Tag Archives: Oregon

Good-bye Oregon; Hello Caribbean!


It’s a good thing I finally finished my series on Oregon, because I just got back from my cruise and I can’t wait to tell you about it!

Post Trip Blues

When we first came home from Oregon, I feared my husband would never travel with me again. According to him, I’d crammed entirely too much vacation into twelve days and he was none too happy about it.  However, just like mothers forget the severity childbirth pain and have a second child, the trials and tribulations I’d caused us in Oregon soon faded.  Also, I pointed out how on a cruise or a package trip, someone else (besides me) would be in charge.  That got him over his travel phobia. Eventually, he agreed that he might be interested in a cruise – something that docked in Galveston, but didn’t go to Mexico.

Well, that search resulted in zero choices.  All cruises out of Galveston make a stop in Mexico, so it was back to the drawing board. Widening my net, I discovered other places he didn’t want to go: Haiti and Jamaica.  And Alaska was out, because he preferred something tropical.  And Hawaii was out, because he wanted to depart from the continental United States. This also wiped out all the Southern Caribbean cruises which left from San Juan. Eventually Bermuda and the Panama Canal were culled out, too.

That left The Bahamas and the Eastern Caribbean.  My next guidelines?  Nothing over seven days, nothing less than a five star ship – oh, and I should really keep an eye on the bottom line. Some folks would have given up, but not me.  If it means I can go somewhere, I’ll go through almost anything.  My partner in crime through all this was my best buddy, Deb Shera.  We’d convinced our husbands to turn the vacation into a super-sized double date and we couldn’t wait.

Finally, we booked a late February sailing on the Norwegian Epic that included three days at sea and three ports of call.  If you’re thinking about your first cruise, let me warn you of something.  The advertised price of this cruise on Priceline was $899 per person based on double occupancy.  So, the first thing most of us have to do is multiply the advertised price by two.  Still affordable right?  You can spend $130 a day at home – right?  But when you go on a cruise, the advertised price is just the beginning.

Then you have to add taxes and insurance and transfers and perhaps a night in a hotel and shore excursions and specialty restaurants and airfare and, and, and… Well, when it was all said and done we were close to doubling the price per person.  It was still a travel bargain, but if you’re looking at your credit card limit and think you just might swing $899, be aware that it’s only the beginning.

All that being said, go on a cruise.  It is just one of those things that every one should do – and they should probably do it as often as they possibly can.  I’ll tell you more about our cruise in the coming days.

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Filed under Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Shopping, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

Oregon, Best and Worst List

Crystal Spring Rhododendron Garden

Crystal Spring Rhododendron Garden

This is my last post on Oregon.  So if you go to Oregon, what should you do?

Best Garden: Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.  Close Runners up: Lan Su Chinese Garden, Portland Japanese Garden and Portland’s International Rose Test Garden.

Best Views: The Columbia River Gorge, Crater Lake,  Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park,

Crater Lake

Crater Lake

The ENTIRE Oregon Coast (especially Harris Beach, Seven Devils, Three Capes, Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint and Tolovana Park) , Panorama Point in Hood River.

Best Museum: Washington’s Maryhill Museum of Art (Sorry Oregon!) Close Runners Up: Portland Museum of Art and Columbia River Maritime Museum.

Best Waterfall: White River Falls. Close Runner up: Multnomah Falls (But everybody goes there)

White River Falls

White River Falls

Best Surprise: The Grand Floral Parade. Close Runners Up: Starvation Creek, The filming of Leverage at Director Park

Best Deli:  Flying Elephant in Portland

Best Restaurant: Andina (Peruvian) in Portland’s Pearl District.

Best Breakfast: McMenamis Edgefield.

Best Accommodations: Shearwater Inn in Lincoln City,Portland Paramount Hotel, Portland Airport Radisson, Crater Lake Resort

Honorable Mentions:  Pittock Mansion, Bonneville Lock and Dam, Azalea Park

Azalea Park in Brookings

Azalea Park in Brookings

What planning mistakes did I make?

Over-planning!!  Trying to squeeze too much into twelve days.

Missing the opportunity to stay at Crater Lake Lodge.

Missing an overnight stay in Cannon Beach.

Cannon Beach's Tolovana Park

Cannon Beach’s Tolovana Park

Missing Tillamook with it’s cheese factory and aeronautical museum

Missing North Bend’s Gallery Night in Coos Bay

Missing Hospitality Hour at the Shearwater Inn in Lincoln City

What was the worst moment?

Realizing a storm had stolen our first day of traveling, causing us to miss First Thursday in Portland

Among the Best Surprises - Starvation Creek

Among the Best Surprises – Starvation Creek

And what do I recommend staying away from?

Accommodations: Timberline Lodge, Restful Nest on the Rouge, Edgewater Inn in Coos Bay

Cities You Can Miss: Grant’s Pass and Astoria

Restaurants: Windjammer in The Dalles and just drink on the patio of the Taprock Grill, don’t bother with a meal.


Filed under DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Travel Planning, United States

The Last Hurrah in Portland

Skyline, Portland OR


This is it! Our eight month tour of Oregon is drawing to a close. We started out by losing a day to the airlines, I’d seriously over-planned the vacation and we argued way too much along the way, but still, Oregon is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been. Returning to Portland at the end of the vacation was almost like coming home and she continued to be a wonderful hostess.


Radisson Stay Hits the Spot

After staying in a wide variety of accommodations along the way in Oregon, I decided Bill would appreciate a nice traditional hotel for our last evening, so I made reservations for us at the Radisson by the airport.  Great choice and Bill, who had always liked the chain, decided to proclaim it his hotel chain of choice.  Now when we discuss going anywhere, his first question is, “Do they have a Radisson?”

The drive from Astoria took longer than I realized it would and he was bushed, so while he took his afternoon nap, I Portland ORworked on rearranging the luggage to the airline specifications.  After his nap we decided to take in a movie and though I have no idea what movie we saw, I do remember the theater and you’ve got to go there. It’s called the Bagdad.

The McNenamins Empire

Do you remember way back at the beginning of our trip when we headed out to the Columbia River Gorge via the McMenamins Edgefield Resort.  Well, the Bagdad is part of the McMenamins brand.  Another thing I’ll do if I go back to Oregon is visit more of the McMenamins empire.  They’ve got funky down to a tee and have developed it into a collection of entertainment venues and sleeping accommodations that I’d like to know better.

The Bagdad

The Bagdad is one of those grand old theaters that way too many cities let disappear off the face of the earth.  McMenamins saved this one and it sits in the Hawthorne District, one of Portland’s rejuvenated neighborhoods.  You can have a pizza and beer while you watch the movie, but if the pizza’s not any better than the popcorn was, I’d stick to the beer.  However, watching whatever movie we saw in that wondrous relic of a theater was a real treat.

Laurelhurst Park, a Nice Surprise

On the way back to our hotel, we lucked into another wonder: Laurelhurst Park.  I caught a peek at it on the way to the theater and hoped the GPS would send us back to the Radisson that way.  I hadn’t caught the name of it as we zipped past on the way to the Bagdad.  It was the perfect place for a stroll.

Portland people are outside-people, in spite of their rainy, misty sort of weather, they thrive in the out of doors.  It was dusk and kind of chilly when we entered Laurelhurst Park, but Portlanders were out in force.  They were walking their dogs and chatting with friends.  I loved the atmosphere of the park.  It was pretty with huge trees and a large pond full of water fowl.

A Few Hours Before Our Flight

The next morning, we had a few hours to kill so we headed back downtown.  Our goal was to have some lunch out of the food trucks.  We’d found a whole section of downtown devoted to them, but hadn’t gotten around to eating a meal there.    We felt very hip and cool as we sauntered among the Portlanders chatting up their favorite food truck entrepreneur.  Bill had a gyro and I found some Southern fried chicken, just like Mom used to make. I have no idea how the delicious treat found it’s way there, but it was wonderful.

Flying Elephant Deli, Portland OR

Director Park is there in the background.

But Portland had one more trick up her sleeve for us.  The food truck area was not far away from the Portland Paramount Hotel, where we’d stayed earlier in the trip.  We decided we’d take our food to Director Park, which is out in front of the Paramount, but surprise, surprise, a filming company had taken over the park and was making a TV show.  It was great entertainment.

They were filming an episode of Leverage, which I hadn’t watched previous to the vacation.  Since then I’ve become a devoted fan and keep my eyes open for other Portland sites as I watch, since it’s now one of my favorite cities.

Come back soon for a best and worst list of the trip.  Then we’ll go someplace else together and you’re going to love it.


Filed under Accommodations, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Astoria OR, Less Than a Strong Finish

This was it - our one shot of Astoria.

This was it – our one shot of Astoria, from our room at the B&B.


Welcome to Oregon! Well, sort of. This past summer my husband and I spent twelve days traveling the state and now I’m sharing the experience with you. I’ll tell you about the attractions we visited, the meals we ate and where we stayed. Maybe you’ll decide you want to visit Oregon, too. Today we end our tour with an overnight stop in Astoria.

Good and Bad in Astoria

Astoria was a mixed bag. Their Columbia River Maritime Museum was a real hit – especially with my husband, but pretty much everything else I could have done without.  If you repeat my route, spend the night in Cannon Beach and stop by the museum on your way to Portland.

I’ll admit that the town suffered from twelve days of amazing scenery.  The foggy little metropolis just wasn’t on par with say, Crater Lake or Cape Meares.  Perhaps if I lived in Portland, I’d like to pop over to Astoria for a visit, but at the end of twelve days of amazement, Astoria was a bit of a disappointment.

Grandview Bed & Breakfast Inn

Our accommodations were fine: The Grandview Bed and Breakfast Inn.  You couldn’t bring alcohol in and the hostess greeted you with religious literature of some sort, but part of the fun of staying in B&B’s is rubbing elbows with folks you wouldn’t meet back at home.

The Inn is huge and in our room, Little Hummers, we had the view we snapped out of our window – which was nice.  Our room was spacious and we had everything we needed, but I felt there was a level of luxury missing that I expect from a B&B.  The white bed was not a heavy antique iron bed, but a cheap imitation with hollow rods.  The linens were thin and quite frankly, worn.  The other furniture was sort of mismatched, like it had been picked up at the thrift store and then painted white.  Some people would say that was shabby chic, but the effect was more shabby than chic.  Everything was meticulously clean, however.  I felt like we got our $100 worth, but just.


Since we were there on a Saturday night, we were looking for a nice restaurant for a date night.  We went to Clemente’s on a corner downtown, which was nice enough, but almost empty on the Saturday night.  The concrete floor and the sparsely placed tables rendered a coldness to the evening.  The food was good and the service better than average, but we didn’t leave dying to tell others to eat there.

Breakfast Was a Bright Spot

One bright spot was our breakfast.  What the Grandview lacked in grandness upstairs it made up for in the kitchen.  Marvelous meal and great company, served up to perfection.

Outside the day was chilly and foggy.  We started out on the driving tour I’d downloaded from some internet site, but when the fog prevented us from even seeing the top of the Astoria Column, we cut the tour short and headed to the Maritime Museum.  The museum is outstanding.  I can’t recommend it enough, but it’s the only thing we saw worth visiting.

We had lunch at the famous Wet Dog Cafe, but I’m not sure what it’s famous for.  It’s just a funky, not quite clean place with so so food.  It was time to get home.  I was more interested in seeing my own puppy than enjoying the local color.  On to Portland for one last night in Oregon.


Filed under Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

Oregon’s North Coast

Tolovana Park, Cannon Beach OR

Tolovana Park


Welcome to Oregon! Well, sort of. This past summer my husband and I spent twelve days traveling the state and now I’m sharing the experience with you. I’ll tell you about the attractions we visited, the meals we ate and where we stayed. Maybe you’ll decide you want to visit Oregon, too.   As we headed up the last it bit of Oregon’s North Coast, I realized I was about to trade the spectacular Pacific Coast for the view in my backyard.  That’s a great view and I love it, but it’s not exactly on the same playing field.

8 Months Later, Still Looking Backwards

It’s hard to believe that eight months after my trip, I’m still writing about Oregon.  There’s only a few posts left to write, but I had no idea when I started the project that it would take so long to get here.  Here, in this case, refers to the North Coast.  The highlight of our day along the North Coast was without a doubt Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint that I covered last week.  Bill stopped all along the way to grab more seascapes, but as I’ve mentioned, though each is stunning, after a while, they all seem to melt together.

Tolovana Park, Cannon Beach OR

The guide books all agreed that you had to stop at Tolovana Park in Cannon Beach and it was a good call.  It’s a fairly famous landmark and you’ve probably seen many photographs of the haystacks, but what I liked was how many people were out there having fun. Folks were flying kites, chasing dogs and just hangin’ out, but they were all having a great time.  That was a marvelous switch from the lonely, wild places we’d been viewing for days.

I’ll confess to another mistake here.  I’m not exactly sure how I should have worked it out route-wise, but I should have chosen Cannon Beach as one of my overnight stops.  Beyond Tolovana Park, which I loved, the town itself was one of those artsy kinds, like Cambria, CA, which I adore.  We drove through the town observing crowds of folks strolling along the main drag, having meals on patios and shopping in darling emporiums.  I wanted to be one of those people, but my bed and breakfast reservations were in Astoria, more about that later.

Seaside OR


We also missed Tillamook.  The Three Capes Loop, which you really have to see, hugs the coast, while the famous Tillamook is further inland.  I wanted to take in the Cheese Factory Tour and see the aviation museum, but I guess I’ll have to save those for my next trip to Oregon.  If I can ever drag Bill back.  I think he got all of Oregon he wanted on this visit.

After Cannon Beach, we put the pedal to the metal, so we’d get to Seaside before sundown.  What a fun little town.  We walked the Prom (Promenade) and saw their single historical site, the Lewis and Clark Saltworks.  (Poor L&C, I hadn’t really thought about them since the Columbia River Gorge.)  What was most memorable, however, was the car show.  We got there just as things were spiraling down to a close, but we still had the opportunity to see some amazing cars and visit with some of the devoted aficionados.

Next stop.  Astoria.  Join me next week for the last stop before the Portland Airport.


Filed under Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Three Capes Loop, Oregon

Cape Meares Lighthouse, Three Capes Loop, Oregon

Cape Meares Lighthouse


Welcome to Oregon! Well, sort of. This past summer my husband and I spent twelve days traveling the state and now I’m sharing the experience with you. I’ll tell you about the attractions we visited, the meals we ate and where we stayed. Maybe you’ll decide you want to visit Oregon, too.  Today we’ll take the Three Capes Loop.  That link will lead you to one of the sites about the loop, but just google Three Capes Loop and there’s a plethora of great sites.

Finally, My Lighthouse Picture

Remember how a few weeks ago I was complaining about how hard it was to get lighthouse pictures.  Well, that problem continued.  There were lots of lighthouses, but being there when the sun was right or getting into the best position for a picture just eluded us until we arrived at Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint.  The lighthouse is not all there is to see on the Three Capes Loop, but the scenic viewpoint was our longest stop.

We left Lincoln City and hooked up with the loop without much effort.  Then it was

Scenic Overlook, Three Capes Loop, Oregon


time to just sit back and enjoy the view.  Our little red rent car zoomed along the highway and we soon came to a gorgeous scenic overview.  Since it was early in the day and we had plenty of time for exploration, even though we really couldn’t see much, we pulled into the parking lot.  Would WOW be sufficient?  If I actually showed you all the pictures we made, this would be the longest post on the blogosphere.

Scenic Overlook, Three Capes Loop, OregonAs Bill took pictures of the awesome seascapes, I began to look around at the flora and fauna.  I realized that our photo record was incomplete without some shots that depicted how verdant and GREEN this gorgeous landscape is.  I had a hard time ripping the camera out of Bill’s hands, but I did get a few shots of the landscape sans water.

We drug ourselves away from the stunning overlook and continued our

Cape Meares Lighthouse Scenic Point , Three Capes Loop, Oregon

Taking it all in

trek northward.  After a forested stretch we found Cape Meares.  We planned to take a few shots and hop back into the car, but ws were there for hours.  I’m surprised the camera didn’t start smoking.  Yes, the viewpoint was the spot we captured our best lighthouse pictures, but there was so much more.

Cape Meares Lighthouse Scenic Point , Three Capes Loop, Oregon

More to See Than a Lighthouse

At several points volunteer nature guides had set up powerful telescopes and pointed them at important wildlife scenes.  An hour disappeared and we hadn’t even gotten down to the lighthouse, yet.  Like the previous stop, the verdant plants were clamoring to be a part of our record, so we took more of those pictures.  (For the record, I’m the fauna and flora photographer.  Bill’s more about macro visions.  And yes, I do realize he’s a better photographer than I am.)

Just when we thought we’d seen it all, we realized there was something called an Octopus Tree,  so we followed a path into the woods and dutifully photographed it.  Botanist and historians can’t decide whether the tree grew like that naturally or with a little help, but it was quite interesting.

Finally, we headed north again and just like on the Central Coast, Bill stopped at so many places and took photos, that somewhere along the way I quit trying to keep a record of where they were all taken.  But now I’ll quit talking and let you see the pictures, which is probably why you’re here in the first place, but since you’re probably as overexposed to great seascapes as I was by this point in the trip, I’m going to focus on pictures with green in them













Filed under Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Oregon’s Central Coast

Central Coast, Oregon

Blue Defined


Welcome to Oregon! Well, sort of. This past summer my husband and I spent twelve days traveling the state and now I’m sharing the experience with you. I’ll tell you about the attractions we visited, the meals we ate and where we stayed. Maybe you’ll decide you want to visit Oregon, too. Today we’ll take a look at the Central Coast.

Mind-Numbing Beauty

According to my friends at VisitTheOregonCoast the Central Coast runs from The Dunes to Lincoln City.  Bill took some great shots along this coast, but I didn’t do such a good job of discerning which pictures went with which stop.  I mean it’s all gorgeous, right? So forgive me for not being more specific about exact locations

But I can be very specific about where to stay and where to eat in Lincoln City.Central Coast, OR

Shearwater Inn

My travel booking site of choice, as I’ve mentioned before, is expedia. Sure, if scoring the cheapest room and flight is your number one priority to the exclusion of everything else, then there are other places to go, but for ease of use and consistent value, I’ll take expedia.  That’s where I booked all my hotels for Oregon.  One was called the O’dysius Hotel – at least it was when I booked it.

Lincoln City OR

Lincoln City

Then one day as I did further work on my vacation, I noticed expedia thought I was staying at the Shearwater Inn. I panicked and started making calls.  Come to find out, there had been a change of ownership and hence the name change.  My reservation and my pricing were intact.

I’d been on the fence about the hotel, because the comments were

Boiler Bay, OR

Boiler Bay

conflicting.  One guest would rave and the next would complain about a funny smell or the location.  I took a leap of faith and booked it.  I’m a raver when it comes to this hotel, but I think I’d be raving even more if I’d gotten to stay more than one day.  Our quick overnight didn’t give me a chance to really relax and sink into the amenities.

To begin with, they have a hospitality hour every evening, but we got there just as things were winding down.  We had a few pretzel sticks and cheese cubes, but they’d quit pouring wine.  Then we went to our room and all was forgiven.   Beautifully appointed, carefully laid out and extremely comfortable.  I WANTED to stay there for a few days.

Central Coast, ORThe location of the hotel is odd and the parking challenging, but it’s worth the trouble.  The inn is built on a very small bit of land and to maximize the lot, it’s built over the parking lot, and the parking spots are very tight.  If you choose your accommodations based on commodious parking lots, don’t stay here.  If you think a wonderful hotel stay is worth a little parking lot maneuvering, then like me, you’ll love it here.

The small bit of land is right on the highway and there are other Central Coast, ORbuildings between you and the surf, but it’s really no big deal.  The land next to the highway is significantly higher than the low one-story buildings behind it, so your view of the ocean is unrestricted. There’s easy access to the beach between the buildings, so that’s no hassle either.

Once we’d checked in and eaten our cheese cubes, we wanted to enjoy the beach.  Bill pulled out his kite and we went for a stroll.  We loved how friendly everyone was and there was some gusty winds for the kite.  It was a great time.

Yaquina Bay Bridge, OR

Yaquina Bay Bridge – the most photographed in the state

The Black Fish Cafe

For dinner, we found Black Fish Cafe – like a whole lot of other people did.  It was among the more upscale of the food choices and definitely the most hip.  The food was OK, but one dish was way too salty.  We weren’t going to say anything about it, because on the whole, it had been a pleasant dining experience.  But the waitress sort of pumped us about our food in a way that led us to believe she actually cared.  So we told her about the salty entree and she admitted someone else had complained of the same problem.  She went to the manager and passed on our complaint – the one we weren’t going to make, but had been grilled out of us.  We thought there might be an adjustment to the bill or the offer of a dessert, but instead we got scolded for showing up without a reservation.

Back to Luxury

Returning to the hotel, still snickering about the little lecture, we turned on theCentral Coast, OR fireplace.  Yes – our room had a fireplace, but it wouldn’t stay lit.  Someone came to fix it, but they didn’t know much more about it than we did – so we had a beautiful fireplace that didn’t work.  Here’s how great the room was – I didn’t care.  I cozied up on the huge white sofa and made my breakfast selections from the card provided.  Then the next morning, instead of having to tromp down to the lobby for breakfast, it was delivered to the room – all included in the price of admission.

Boiler Bay, OR

Boiler Bay – Again!

If you ever go to Lincoln City (or anywhere near it) do plan on staying at the Shearwater Inn.  You’ll love your room so much that you won’t want to leave it, but if you do, you’ll find other things to love.  I’d even recommend eating at the Black Fish Cafe, just be prepared for a little extra salt and don’t complain about the food, or you’ll be chastised.  Now enjoy the photos – even if I can’t tell you exactly where we took all of them.


Filed under Accommodations, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States