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Portland By Air – Holmes Helicopters

August 26, 2010 1 comment
Holmes Helicopters

Holmes Helicopters

Sometimes something comes up on Groupon that is simply too good to pass up. The Groupon deal for Holmes Helicopters was one of those amazing deals: a 45-minute helicopter tour of the Dundee Hills for two people for under $200. To put this in perspective, it’s not uncommon for helicopter rides to cost several hundreds of dollars per person. The reason helicopter rides cost so much is the fuel. It costs $200 per hour to fly a very small helicopter in good conditions, and considerably more for larger helicopters.

Holmes Helicopters is based in Newberg, Oregon, a quick 45-minute drive down the 99w from Portland. The company operates out of a home office and a tent by its hangar at the Sportsman Airpark, very much a mom-and-pop operation. Read more…

American Idol 2010 Interviews

August 22, 2010 3 comments
American Idol 2010 Tour Interviews

American Idol 2010 Tour Interviews

The American Idol Tour in 2009 made Portland the first stop on the trip. The buzz and excitement of Adam Lambert, Kris Allen and Allison Iraheta hitting the stage for the first time was palpable. This time around the American Idol Tour hits Portland as it is winding down. Rather than have all ten of the 2010 American Idol Finalists come out and talk to journalists, they picked five to represent the American Idol Tour experience.

The five interviews include Didi Benami, Crystal Bowersox, Casey James, Aaron Kelly and Tim Urban. Interestingly, the topic of a country album came up with many of the Idols (with Aaron Kelly on the road to making a country album and Casey James signed to Sony Country). Acting was also on the minds of a few of the American Idols, with Didi Benami and Tim Urban both considering careers in film and television. Read more…

American Idol 2010 Tour Review

American Idol 2010 Tour

American Idol 2010 Tour

The 2010 American Idol tour made one of its final stops in its national tour with a very clear message: what happens on the series isn’t always reflected when the show is translated onto the big stage.  For some like Andrew Garcia or Big Mike Lynche, this leads to significant disappointments, but for Casey James, Tim Urban and Aaron Kelly it was a tremendous opportunity to show what kind of artists they really are.

The 2010 American Idol series has often been criticized as a weaker season than many of its predecessors.  The truth is the Adam Lambert v. Kris Allen battle is a tremendously tough act to follow. But as a whole, this year’s American Idol Tour was actually stronger than last year’s, with better production values and some great surprises from some of the underdog performers.

The evening started out pretty well with Didi Benami, who did a solid job with ”Lay It On Me” by The Rescues. It was much stronger than other performers who’ve made it into the top 10 right on the cusp. Her rendition of “Terrified” by Katharine McPhee was simply fantastic. For a moment Didi really showed the talent that got her into the top 10 and made a strong argument that she probably should have finished higher.  “Terrified” was one of the real great moments of the show. Read more…

Categories: Music Tags: ,

Portland Getaway – River Rafting on The Deschutes

August 21, 2010 No comments
River Rafting on the Deschutes River

River Rafting on the Deschutes River

We’ve been looking for great adventure getaways, so we were excited to see a discount for the Imperial River Company in Maupin, Oregon pop up on Groupon. Over the summer Groupon has featured a number of enticing activities, and rafting down the Deschutes at half-off was way too good to pass up.

Up at 6:30 am, we were on the road by 7 and in Maupin by 9:15am. The just over 2-hour trip on Highway 26 brings you up and over Mt. Hood and through the high desert near Maupin. It’s a nice drive and the fairly close proximity makes it possible to go down to the Deschutes River for rafting in the morning (check-in is at 9:30am) and make it back home in time for dinner.

While the Groupon made a float down the Deschutes River a smoking-hot deal, the regular rates at Imperial River Company are extremely reasonable.  The 18-mile all-day adventure, which runs 6 hours and includes lunch, runs $99 (or $80 for kids). Considering that they run rafts with only 6 people in each raft and you get your own personal guide, transportation from the river, and lunch, it’s a pretty great value for an entire day’s activity.

Read more…

Portland Getaway – Great Wolf Lodge

August 17, 2010 1 comment
Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge

In our continuing series of quick and easy getaways, we have a look at Great Wolf Lodge, Grand Mound Washington. Located an hour and forty-five minutes north of Portland, just outside Centralia, Washington, Great Wolf Lodge is one of the few water parks in the Northwest. Unlike many water parks, Great Wolf Lodge is not open for day use. In order to use its massive indoor water structures, you must be a guest of their hotel.

Great Wolf Lodge claims that this keeps the number of people in the water park down, but with so many rooms we found that even on off days the crowds can be significant. Read more…

Portland Getaway – Lincoln City and The Oregon Coast

August 14, 2010 6 comments
Lincoln City Oregon

Lincoln City, Oregon

In our continuing series on easy Portland getaways, we have a look at a fairly easy trip that’s only a few hours away – Lincoln City.  You don’t have to own a beach house to enjoy the Oregon coast. Using services like Vacation Rental By Owner or Home Away, it’s easy to book a few nights at a beach house. We picked a house that could accommodate a family of five and a dog. It’s surprising how many of the options available are pet friendly.  The house was situated just up the street from Bella Beach in Lincoln City (just north of the 101 near a big Safeway, Bi Mart and Grocery Outlet).  Bella Beach is a nice size and access to the beach is pretty easy, so there’s less of a need to stay right on the beach.

When looking at activities in, near, and around Lincoln City, I was surprised at the lack of feedback and reviews online.  After calling around to several charter fishing companies, I narrowed it down to two options, Yaquina Bay Charters (541-265-6800)  in Newport and Dockside Charters (541-765-2545) in Depoe Bay.  I liked how both companies presented themselves online and over the phone, and both had positive ratings among the limited reviews out there.  We ultimately went with Dockside Charters because Depoe Bay was closer and Yaquina Bay Charters was all booked up for their bottom fishing trips.  It’s a good idea to book these trips at least a week in advance to ensure a spot.

Read more…

Categories: Getaways Tags: , ,

Portland Tub and Tan – An Urban Escape

August 13, 2010 No comments
Portland Tub and Tan's Disco Room

Portland Tub and Tan's Disco Room

We had such a positive response to our Portland Staycation piece that we’ve decided to seek out more quick, easy and affordable ways to get a quick escape without having to plan or spend for a big vacation.

We didn’t quite know what to expect from Portland Tub and Tan, located in the Montavilla neighborhood of SE Portland. The business is only a stones throw away from less than fantastic neighborhoods beyond 82nd Avenue. But Montavilla is going through quite a revival and we’ve been pleasantly surprised with our time at bars, restaurants and movie theaters in the neighborhood. So we decided to take the plunge and give Portland Tub and Tan a try. Read more…