Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Vista House

 

You have to really want to find Vista House these days, but it is worth the effort. Two roads up there say “closed” but there is a third road, narrow and winding and seeming like you will never get there, but you do, and when you do you have a panoramic view up and down the Columbia River.

This was built to last. The ladies room is entirely marble!

 

 

 

 

 

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June 4, 2018 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Public Art, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Clocktower Ales, The Dalles, Oregon

OK, OK, here is the truth. Sometimes I am just wrong. Sometimes I have a prejudice, and I am proven wrong. This was the case in The Dalles, Oregon.

I have a prejudice against brew-pub food. I have the sense that it is meaty, burger and fries or fish and chip kind of food, heavy on fat and calories and low on anything fresh. We looked around The Dalles for something, but kept coming back to the Clocktower Ales.

The building is a lot of fun. It is a big old building, an old County Courthouse, where decades ago hangings regularly took place.

 

 

 

 

So yes, AdventureMan had a burger and onion rings, which he claimed were awesome, but it might have been the beer talking, it was a really good beer.

I had Thai Noodles. It was light, and full of vegetables, and VERY spicy, in fact, the waitress warned me that many people find it too spicy. It did pack a wallop, and I loved it. So I was really wrong, I never would have thought I would have a dish this truly delicious and memorable in a brew pub.

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Eating Out, Food, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Solstice Pizza in Hood River, Oregon

Gotta thank Trip Advisor for this one; told us it was a great choice and warned us to get there early. As a bonus for me, they had ginger beer, which I adore. Yummm! We had a fabulous waitress, sat at a group table outside near the wood pile for the wood-burning pizza oven, overlooking the Columbia River, it was a fabulous evening and the food was remarkable.

We split a Kale salad, which I forgot to photograph because we were really hungry, LOL.

 

 

AdventureMan’s Pizza (we are suckers for wood-fired ovens and thin crust pizzas)

My Dungeness Pasta (if it says Dungeness, I will order it!)

Little things make all the difference . . . it was a friendly crowd, we heard some fascinating conversations and just before we left, the waitress came up to me with a complimentary to-go cup full of ginger beer. I was utterly charmed. I wish we had Solstice Pizza in Pensacola.

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Cooking, Food, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Simon’s Cliff House in the Columbia Gorge Hotel

Not only was the Columbia Gorge Hotel gorgeous and nurturing and fabulous, it also had a really good restaurant, Simon’s Cliff House, where we had several meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Sadly, the very best meal we ate there, where I had Venison and AdventureMan had Steelhead Trout, I was so blown away by the food that we don’t even have any photos. I apologize.

 

Lunch with cream of broccoli soup and a Ceasar salad 🙂

 

Salmon sandwich:

 

We also had desserts! This WAS Creme Brûlée and Profiteroles!

 

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Food, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Columbia River Gorge Hotel

This trip has been full of really happy surprises, and even the things that I had concerns about turned out well, much better than expected.

This is one of our shortest driving days of all, but the day is gorgeous, in spite of windy conditions as we are leaving Mount Hood. We had visited the historical exhibit in the hotel for the Roosevelt visit, and met a man about our age who, like my Mom, came for the skiing. He was disappointed; the conditions were so windy that skiing was dangerous. And, on our way out, we watched the ski patrol rescue two skiers who had ventured out but lost control in the gusting wind.

The skies are clear and crisp, and at the same time, it is spring and the valleys and mountain roads are full of wildflowers. On the way, on this very short drive, we take a detour; AdventureMan sees a sign saying Panorama Point. Who could resist?

Panorama indeed. You can’t even take a photo that would do justice. To the left is Mount Hood, and to the right is Mt. (something else) (Adams?) We take a short walk up to a higher viewpoint and meet a family doing devotions with two children, one a toddler playing and one a baby, sleeping. They are very kind, and very welcoming, and point out all that we are seeing, and it is glorious.

 

We are just minutes from the Columbia Gorge Hotel. We know we are way too early, but we stop in to ask for directions for a museum AdventureMan wants to see.

The Columbia Gorge Hotel was a really really happy surprise, and it is AdventureMan’s great coup. We used to watch a show, Grimm. We loved it because it was Portland, and all the characters who were mostly good guys were really good friends to one another, except when maybe they drank a hexes-poison and turned wicked for a while. Yeh, it was kind of silly, but we really enjoyed it. In the final season, there was a kind of Shakespearean episode where a bad guy poisoned the drinks and made people fall in love with people other than the ones they were already in love with, so it was this huge romantic comedy with players declaring their love for totally inappropriate people and for all the wrong reasons. The group had all gone to this resort for the weekend, and as we watched, AdventureMan said “Whoa! Where is that? I want us to stay there!”

So he made it a point to investigate all the places it might be, and narrowed it down to this hotel.

When we went inside, they were very kind, and, long story short, because we are retired military, gave us a better room at a reduced rate, AND the guy who checked us in was an extra in the Grimm episode, and had a bunch of materials, like the script and photos, and even a couple short videos that showed him doing his thing as an extra in the episode. It was so much fun, and this was all before we even got to our room.

Bellman, and Grimm extra Ricky Vaughan:


It’s been a long trip, and as much fun as it has been, we hoped for a lovely serene last few days before we returned to Pensacola. The Columbia Gorge Hotel was perfect.

Our room

 

The hotel lobby

The Valentino Lounge:

 

The grounds – this hotel has its own waterfall!

From beginning to end, we had a wonderful time at this hotel. The people were so kind to us, full of helpful information, and always wanting to go the extra mile to make us happy. We will stay there again in a heartbeat.

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Hotels, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Kyllos in Lincoln City

En route to Bandon, we were driving through Lincoln City when AdventureMan suddenly said “It isn’t going to get any better than this!” and pulled suddenly into a park next to the Pacific Ocean. Across a big creek from the park was a restaurant, Kyllos, and all we had to do was to figure out how to get there on foot, which we did.

 

We got there just in time, and had a booth just overlooking where the river joined the sea.

 

The interior of Kyllos was warm and welcoming. There were many customers, but the buzz of conversation was low and muted.

 

The waiter appeared promptly with a menu full of really tempting items. I ordered the Dungeness Crab Louis, and AdventureMan ordered the Hazelnut Bleu Salmon Salad.

 

 

We had a lot of great meals on this trip, and we believe this was one of the best.

May 2, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Food, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Back to Bandon, Oregon

We forget just how big this great United States is. We look at a map, and we think, “Oregon, piece of cake.”

Not so much.

 

This day we are bound for Bandon, Oregon. It’s been years since we have passed through, I don’t even know for sure how many years. The last time I can clearly remember is forty one years ago, our son was a baby, we travelled in a Volkswagon van turned into a camper. We had a little travel crib for our son, we slept in the way back with the seat folded down, and we had our famous cat, Big Nick.

When we got to Bandon, lo those many years ago, we bought a Dungeness Crab, had it cleaned, a loaf of French bread and a bottle of white wine. We found a motel, settled in, got our baby to bed and feasted on that crab. It is one of our most fun memories.

The route to Bandon is along the coast, but we are not always in sight of the ocean. There are some times we are, and those times are spectacular.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And my favorite of all, pouring rain and streaming sunshine and roaring waves all at once 🙂

We arrive in Bandon; I’ve reserved at a place we haven’t stayed and it is hard to tell from the online photos how this works. Our reception is less than warm. We walk in and the sole receptionist takes three phone calls before she acknowledges us and registers us. It’s annoying.

Our annoyance totally disappears when we get to our cabin. We discover it is easily accessible (not all are) and we can even take our bags in with some ease. Once in the door – oh Wow.

The cabin is old-timey, but squeaky clean, and with a view to die for. There is a part of me that could stay in this cabin forever.

 

 

This is the view from the balcony when we arrived.

AdventureMan walked the beach, came back, we stretched, walked around, napped a little, and then went to Tony’s Crab Shack for dinner. It doesn’t look familiar, but this may be where we bought our crab forty one years ago.

Tony’s Crab Shack is not a large place, like some counter seating, a booth and a couple small tables. The menu is surprisingly varied, and all up on the wall, with lots of beverages.

 

 

 

We ate something, I can’t even remember what, I probably had crab 🙂 and then we walked around Brandon downtown, which was almost entirely closed up except for a couple bars.

But I wanted to be back in our room for sunset.

The beach at Bandon is beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

Bandon is one of my happy places.

May 2, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Food, Hotels, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Sunsets, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Baked Alaska, A Highlight in Astoria, Oregon

“I see a place I want to eat!” I cried out as we were looking for a lunch place. “Baked Alaska!”

“You want to eat Baked Alaska for lunch?” AdventureMan asked me, thoroughly confused.

“No, the name of the restaurant is Baked Alaska. It’s underneath the Raymond James office and it’s right on the waterfront. I’ll bet it’s good,” I speculated.

One time when my niece, Professor Little Diamond was visiting, I told her how AdventureMan often accused me of speculating.

“Join the family!” she exclaimed. “It’s fun! We all just speculate our asses off!”

You can see why we loved it when she would come to stay for a while. She and I would go to the bookstores and tote out volumes and sets of Islamic books on scriptures, history, and the precedence of scholarly attributions, and all kinds of books about customs. Some I would mail to her, many she would manage to take back with her in her suitcases, leaving behind clothing rather than sacrificing room for a book.

We decided to go to Baked Alaska for dinner, and it was a lovely, memorable meal.

 

We had this amazing view of all the ships making their way up the Columbia river. We also saw seals playing in the wakes.

 

 

AdventureMan ordered a dry Chardonnay, and the waitress brought a glass of the house Chardonnay, bottled especially for Baked Alaska, which she described as “crisp.” We both heartily agreed, and think it was one of the best wines we tasted on our trip.

 

We both had the arugula salad with roasted cauliflower to start. You can’t see it, but it’s there, along with roasted garlic. This salad was fabulous.

 

 

 

 

It also came with tasty bread:

AdventureMan ordered clams, this time in a creamy sauce:

 

He said they were very delicious, and very rich. The next day, he said he thought maybe he’d give up on clams for a while, that he loves them, but sometimes a rich treatment is too rich, and keeps him awake at night. Aren’t they beautiful, these lovely fat clams in their cauldron?

I had the seafood small plate, with Pacific shrimp, sous vide smoked salmon, and Dungeness crab. I couldn’t decide which I loved the most, the salmon or the crab, but . . . Dungeness crab trumps almost everything anytime.

 

They had some tempting dessert offerings, including, ahem, Baked Alaska, but we are trying to both eat delicious foods, and keep our waistlines, so tonight we skipped dessert.

Even without dessert, this was one of the best meals we ate. Well, there were a lot of best meals . . .

We fell asleep to the sound of barking sea lions.

April 30, 2018 Posted by | Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Astoria, Oregon

We are taking the backroads; we are more interested in the experience than the destination. We are on old highway 101, along old familiar beach fronts, and going into old rural Washington en route.

I couldn’t resist these fabulous mossy trees:

 

And this wonderful huge First Nation tribal painting on one of the old buildings, I am thinking in Raymond, WA:

 

We see a lot of timber; we see it growing, we see it clear cut, we see it replanted, we see it at mills and we see it transported along the great Columbia, going who knows where? China?

We find ourselves briefly along the old Lewis and Clark trail along the banks of the Columbia as we approach Astoria, our goal for today. We made it a point to come into Astoria over one of the old bridges, an elegant bridge.

AdventureMan wants to explore the Columbia River Maritime Museum, which he heartily recommends to all with an interest in history and commerce in America.

 

Before we go, however, we want to have lunch. We stop at Josephson’s Smoke House for some clam chowder and some of the best local made salmon burgers we have ever eaten. I apologize; they were so delicious we ate them before I remembered to take a photo. I do have some photos of Josephson’s, which is more a processor, smoker, canner and seller of salmon products than a real restaurant. Their menu is limited, but their salmon products are outstanding.

 

 

 

 

 

Our hotel was a nondescript and not all that welcoming Hampton Inn. Having said that, in spite of the lackluster welcome, they had a great pool, we could open the doors to our balcony and hear sea lions barking, and we got a great night’s sleep. There is something to be said for all that. I also liked some of the hand crafted art work in the dining room.

 

The nearby sea lions:

 

April 30, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Hotels, Road Trips, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Dinner and Breakfast in The Courtyard

Sometimes you just take the easy way. We had a great lunch at Gojo, and we had a long day. We knew there were so many great places in Portland, and we were tired. We decided to grab something quick at The Courtyard.

When we walked the short walk down the hall from our room to the restaurant, we discovered it was packed!

We were happily surprised to be quickly seated, and were doubly happy when we saw the menu and some non-pubby kinds of food. We ordered the Curry Butternut Soup and the entree Heirloom Tomato Salad. The soup was a little sweet to our taste, but some like sweet more than others. The Heirloom Salad was fabulous, full of a lovely variety of tomatoes, really good and tasty greens, prosciutto, and a very tasty variety of olives.

We were very pleased. It was tasty, it was healthy and it was original in creation and presentation. We were so delighted that we decided to have breakfast in The Courtyard again the next morning. As we got there, one of the servers was loading the wood burning stove.

 

The menu had more surprises for breakfast, we found. AdventureMan ordered Biscuits and Gravy, but not your Southern biscuits and gravy. The biscuits are home-made and baked fresh, and the gravy was a gorgeous mushroom and rosemary combination that satisfied without coating his blood vessels. I had the smoked salmon benedict, which was served on rye bread and had lots of avocado and herbed cream cheese in addition to the salmon and poached eggs.

The day was cloudy and rainy but the warmth of the meal and service kept us cozy and happy and content all the way on the rainy drive from Portland to Seattle.

Thank goodness for Google Maps, which gets us in and out of cities in the most efficient, least trafficked way, and which has a voice that will tell AdventureMan in advance what is coming, and which lane he needs to be in and which way he will need to turn. We occasionally get into trouble, but rarely, and can quickly orient ourselves to where we need to be.

April 12, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment