Yankees clinch their spot in 2011 MLB Playoffs

I’m super-excited that the Yankees have clinched a spot in the 2011 playoffs. Their magic number is now 2 in order to clinch the American League East, and then a few more to clinch best record in the American League which will give them home field advantage for the AL Championship. I also really like how they have chosen not to celebrate this milestone – they are waiting to celebrate until when they clinch the East – which could happen later tonight.

I’m torn about one thing though. The Yankees have 8 games left in the season – 5 against the Rays and 3 against the Red Sox. The Rays are now 2 games behind the Red Sox for the AL Wild Card. The only realistic way that the Rays will overtake the Red Sox is if they win most of the games left against the Yankees. This is borderline heartbreaking.

Go Yankees!

UPDATE:
Yankees sweep the Rays today and Red Sox lost, so we are the AL East division winners!

Tourist weekend in Portland area

Herman the Sturgeon at Bonneville Fish Hatchery

I have never been to the Statue of Liberty.  I’ve seen it many times – my favorite view is from the Staten Island Ferry – but I’ve never actually visited Lady Liberty.  I lived in the NY area for most of the first 27 years of my life and during that time always thought either a) it was something only tourists do or b) I’d get there sometime or another and have plenty of time to see it.  Well, 20 or so years later I still haven’t gone on any of my visits back.

So what does this have to do with a tourist weekend in Portland?

We had guests visiting from out of town this weekend, and like my Statue of Liberty situation there are plenty of things to do in Portland that are either offbeat, touristy, or straight out of the NY Times – many of which Joni and/or me have never done.  So it was the perfect time to check out some local attractions that fit this theme.

Evergreen Aviation Museum: McMinnville
We knew that the Spruce Goose was on display here and that there would be some planes, but we were totally impressed with both the array and quality of the planes at the museum.  It’s a top-notch venue, well lit, great displays, and with very helpful volunteers – some who are Veterans.  Very impressive and worth the drive – afterwards you can go to the water park (if with kids) or wine tasting.
Details: http://www.evergreenmuseum.org/the-museum/

Willamette Jet Boat tour: Pier next to OMSI
Part river tour and part amusement park ride, this was such a fun time.  I see these boats all the time as we live near the river but still had not been on one.  Joni had done the 2-hour tour before so we opted for the one-hour tour at 2:45PM – which was perfect for the 90 degree day.  When they say “you will get wet and you might get soaked,” they mean it.

Details: http://www.willamettejet.com/

Bonneville Lock and Dam / Bonneville Fish Hatchery: near Cascade Locks
We’ve been here a few times but not in many years.  The coolest thing about visiting the Lock and Dam is to check out the fish ladders.  The fish hatchery was built more than 100 years ago. Make sure you see Herman the Sturgeon, who is located in the Sturgeon Viewing Center.  He is approximately 10’ long, 425 pounds and over 60 years old. And he seems to know when people are at the viewing window, per above picture.

Details: Lock and Dam / Fish Hatchery

Allure of the Automobile: Portland Art Museum
(hurry: this ends September 11)
The collection of automobiles in this exhibit is one of a kind.  Just check out the web page below for an example.  We were planning on seeing this earlier in the summer, but decided to wait until our guests were here.  We are going to try to see it again before it leaves town in a couple of weeks.  This is a must-see event in Portland.

Details: http://specialexhibitions.portlandartmuseum.org/allure/

All in all a fun weekend, including some great meals as well. Come and visit us in Soccer City USA!

Riley, hiking dog

Derek and Riley in the Gorge

Derek and Riley in the Gorge

Joni and I got a pack for Riley a few weeks ago and finally used it last weekend.  We got it both so that we’d go hiking more often and to give him a job to do when we’re on the trail.  Carrying weight gives dogs a responsibility and also slows him down a bit so that if he is off-leash he doesn’t wander off too far.  Like anything else new, the key to getting a dog to do something is to associate that thing with “good times.”  First car rides should lead to the dog park, not the vet.  Harness leash = long walk.  Dog booties = playing fetch.

We’re happy to report that Riley is a true sporting dog.  He was awesome on the trail just wearing the pack last weekend with no weight, to get used to it.  Today, Joni took him for their long walk with the pack on and water in the Camelback-like holders in the saddle bags.  Joni said he liked drinking water straight from the tubes.  Way to go, Riley!

Riley on Willamette Greenway Trail

(photos by Joni Photo from her iPhone)

Maybe I can run 10 miles in these shoes…

If I ever run into the gentleman who I wrote about in June, I hope he isn’t too disappointed that I wasn’t able to run 10 miles in those shoes.  I’ve been running pretty regularly since then and have upped the miles a little bit, but my grey and orange LunarGlides wore out and yesterday were officially demoted to dog walking shoes.  My older dog walking shoes – another pair of LunarGlides, are at Nike and will become part of a basketball court someday.

So while I’m still looking to do a 10-miler before the end of the summer, it will have to be on these shoes.

Nike Lunarglide2 Black and White

A beautiful summer day in our fair city, #Portland

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There’s nothing like summer in Portland. The weather is just incredible, the skies are clear, and everybody is in a great mood.

Riley and I took a walk across the river earlier today and I took a few pics on my iPhone.

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Portland views from Strand at RiverPlace rooftop

I’m on the Operations committee at our condo association, and last Friday we got a walk-through of how the operational systems work for our complex.  As somebody who likes to understand how things work, it was pretty cool to see all of these systems for a complex with three 10+ story buildings.  As part of the tour, we went up to the rooftop of the East Tower to see the cooling system that drives the air conditioning for the complex.  While there, I took out my iPhone and snapped these photos of our fair city, while not getting too close to the edge. Enjoy.

Portland Skyline

Portland as seen from the roof of Strand East Tower

City and Marina

RiverPlace Marina and Willamette River

Looking North

Willamette River and Inner East Side

Mt. Hood and Marquam Bridge (I-5)

Mt. Hood and Marquam Bridge (I-5)

Always stretch before running (or building a bridge)

(photo by Joni Photo)

We live in the Strand Condos at the RiverPlace Marina area of downtown Portland – just north of the Marquam Bridge (the I-5 bridge across the river). If you’ve ever driven I-5 South from the East side and crossed the river you’ve seen a few 10-story condos just off to your right. That’s our complex – although we live on the opposite side from the freeway. We live in the southwest corner of the west-most tower – looking south we see an empty lot, the SW Moody/River Pkwy streetcar stop (“last stop in Free Rail Zone”). Just past the streetcar stop is another empty lot that is being used for staging for all of the construction for the new Willamette River transit bridge.

I’m up pretty early taking Riley for his morning walk, and a few months ago I noticed that generally the gates for the staging area of the lot fill up with people between 6-7AM, and that at 7AM they all congregate together. I thought they were just huddling up talking about their projects or tasks for the day. Then one day recently, they seemed to be in a circle doing some sort of synchronous activity. I took out the binoculars and saw them all doing a bunch of stretching techniques together, like in an Aerobics class or something.

I tried taking a picture using my iPhone but could not get a close enough view, so Joni snapped this for me a week or so ago. And now, whenever I’m going out for a run I think about these guys – and I stop and stretch for a while.

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