Alex Z., his wife and Dizzy moved to Portland two years ago from Chicago. He came to Oregon for the love of the outdoors. As a young man Alex became an Eagle Scout. This is where his passion for hiking, camping, and rafting began. One of his other passions is art. He has a B.F.A in glassblowing and sculpture. He has spent eleven years blowing glass all over the U.S. What he likes most about glassblowing is that it’s a strenuous activity with all the heat and weight of the glass. Alex believes that stress brings out the best in people. He originally came out here to blow glass, but his priorities shifted and the US Outdoor Store became a better fit. It gives him the flexibility to pursue his Masters in Education. Plus, at the US Outdoor Store we can bring our dogs to work. How could Alex and Dizzy resist.

Dizzy is a nine year old Australian Kelpie. Alex raised him from a pup. This breed is highly intelligent and has the need for lots of exercise. A perfect fit for Alex and his love for all things outdoors. Dizzy is his constant companion for hiking, camping, biking, even snowshoeing. Dizzy likes to barrel through the snow like a little torpedo with legs. He is in his element. One of Alex’s favorite memories was when Dizzy was still a pup and saw snow for the first time. He got so excited and started jumping in the air to catch the snowflakes. They spent hours on a trampoline they had in the yard bouncing and catching the snow.

Alex and Dizzy have criss crossed the country several times. Like Mad Max and his dog driving and having adventures throughout the countryside. Only without freaks in leather outfits trying to kill them. They have visited the Appalachian Mountains, the Smoky Mountains, Rocky Mountains, and the Cascades Mountain ranges. One of Dizzy’s favorite things is water. Going through Colorado one day they stopped for a hike. Dizzy was having a great time splashing and swimming in some streams. Then he decided to jump in the Colorado River proper. It was a scary moment for Alex. But Dizzy, a professional, pulled it off.

Dizzy at the shop

As summer turns to fall; Alex and Dizzy’s favorite time of year, because winter is coming. You should come down to the shop and check out all our shop dogs, but make sure you go down to camping so you can meet Dizz the Fearless. Stay gold Dizzy.

Labor Day Weekend – Things to do in Oregon

Labor Day is fastly approaching, and for some of you it’s the last hurrah of the summer. So let’s go out with a bang.

Labor Day, or the working man’s holiday, was first proposed by labor union leader Peter Maguire in 1882. It was celebrated in New York City on September 5th of that year. It gained popularity across the nation in 1884, and in 1887 Oregon became the first state to legislate Labor Day as a holiday. I guess we really were Trailblazers. In 1894 Congress follow suit and declared the first Monday in September a legal holiday. Why the first Monday in September? It was halfway between Independence day and Thanksgiving. Clever. Oh, and by the way, you can’t wear white after Labor Day. This means you Michael. Here are some things you should consider doing Labor Day weekend.

Nothing says summer like floating the river. When I was a teenager every year we had the “Unboat Race” in August. It was the highlight of the summer. We would make the Unboat, which was basically a deck on inner tubes, the day and night before the race. Then at the crack of dawn we would haul it down to the river and put in. Boiled down, it was a great excuse to hang out with pretty girls in bikinis. I know, a little creepy, but give me a break here, I was a dork with a mullet, it was one of the few chances I had to hang out with girls.

There are plenty of places to float in Oregon, but you must have the basics. First, the float tube. You could go old school and get a dirty old inner tube, or you could up your game and get a float tube with a backrest and beverage holders like this one; Airhead Fiji Float Chair. For a bald guy like me I usually wear a booney hat to protect my dome from the sun, but when it’s hot out I end up taking it off. The resulting peeling on my head looks something like a reptilian/alien hybrid. Not pretty. You should bring along some sunscreen. Some type of water shoe is a must. You could wear a pair of old tennis shoes, but they fill up with water and tend to weigh you down. Flip flops would be gone a in minute. I prefer Chaco’s or Teva’s, they stay on your feet, have good traction, and work great in the water and on land. Plus you’ll look cool with the criss cross tan lines on your feet.

Sandy River

One of the best rivers to float is the Sandy. It’s close to Portland, slow and does not have a lot of rapids. There are many public beaches along the way and lots of houses, so you will have some company to give cheers to. The best route is Dabney State Recreation Area to Lewis and Clark State Recreation Site.

Clackamas River

The Clackamas River is a little more adventurous. It has more rapids than the Sandy, and it’s more secluded. The most popular launch is from Milo McIver State Park. Here you can float down to Barton Park or Carver Park.

Deschutes River

The Deschutes River is one of my favorite places to fly fish, and depending on where I am on the river I see a lot of people floating or rafting. Plus, if you launch in the town of Bend there’s lots of things to do, including visiting the many breweries Bend has to offer. This link will give you the skinny on floating the Deschutes from Bend. I know it’s cliche, but “Float On.”


One of my favorite lakes in the Mt. Hood National Forest is Timothy Lake. It’s probably my favorite because I’ve actually caught fish here. It has everything to offer, including; camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, you get the picture. Plus it has an awesome view of Mt. Hood. Can I still say “Awesome”. When I was a kid we said “Rad”. Now I know I can’t say that.

Oregon State Fair

You could also head to Salem for the Oregon State Fair. It starts August 25th through September 4th. What can I say about the Oregon State Fair. Weird fried foods, plenty of adult beverages, and hoping you don’t blow chunks on one of the many rides they have to offer. There are also plenty of concerts. To name a few; Dwight Yokum, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Eddie Money, and if you want to relive the “Caddyshack” soundtrack, Kenny Loggins will be there. What I like about that movie besides the dancing gopher, are the names of the cast. Ty Webb, Al Czervik, Dr. Beeper, Judge Smails, and my favorite – Lacey Underall. And for the kids there are over forty carnival rides. There are also Pig Races, Mmmmm bacon, Pony Rides, and a petting zoo with a wide assortment of baby animals; deer, ducks, wallabies, and miniature donkeys. It wouldn’t be a state fair if there wasn’t a pie eating contest. Count me out. Remember that scene in the movie “Stand by Me”, boy that was rough. I know, two movie references in one blog, but indulge me. Anyway you should check it out.

-written by usoutdoor employee C.Tyrell


The Columbia River Gorge is one of the ultimate hiking destinations here in the Pacific Northwest. Scenic drives, gorgeous waterfalls, and stunning views of the Columbia River leaves no question as to why this place has become such a popular spot to explore. With over 140 hiking trails to choose from, picking which one can be a little overwhelming. I could list off one by one all the great hikes you should explore, but that list could go on for days. So instead let’s take it one hike at a time.

Starvation Creek State Park

For all you waterfall hunters out there, this state park is the place for you. It’s located in the Columbia River Gorge along Highway 84 about 50 miles from Portland. It offers a 2.6 mile loop that passes by three stunning waterfalls. The picnic area is fantastic. Pack a lunch and enjoy your food with the sounds of the creek rushing by and magnificent views of Starvation Creek Falls in the background. Many of the visitors who come here choose not to take the full 2.6 mile loop around the park. If waterfalls are what you seek all three waterfalls are just a short stroll through the woods. Start your hike by heading west along the paved Mount Defiance Trail that follows Highway 84. At first this trail may seem a little awkward. The sound of the rushing cars may be a bit unpleasant, but don’t worry, soon there will be trees separating you from the road and your peaceful hike in the woods begins.

Cabin Creek Falls

First up, Cabin Creek Falls. It’s the smallest of the three waterfalls, but certainly worth the stop.

Cabin Creek Falls


Next up, Hole-In-The-Wall-Falls. This magnificent 92 foot beast will most certainly catch your eye. Originally called Warren Falls, this waterfall used to flow right over the cliff, which caused floods on Highway 84 during the winter. Rather than moving the road they decided to move the waterfall. In 1938 a hole was constructed to allow Warren Creek to flow into a tunnel and out through the “hole-in -the-wall.” Many visitors choose to turn around after this point, but I’d recommend you keep going. There’s one more waterfall to see and it’s only a short hike away.


Lancaster Falls

Last stop, Lancaster Falls. My favorite out of the three. From Hole-In-The-Wall-Falls, cross the wooden bridge and continue to hike along an easy rocky/dirt path. You will come to a fork in the trail and a well marked sign will tell you to head right. Do as it says and you’ll find yourself standing here, up close and personal with this beauty.

After an easy 1.8 mile out-and-back hike, passing by three magnificent waterfalls, plus a bonus fourth in the picnic area, I would have to say Starvation Creek State Park will most certainly not disappoint. And for those of you interested in hiking the full 2.6 mile hike, stay tuned. I took that hike last spring and trust me there’s definitely some “need to know before you go” info that I’ll tell you about later. Until then, Cheers.

-written by usoutdoor employee Shawna B.


One of the great things about living in Portland is that you’re always close to the most amazing spots on the planet. There is so much to do and see. Here is a short post on one of those adventures.

These are my dogs Maggie and Rowdy. I’ll begin with an introduction, Maggie first, she’s the oldest. Maggie’s a black lab/Kelpie mix. She is the most beautiful, smart, and confident dog ever, and she absolutely loves to swim. Rowdy’s a black Lab/Cattle dog mix. He is the cutest, funniest, and sweetest dog ever, and when he see’s sand, he goes nuts.

This adventure begins on a Sunday morning. My wife and I packed the car with my fly fishing gear, loaded up the dogs, and headed to the Wilson River. As we drove along Highway 6, all my favorite spots on the Wilson were taken. “Not a problem”, I said. Let’s go to the Oregon Coast instead. The dogs love the beach even more than they love the river. We get to Tillamook and head North on Highway 101. While driving and plotting which beach to hit first I looked up and saw a Tillamook Country Steak sign. My favorite Jerky. We just started selling it at the shop. I never knew where it was made, maybe Tillamook Country should have been a clue, but I always sucked at that game.

Tillamook Country Smoker

Continuing along 101 we drive through Garibaldi. We see these weird rocks out in the bay, so we pulled over for a minute to check it out. These rocks look very much like the famous Haystack Rock, but with trees growing on them, a mini forest. I can’t help but love the fact that nothing on the west side of Oregon can escape the green.

Crab Rocks

Next stop Barview Jetty County Park. As we pulled into the parking lot the dogs could smell the salt in the air, and their excitement begins. We leash them up, walk past all the other people and let them go. Maggie takes off running with Rowdy right behind. Maggie heads straight for the water and dives right in. She does that when I fish, which is why I contend that I don’t catch as much fish as my friends. Rowdy hits the sand and starts to dig. He absolutely loves to dig. We chant, “dig, dig, dig,” which eggs him on even more.

The day is still young so we continue to head North on 101. We drive through Rockaway Beach. We see a giant hot dog on top of Pronto Pup, we wanted to stop but it was closed, bummer. No hot dogs, no Rockaway.

Pronto Pup

Next the city of Brighton. We had no plans to stop here. It’s just another city on the bay and our mission is to see the ocean. As we were driving through, my wife saw this campground and told me to stop. “Lets check it out”. She’s always on the hunt for a good camping spot. As we pulled up, we saw a crowd of people hanging out on this giant dock. It was part of Kelly’s Marina. It’s a happening little spot, tucked away, invisible from the road. We walked around and admired the weird decorations while enjoying the view. There were fresh live oysters, clams, and crabs for sale. We bought a dozen oysters and went on our way. Time to head home. Dinner Time.

Kelly’s Marina

Cruising North on Highway 6, listening to “Killing Moon, by Echo and the Bunnymen”, great song, you should check it out. By the way how cool is the name “Echo and the Bunnymen”. Thoughts of oysters for dinner, and I can’t help think what a great place to live – Oregon baby.


US Outdoor / Mountain Hardwear ~ 20 Years Together

A relationship doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time, effort and trust to develop a kinship. For 20 years, we here at U.S. Outdoor have been honored to represent the great outdoors along side our friends, Mountain Hardwear, one of the most trusted outdoor brands on the planet.

On Monday, April 21st, Jack Powell, the Pacific Northwest Rep for Mountain Hardwear, presented to Rob Solomon, owner of U.S. Outdoor, an award of special recognition for 20 years of support. U.S. Outdoor was one of the original retailers to carry Mountain Hardwear. We are proud of our relationship with such a stellar brand and wish Jack Powell, and the rest of Mountain Hardwear many more years of success. Thank you.

Mountain Hardwear Baby! You know we love it.

U.S. Outdoor Owner, Rob Solomon, and General Manager, Todd Sexton, pose majestically with the Mountain Hardwear award of special recognition.

Explore the South Central Oregon Outback

Summer Lake, Oregon Outback

Summer Lake, Oregon Outback

My spring break was spent in South Central Oregon at Summer Lake Hot Springs. The trip was meant to celebrate my ten year wedding anniversary. My wife picked out the hot springsbecause they are in the middle of nowhere, and our dogs could stay in the cabin with us. I never expected to find the entire region another gem of our state. The area offered an ideal combination of dramatic landscapes and solitude. If you haven’t been to this part of Oregon plan a road trip sometime soon.

Summer Lake Hot Springs is located just north of Paisley, OR. Camping and cabin rentals are available on site. The springs sit just under the Winter Rim near Summer Lake. It is similar to the Alford Dessert Hot Springs which sit below Steens Mountain. The main pool is located in a neat, super old barn style structure. Two outdoor pools are also available for views of the surrounding Mountains and desert.

Running at Cove Palisades

Running at Cove Palisades

The entire region is so huge, and far from any major cities, that we found more solitude than expected. Almost every business was eager to share neat things to see and do since they don’t seem to get enough visitors. We had a hard time picking the best places to hike on our trip down from Portland, and on our trip back. First, I ran the classic Tam-a-lau Trail in the Cove Palisades State Park. Then on our way back we played around at Fort Rock State Park. So many more options are available. We will probably spend a lifetime exploring only a small portion of the area.

If you do plan to take a trip into the Oregon Outback of South Central Oregon, be sure to bring along layerable clothing . The temperatures vary widely. Additionally bring hiking or running shoes , a swim suit , head wear , and sun glasses . Lots of books can give you ideas as to what is available in the region. Just make sure you allow yourself enough time to enjoy settling into the place. Oh, and feel free to keep this place a secret to protect its solitude. I currently feel guilty telling you about it, so heed my warning.