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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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Picking up the scent of 'black diamonds'


Enticing aroma of truffles appeals to dogs and foodies

In this game, the dog always wins by a nose. Literally.

The game is hunting for Oregon truffles, which have a distinct aroma. And it just so happens that many dogs can identify that scent and unearth the fungi, which Elizabeth Kalik calls “black diamonds.”

Kalik, along with partners Allan Kalik and Kelly and Roy Slocum, runs N.W. Truffle Dogs, a truffle-dog-training school in Oregon City.

Elizabeth Kalik and Kelly Slocum used to train and handle search-and-rescue dogs, but Kalik said she grew tired of the long hours and stress, so started looking around for something else to do with her dogs.

She started using her dogs to look for chanterelle mushrooms, and then in 2008 came across an article in “Bark” by Charles Lefevre.

“He did a feasibility study at OSU on Oregon truffles, and there was a large section on the use of dogs. I called and told him I was interested, and he told me there was only one truffle-hunting dog in Oregon. I said, ‘I can fix that,’ ” Kalik said.

“I told him if he can teach us about truffles, we can train dogs. He took us out on a few hunts near Corvallis. It was like taking Truffle 101.”

In 2009, she went to a dog-training seminar in Eugene for the Oregon Truffle Festival, and then she and her partners founded N.W. Truffle Dogs that same year.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Elizabeth Kalik, one of the owners of N.W. Truffle Dogs, shows a very interested Gordie a container of preserved Oregon black truffles. Canines find the scent of truffles to be particularly delectable.

Douglas fir relationship

So what are truffles and why are they so expensive?

The short answer: Truffles are underground fungi and are rare and hard to find. The longer answer is a bit more detailed.

There are four kinds of culinary truffles: the Oregon black truffle, the Oregon winter white, the Oregon spring white and the Oregon brown truffle.

They are mostly found growing underground in proximity to Douglas fir habitat, which happens to be prolific in Oregon, Kalik said.

“You have to find just the right patch of Douglas fir, in the right conditions,” she said. “The planets have to align.”

Truffles have a symbiotic relationship with the tree, with a sort of exchange of nutrients between the two.

The reason that dogs can find them is that the truffle’s luscious smell appeals to a dog’s taste buds, Kalik said.

“The purpose of the aroma is to disperse spores, and to do that, the truffles have to be consumed by animals in order to propagate,” she said, noting that usually they are found and eaten by voles and other rodents.

Part of the reason truffles cost so much is their season is short, generally from October to February, but most hunters have the best luck in January and February, Kalik said. And there is the added cachet associated with the European truffles from France and Italy that can sell for thousands of dollars a pound, and are “highly prized and valued by foodies.”

Oregon truffles aren’t comparable to European truffles in the culinary world yet, Kalik said, but experts say the Oregon white truffle is gaining a good reputation.

In a small bit of canine irony, Kalik said that when they are freshly dug up, ripe Oregon black truffles look shiny and wet, just like a dog’s nose.

‘It just happens’

Of course, Kalik admitted that her interest in truffles is not culinary, but is instead in using them for training the dogs.

“We use basic operative conditioning; the truffle scent is like Pavlov’s bell” to a dog, she noted.

Dogs like to do scent work, she said, and training them to hunt truffles in a controlled environment is relatively easy. The challenge comes when you take the dogs out into the woods, and there are things the dogs would rather find, Kalik said.

“We have to work on distraction-proofing and developing a work ethic. We train the dog to find truffles, but not eat them,” she said.

She and Kelly Slocum have developed an assessment program, where they can test dogs ahead of time to see if they are right for the training program.

If a dog is shy or not engaged from the start, or if the owners seem to want to do this more than the dog, she and Slocum “mitigate expectations. We hate to see people desperate to do this, and not all dogs enjoy the training process.”

As for what breed of dog works best, Kalik said she and Slocum have worked successfully with every kind of dog, from a tiny dog like a Chinese Crested to a Giant Schnauzer.

One of their most successful dogs was a pug-beagle cross, Kalik said, noting that beagles “are the epitome of a scent-detecting dog,” but might not be the best pet.

People interested in this kind of dog training, “should find a dog they love and make the best of that. They will be spending more hours in the company of the pet than they will hunting truffles,” she added.

The best breeds for truffle training should be outgoing and independent and not clingy and cuddly.

“Hounds do great scent work, and golden retrievers can be fantastic. I love to watch them hunt with their noses; it is so great to see them doing something they love,” Kalik said.

She recounted a time last year when she took students and their dogs on a hunt. The adults were standing around talking, and then Sasha, a golden retriever, started snuffling around a fern, and then turned around with a big, black truffle in her mouth.

“That was the first time it clicked with Sasha. You can’t make it happen, it just happens,” Kalik said.

Dogs only, please

Contrary to what some people think, truffles are cultivable, but as far as she knows, the only truffle plantations have been planted with trees inoculated with European truffle spores from Italy and France, Kalik said.

“The spores have to be in before the trees are planted, and after five to seven years, you should start to see some truffles,” she said.

She knows of plantations in the Napa region of California, and in the South. A woman in North Carolina has asked Kalik to come to her plantation with her dogs to help her harvest truffles.

That brings up the issue of ethics. The best way to find truffles is using dogs, who will detect the intensely aromatic ripe fungi. But some people take the easy way out and rake up the truffles.

“If you rake up the truffles, you bring up the unripe as well as the ripe ones, and then you are done for the season. At any one time, few truffles are ripe; maybe two out of 10, she said, adding that the rake method drives the value of the product down if people try to sell an unripe truffle on the market. 

“We ask that plantation owners sign an ethics agreement that they won’t sell non-dog-found truffles,” Kalik said.

As for the future, she and her partners plan to continue training dogs to find native truffles, and they would like to find students interested in working on plantations, Kalik said.

She encourages people who are interested in truffles to learn more about the habitat by joining local mushroom clubs and going out on forays with knowledgeable members.

“People here don’t know what they might have right in their own backyards,” Kalik added.

Fast Facts

To learn more about N.W. Truffle Dogs, visit NWTruffleDogs.com; email the owners at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or call 503-664-0364.