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Camping with the kids

This past weekend we took the kids camping at Nehalem Bay State Park. It was… challenging. Not that it wasn’t worth it… it just… took a lot of effort. There were times we had to remind ourselves that home was less than two hours away and we could leave at any time. But hey, we did it! The kids had a great time playing on the beach both days – soaking up the sun, splashing in the water, flying the kite, and generally getting sand everywhere. The hardest part was in the evening, I think. Of course the kids couldn’t get to sleep on time, were occasionally loud which I worried bothered our fellow campers, and then there were “incidences” – like when Leo jabbed himself in the eye with a fork and I feared that we’d have to rush to the hospital, or when Chloe fell face first into the fire pit, scraping her face, bloodying her nose and getting soot all over herself. And sleeping, well… we only have 3 sleeping bags, so I shared mine with Leo, which was kind of awkward, and I kept waking up all night wondering if he or Chloe was cold.

Anyways, it was a good learning experience (and exercise in patience!). Next time we are going to do what our neighbors are doing this week, and getting a yurt. 🙂
More photos can be seen here.


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Kalaloch


Ruby Beach

After writing that post about Bree Tanner, I thought of some photos I took of Kalaloch during our memorial weekend camping trip. What does Kalaloch have to do with the Twilight series? Nothing, except that it is just 30 minutes south of Forks, Washington. For being so close in proximity to this popular Twilight fan destination, Kalaloch was no busier than I’d expect for this area of the Olympic National Park. No surprise, but it was cloudy the entire time we visited, and no, we didn’t see any vampires. 🙂


Big Western Red Cedar. Click here to see view from inside tree.

BTW – A friend of mine wrote an interesting post about visiting Forks as a Twilight fan, including great photos. You can read it here.


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A very good start to the New Year


Overlook on hwy 101, near Manzanita, Oregon

We decided to head to the coast today. It was dark, cloudy and pouring rain, but I didn’t care. I was just glad to begin the new year in one of my favorite places.

Luckily we timed the drive during Chloe’s first nap. David and I talked along the way, sang songs, made plans. We stopped at one of the overlooks to watch the churning, pounding waves below and I tried to snap a few photos while the wind whipped my hair in all directions. Unfortunately, I wasn’t watching when I got out and lost one of my cashmere wristwarmers made by my sister-in-law. I didn’t realize this until later, of course, and was pretty bummed, but determined to not let anything ruin the day.

In Manzanita we took it easy. Shared a mocha from Manzanita News & Espresso, and poked into a few of the cute little shops, including Unfurl, my favorite eco-clothing shop. They were having a fantastic sale, including 50% off Danskos, the brand of shoe I wear 98% of the time (I’m on my third pair of black professionals, plus I have a pair in brown). I eventually walked out with a pair of black Sallys that David talked me into. Looking down at them now I’m glad he did. I’m generally too practical to waste money on cute shoes, but these are a good blend of comfort and style to suit me (at half-price!).


Showing off my new danskos

Wild elk herd near Cannon Beach, Oregon

For lunch we shared a tasty clam chowder, halibut fish & chips, and hushpuppies at the charming Manzanita Seafood & Chowderhouse. Happy and full we braved exposure on the beach to let the dog loose  in the sand and surf. Too soon it was time to head home. On the way we saw a herd of wild elk by the highway near Cannon Beach. Can you imagine? Just minding their own business, munching on grass, and stopping traffic on the highway.

And remember my lost wrist-warmer? David decided we should check the overlook on the way back to see if we could find it. And guess what? He found it! Sodden and a little worse for wear, but it was FOUND! David is really amazing like that. He doesn’t just give up, instead he puts in that extra effort that so often ends in a rewarding outcome. And that, I would say, is a very good start to the New Year!


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Oregon Mini-Vacation, Day 2

So, I had every intention of writing about the rest of our trip, but I think now I’m just going to summarize the highlights in one long post. We had a good time, no question, and I do want to share, just not as individually detailed as I had planned. I haven’t been in a very bloggy mood lately, probably because Chloe is evolving faster than I can keep up. She’s amazing. But more on that later. Here’s some pics from the remainder of our trip.

Shore Acres State Park


Restored formal garden

Grandiflora Crimson Boquet Rose

The hidden gem of Simpson Beach

This park is awesome. Imagine owning a private estate on the coast, with your own sandy beach, and building a gorgeous summer home on a bluff high above the waves. Then add a formal garden, including a Japanese-style garden surrounding a 100-foot lily pond, all in the early 1900s. Unfortunately (or fortunately for us), the great depression occured. Now the mansion is gone, but the gardens have been restored and there now sits an enclosed observation deck on the original home site. I would have loved to have spent more time here (just down the road from Sunset Bay State Park), but Chloe was getting tired and we wanted to let her sleep on the drive down to Bandon. Thus, we also missed Cape Arago State Park, just south.

Bandon


Part of the Bandon coastline, plus a view of riders probably from Bandon Beach Riding Stables

Coquille River (Bandon) Lighthouse

By noon of day 2 we were in Bandon, Oregon. We treated ourselves to a fresh and delicious! halibut fish-and-chips lunch at Bandon Fish Market, before perusing the little shops. Dessert was yummy chocolate and handmade candy samples at Cranberry Sweets. (Steer clear of Bandon’s Coffee Cafe, though, our latte was very disappointing.)

Port Orford


Misty boats at the Port of Port Orford, Circa 1856

Port Orford coastline


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Oregon Mini-Vacation, Day 1

Florence to Coos Bay

We drove from Portland to just north of Florence for our first visit to the Sea Lion Caves. They don’t tell you this on the web site, but be prepared for the biggest stink of your life. I was actually fine, but David had a stronger reaction. Kind of expensive, but worth seeing, as it is the world’s largest sea cave.

Heading south on hwy 101 to Florence we stopped briefly at the Darlingtonia Botanical Gardens, a preserve that protects a small area of naturally occurring cobra lilies Darlingtonia californica. I find these insectivorous pitcher plants fascinating!

We took a brief tour of Florence’s Old Town before continuing south through the Oregon Dunes National Rec Area and Coos Bay to Sunset Bay State Park. We chose to camp here for our first night, and I’m surprised now to find I hadn’t taken any photos. I can definitely see coming back here someday when Chloe is older. The little bay offers a charming sandy beach with calm water, a large expanse of grassy, wooded play and picnic area, and warm showers after you’re all done.


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Diary of a Day Trip to the Oregon Coast


A Photo of Manzanita from Hwy 101, taken last year

David and I spent the lovliest day at the coast on Saturday. This entry is an overview of our day, as both a reminder for myself and to anyone who might want to travel this same Portland/Oregon Coast loop. My only regret is that I forgot my camera (and phone), but in a way, it may have freed me up to experience the day in a way that I wouldn’t have normally. Who knows. But it sure was wonderful.

After a leisurely Saturday breakfast at home, David, Barkley and I left Portland mid-morning and headed toward my favorite, Cannon Beach. If I had pots of money, this is where I would buy a vacation home. Yes, it is super-touristy (more so every year), but it retains lots of its original small beach-town charm. We walked north through town, peeking in various shops until we reached Pizza à Fetta. We ordered two slices of pepperoni pizza and a coke and from the to-go window. (Our other favorite lunch spot is Ecola Seafoods, but neither of us felt like fresh halibut fish ‘n chips today). We ate our slices in the little courtyard, and enjoyed some entertaining people and dog watching.

After lunch we perused a few more galleries on our way to Bruce’s Candy Kitchen. We love to watch them pull fresh saltwater taffy on their old-timey machine, but we must have arrived between showings. I picked up some hard-to-find watermelon and cherry zotz, some sweet and sour Haribo fruit salad, and a nugget each of semi-sweet chocolate seafoam and haystack (my sweet tooth existed way before pregnancy). David decided on a small handful of Atomic Fireballs and his favorite fresh taffys out of the individual flavor bins.

While heading back to the car with our pink and white striped goody bag, we were surprised to find a hole-in-the wall I had never seen before called The Center of the Elephant Ear Universe. It specializes in a while-you-wait deep fried, thin & crispy pastry with your choice of toppings (similar to funnel cake – see side story). We opted to split a half classic (butter glaze with cinnamon sugar) and half dutch baby (butter, sugar and lemon). It disappeared off our plate in seconds, licking our fingers afterwards.

Side Story: one of the things I had been craving since getting pregnant was funnel cake. For some reason I have never seen them on the west coast, so I thought maybe this was one craving that wouldn’t get satisfied. However, while in picturesque Manitou Springs, Colorado, a few weeks back, Marcy noticed a place that did make them called Patsy’s. Mmmm! We even went back a few days later for a second round, no matter that it was a half hours drive away)!

Back at the car, we drove a short way down scenic hwy 101, turning into the smaller beach-side town of Manzanita. Much less crowded here, but just as sweet. David noted that he would much rather have a vacation house here, and after thinking about it I had to agree. The sun had finally come out, but it remained cool and windy. There were more kite boarders and windsurfers than I had ever seen dotting the horizon with their colorful equipment, enjoying the waves. We stopped to check out a few of the shops here and I’m glad we did. At Overboard, we found a christmas gift for our nephew (shopping early this year, due to our baby on the way) and found several goodies for ourselves at eco-conscious Unfurl. We walked out with a cool new hat for each of us, 6 postcards for the new nursery frames by one of my favorite Portland artists, Trish Grantham (love her website), and a bar of Coastal Sage soap. I was this close to also walking out with the sweetest Kate Quinn Organics Baby Kimono Bodysuit and pant set in hibiscus, but then put it back at the last minute. I don’t know how I resisted. The other shop I liked in particular was Four Paws on the Beach. It was fun to check out over-the-top dog goodies like organic frozen yogurt and ‘doggles’ (eye goggles for dogs).

Again we headed back to the car to continue down hwy 101. The little towns and scenery are really beautiful, and there were many places we could have idled away the day, but decided on Rockaway Beach for our third stop. This long stretch of sandy beach had a lot less people, perfect for playing fetch with Barkley and allowing him some wave crashing fun. It was here David found a perfect whole sand dollar, but we left it for some other lucky beachcomber to find.

Driving south again we entered the town of Tillamook (known especially for it’s famous dairy). The factory makes a fun tour for those who haven’t been their before, with a nice sampling of their cheeses. We passed through town after a brief look at some crab traps for sale, and headed partially down the Three Cape Scenic Loop Drive to the Bay Ocean Spit. From the parking area we walked along a sandy path until we came out to the ocean, basically having the whole beach to ourselves. It is hard to believe that places like this still exist, pristine and beautiful with nothing man-made on the horizon to mar its remote beauty, and still be so close to civilization. Eventually, happy and hungry we headed back into town for a hearty mexican dinner at La Mexicana, situated in a cute pink house on the way to hwy 6, our route back home. Hwy 6 follows the Wilson River, so we stopped a couple times to look for fish, and for David to try his luck before eventually making it back home by 10pm. Wow! I think I’ll be remembering today for a very long time.

Footnote: It would be easy to spend all day at any of the areas listed above, but because we’ve been to some of these places many times before, we opted to keep on going, stopping at more places. These visits could easily be broken up over a long weekend or more, with lots more to see and do than just listed here.

Here is a map starting from the Oregon Zoo and following the individual destinations listed above.


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A special day

Ah, birthdays… the one day out of the year to do whatever I want (within reason, of course) and have my husband agree with me FOR THE ENTIRE DAY. Here’s what my day was like:

MORNING
Rolled out of bed at 9am
Listened to missed phone msg from my mother-in-law singing
Received happy birthday text msg and pic from my sister
Had a blueberry sugar scone with coffee for breakfast
Played a game of Skip-bo with David. (David won)
Completed a quick revision for a client
Showered and dressed
Sprayed sealer on some pendants I made recently (more about that soon)
Began the 2.5 hour journey from Portland to Cape Disappointment, Washington
Received birthday phone message from my father-in-law on the Astoria Bridge

AFTERNOON
Arrived in the small town of Longview, WA around 1:30pm. Enjoyed a delicious lunch at a little restaurant called the 42nd Street Cafe (4201 Pacific Hwy, Seaview, WA, 360-642-2323). We chose it solely on a drive-by, but it turns out to be highly rated by big names like Fodor’s “Tradition merges with innovation” and Travel & Leisure “Excellent.” David ordered a cheeseburger and fries (natural, fresh, handcut) and I had a pot roast sandwich with fries. I also ordered beignets ( I was starving and hey! it’s my birthday!) as well as their ‘cafe au lait’ which consists of Café du Monde coffee with chicory which I’ve heard of but never tried. It came in a small french press with hot milk on the side. Chicory is the root of the endive plant (although our server said it was a bark) that is roasted and added to coffee, common in the New Orleans area. I’ve read that it tends to have a chocolatey flavor, but that is so NOT true. To be honest, the smell reminded me of pot.

After lunch we headed to nearby Cape Disappointment State Park.
First we walked the short trail to North Head Lighthouse. On the way we saw the coast guard helicopter floating near the side of our cliff, probably doing some sort of training maneuver. It was so unbelievable close. The ground trembled and the air vibrated hard, it was that close. It was cold and the coastal wind was whipping us so hard that none of my pics turned out perfectly in focus, the wind practically buffeted the camera out of my hands. This was my favorite of the two lighthouses. On the way back we stopped to check out the Lighthouse keeper’s residences which are now vacation rentals. I would so love to overnight here someday. Received birthday text msg from Marcy.

Then we went to check out the Cape Disappointment lighthouse. It was a nice 3/4mi hike, but for some reason it didn’t seem as interesting. On the way back Heather called to wish me a happy birthday. Skipped the interpretive center to save ourselves the $5/person entry fee. On the drive back dad called to wish me a happy birthday.

On the way home we stopped at a scrapbooking store in Seaside (hey! It’s my birthday!). David actually remembered me mentioning it on the way up. I spent a little time picking up some brads and eyelets and he didn’t complain once.

EVENING
Finally made it home. Such bad weather, but worth the trip in every way.
Decided to head to the library before it closed to return books and pick up our holds.
Stopped at Baskin-Robbins on the way home to get my free birthday scoop (mint chocolate chip baby!)
Got home and played another game of Skip-bo. David won (again!).
Checked my email (yay for birthday emails!)
And finished the day with a nice massage from the husband. Yay for birthdays!

Okay, so this wasn’t supposed to be birthday cake, just a chocolate cake I happened to make this week. David cut a piece for himself (I was eating ice cream) and put in a candle for me to make a wish on after he sang happy birthday. He’s a sweetie, that David.


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A Beach House Weekend

View from the deck of Eagle’s Nest

Another great weekend at the beach. It just never gets old. Pretty much every trip is an adventure and this one was certainly no different. This weekend was Marcy’s birthday weekend and we spent it at a gorgeous house called Eagle’s Nest (the pictures here do not do it justice, much more Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous at least to me!) that had an incredible view of the Pacific City coastline and miles of ocean. The first night we let the dogs run on the sand and frolic in the water while we simply admired the crashing waves from the stormy weather. Then we went back to for dinner and birthday cake.

On Saturday we rented crab rings and bought crabbing licenses and bait in a town called Garibaldi. Let me just say that crab bait does not smell or look pretty – basically large fish heads frozen with string, so they can be attached to the rings. The traps are thrown off the pier and checked every 10 minutes or so. Although many found their way into our nets, none were large enough to keep, so we ended up buying live crab nearby. Meanwhile, David had struck up a conversation with another couple on the pier while the rest of us went to find lunch. I’m not sure how, but eventually it came out that they live in our neighborhood, which is pretty weird considering how far we all were from home. One thing led to another and they joined us for some late afternoon mushroom hunting and also for dinner back at the rental house of crab and freshly picked wild chanterelles. Yum!

Late afternoon on the beach, hardly a soul in sight.

Beach houses aglow from the late afternoon sun

The marina in Garabaldi, where we rented our crab rings

A desirable male, but too small to keep

Barkley on the train tracks with the pier behind him

University Falls, on the drive home from Tillamook

A little caterpillar resting near the falls

More photos of our weekend can be found here.

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