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Brought to you by John Sciarra, Bernard's Garage - AUTOMOTIVE INSIDER -

BERNARD'S GARAGE - John SciarraSummer's imminent arrival means your vehicle's air conditioning system will soon be under serious strain.

If your A/C isn't as frosty as it used to be, but it's still blowing cold, the system may need to be recharged.

Manufacturers used to use a type of refrigerant known as R-12, or Freon, until researchers found it caused ozone depletion. As such, it's illegal to use Freon in vehicles built after 1994. Now, manufacturers use R-134a to keep things cold in the cabin.

Working on an air conditioning system is about as much fun as sticking your hand in a blender. Twice.

Unless you are skilled in vehicle maintenance, it’s safest to take the job to a professional.

An AC compressor is usually driven by your vehicle's serpentine belt, and as it spins, it pressurizes the system's refrigerant. It's this change in pressure that cools the air coming into your cabin. The best way to keep your compressor from failing is to have your A/C system serviced once a year.

If your compressor needs replacement, most responsible shops will recommend swapping out a number of periphery components at the same time.

Why? The easy answer is working on an air conditioning system is about as fun as sticking your hand in a blender. Twice.

To avoid draining your refrigerant, removing your compressor, installing a new unit and refilling the system with new cool stuff — only to have you come back in a week and say it's still not cold enough — it makes sense to replace the necessary components.

Bernard’s Garage

2036 SE Washington St., Milwaukie



Brought to you by Mike Nielsen of Snap Fitness - FITNESS INSIDER -

SNAP FITNESS - Mike NielsenAs the inspirational saying goes, “Live less out of habit and more out of intent.”

While it’s true that starting a fitness routine can be difficult, I offer the following tips to get you in the gym door and on the road to good health.

Assessment — New SNAP Fitness clients receive a free jump-start session, including consultation with a trainer. The assessment determines the client’s baseline, helps us guide their first steps, and is an opportunity to discuss adding personal training.

Cardio — The national recommendation for exercise for all ages and fitness levels is to get to the gym at least three days per week, and to do a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio per visit. Working out with a friend will make it more fun, help you feel more accountable, help you stay at the gym for more months and achieve a higher level of success.

Strength training is key to replacing fat with muscle, becoming leaner, stronger and improving balance. Do two to three sessions of strength training per week.

Nutritional guidelines — Instead of eating three large meals per day, eat five to six small meals. This will fuel your energy throughout the day and avoid post-meal sluggishness. Also drink 96 ounces of water daily.

Online help — SNAP has a complete online nutritional program and training center. Free with membership, it provides a personalized workout plan, sample menus and a complete library of instruction videos.

Snap Fitness

Milwaukie: 4200 SE King Rd.



Oregon City: 19703 S. Hwy. 213, Ste. 170



Brought to you by Mike Nielsen - Snap Fitness - Fitness INSIDER

Mike Nielsen, Snap FitnessStrength training is an essential part of an exercise program, even for someone who hasn’t been active in a while.

Lifting weights, using weight machines and doing core work increases muscle mass and bone density.

As we age, our muscles deteriorate (called sarcopenia) and bone density decreases.

Research shows that seniors are more susceptible to bone breakage that younger adults. As people age, their metabolism slows down. We are seeing more and more seniors joining gyms.

If we take the average adult between the ages of 40 and 50 and do basic strength-training three to four times per week for 90 days, the outcome can be life-changing.

Here’s a myth-buster: Muscle does NOT weigh more than fat! A pound is a pound. 

Muscle is, however, more dense than body fat and takes up less area than fat. If you were to start an exercise program complete with strength training, you would increase your lean body mass and decrease body fat.

The body takes up less space and metabolism speeds up, resulting in a higher BMR (base metabolic rate, the amount of daily caloric intake needed to maintain LBM and weight.) This reverses sarcopenia and increases bone density.   

Not everyone walks into a gym and knows exactly what to do. Snap gives new members an opportunity to meet with a Certified Personal Trainer, who assesses their body and their goals. 

Let’s get started.

Snap Fitness

Milwaukie: 4200 SE King Rd.



Oregon City: 19703 S. Hwy. 213, Ste. 170



Brought to you by John Sciarra, Bernard's Garage - AUTO MAINTENANCE INSIDER

John Sciarra, Bernard's GarageRegular maintenance on your car is, quite simply, a good investment.

For example, when you bring your car in for a timing belt — typically needed at 90,000 to 100,000 miles— it costs in the range of $400 to $500. But if it breaks, it might be $1,800 to $2,000.

At our shop, when we do it, we do it right. With the timing belt, we also replace the timing belt tensioner, idler pulleys, camshaft seals, water pump and coolant.

Mileage interval maintenance, which is only done by shops, should be done at 30,000, 60,000 and 90,000 miles.

The ideal scenario is to get the car into the shop about three times per year for inspections, which will find things like rodent damage, which is more common than you might think. It’s mainly squirrels in this area.

An inspection will also uncover leaking coolant or oil, as well as plugged-up air filters. Once a year, you should get a brake inspection.

We do complete automotive repair, including pre-purchase inspections for $150. That’s a comprehensive inspection, which can detect unforeseen problems and save you from buying a compromised vehicle.

Our average cost for an oil change is $38; $58 for a brake inspection.

It’s a small investment. We do it properly and can save you a lot of trouble and expense down the road.

Bernard’s Garage

2036 SE Washington St., Milwaukie



Mike Nielsen - Snap Fitness - Fitness INSIDER

SNAP FITNESS - Mike Nielsen“We are a friendly, success-oriented fitness center,” says Mike Nielsen, vice president and co-owner of Snap Fitness locations in Oregon City, Milwaukie and Canby. “We’re like the ‘Cheers’ of the gym world, where everybody knows your name.”

Nielsen has been a certified fitness coach for 13 years and has been with Snap for eight years. He says being a fitness coach is all about helping individuals achieve the best version of themselves.

“It’s not just something that’s done at the gym, but it’s a lifestyle change,” he said of Snap. “We focus on not only the physical but also the mental and emotional aspects of everyday life, to make sure we are able to achieve long-term success.”

He says Snap gyms have a family feel and a personal touch.

The gyms are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with monitored access for safety. Snap has more than 1,500 locations nationwide.

The fitness centers offer cardio, personal training, weight-loss programs, a health center, strength training and Olympic lifting. An online web page for members offers nutrition counseling and an online training center.

“Our members are our greatest assets,” Nielsen added. “We do all we can to make sure they have not only the best facility and equipment, but a wonderful experience.”

Snap Fitness


Milwaukie: 4200 SE King Rd.


Oregon City: 19703 S. Hwy. 213, Ste. 170


Canby: 1109 SW 1st Ave.


Brought to you by John Sciarra - Bernard's Garage - AUTOMOTIVE INSIDER -

BERNARD'S GARAGE - John SciarraAfter nearly 100 years of providing excellent full-service automotive repair and maintenance, Bernard’s Garage is a classic Milwaukie institution trusted by generations of customers.

Founded in 1925, old timers and area residents still remember Joe Bernard Sr., who would design and build custom car parts when his customers’ vehicles needed it. Joe Bernard Jr., a former Milwaukie mayor, helped modernize Bernard’s and continued his father’s tradition of excellent customer service.

The current owner, Jim Bernard, another Milwaukie mayor and current Clackamas County commissioner, has computerized Bernard’s—turning his father’s mechanics into today’s technicians.

Besides providing free pickup and delivery, Bernard’s offers DEQ repair and adjustments, check-engine light diagnosis, manufacturer-scheduled maintenance, brakes, steering and suspension repair, timing belt tune-ups, radiator and water pump work, as well as engine, transmission and air conditioning service.

“We are straight shooters and will let you know what the problem is and what the cost is upfront,” Operations Manager John Sciarra says.

Sciarra, an 18 year veteran of Bernard’s, has attained numerous specialty vehicle class certifications. With 26 years in the industry overall, Sciarra is our INSIDER for automotive excellence.

Bernard’s Garage is a 17-year-long supporter of the Milwaukie Farmers Market, a Milwaukie First Friday participant and frequently donates to the Annie Ross House, Milwaukie Senior Center and other local schools and events.

A member of the Clackamas County Chamber of Commerce since 1955, Bernard’s has been named Business of the Year twice since 2000, and has received the BRAG award from the county for practicing responsible recycling and waste management.

Bernard's Garage 

2036 SE Washington St, Milwaukie, OR.

(503) 659-7722


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Raft your heart out


Photo Credit: BLUE SKY RAFTING PHOTO: CHAD MOSHER - Blue Sky Rafting Guide Mattew Haenny (back right) shows us how its done. Mick (back left) Jennifer (front left) and Ryan Karbula get a kick out of the Clackamas River. Just ignore the intrepid reporter (front right).If you’ve never been whitewater rafting before, you may be a bit nervous before your first trip.

True, there is a release form to sign with some morbid things to put your initials by. Then before you climb into the raft, the guide gives a talk on how to paddle and what to do if you fall out in the rapids.

At this point, if you’re like me, you might be a bit anxious.

But, Blue Sky Rafting guides are prepared for this sort of trepidation and do away with it immediately by giving guests a taste of whitewater right away.

About a quarter of a mile into Blue Sky Rafting’s half-day trip on the Clackamas River, you hit the Hole in the Wall Rapids.

And it’s really, really fun.

As soon as we reached calm water, I couldn’t wait to find the waves again.

Photo Credit: BLUE SKY RAFTING PHOTO: CHAD MOSHER - While a good portion of the half-day float is along calm water, youll also encounter plenty of adrenaline-pumping rapids.Beaming, with a face-full of water, my mind was yelling “Let’s do it again!”

That’s just what Blue Sky Rafting Guide Matthew Haenny was aiming for.

As the other rafters and I shake water from our hair and eyes, Haenny tells us that his job description is basically to bring us back grinning with our hair wet.

Job well done.

This probably wouldn’t surprise Blue Sky Rafting founder Pete Giordano.

“Once people see the reality of it, people relax and have fun,” he said in an interview before the trip.

Giordano said there is an incredible range of ages and skill levels that come to experience the Clackamas River through Blue Sky Rafting trips.

“Grandparents to small children and everything in between,” he said.

That’s not to say that the tour isn’t exciting.

Haenny gave our tour several opportunities to surf the raft on waves and showed us all how to do the “bull rider” at the front of the raft with your legs hanging over while holding onto a knotted cord.

(Of the four guests on the raft, Ryan Karbula was the only one brave enough to try it on the rapids.)

The six-mile, half-day float of the Clackamas takes you through several rapids ranging from Class 2 to Class 4; the most exciting being the Toilet Bowl near the end of the trip.

The float of the Clackamas isn’t all about spiking your adrenaline though.

Between rapids, there is plenty to look at: the basalt cliffs, the old growth forests, bright goldfinches, maybe even an osprey and, of course, the water.

“What everyone comments on most frequently is the water clarity. You can see all the way to the bottom at times,” Giordano said.

While Blue Sky Rafting also offers whitewater rafting trips on the Hood, Molalla, North Santiam and Sandy rivers, Giordano seems especially fond of the Clackamas.

“The scenery is just knock your socks off beautiful,” he said and pointed out that the Clackamas is a designated federal Wild and Scenic River. “It’s unusual to find something of that quality so close to an urban setting.”

After guiding on the Arkansas River in Colorado for four years, Giordano started Blue Sky Rafting in Oregon in 1998.

The company began with two rafts, a van and one other part-time guide besides Giordano.

Today, the company has 13 rafts and, depending on the year, employs about 20 people.

Photo Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: CHAD MOSHER - Were alive! Paddle high-five.A guide goes with each tour and a photographer catches candid photos of guests as they crash through the rapids.

Floats are scheduled year-round, but the company’s busiest season is from May through Labor Day.

The bulk of Blue Sky Rafting customers tend to be out-of-towners, Giordano said.

My crewmates for my half-day trip were Mick, Ryan and Jennifer Karbula of Ohio. They were on a National Park tour road trip and called Blue Sky Rafting as a way to experience Oregon. All three agreed that they enjoyed it.

For more information on Blue Sky Rafting visit www.blueskyrafting.com or call 503-630-3163.

Want to take a rafting tour of the Clackamas?

WHAT: Blue Sky Rafting offers full and half-day tours of the Clackamas River.

COST: Half-day trips cost $48 per person on weekdays and $50 on weekends. Full-day trips are $80 on weekdays and $85 on weekends.

WHEN: Half-day trips meet at 9:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m.; full-day trips meet at 10 a.m.

STAY DRY: Wetsuits may be rented for $5 and wetsuit booties may be rented for $3.

CONTACT: To reserve a trip call 503-630-3163, 888-789-5486 or 800-898-6398.