Thursday, May 19, 2016

On the Oregon Trail: or Adventures in Portland and Beyond

I wanted to take a tiny break from jewelry here on my blog and share a little bit about my recent vacation to Oregon with my husband and our good friends Kathleen and Shea.  I'm just going to hit the highlights of our week on the West Coast here... Eric is doing a much more detailed account of our adventures over on his blog.  He's especially good at chronicling the breweries (and meaderies, and distilleries) that we hit along the way.  Check it out over on his blog starting with Day 1 HERE!  Apologies in advance that this post might get a little long and has lots of pictures!

Upon arrival in Portland, we headed for the coast and our night's lodging in Pacific City at the Inn at Cape Kiwanda.  Of course, we made a couple of beer and snack stops along the way but still arrived with plenty of time for a nice walk along the beach before getting dinner at the Pelican Brewing brew pub.  Our internal clocks still being on Central Time, we woke up pretty early the next morning and explored the beach and surrounding sand dunes some more before breakfast.  I loved discovering all the tiny tide pools amongst the rocky shore... so much magical life there!

Tide pools!  And a wider view of the rocks that hide them.
A panorama shot of the magnificent view hidden on the other side of the dunes.
As we were checking out of our hotel I noticed that they were selling bags of rabbit food.  Upon inquiring with staff, we discovered that there is a huge population of semi-wild bunnies in Pacific City that will come when you shake a bag of food.  We couldn't resist!  I had a great time feeding bunnies from my hand while Eric did an impromptu photo shoot.  After that it was into the car and on the road back to Portland so we could pick up our friends from the airport! 

The view from our hotel room, more pictures from behind the dunes,
Eric finds a brewery, and a behind the scenes look at Eric's bunny photo shoot!

Day three started with a hearty breakfast at our hotel (we stayed at McMenamins Kennedy School, Eric talks much more about this unique hotel over on his blog HERE) and some exploration around the grounds.  The main event of the day was a fun (and filling!) food tour of the Alphabet District and NW 23rd Avenue with Forktown Food Tours but we fit in some breweries and such too.  I can't speak highly enough of our tour and tour guide (the company's owner Heidi!)... it was fun, delicious, and informative.  Just as we hoped, it was a great way to kick off our vacation.  Beyond the tour itself, Heidi gave us some great recommendations for hiking spots and more.  I can assure you that we did not leave the tour hungry or thirsty!  Next time we find ourselves in Portland we will definitely take one of their other tours.

A few shots from our fabulous food tour!
We got a fairly early start on day 4 (Friday) with a quick breakfast in a hotel courtyard of Blue Star Donuts and chouquette pastries from St. Honore Boulangerie that we took home from the previous day's food tour.  Our day's destination was Hood River.  It's an easy day trip when you are based in Portland with a breathtaking drive through the Columbia Gorge.  We stopped along the way to do a hike to Wahclella Falls.  None of us are what you call real hikers, but this was a nice loop that was at a good pace for our group.  Lots of beautiful scenery along the way including the falls themselves.  It was hard to tear ourselves away from the water, but eventually we got hungry and had to continue on! 

The lovely Wahclella Falls!
We were in Portland over Mother's Day.  We started the morning with brunch at place Heidi our tour guide recommend to us called Interurban.  Amazingly, most of the shops in the neighborhood were open pretty early for a Sunday morning so we walked off our delicious food and drink and checked out the sights and stores of Mississippi Avenue for a bit.  Next on our agenda for the day was a visit to the International Rose Test Garden and the Portland Japanese Garden.  With it being the weekend AND Mother's Day, both gardens were pretty crowded but still beautiful and well worth the trip.  As you can see from the photos below, the roses were going strong during our visit!  

Over the course of our week in Oregon, we hit up many fine eating and drinking establishments.  In fact, I counted 20 breweries or taprooms, 3 distilleries, 1 meadery, 1 winery, and 1 cider maker.  (My liver may need a vacation now!!)  I won't bother going into great detail on all of them since I know Eric will be doing that on his blog, but I'll give you my highlights and a photo collage!  Some of my favorite breweries were places we went to on our last trip:  Hair of the Dog, Cascade Barrel House, and Pfriem.  New to us this trip I really enjoyed Breakside, Commons, and Logsdon.  Another happy accident was stumbling upon a little meadery called Stung and getting an impromptu tour!  

Pelican, Commons, Pfriem, ABV, Olympia Provisions, Logsdon, Hair of the Dog

I'm so thankful that we could take the time out of our busy lives to connect with our friends on such a fun vacation.  Like many of you out there, our friends are spread far and wide... making it difficult to see them as often as we would like.  As long as this post is, it really just scratches the surface of our journeys.  Good food & drink, great friends, plenty of belly laughs, gorgeous scenery, and much more!  I think it's fair to say we all had a great time exploring in Oregon!!

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