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Zoolights at the Oregon Zoo #ZooLightsPDX

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Traditions spent with family and friends goes hand in hand especially during the month of December. One of my favorite annual adventures is to visit the ZooLights at the Oregon Zoo together. It’s truly something not to miss out on in seeing such a magical transformation year after year. Not limited to just families, ZooLights is an experience for everyone to enjoy!

The Zoo Train is running this year! My kids age 6 and 3 had been talking and asking about riding it non-stop since they knew we’d be visiting again. They were not disappointed in the least bit even though it was a shorter ride. The Zoo is still having construction to extend to Elephant exhibit so the option to ride to the typical destination of Washington Park was not available. But the train was enjoyed and loved, none the less! The huffing, puffing, the sounds of the horn, the various light decor, and my children’s excited conversation is a memory I won’t soon forget. I happened to get most of the ride on video too!

Throughout the Zoo there are so many lights to see! The colors were all bright and super vibrant! Some of our favorites were the Alice and Wonderland themes, the lights that moved from shapes like a worm into a butterfly, the merry go round, the tunnels of lights, the animal shapes, the trees, and many more. There’s really too many to talk about! It’s clearly something that must be seen for yourself.

A few of the animal exhibits were still open to be seen such as the Elephants, Penguins, Mountain Goats, Tigers/Leopards, Bats, & Fragile Forest. It was a welcome delight for the kids to be able to visit the zoo at night and still be able to see a few of their favorite animals. There were staff members around that were happy to answer any questions too.

There are food vendors open during this time so if you plan on visiting and grabbing something to eat, you can! I heard there’s Hot Cocoa you won’t want to miss out on. I would totally recommend something warm because it can get pretty chilly at night. Be sure to bundle up tight!

Overall, I would highly recommend Zoo Lights to anyone looking for something fun to enjoy with family and friends during this time of the year.

** This year there’s a scavenger hunt that if you find all six lighted Butterflies throughout the zoo, you can enter to win a 4′ plush Penguin!**

-If you are member you can also use your member benefits and get 10% off any Zoo Merchandise.-

Interested in going?  ZooLights runs from November 28, 2014 to January 4, 2015.

-Need to Know Details-

Admission

Members: Free
Adults (12–64): $10
Seniors (65 and up): $9
Children (3–11): $7
2 and under: Free
Group Discounts available.

Schedule

Sunday – Thursday: gates open 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday – Saturday: gates open 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Grounds remain open an hour after gates close.
ZooLights is closed December 10, 24 and 25.

Know before you go

Find out about what’s new, special offers, parking and how to make the most of your ZooLights experience.Read the FAQs.

Dinner, treats and drinks

From gourmet sandwiches to Elephant Ears and hot cocoa, there’s something delicious for everyone at ZooLights. Learn more about dining and treat options.

DISCLAIMER: Through the Cascadia Connect group of bloggers I became aware of this event and was given free tickets for my family to go.  Thanks to the zoo and others involved for this opportunity. My thoughts are mine and my family’s own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for this promotion.

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Howloween at the Oregon Zoo

P1160489 It’s not really Fall until we make a trip to the Portland Oregon Zoo. Over the weekend, my family of four took part in the Howl-O-Ween trick or treat scavenger hunt event. We had been last year and knew this year we definitely not want to miss out. The event ran from October 25th & 26th from 10am-3pm. I believe it always happens one weekend before Halloween. So if you are planning on participating in the future, keep that mind! Also, Howl-O-Ween is completely free with zoo admission which makes it an even sweeter deal if you are already a member too. Upon entering the zoo gates, the friendly staff told us about the event and gave both my kids a scavenger hunt paper each. On this paper, there were seven clues on where they would need to go to get the paper stamped and receive prizes. I believe children as young as 3 years old could probably guess some of the answers. My kids  age 3 and 6 knew the answer to most and only needed a bit of help from both my husband and I. The clues on this years scavenger hunt were:

  1. 1. Oregon Wild
  2. Halloween-colored cat who celebrates his birthday on October 31.
  3. Learn to see like a spider….if it doesn’t bug you too much!
  4. These huge scavenger birds are threatened by tiny pieces of trash!
  5. Dynamic redheads need your help to protect their homes. Their name means, “People of the forest”
  6. A group of these is called a “pride,” and Oregon’s pride just got bigger.
  7. Did you know? These long-necked animals have many different spot patterns?

2014-10-251The stations where children get their papers stamped were set up to offer an activity, a prize, and information about the corresponding animal. My kids were pretty excited about their prize whether a trinket, sticker, or candy. My 6 1/2 year old on the other hand was also pretty eager to ask about the animals from what they ate, where they lived, and a few other things. In fact, this is the first time we’d been to the zoo where she was following the map, locating where we were, and reading all the signs and information! I was very pleased that the Safe Kids Coalition made an appearance at this event. They had their own station with a volunteer from FedEx reminding children and adults to be safe and seen on Halloween. They handed out reflective treat bags, and slap on bracelets! My kids will be using these when we go out on Halloween trick-or-treating! The animals were all pretty lively and it was fun to see that the zoo’s enrichment team provided animals with holiday-themed treats like jack-o’-lanterns stuffed with snacks during this time of the month. I love visiting the zoo during the Fall, the weather isn’t too hot and even if there’s a little rain that’s nothing an umbrella, boots, and good rain jacket can’t remedy.2014-10-252 We plan on attending again next year as we’ve deemed it a must visit attraction for our Autumn family traditions. Also, though not required, lots of kids were in costumes as well as parents too. I think this event is also a great alternative if perhaps you don’t want to take your kids out trick-or-treating on Halloween around those late evening hours. This event is not only educational but a lot of fun as well! I highly recommend checking it out next year! P1160447 Though this event has passed there a birthday party for Amur tiger Mikhail, and a trick-or-treat party for tykes on October 31st at the zoo. For more details on that event click here (http://www.oregonzoo.org/events/tiger-birthday-trick-or-treat-party) Parking at the Zoo: $4.00 all day or 1.25 per hour. Get Connected with the Oregon Zoo: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Google+ | Flickr | http://www.oregonzoo.org/

DISCLAIMER: Through the Cascadia Connect group of bloggers I became aware of this event and was given free tickets for my family to go.  Thanks to the zoo and others involved for this opportunity. My thoughts are mine and my family’s own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for this promotion.

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The Maize at Sauvie Island

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Autumn has officially arrived and for my family, that meant a trip to The Original Corn Maze at the Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island! We had visited last year for the first time and made some great memories! My kids this year knowing Fall was right around the corner started asking me when we’d be taking a trip out there again. Even though we visited early in the season this time there was still much to do and we all had so much fun. Honestly, I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the very first full day of the Fall season and spend time with my family.

This year, Portland’s original cornfield maze is celebrating its 16th season! The maze design is of the iconic Big Red Animal Barn, 100 year old oak tree, and tractor pulling in a load of pumpkins. It’s a classically appealing design that reflects the Pumpkin Patch at Sauvie Island perfectly. The twist and turns overall make up about two miles in this five acre cornfield! My kids thought it was really cool the design included some of their favorite attractions at the farm!

We knew the drill since we’d been last year but if you have any questions or are wondering how to get through the Maize a helpful staff member will fill you in. It’s unique and adds an element of fun on how you can get through. Basically upon entering the Maize, my family and I opted to grab a passport. The passports are filled with helpful trivia questions that if correctly answered, will point you toward the next path on your way out of the Maize.

There are passports of all kinds, we grabbed the Tiny Tots ( perfect for young children, it was actually a little to easy for our 3 1/2 year old and 6 year old daughter). You answer each question at a numbered check point in the maze. If you answer correctly you’ll be told which path to take next. Now, you don’t have to use the passports at all but I think they add to the experience. Also if you think you’ll need a map, be sure to scan the QR code with your cellphone at the entrance.

While exploring the Maize, there are fun CORNundrums to read and if you can locate them all, I believe you enter a grand prize drawing at the Maize exit  (you can enter even if you don’t find them all, but you only have a chance to win if you mark all the correct answers). There are a couple of bridges in maze in which you can see for miles mountains and the pumpkin patch.

There are actually two parts of the maze. Once you get through the first section, you are brought back to the ticket and refreshment area in which can rest and have a snack before going into the second more challenging path! There were many twist and turns throughout the Maize that proved not just fun but challenging too. Roughly it took us about an hour or so to get through with my 6 year old daughter and nearly four year old son. I was very impressed with their endurance and we trekked through.

The paths in the maze were pretty dry right now but since it’s been raining and will rain more, I would highly recommend rain boots considering our experience last year. Also if you have little ones, an extra pair of clothes might be a good idea as well. It’s a farm, they are bound to get messy! It doesn’t hurt to plan ahead.

If you plan on visiting know there’s a lot to do! There’s the Big Red Animal Barn full of chickens, peacocks, emus, sheep, a goat, and more. There’s a hay maze for the tots, a giant hay climbing pyramid, and cow train rides! There are also many places to take fun fall photos of the kids! The free hayrides to the patch to pick out pumpkins are opening this weekend and that was a lot of fun for us last year!

Be sure to visit the gift shop, farm fresh market, and there are food vendors during the weekend. I picked up several decorative gourds, pumpkins, and a couple of mums for my yard from the farm. We love the Maize at Sauvie Island and will continue to come back every year. We are always excited to share about how nice it is out there. It’s great fun for the whole family.

SPECIAL: My Readers Save $2.00 off coupon for regular maze tickets. Limit 4 person customer. —– Order tickets online at http://www.portlandmaze.com/buy.php

***** Enter the code: 2014 *****

“Keeping Portland Lost Since 1999 Maize”

September: Open every day: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
October: Sunday thru Thursday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
October: 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-27, 30- 31 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Open Sunday, Oct. 27, Wednesday, Oct. 30 and Thursday, Oct 31 until 10pm

**Disclosure: We were given tickets for The Maize to facilitate this review. My opinions are my own and have not been altered by anyone.**

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Our Experience at the Polar Express at the Mount Hood Railroad

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A few weeks ago, my family and I had the privilege of experiencing the Polar Express at the Mount Hood Railroad. This adventure was a wonderful treat to ring in the Holiday season and to get the kids excited about Christmas! Any adventure that mommy and daddy tell you that pajamas are required is certain to be a fun one right? This was the first time they had ever ridden a train and with such a joyful time that was had, it most certainly won’t be their last.

The trip down I-84 East was generally uneventful aside from the wind off the gorge adding some excitement. It was a Friday, but we manage to avoid all but a little bit of traffic in I-205 North before he got to I-84E. Along the way if you have time, there are some shopping centers, or more interesting you could stop At Multnomah Falls for a rest, or to see the falls, or possibly take the hike up to see the Falls up close.

It was approximately 1 hour each way from a little south of Portland. The train yard is right off the I-84 exit and you really shouldn’t have trouble finding it. We basically took a right off the exit, then a left and we were there. It would be a good idea to check how full the train is going to be and get there early in case it looks full. There is limited parking, which costs $6. You can pay inside then return the parking note to your dash before embarking upon the train, or if you have cash, pay as you drive in. Also if you are wanting to have lunch or dinner, the train station has a place to eat called the Hobo’s Kitchen located in a train car beside the Mount Hood Railroad gift shop. There are also other restaurants near by too.

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Bob’s Red Mill

On of my recent dates out with my husband, we got the opportunity (thanks to Grandma Becky babysitting the children), to check out Bob’s Red Mill. Bob’s Red Mill is  an  organic-foods mill, store, and café in Milwaukie, OR which is practically a hop, jump and skip away from where we live.

I’m sure North westerners will regonzing the company name right away though people in the south such as my mom may have never heard of them before. I’m sure the number of organic, healthy products are increasing all over the US but I’m  still thinking it’s probably easier to get a hold of these types of products  more around where I live than in Georgia for example.

It was a beautiful day out with spring temperatures and plently of sunshine. We couldn’t have asked for a better day out with each other. We went for lunch but ordered from the breakfast menu at the Bob’s Red Mill Cafe. I ordered scrabbled eggs, grits, spinach, and biscuits. And my gosh, I couldn’t believe the size of those biscuits, I could only finish one and saved the others for the kids.

The food was delicious and we will most defiantly be going back again but next time we’ll opt to try the lunch menu and sit outside if whether permit on their patio. I think it’s awesome that anything you order you could so easily make at home buy purchasing their products right there in the store or at our local grocer.

I love the store, they have a huge variety of organic milled grain products from pancake, biscuits, grits, cornbread, flours, beans, seeds, nuts, dried fruits, spices, herbs, and many more mixes. You can buy small size bags or if you love getting more bang for your buck, you can purchase large 25lb bags! I’m thinking with the way we go through pancake mix and flour, our best bet is going to be going the big bag route. They even have large storage buckets to put your mixes and flours in at home. I love it, one of new favorite places to go. Hoping to go back soon to tour the Mill itself with the kids! I’m sure Melody will be fascinated by the whole process!

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