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Saturday, February 18, 2017



It is hard not to get excited about seeing a Cow-Bear! 
Welcome to a little place on the central California coast called Los Osos.
We stayed here in early February at The Back Bay Inn (www.backbayinn.com) 
for a short, but lovely and relaxing visit.





Our cabana room was dog-friendly with a little patio and super-easy access to everything.





I loved the labyrinth on the premises!
Great food nearby too - Back Bay Inn Cafe for breakfast and Noi & Doi's Thai for dinner.

It was rainy but we were able to get out and about a bit throughout the week.


Over to Morro Bay to catch a glimpse of Morro Rock.



And the sailboats lining the bay.





We caught up with Marilyn Moon-Roe in San Luis Obispo.



Her friend, Father Moonipero Serra was churning butter near the Mission in San Luis Obispo. 

I never miss a chance to spot a cemetery and this one really spoke to me...




But my favorite part of the trip was wandering in the Butterfly Grove right near our inn.



We noticed the little bit of fluttering straight into the sky. 


Little Monarchs flitting all around us in the trees - so quietly.  


And then we saw bundles of them up in the treetops!! 





Seriously, It doesn't get any better than this....




If you visit this area, check out:
Back Bay Inn (www.backbayinn.com)
Back Bay Inn Cafe 
Noi & Doi's 2nd Street Cafe
The Monday Farmer's Market in Los Osos
The Mission at San Luis Obispo
Tap-It Brewery in San Luis Obispo (www.tapitbrewing.com) 


And as always....
Life is Good
Deb :)






Friday, September 30, 2016

Rip City Redux

Oh Portland, how I love thee!



City of Coffee, Wine, Books, Beer, Nature, and Subarus!!

This trip was about a year in the planning and we couldn't wait to descend on Portland with our good friends, the Ashtons.




Traveling with friends you have known for more than half your life is such a lively experience. We won't mention anything here about driving in Portland to preserve our marriages!

Labor Day Weekend 2016 - easy flight into Portland on Friday via my fave airline - Southwest, where bags fly free and peanuts are your breakfast treat. We booked ourselves into the Marriott Waterfront (www.marriott.com) and were happy with the choice. Location was very good, close to the freeways, and easily walkable for city meandering. Every Marriott is independently owned and operated and I'll just say that this one was not as welcoming as some of the other properties we've visited.

Portland is drizzly. But who cares?? First stop on Friday were the food carts. A couple of city blocks filled with trailers and people serving up everything from Hawaiian spam musubi, to deli-style sammies, and Korean BBQ. Not to mention vegan options, veggie selections, healthy food, and deep-fried goodness. If you can't find something here, I don't know what to think. Check out your choices at www.foodcartsportland.com. Your tummy will thank you.

Our friends had never been to Portland so off we went to Powell's House of Books (www.powells.com) to investigate their enormous selection of new and used tomes. I could lose myself in here and never find my way out - thank goodness for their maps and hugely obvious directional signage. If you're a reader or know a reader, or want to be a reader - this is the place for you.

And coffee... let's just say we hit up Barista, thanks to Sierra and Zach's recommendation. Oh My Land!! Ann's a coffee aficionado and I wanted her to sample as many different cups of coffee as John would sample wine and Jeff his beer.

Portland has a great craft-beer thing going on and we opted to try Ten Barrel Brewing Co (www.10barrel.com) a few blocks from Powell's. Sharing a sampler, we all found at least one or two beers we thought were tasty enough. This was a great spot for visiting - good music and decent samples.

Wine is also a very big deal here and we tottered over to Oregon Wines on Broadway, labeled online as the premiere wine tasting shop in all of Portland. Sadly, an experience not worth repeating. Staff was not the friendliest, nor the most helpful. And all those wines mentioned online - not a one of them offered in-house. Strange...

Dinner ... Imperial Restaurant on Broadway (www.imperialpdx.com) is an award winning restaurant with a great menu. Walking into a place that smells like firewood and fresh cooked meats takes my breath away. Fab cocktails here and those Parker House Rolls were divine. Food was good, the french fries were delish, but the scallops were cool and mushy. I'd give them another chance.

Saturday morning straight to Stumptown Coffee to grab a cup of that famous joe. On to VooDoo Doughnuts (www.vodoodoughnut.com) where the 30-minute line was no problem at all. Those doughnuts are unmistakably some of the fluffiest and tastiest I've ever had. My chocolate peanut-butter caramel fluffer was a delight from start to finish. And the apple fritters were the size of a large skillet and fresh. You'll see people wandering the city and even at the airport with their little pink boxes filled with tasty fried tidbits. YUM. Over to the Portland Saturday Market where artisans spread their wares - everything from jewelry to inlaid wood cutting boards, to candles, soap, laundry balls, windchimes, pottery, and more. There's fresh fruit and veggies, along with a few food carts too. I love stopping into a local market and getting the feel for a city - this one is the longest continuously operating Saturday market in the U.S. Check it out at www.portlandsaturdaymarket.com.

We've never seen the Lan-Su Chinese Gardens and wanted to spend a few quiet moments within the city limits. This lovely respite showcases the heady scents of gardenias, plumeria, and magnolia, a reflecting pool, teahouse, and Chinese memorabilia (www.lansugarden.org.)









Here's a game that predicts your fortune - mine was very positive!!



The teahouse was superb - great service and a lovely pour. 
Who knew Chrysanthemum tea could be so tasty?? 

Over to Pints Brewing Co. (www.pintsbrewing.com) for a sampler of some very nice beer. Their selection was probably my favorite on the weekend and their laid-back neighborhood feel was great with those rockin' 70's tunes. Truly enjoyed this spot. 

Our next stop was Hobo's Restaurant for a tour of the Shanghai Tunnels. Now this tour was very interesting and very kitschy. Not sure how much was true but it made for a fun underground experience and helped work up our appetite for dinner!

Andina Peruvian Restaurant (www.andinarestaurant.com) is one of my all-time favorite restaurants ever ever ever. Their service is above and beyond gracious, the menu is terrific, and the cocktails are magnificent. It's hard to make a decision here with all the glorious choices. We loved the yucca frita - these crunch little veggies are unmistakably better than french fries and that's saying alot. The Peruvian corn tamales were sweet and delectable. Los platos - the lamb shank had me undone, and just as good was the Korobuta pork chop, and the Bistec. We were too full for dessert but they had a chocolate orange truffle on the menu and I couldn't resist. Best chocolate ever. Truth.

Sunday was a special trip out to Willamette Valley. Miss Ann Marie carefully selected a variety of wineries, eateries, and the like for our sampling. Breakfast was a darling little stop at the Red Hills Market (www.redhillsmarket.com) for some whole grain oatmeal, salmon toast, and amazingly delicious muffins and scones. Hell yes! Then a stop into the Lafayette School House Antique Mall. Loads of great finds, but... we were flying and didn't make any purchases. Probably just as well, as the house is packed with schtuff I probably don't need now!!

Our first winery - Domaine Drouhin (www.domainedrouhin.com), with a strong Pinot Noir selection and a gorgeous view of the valley!! I truly believe that I could sit on their patio and gaze out at this view all damn day. Loved it.








Big Tony Brown and his traveling smoker cooked up a wonderful array of BBQ treats at the WillaKenzie Estate Winery (www.willakenzie.com.) We only sampled one wine here and it was my favorite of the day. Gorgeous in color and ripe flavor - truly a delight. Wish I could remember the name of the wine though - that would be helpful. But... it's only sold at the winery, so you'll have to make a visit yourself and check them out. 

Third stop of the day was a winery with the best service of the day - Solena Estate. Thank you Carly for making our visit so enjoyable. We loved the wines, the ambiance, and the view. Check them out at www.solenaestate.com and order some for yourselves!







I absolutely loved our dinner at Dundee Bistro (www.dundeebistro.com.) Such a charming little spot in the heart of the valley. Their fresh-roasted beet salad, goat cheese plate, crispy brussels sprouts, and bolognese have me hungry as I type this. I'd hit them up again for a light and delicious dinner.

Tired... so tired... after a fun day of wine-tasting. 

Monday morning found us on the road again and our impromptu first stop was Black Rock Coffee Bar. SOO friendly and guess what? They're coming to Arizona!! Can't wait to visit them here in my own backyard. Breakfast was McMenamins Black Rabbit on Halsey in Troutdale. This yummy pit-stop has me hankering for their yummy salmon benedicts and loaded french toast. Next time we visit Portland I'm not only coming here for breakfast, but staying here in their gorgeous historic inn. Check them out at www.mcmenamins.com. 

On to the Columbia River Gorge for some lovely views of their waterfalls. Surprise stop at the first un-crowded spot - Wahkeena Falls .... loved it! I've since read that there are some 15 or so waterfall spots along the Gorge. Next time...  Check out www.columbiarivergorge.info/waterfalls to plan your visit. 









 And here's Multnomah Falls...






Wine and Cider and Beer, oh my!

We stopped into Hood Crest Winery (www.hoodcrestwinery.com) and Mt. Hood Winery (www.mthoodwinery.com) and The Gorge White House (www.thegorgewhitehouse.com) and Full Sail Brewery (www.fullsailbrewing.com). I'd have to say I especially loved the spectacular vistas of Mt. Hood and the ciders at The Gorge White House on this day.






I can't for the life of me remember where we ate dinner that evening, but I do remember the creamy concoctions at Salt & Straw. Ice cream for those who can tolerate lactose and ... oh yes... coconut milk ice cream for the likes of me. This place was DE-licious!!! Salt and Straw  - check them out!!! (www.saltandstraw.com) 

Our last day in Portland was a quick stop in Lake Oswego (thanks Mary-Pat) for a little wander and some New Orleans style doughnuts at NOLA doughnuts (www.noladoughnuts.com). I'd love to stay at one of the waterfront properties on this man-made lake just outside downtown Portland. Maybe next time... and there will be a next time Portland, you can count on that.

Oh... I almost forgot - no trip is complete for me without a cemetery. And we found one off the highway just outside the Columbia River Gorge. Here it tis...







Thanks John & Ann Marie for the laughs and the hilarity and the excellent driving and the food and the wine and most of all - your friendship always. 




Jeff & Deb 


Be strong, be steady, be honest, be faithful to your country, and be kind to your fellow man... Regardless of age, weight, ethnicity, beliefs, or sexual orientation. 
Put down your guns and stow your hatred. 
We are ONE United States of America. 

Until next time....
:) Deb