Thursday, June 22, 2017

Eating (and Drinking) Portland

Portland, Oregon is known for it's breweries, doughnuts and it's innovative cuisine. On my recent trip there - which lasted a mere 24 hours - I ate a few of it's more famous foods. And visited a few of it's breweries. Come along as we eat and drink in the City of Roses!

Voodoo Doughnuts
There are three Voodoo Doughnuts locations in Portland - one is in the food truck area known as Cartlandia - and when I found out I was staying right around the corner from one, well, that was all I needed. This counter service, cash only doughnut shop is synonomous with Portland. There are over 50 types of doughnuts that come in those famous pink boxes. And I saw quite a few people carrying them downtown.

I had heard mixed reviews about Voodoo - some say Blue Star are far superior - but I knew I had to try them. We visited around 11 at night so the line was super short. We bought a dozen - including the old dirty bastard (a yeast doughtnut with chocolate frosting, oreo cookies and peanut butter), a classic apple fritter, and the famous Portland Cream (yeast with Bavarian cream with chocolate icing) and the Bacon Maple Bar.

Now take this review with a grain of salt because I've never met a doughnut that I didn't like. And I really liked these. Every one that I ate or even tasted was delicious. So if you're in Portland and you want to see what all the hype is about get yourself to a Voodoo Doughnuts. What can it hurt anyways?

Salt and Straw Ice Cream
I tasted Salt and Straw at the NW 23rd Street location known as the Wiz Bang Bar which is cool in and of itself. It's in the very unique Pine Street Market in the Esquire building and it's billed as a soft serve dessert bar. The Pine Street Market is a food hall with 9 restaurants including Bless Your Heart Burgers and Pollo Bravo.

Salt and Straw, started by 2 cousins, is not only known for it's unique flavors - I had the Rhubarb Honey Frozen Yogurt which was extremely light and refreshing - but it's also known for making unique flavors out of rescued food such as Lemon Curd & Whey, Toasted Baguette PB&J and Gin Spices and Tonic. Unfortunately, I didn't even think of taking a photo - plus I didn't have a camera or phone with me as I walked around eating my ice cream in a homemade waffle cone. Next time I'll have to try their some of their rescued flavors!

Portland City Grill
It was such a sunny day that the front desk clerk at our hotel suggested we check out Happy Hour at the Portland City Grill. Located on the 30th floor of the US Bancorp building, this restaurant has skyline views. We still couldn't see Mt. Hood but we did have awesome views of the city and a light dinner of their Happy Hour specials -I've never met a mac n cheese I didn't like so I went with the Poblano Mac n Cheese featuring the local Tillamook White Cheddar and Mr. UR had the Spicy Chili-Garlic Pork Riblets. Both were delicious. Side note: Happy Hour Specials are only valid in the lounge. The restaurant looks like a special occasion place but you can also dine there.

Deschutes Brewery
Named after Oregon's Deschutes River, the Deschutes Brewery and Public House in Portland has 26 beers on tap - some brewed exclusively for this Portland location. We spent about an hour there - enjoyed a large pretzel and some spiced nuts, saw about 8 million burgers delivered to other tables - and enjoyed some Deschutes brews. Check out that carving!

10 Barrel Brewing
We headed over to the rooftop deck of 10 Barrel Brewing in the Pearl district. Super crowded on such a nice day. But we managed to find a rooftop table and enjoy a beer or two - I opted for a sour. Which was quite good. Definitely a popular place!

Fat Head's Brewing
Our last stop of the day was Fat Head's Brewing. Originally based in Cleveland, this brewery has won numerous medals for it's beer. I tried the Bumble Berry Honey Blueberry Ale - my favorite of the day - and we split some apps. A nice place to sit for an hour of the afternoon. Good beer. Good company.

A fun day with gorgeous, sunny weather - and I finally got that view of Mt. Hood later in the day!

What is your favorite place to eat -or drink - in Portland?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Postcards from Southwestern Colorado

Southwestern Colorado is a ruggedly beautiful part of the state. It's not easy to get to but I think that leads to part of it's charm. It's got an unspoiled quality that you don't get in easy-to-reach places. We spent the better part of 5 days there last July visiting Telluride, Durango Silverton, The Million Dollar HighwayMesa Verde National Park and Great Sand Dunes National Park. As a finishing note to that trip, here are some of my favorite photos - some you've seen and some you haven't. Hope you enjoy them!

Which one is your favorite? 

This post is part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute and The Weekend Wanderlust Travel Blog Party!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Hello from Oregon!

I'm traveling the stunning state of Oregon right now. Mr UR and I, along with his best friend and wife, rented an RV and have covered the coast, Crater Lake National Park and are on our way to Bend. We started planning this trip last June in anticipation of his friend's retirement after teaching middle school for 33 years - as they say in the south, Bless His Heart.
We have stops in Hood River, the Columbia River Gorge and Willamette Valley Wine Country still to go. So they'll be more to come up that soon. 

We spent yesterday at Crater Lake National Park - which is still digging out from record snow. There was only one entrance to the park open so our travel plans changed a bit. But we made it happen - and this is a peek of what we saw.

Life update - 
After spending every free minute over the last few months and lots of hard work, we finally listed our house up for sale the day before we left for Oregon. Not ideal in trying to button everything up for a trip and take care of last minute details on a house listing, but it's done. 

We still have a few trips coming up this summer - mostly to see our kids - and a wedding in Ohio. Along with that I've had 3 friends contact me in the last week that they will be in our area over the next month so we're going to be thumping and jumping. And hopefully every thing will calm a bit this fall with just some weekend trips here and there. It's either feast or famine with us but I love every minute. 

If anyone has any Oregon tips of where we have to go, please post them in the comments. And we'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming next week!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

California Road Trip - A Hike through Yosemite's Big Trees

Yosemite is one of the best known national parks in the US. It's a valley with epic granite spires, rock climbing, waterfalls and wildlife. One of the things that first time visitors to Yosemite might n0t know is that it also has big trees. Like ginormous trees. Giant sequoias. The largest living things on earth.

Unfortunately, when we visited Yosemite on our California Road Trip, the most famous grove of giant sequoias - the Mariposa Grove - was closed for restoration work. So what's one to do if they want to see huge trees at Yosemite then? You go next best. So we went for a hike in Tuolumne Grove - located along Big Oak Flat Road - which contains about 20 trees.
The hike is approximately 2 miles long and we started on a brisk fall morning. Fortunately, the hike to the grove of trees is all downhill. Unfortunately, the hike back up is all uphill. 

It's a fairly easy hike and we were only one of a few hikers on the way down. It was eerily quiet except for hearing a twig snap or some leaves rustling every now and then.(Many more people were starting the hike as we were finishing.)
The hike is a nice loop so you can see several of the trees and come right back to where you started to start your hike back up.

Counts of growth rings on fallen sequoias have shown their age to exceed 3000 years. Natural resistance to fire and insect enemies is the reason for the great age attained by these magnificent trees. The sap and wood of the sequoias has so much tannin in it that they are immune to most attacks from insects and fungi. And their thick bark usually insulates them from ground level forest fires. 

If you haven't seen one in person - and looked up at one in all it's majesty and seen one of the largest living things on earth - I hope you get a chance to someday. Try to make it happen. You'll be glad you did.

If you go:
-The Mariposa Grove Road and the Mariposa Grove - which contains 200 giant sequoias - is closed for restoration until Fall 2017. It is located near the park's south entrance, off the Wawona Road (Highway 41)
-The Tuolumne Grove has about 20 trees and the Merced Grove has about 25 trees. Both are located off the Big Oak Flat Road and you must hike 2 to 3 miles before you see sequoias. It's an easy walk downhill and a tough walk back up - gaining some 700 feet in elevation - at Tuolumne Grove.

This post is part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox and Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute!