Saturday, November 18, 2017

New York City Photo Round-up

Ahhh......New York City. A favorite city of many. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. Home of Broadway and it's neon lights, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park and Times Square. Our daughter has felt the pull of this city since she knew where and what it was. She is now a resident of her dream city which means we've been able to - and will be able to - visit her and take in the City that Never Sleeps at our leisure. So here's a New York photo round-up - some you've seen and some you haven't. Enjoy!

Which photo is your favorite? 

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

Friday, November 10, 2017

Completing the Bend Ale Trail in Oregon

Bend, Oregon has more breweries per capita than any other city in Oregon. It's called Beer City USA. And the Bend Ale Trail is the largest in the West. You can get your own Bend Ale Trail Passport and have it stamped at any of the 16 breweries in Bend. Once you complete your Ale Trail fun you can head to the Visitor Center and receive some loot - for 10 stamps you get a cool silicone drinking cup and if you complete the Ale Trail and get 16 stamps you get the cup plus a Bend Ale Trail bottle opener.( If you're not a beer drinker - there are other beverages available at breweries - and no purchase is necessary to get a stamp)

We started our Bend Ale Trail adventure on our first evening there after a delicious dinner with friends right on the Deschutes River at Greg's Grill. We went to Cascade Lakes Brewing after dinner for a beer - and headed to our campground excited to experience the Ale Trail the next day. #1

We were traveling in an RV so we (and by we, I mean Mr. UR) planned out our Ale Trail escapades so that we could take an Uber to our first stop and then walk to all of the rest. Of course, everyone should be responsible and not drink and drive. If you don't want to walk the Ale Trail - or drive - you can take the Bend Brew Bus which will happily deposit you to breweries for a fee.

Our first stop of the day didn't pan out so well - Silver Lakes Brewing was closed for remodeling. A few minutes walk away was one of the most famous breweries in Bend - Deschutes. We sat at the bar and enjoyed a full-size pour - which we would realize quickly that we couldn't do at every brewery. Please note that our stop was at Deschutes Public House located in downtown Bend - not the actual brewery - for logistics purposes. Deschutes has 19 beers on tap - and serves food also - and I believe I tried the Red Chair NWPA. And I will state right now that I'm not a huge beer lover - I prefer beers that mask the taste of beer. I know, I know - blasphemy! But I do enjoy new experiences so I was all for walking the Ale Trail. #2

Right around the corner from Deschutes was Bend Brewing Company located on the Deschutes River. Confusing, right? Bend was one of the few breweries where I actually tried a flight of beer as I had a hard time picking just one. Bend is the second oldest brewpub in Bend and has outdoor seating along the river - which unfortunately wasn't open when we were there. #3
Our next stop was one of our most unique stops - McMenamins Old St. Francis School Pub and Brewery. McMenamins is a chain of pubs, restaurants, breweries and guest houses unique to Oregon - and all are housed in old buildings which they have funkily updated. This location was an old school from 1936 and is a hotel, pub, brewery and movie theater. It was time for lunch - so we ate here - and then we had to go in search of the famous Secret Bar. Our server gave us clues and we found it - an unmarked bar hidden in one of the buildings. I'll let you find it yourself if you ever make it to McMenamins - but let's just say it was a fun treasure hunt!#4

The next brewery was another unique one - Boneyard Beer. Boneyard is housed on a back street in Bend's Historical District in an old auto shop. The floors are black and white checkerboard and the Boneyard's logo is a skull and crossbones. It was quite small  - and crowded - while we were there but I've heard there has been an expansion since then. Known for their hoppy beers, Boneyard has 17 on tap. I didn't partake at this stop as I'm not a big hoppy fan. But it was a fun place to visit. #5
Boneyard Brewing - Can you spot the black and white floor?

After our longest walk of the day we arrived at Craft Kitchen and Brewery. Craft is also a restaurant and concentrates on small batch brews. We had our best service here - our waiter was very attentive and pointed our other places we should go on our trip. Sorry to say it was Diet Coke here for me - time for some caffeine to combat the afternoon sleepies. #6

An obedient and patient dog

Now was where we really got lucky  - and were rescued by my friend G and her husband J who picked us up after they were done working for the day and drove us to the rest of our stops. We still had the goal of completing 10 so we still had a ways to go.
Almost all of us

They took us to Immersion Brewing which appeared to be one of the most popular breweries we visited. Immersion is independent and locally owned with a twist that most breweries don't have - you can brew it yourself. You can reserve a two-hour brew experience where you can create a craft beer from scratch. We didn't have time for that but we enjoyed some appetizers and checked out the outdoor food truck lot, too. #7

Ahhh.....The Good Life. Good Life Brewing is an ode to the good life that one has in Bend - skiing, hiking, kayaking and a love of the outdoors along with some good beer. We watched some basketball on TV - a few of us even drank beer (can you believe we even wanted to by now?)- and enjoyed some good conversation at The Good Life. #8

Man, it was time for dinner. G said that the next place - Riverbend Brewing Sportspub - had awesome burgers - and apparently everyone in town wanted one as it was packed to the gills. We waited a good while for a table and then enjoyed one of those burgers. Seriously, I think everyone got one. Or almost everyone. And she was right - it was very good. Riverbend has outdoor patio seating and a fire pit which would be nice on those chilly Oregon nights. #9

Our last stop of the night was right down the block at Sunriver Brewing Company. By now I was beered out - but not everyone was - so some had beer and some had dessert.  Marionberry Cobbler to be exact. From the menu "cobbler with marionberries, oat and walnut streusel topping with tillamook vanilla ice cream. " Oh man.  You just can't beat that! And we were done. #10 Phew!

The next morning we drove the RV to the Visitor Center and received our silicone Bend Ale Trail cups. They're really cool - we were told you can even bake brownies in them. But what is really cool is a fun day with great friends exploring a new place and even tasting a few beers. Now that's cool.

Have you done any of the Bend Ale Trail? Completed it? 

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

Friday, November 3, 2017

California Road Trip - Donner Lake, Squaw Valley and Truckee!

After our visit to Lake Tahoe, we stayed in the area and visited Donner Lake and the Pioneer Memorial, drove around Squaw Valley and then spent the rest of the day in the hipster town of Truckee. It was a bit of a bits and pieces day - a little of this and a little of that - in the Tahoe area. Come along as we experience some of Northern California on a gorgeous, blue sky day!

Donner Memorial State Park -
If you went to school in the US, you might remember learning about the ill-fated pioneers of the Donner Party who were stuck during the winter of 1846-47 just outside of the town of Truckee.  (Because of the sensationalism of cannibalism, many people remember this story!) As legend has it, the large 92 person Donner Party headed west to California after paying a scout to lead them using a "shortcut". The scout never materialized so they left - and were rather late to leave - and became trapped in the Truckee area due to winter blizzards. They had no supplies - and had to construct housing themselves - and several members of the party perished. When aid finally arrived, the few that were still alive had resorted to cannibalism. (Forty-two survived but some had gone ahead to get help so not all were still at the camp)

At the spot of their camp is now Donner Memorial State Park. There is a fairly new Visitor Center and Emigrant Museum explaining the history of the Donner Party, other pioneers and those who have come through the area heading west. It's not a huge museum but we did spend a good part of the morning there - it's quite interesting if you're a history buff and I actually learned alot.  There is no fee to visit the museum - but there is a $10 parking fee. Also, at the state park is the Pioneer Monument - dedicated to "all who made the difficult trek across the western plains and mountains." Dedicated in 1918 - with a ceremony that included Donner Party survivors - the shaft of the monument is the depth of the snow - 22 feet - of the winter they were stuck there. You may take a free history tour led by park rangers that show the spots of the cabins, too.

 And a short walk down a trail from the museum is Donner Lake - a freshwater lake known as the "Jewel of the Northern Sierra".  A year-round destination, you can swim, fish, ski, hunt, beach sit and boat here. We walked the trail and had a peaceful view of the lake on a weekday morning in the fall. No one else was around nor any boats!

Squaw Valley Ski Resort
We spent our afternoon at Squaw Valley Ski Resort. In 1946, the founder of Squaw Valley, Alex Cushing, visited the area for the first time. By 1949, Squaw Valley was up and running - with the world's largest double chair lift. A few years later - to promote the ski resort - a bid was placed for the 1960 Olympics to be held at Squaw Valley. And they won - with only one chairlift and lodging for fifty people. It now has six peaks and North America's most advanced lift network. We headed to a casual bar to watch the World Series on TV and then drove around the resort. There was beautiful fall color and very few visitors since it was in between summer and ski seasons. 

That's quite the view from those windows!

We headed to the small - and residents want to keep it that way - town of Truckee for the evening. Originally a logging town, Truckee is now quite popular as "the" place to be in the Tahoe area. Breweries, wine bars, locally sourced restaurants and art galleries are popular with those who come to ski, rock climb or mountain bike. We visited a few of the stores and checked out some of the Happy Hour specials around. We chose Old Town Tap - which was hopping - and managed to find a seat at the bar until a seat became available at the outdoor fire pit. That was a good thing  - because Truckee is known for it's low temps and it was chillleeee that night. (I'd love to go in the summer and tube the Truckee River! But it may still be too cold for me!)

All in all, it was a fun day exploring the North Shore area. I love visiting places that are new to me - and learning all the nuances of a new area. And as I say so many times here are on the blog.....I'd love to go back sometime and do a more in-depth visit when I have more time. Retirement for Mr. UR and I is gonna be busy!

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How about you? Have you skiied Squaw Valley? Visited Donner Lake? or hung out in Truckee?

This post is part of a link-up with: The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond and The Weekend Wanderlust Weekend Travel Blog Party!