Defy the traditional summer hiking reasoning and hide from the sun at the Ape Cave, a 2000-year-old, two-mile stretch of dripping, glimmering lava tube just south of Mt. Saint Helens. Beginners can take the Lower Ape, a sandy stretch of spooky softness, while experts can head to Upper Ape, loaded with large rock piles to skirt. You would do exceedingly well to bring a flashlight to this proceeding. JWS
I5 North to Exit 21 (Woodland Exit), East on Hwy 503 to USFS Road 90, left on 90
SURFING AT SHORT SANDS
What would summer be without bikinis and surfboards? Oh wait--we're in Oregon--dry suits and surfboards. The Oregon coast offers many ideal surfing beaches: Seaside Cove, Pacific City, Indian Beach and, my favorite, Short Sands.
Short Sands (officially Oswald West) is great for all levels of surfing and windsurfing. Or, for those afraid of sharks, it's also great for hiking, skim boarding and harassing creatures in tide pools. The beach is a quarter mile hike down from any of three parking lots (watch your valuables). LS
Rentals and lessons available through All-Surf Industry. 532 SE Clay, 239-8973, Mon-Sat 10 am - 7 pm, Sun 10 am - 4 pm.
Short Sands, 26 West to 101, ten miles South of Cannon Beach on 101, day use is free, camping $14, oregonsurf.com
You shouldn't have to drive hundreds of miles, spewing toxic fumes, to commune with nature. If you want to be truly eco-friendly, ditch the Subaru and take TriMet.
Stuff a two-person inflatable kayak, paddle, pump, life vests, food and beer into a duffel. Grab a friend who you wouldn't mind spending a few hours with to help you carry all that junk, and hop on the 31-Estacada to the Clackamas River. Get off the bus at Barton Park and hitch a ride or walk the quarter-mile down the hill to the water. Three or four lazy hours later, you'll find you've floated to Carver Park. An easy pull out, from here lug your stuff back over the bridge, up the hill and hop back on the 31, homeward bound.
Or, try the same itinerary, but without hauling your own equipment. Allstar Rafting will meet you at Barton Park with gear, and pick it up when you pull out at Carver Park. JB Trimet.org for bus schedules, no service Sunday.
Allstar Rafting, 1-800-909-7238. $40 for two-person kayak, paddles, life vests, and shuttle service.
What better place to vacation than a town built for vacationers? Sun River was planned because of the number of outdoor activities in the surrounding area: rafting the Deschutes, exploring the lava lands and Crater Lake, rock climbing at Smith Rock, horseback riding, hiking, fishing, and most notably, biking. It's exhausting just thinking a bout the possibilities. The town is criss-crossed with 37 miles of bike paths, and home to a summer music festival, and close to The High Desert Museum, and The Warm Springs Museum and... and... many more "ands."LS
Sun River, I-5 South for 45 miles, OR 22 East for 80 miles, US 20 East for 20 miles, US 97 South 10 miles, oregoncitylink.com/ sunriver
Summer is the season where the water stops falling from the sky and stays where God intended it--in swimmin' holes!
Mt. Hood National Forest Lakes offer plenty of great camping. A few favorites? Lost Lake; it was lost and then found again. And, for those who are still too city-bred for camping but want to experience nature, it also has a resort. Frog Lake is great because it has, well, frogs. Clear Lake is great because, well, it's clear. PB
Highway 26 East for 60+ miles depending on the lake and follow signs, camping $14-$40, cabins $50- $100, www.fs.fed.us/r6/mthood
NEWBERG SKATE PARK
Voted the greatest skate park in Oregon, Newberg has quietly climbed into legendary status. Sure, the Burnside Park is fun, but also dark and gloomy. And for the most part, it's ignored by the Portland Park & Rec bureau. But the small town of Newberg has taken pride in its skate park; it's their number one tourist attraction and they love boasting about it.
Like concrete waves, the park has intoxicatingly high walls and swooping corners. Wide-open and sunny, the Newberg Chamber of Commerce takes great care of their treasure--and it shows! The vibe is loose and friendly. Helmets mandatory. JB
1201 S. Blaine St, Newberg, Take 99W to Newburg, left on S River St, right on E 9th St, left on S Blaine St, Open dawn 'til dusk, except when the park is wet
Despite what John Cusack might say, sandboarding is the sport of the future. And just a few short hours away is the World's First Sandboarding Park! Yeah, right here in Oregon. One of the latest manifestations of surfing and snowboarding, sandboarding requires giant sand dunes and a board strapped to your bare feet (or you can wear boots) much like a snowboard. It's like something out of a Star Wars movie. With no chairlifts, you need to hike your lazy ass up the dunes--but it's worth it. The ride down is a rush (and if you're lucky, you'll even avoid a mouthful of sand).
Some snowboarders I've spoken to think this sport is "retarded" (yeah, that's what the pot calls the kettle). But for big, warm-blooded chickens like me, it's a godsend. No cold. No snow. And with sand all around, there's no trees to whack your head on. KS
Sand Master Park, Hwy 101 South in Florence Oregon, sandmasterpark.com, 260 miles from Portland, Open 7 days a week 10 am-7 pm, $16 for board rental and access to the park
BIKE OREGON WINE COUNTRY
The marriage of biking and boozing is one of the greatest advancements of humankind--ranking up there with peanut butter and jelly, and Sonny and Cher. And nothing's better than biking and boozing out in Wine Country, where the roads stretch forever, and the grapes grow like succulent weeds.
In Oregon, we have dozens of fine, low-key vineyards to choose from--in the Willamette Valley, along the coast, in the Columbia Gorge. To help narrow things down, figure out where you feel like riding first. Then visit www.oregonwines.com. Any winery who's anyone is listed there, and the site is organized into geographical regions, replete with specific printable maps. It's the first step towards getting your wine/bike adventure planned. The rest is up to you, drunko! JWS