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Tag Archives: Oregon

A Weekend Away in Yachats

A quick review, in the interest of keeping this blog alive!

A few weeks ago, my family took a little weekend trip over to Yachats, on the Oregon coast. This was our new baby’s first trip to the beach, and we chose Yachats because it’s close by Florence where Reuben’s grandparents live.

Realizing that two adults and two little kids is a lot to ask anyone to take in, we opted to rent a house instead. Other family members had rented rooms at the Silver Surf Motel, and we learned that they also had cabins to rent so it worked out perfectly.

All of the hotel rooms have an amazing view of the ocean, as well as a pretty substantial kitchen. That alone makes the hotel a great bargain. In addition, there is a pool and hot tub, and free DVDs to check out from the front desk.

The staff were really accommodating. We’d arrived a bit before check-in time, so we had to wait about 30 minutes for our room. When they brought us the keys, they also brought along a bottle of sparkling cider, to apologize for the wait.

The cabins are old, but very well-maintained. They lack an ocean view, unfortunately, but they do have a full kitchen, with cooking utensils, and two bedrooms. Our biggest disappointment was being situated right by the highway, although there wasn’t much traffic on the coastal road once night fell.

Overall, I was happy with our stay at Silver Surf. We were able to have a private space for our family to enjoy time together, while being right next to the beach. Our daughter loved playing in the swimming pool, and we enjoyed having enough room to watch movies at night while the kids were asleep in their rooms.



Our Summer Camping Win

Reasons why Honeyman State Park is an awesome place to camp.

#1. Because sunrise through the trees is pretty spectacular.

#2. Because our camping spot came with a built-in fort!

#3. Because there’s no shortage of sticks and pinecones to add to the toasty campfire.

#4. Because I haven’t seen sand dunes like this since I lived next door to the Sahara. (Although, the sand there wasn’t exactly surrounded by lush forest.)

#5. Because it was perfectly sunny and warm on our full day there. (Okay, I know that’s not actually a feature of the park, but it sure made me have a good feeling about it! I think my family agreed.)

And finally, #6. Because the lake is clean and lovely.



Cannon Beach: A Review

Having been raised in Portland, just 90 minutes away from the ocean, I’d been to Cannon Beach before. It’s hard not to love the beauty of the Oregon Coast, so after our quick weekend getaway, I decided I want to return much more frequently. To facilitate future trips, I’ve decided to write a quick review of the places we visited. Welcome to my own personal trip advisor.

We always stay on the cheap side when we travel, figuring that most of our time isn’t spent in the hotel room anyway. This weekend, we found a deal for Tolovana Inn. The room was fine — nothing fancy, but nothing to complain about. We were actually glad we didn’t pay extra for an ocean view room, as many of those rooms are actually “look at the parking lot, then the ocean” view rooms. That being said, it was very nice being so close to the beach. The pool room was the highlight of our stay. It’s fairly new construction, with a nice pool, hot tub, and sauna. Eliana loved swim time, and when the heated pool still made her lips turn blue we brought her into the hot tub to warm up. It wasn’t technically allowed, but other families were doing it. And, no, if they jumped off a bridge, I wouldn’t too.

Our first night in Cannon Beach, we ate at Bill’s Tavern and Brewhouse. We expected a typical pub, but it far exceeded our expectations. The dining room was simple, with two rows of booths and small tables in between, but we quickly noticed that a lot of care had been made to the decor. There was a woodstove on one side, windows to the brewery on the other, and elaborately painted scenes on the walls. Our waitress was delightful — very kind, attentive, and worthy of a good tip. We ordered a very tasty clam chowder, and a generous portion of halibut fish and chips. Oh, and the beer was strong and delicious!

The weather was much clearer than expected, and on Saturday afternoon we took a drive to enjoy the views of the coast while Eliana napped in the backseat. We grabbed some snacks for lunch in Manzanita, and then returned to Cannon Beach to walk along the sand and explore the pools among the rocks.

For dinner that evening we chose Local Grill & Scoop. My first thought was “I’ve been here before.” That’s actually when I decided to write this blog post, because I couldn’t remember anything about that first visit to the restaurant. When was it? Who was I with? The food was fine. They have a salad bar, which isn’t so en vogue these days, but I risked it. Then we split a burger and fries. Eliana ate lots of ketchup and not many fries, as she is apt to do. There was nothing decent to drink, and we were too full to partake of the ice cream options, so we just went back to our hotel afterwards.

The next morning we hit Pig ‘N Pancake. We’re classy like that. Despite the fact that it’s a greasy chain breakfast joint, it was pretty yummy. I mean, how can you not like a bacon-loaded omelette (Reuben), and strawberry crepes (me).

Speaking of crepes, I want to try the dedicated crepe restaurant on my next visit. And renting a house with a view of haystack rock might be a nice way to splurge too. No matter what, Cannon Beach gets high marks in my book!

The Mountain I Have Always Loved

I haven’t always loved Oregon the way I do now. As a kid, I yearned to travel to new and far more interesting places. Oregon was where I was confined. Although I had an almost inborn sense of state pride — Oregon is way better than Washington to the north with its lame beaches and California to the south with bad drivers who come to our state and drive up real estate prices — this isn’t the place where I intended to settle.

Until I did.

One thing I’ve always loved about Oregon, though, is Mount Hood. Growing up, our living room picture window opened to a view of the mountain, just 50 miles away. Many mornings the view was breathtaking — a shadowy silhouette against an orange and purple sky awaiting the rising sun. I used to think that all I had to do was bush-whack a path through the overgrown blackberry fields and I’d be able to walk all the way to Mount Hood. Then one day a developer bought the property across from the house, and cut down all the foliage and the trees that framed my picture-perfect view. I cried that day.

While I always found it pretty, I was an adult before I began to appreciate Mount Hood for the fun it offers — snow sports within an hour of the city.  In fact, Mount Hood is the only place in North America with a ski resort that stays open year-round. Welcome, Olympians!

I do not ski year-round. I do not ski at all, to be honest. I chose to learn snowboarding. And I only go when the snow is fresh and groomed and not at all icy. My sporty husband was the one who introduced me to the fun of Mount Hood, and for the second time we celebrated our anniversary with a day of snowboarding on the mountain.

After a three-year hiatus (a year of inadequate snowfall, followed by a pregnancy and then another weak snow year), I was quite nervous about returning to the board. But we had pre-purchased lift tickets, I already own all the gear, and I definitely needed the workout. So Saturday morning we dropped off the baby at Grandma’s house en route to the mountain, and were on the slopes by 10am. While my muscles were tense and tight at first, they hadn’t forgotten the technique. And, actually, I was surprised by how infrequently I fell. I think the three-year break might have actually enhanced my abilities!

Still, I’ll never be the athlete that my husband is.

But that’s okay. Extreme sports fanatic or not, Mount Hood is there for all to enjoy — whether close up or from a distance. And it’s a big piece of what now makes Oregon my favorite of the 50 states.

Same State, Different Climate

I love, love, love driving over Mount Hood because it’s like walking through the wardrobe to Narnia. On one side, the trees are green and thick and omnipresent on overlapping hills. Moss gross, mud is epidemic, and true Portlanders refuse to use umbrellas even though there’s a nearly constant mist in the air (unless it’s actually raining, which it usually is).

But once you descend the mountain pass, the climate instantly changes. The trees become thin and spindly and sparse. The grass is brown over miles of barren fields with only the occasional horse or neglected barn in sight. My skin cries out for lotion and chapstick within a few hours of settling down for vacation in Central Oregon.

Whenever I visit the High Desert, a big part of me wishes I lived there. It’s so uplifting to see the sun, rather than a perma-shield of thick, grey clouds. Views of the snow-capped mountains, unblocked by layers of hills or barricades of trees, are breathtaking. Dry air — despite the cracked skin — is so much easier on clothes and shoes and homes.

Our walk through the Old Mill District was nice — the new, upscale buildings and expansive amphitheater park imply a stable, growing economy (even if I’m not quite sure there actually is one). The Deschutes River is calm and peaceful in this stretch, and I can envision the fun it offers in the summer months (and beyond, as evidenced above).  But Bend felt so far away. A three-hour drive from Portland, where my friends, family, and an international airport reside. And even though I wish the sun would visit us more frequently in Portland, I do love the lush foliage that the rain brings to the western part of my state.

It’s settled then. I’ll stay in Portland, and be thankful there’s a desert retreat awaiting me over that big, beautiful, snowy mountain.

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