Monday, April 7, 2014

Snow skis and brewskis

What do you do when a friend calls you at the last minute and asks if you'll accompany them on a ski trip to Mt Bachelor and Mt Hood? If you're me, you clear your calendar, because even though I can't ski anymore (due to knee surgery three months ago), I can drink beer!
My friendship with Corey Gardos dates back to the spring of 2005. I started dating a close friend of his in New York City and eventually we were introduced. We ended up spending a lot of time together over the next three years - hanging out in the East Village, going to concerts, skiing at his family's cabin in Bromley, VT. Even after my relationship with his friend ended, Corey & I still remained close.

Fast forward to more recent years. I left New York in June 2009 to travel around the world. Corey has also done some extensive traveling so he was very excited about and supportive of my plans. We stayed in touch while I was overseas. When my boyfriend Greg & I decided to get married in 2011, we traveled to New York to visit my friends as part of our months-long wedding celebration. Of course, we had to see Corey, who also gave us one of our most-used wedding presents - a set of Wusthof knives!

Another couple of years went by and Corey came to the west coast on a trip with some friends last summer. We spent four fun-filled days together at the beginning of August, exploring my then-neighborhood in southeast Portland. We even walked all the way from my house near 32nd and Hawthorne to Oven & Shaker in the Pearl District!
Corey has been hearing great things about west coast powder and said he'd love to come back out here to ski sometime. Thus the reason for the spur-of-the-moment phone call a couple of weeks ago. Thankfully my work schedule at Irvington House was pretty light at the time and other than having to cancel a physical therapy appointment, I wasn't going to miss out on too much if I went out of town for a few days. Also, Greg was on call for an entire week and thus was glued to the phone & computer so we didn't have anything planned either.

So it was that I picked Corey up from the airport on a beautifully sunny Saturday afternoon. We ended up having dinner at Fire on the Mountain, Greg's favorite local wing joint. We even got to sit on the patio; it was so nice outside! Then we spent the rest of the evening hanging out at our house and catching up.
On Sunday we said goodbye to Greg as we left for Bend. It was another perfect weather day and we enjoyed the clear views of Mt Hood as we drove east on Hwy 26. We stopped for lunch in Government Camp then continued south, with a brief stop in Madras and another at a scenic viewpoint. We spent the better part of the drive trying to figure out which mountains we were seeing to the west. Upon arriving in Bend around 5:30pm, we checked into the Rainbow Motel, a decent no-frills option if you're on a budget. After settling in, we walked downtown to have drinks at a sports bar followed by dinner at Hola. Corey spent the evening getting psyched for his first day of skiing, while I jotted down questions to ask the various brewers I would be interviewing over the next few days.
Wait, what?! Yeah, I guess if I'm going to write this post in all honesty, then it's time to reveal my latest gig. I recently signed on to be a freelance writer (aka correspondent) for the Oregon Beer Growler, a monthly magazine. When I found out I would be going on this last minute trip, I told the editor I would be more than happy to get in touch with the newest and smallest breweries, especially since I planned to visit them anyway to try their beer, which is only available locally in Bend. And that's how my mini-vacation became a business trip.
So while Corey spent two full days on the mountain Monday and Tuesday, I lined up several brewer/owner interviews each day. Then I would pick him up from the ski shuttle parking lot in the early evening, go back to the hotel so he could shower and change, and we'd head out again for drinks and dinner.
summit of Mt Bachelor - photo by Corey Gardos
It's too bad Corey isn't a beer connoisseur as Bend is an excellent place to drink local brews. I'll be writing several articles for the magazine over the coming months, so be sure to read each issue and follow their Facebook updates. In the meantime, I will summarize by saying that I managed to visit a total of six breweries and three brewpubs/bottle shops in 2 1/2 days. I was disappointed that I didn't have time to stop in nearby Redmond, which now has five breweries, but that just means I have an excuse to return to Central Oregon again soon!
Bridge 99 samplers at Wubba's BBQ Shack
On Wednesday we drove north to Mt Hood. We had originally planned to return to Portland first, take a day off, then do a day trip to the mountain so Corey could ski one more time. But logistically it made more sense to overnight in Government Camp on the way home from Bend. There was only one small problem - the weather changed drastically as the day progressed and we ended up getting more than six inches of snow on the mountain overnight.
I had borrowed my boss's Nissan Xterra for our trip. Unfortunately, it's just a two-wheel drive and rear wheel drive at that. I set out to take Corey to Mt Hood Meadows on Thursday morning but couldn't get enough traction on the snow-covered roads. He ended up having to hitchhike the rest of the way to the slopes.
I spent the day transcribing my interview notes and hanging out at Mt Hood Brewing Co watching it snow. Corey is so unaccustomed to skiing fresh powder that he managed to fall and hurt his left hand, but still had a great day overall. He got a ride back to Government Camp in the late afternoon and then we set out for Portland. Thankfully Hwy 26 heading west was pretty clear at that point. I even convinced Corey to let me stop at one more new brewery on the way home - Bunsenbrewer in Sandy.
After our high desert & mountain adventure we only had one full day left before Corey was scheduled to fly home. It actually turned out to be very rainy so we were more than happy to spend most of the day lounging around the house, although we did get out for lunch so he could try a Burgerville hamburger. Later we went to Tarad Thai for an absolutely delicious dinner.
Yes, Corey will occasionally drink a lager!
All in all I think the trip was a lot of fun and a big success for both of us!

The link to more photos is embedded in this post's title.