraisers put on by our local shelters. Not only that, but after my cat was attacked by raccoons, she offered to come by and check on her while we were out of town. How’s that for being awesome?

So there you go, five reasons to try Bubba’s Brew in White Salmon. If you’re curious, ask for “the Monica,” but be prepared for the possibility of caffeine hallucinations. Just kidding. Or am I?


Take A Hike: Hood River Mountain Trail

Hood River Mountain Trail has to be the best view possible for the least amount of effort. A great hike for little ones, there aren’t too many steep ledges (there are just a  spots toward the top) and it’s not too long, but be prepared to carry toddlers at least part of the way. Almost immediately I was regretting that I gave away our Ergo baby carrier already, but then I remembered how he used to kick me in the back when I put him in it and decided it was better off at its new home. I ended up carrying KZ on my shoulders some, and there weren’t too many spots where I had to duck to avoid low hanging foliage, but all of this ended up being a great leg work out.

If you hike the full trail, you’re in for 3 miles, but just to the summit for the amazing view of the valley, it’s just under a mile. Once you get to the top, behold the glorious view you’ll be rewarded with:



This may look like a steep drop, but that’s actually a more rolling hill behind KZ. Not a place to let them roam unsupervised, but not imminent threat of death either. Below is one of those spots that had a bit of a steeper drop (just before the summit) that also offered a gorgeous view of the river.



Besides those glorious wild, yellow daisies that dot the hillside, there were several different and colorful flowers along the trail. I saw so many that it was hard to decide which ones to photograph, let alone the best one for this blog. Here’s the one I picked, but I have no idea what it is.




At the top we got an extra bonus: a colony of friendly blue belly lizards. My grandpa calls them blue bellies, but according to online sources they’re actually called fence lizards and they’re found all over the Western US. These particular ones, I’m guessing, are Cascade Fence Lizards. They’re quick, but they’re also not terribly shy so we got a couple of good shots of them. This one gave us an aloof pose, but you can still see his colorful belly.


I think the best thing about this hike is that it’s one you can totally accomplish despite nap schedules. We tried to hit the trail pre-nap, but KZ was asleep by the time we got there. So we headed home and tried again after. That put us on the trail at 5pm, but we were still back at our car long before dark. There was so much to see that it was sometimes hard to prod him along the trail, but on the way back down after chasing lizards, finding (and abandoning) about a million cool sticks, and naming several trees along the way KZ was positively giddy.



Things to bring:

Water, obviously. It gets hot up there.

A snack. Although it’s not so far that you need to refuel, it’s such a good place for a picnic why not?



Carrier for toddlers.


How to get there:

If you’re coming from Portland, take I-84 to Exit 64. Take right onto Button Bridge Road (a.ka. US 30). Go straight through the stop sign at China Gorge which will put you on OR Hwy 35. Drive 1/2 mile on Hwy 35, then turn east (left) on East Side Road. Drive another 2 miles, then turn east (should be left again) on Old Dalles Road. Drive another two miles on a fairly narrow gravel road, and  park on the side of the road, but don’t block the gate. Look for the unsigned trail on the south side. Note that the map below actually shows the final destination as the summit, not the trail head. Silly Google Maps!

View Larger Map