The holidays are upon us, and this year we did a 2 for 1 family vacation! Normally, each year we go to Portland, Oregon to spend Christmas with my brother and his family. But this year we first went to Portland and from there went to Puerto Vallarta to celebrate Alan's mom's 70th birthday. To be honest, we were a little scared of all that travel with our little one. Sally has been getting harder and harder to travel with, but with plenty of babysitters (family) at the ready, we decided to go for it!
Our typical holiday trip to Portland is usually a perfect mix of chilling at my brother's house and around Portland proper (I love this city!) and then a short trip up to Mt Hood for the snow (where my brother's family has a condo). But each year we also like to find new things to do.
This year we took Sally to Portland's Zoo Lights. Here, you can walk through the zoo and (as you'd expect) it's completely decorated in TONS of lights. We checked out the elephants in their new (award winning) zone, saw some mountain goats, and walked through a tunnel of lights that's ripe for selfies.
We always look forward to heading up to Mt Hood: fresh snow, hot tubs, and a charming tiny village, Government Camp. Mt Hood has 3 different ski areas including the famous Timberline Lodge (built by local artisans in the 1930s as a WPA project, and also the exterior in the movie The Shining). We didn't go up to Timberline this time, but in the past we've taken a tour of the lodge from a Park Ranger and I would definitely recommend it! My FAVORITE ski area is Ski Bowl. It's the smallest of the ski areas and has a tiny Historic Warming Hut that you can ski to. The best part of skiing to me is the après ski, so I love that I can ski to this warming hut, head inside to get nice and toasty, split a pitcher of beer, and fill up on goulash. Normally I do about two ski runs and then head to the warming hut and I consider it an excellent ski day! With Sally it's hard to get skiing, so we skipped it the last few years. I did still get some goulash though, and perhaps the best goulash I've ever tasted! We had an excellent meal at the Glacier Haus in Government Camp, so if you are up that way, be sure to check it out. Also, a quick shout out to the quintessential ski bar, Charlie's, complete with vintage ski posters, wood paneled walls, and craft beers.
From Portland we flew to Puerto Vallarta to celebrate Alan's mother's 70th birthday! They have a timeshare there and have been going for years and years. This year we came along and got a hotel on the beach not too far from their timeshare just up the hill.
When we got to Mexico we quickly realized that we accidentally left our stroller in Portland, so our first activity was taking the bus to the local Walmart to get a cheap umbrella stroller ($15!). We mostly spent the remainder of our trip eating delicious food, hunting the 2-for-1 margaritas, and splashing around in the pool.
We stayed at Playa Los Arcos, which is right in the middle of the Romantic Zone of Puerto Vallarta. The location couldn't be beat. It's right on the beach, has a big pool, and is steps away from tons of restaurants and the malecon. We got a suite, which was nice so that we had a small kitchen with a fridge (always a plus with a little one in tow). The rooms themselves were dark and dated, but the restaurant was good, and did I mention the location?
One of the best activities was renting a boat for a couple of hours to take you to Los Arcos, which are some tiny islands (?) right off the coast. There is good snorkeling right around there. I'm a sissy about cold water, so Sally and I skipped the snorkeling, but the fish (and Alan) looked lovely from the boat!
At one point, while downing a 2-for-1 margarita on the beach, I was watching people go parasailing and thought, yeah, I'd like to do that! You can feel like a bird maaaaan! Shockingly I did actually go through with it! I was nervous that it would be scarier than it was, but it was super easy! Also, it was easy to arrange. You just go up to the guy running it on the beach, they strap you into a harness, and off you go! The one we did was short, only about 10 minutes, but still amazing! All in all it was a good trip, and a nice place for a big family vacation. Happy 70th, Elaine Harris!