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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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Cascadia Wild teaches basics of wolverine tracking


Movies make animal tracking look so easy. In reality, it is a difficult skill and takes a long time to learn, but the rewards are tremendous, said Teri Lysak, the director of Cascadia Wild’s Wolverine Tracking Project.

by: PHOTO BY JON HOUSE - Animal trackers from Cascadia Wild inspect a scrape on a trail and make notations saying that they believe to be either a bobcat or cougar in the Mount Hood Nartional Forest.People get to connect with nature, learn a new skill and add to a scientific-knowledge base at the same time, she said.

Cascadia Wild is a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire personal connections to nature and communities by teaching animal tracking, wild edible-plant identification and wilderness-survival skills.

The group will offer classroom training sessions starting in January, followed by field trips to Oxbow Park, near Troutdale. Once participants have taken both sessions, they are eligible to attend survey trips at Mount Hood, which take place nearly every weekend through March. Cascadia Wild provides some of the winter gear, such as snowshoes.

The next training sessions begin in January. Find out more by visiting cascadiawild.org/wolverine-tracking-project.html.

Elusive forest animals

The tracking project “gets people out to Mount Hood, tracking and surveying for rare carnivores,” Lysak said.

It is made possible by classroom and Cascadia Wild membership fees and by a grant from the National Forest Foundation. The main focus of the project is to verify the existence of the elusive American wolverine in the Mount Hood area, but the trackers also keep an eye out for other carnivores, like the montagne red fox and porcupines.

All three creatures are endangered because of climate change and other factors, and scientifically verifying their presence will help put them on the endangered species list to protect them, Lysak said.

Wolverines are particularly hard to detect, she added, as they have “a huge home range of 400 square miles.”

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Teri Lysak, coordinator of Cascadia Wilds Wolverine Tracking Project, right, shows Kelly Hogan how to collect animal scat using two sticks.After the required classroom and field-trip sessions, participants go to Mount Hood in a group of 10, accompanied by two trip leaders. They look for animal tracks in the snow and mud, and also collect animal feces, known as scat, and collect urine and hair samples as well.

You cannot take tracks back to researchers, so scat and other items, collected in a glass tube, provide scientists with genetic material to verify the animals’ presence in the area, Lysak said. Photos of the tracks are helpful, and participants also draw the tracks in their journals, but the scat provides much more concrete evidence, she said.

“What I really like about this project is the combination of getting people out into the forest, learning how the natural world works, and collecting useful data. Cascadia Wild is about teaching and helping people understand we need to protect what we enjoy,” Lysak said.

Trip leaders

Kelly Hogan, a Milwaukie resident, is nearly finished with her training to become a trip leader with Cascadia Wild.

Hogan is a preschool teacher with Mother Earth School, based at Jean’s Farm in the Ardenwald neighborhood, and at the Tryon Life Community Farm in Southwest Portland.

“We are outside all the time, and everywhere we go is connected with what is around us. When the little ones find an animal print in the mud, they know one of our friends walked by,” she said.

What attracted Hogan to the idea of animal tracking is the storytelling aspect of the endeavor.

“One aspect of my school is survival skills, and I weave in a lot of storytelling. Tracks tell a story and if you can read it, you can create place-based stories,” she said.

Hogan first met Lysak on a plant walk, learning about edible plants. Lysak encouraged her to take the tracking class, and then Hogan decided to continue to become a trip leader.

She remembers her first Oxbow Park field trip, when the leader pointed out where a coyote had gone into the creek. It then came out, shook itself off and walked away, the leader said.

At first she thought it was not possible to glean all that information from one set of paw prints, but the leader walked her through the prints, and “everything came to life. It was really exciting to be part of the environment. Sometimes humans just see the environment as scenery.”

Hogan added: “This work is about connecting to something greater than myself. It is connecting on a lot of different levels. We are collecting important scientific data, we are connecting people with the outdoors and with like-minded people, and this connects us with other creatures and the fact that we all live on the land.”

Follow the clues

What: Cascadia Wild’s Wolverine Tracking Project

When: The next classroom session is from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 9. The field trip is from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 11. Other dates are available.

Where: Classroom sessions take place at Portland’s Metro Regional Center Building, 600 N.E. Grand Ave. The field trips are at Oxbow Regional Park, 3010 S.E. Oxbow Parkway, Gresham.

Details: The cost is $65 for the two training sessions plus membership, which allows participants to go on an unlimited number of Mount Hood survey trips.

Website: cascadiawild.org, click on Wolverine Tracking Project.

More: Call 503-235-9533 or send an email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..