Oregon


Amazing Scenery

Sahalee Falls, McKenzie Pass, Crater Lake Nt. Park

Sahalee Falls with Rainbow

A wonderful day driving through the heart of Oregon, scenery spectacular with amazing variety. From Portland to the state capital of Salem we’re reminded of how productive the Willamette Valley is – vineyards, Christmas tree farms, berry patches, nurseries, gardens, vegetables. We share memories to previous visits to tulip farms in March, peony and iris farms in June and the botanical treasure of Oregon Gardens.

 

As we climb into the Cascade range autumn-hued ground covers and shrubbery color the landscape in contrast to the deep, deep greens of the western slope coniferous forest. After 2 1/2 hours of drive time we take a break at the Sahalee Falls Viewpoint.  Fifteen minutes out of the car for the short walk to see the falls does the body and mind a world of good. Sahalee is only one of a series of falls along the McKenzie River.

 

 

Bob's Lava Field

I’ve read and seen pictures of the McKenzie Pass road for years, today is the day to see it for ourselves. Vehicle width and length restrictions are enforced on 22 miles of the scenic byway. We soon understand the limits, the road is very narrow and winding with sharp turns. This isn’t the route for travelers in a hurry, it’s slow going but worth the time required. Atop the pass a 65-square mile lava flow creates an other worldly landscape; trees pushing their way upward from the volcanic debris and twisted dead trunks bleached nearly white.

 

Crater Lake

 

A slight detour takes us to Crater Lake National Park. We’ve been here two times before. The first was more than 20 years ago in late March. There was 27-feet of snow on the ground; we literally walked trough a snow tunnel to a viewing platform on the edge to see into the lake. In 2001 we had reservations for two nights; our first morning was 9/11. At that time there were no televisions in the park and radio reception was spotty. We spent the day driving around the lake finding high spots where we could listen to the awful news.

 

Todays visit was perfect, although too short. Sky and lake were blue, blue, blue and windless; creating incredible perfect reflections of the steep caldera sides in the calm waters. Truly a priceless gift to see the park on such a day of amazing scenery.

Goodbye Ocean – Hello Portland

Memories & Traffic

Cannon Beach Waves

 

The morning dawned clear and blue; tide and waves were higher than the last two days. Tough to say goodbye to a favorite site along the Oregon Coast, I want more time here but it’s unfortunately time to head homeward.

 

Pho Van SignWe had family living in Portland for four years and chalked up numerous trips. Highest on the list of places we want to revisit is Bob’s favorite restaurant for Vietnamese noodle bowls – Pho Van on 82nd SE. Yes, we’re on the eating trail again. Two #51s and a pot of Jasmine tea for lunch.

 

Each vermicelli noodle bowl is topped with shredded lettuce, bean sprouts, cucumbers, onions, pickled carrots and daikon and peanuts. Our favorite adds skewers of pork marinated in honey and lemongrass, grilled over an open flame and crispy spring rolls filled with minced pork and shrimp. Served with Muoc Mam.

 

Noodle Bowl

 

It’s been five years since we visited Portland, it’s gotten nothing but larger, busier and traffic nearly impossible. With clear skies and temps in the 80s everyone is out and about. Lanes of traffic backed up for blocks at traffic lights, Interstates creeping and drivers impatient. I already miss the relaxation found along the coast – goodbye ocean, hello Portland.

Muffins, Cheese and Ice Cream

 

It seems more and more of my daily reports center on food. Don’t bother counting calories for today – it’s way over the top. You might gain weight just reading about our day.

 

We started with breakfast at Pig ‘n Pancake in Cannon Beach. Bob was reasonably wise with granola, yogurt and fresh fruit. I, on the other hand went right for their Swedish pancakes which are the best excuse for scoops of whipped butter and lingonberry preserves.

 

Cannon Beach Sweetness

 

The next stop was the Cannon Beach Bakery to stock up for bedtime sweet treat and tomorrows breakfast – love their Sailor Jack and poppy seed muffins. The piece de resistance was an apple fritter with caramel glaze. Bob loves fritters, I love caramel anything. Disclaimer: The last time we were in Cannon Beach the bakery was closed, I’m making up for lost opportunities.

 

We actually waited 4½ hours before eating again. This time we were at the Tillamook Cheese Company. They have the best ever grilled cheese sandwich. The Centennial is a combination of sharp cheddar and Vintage White medium cheddar grilled on thick slices of sourdough bread. The sandwich comes with a dill pickle slice and choice of fries, tater tots, salad or soup. We both opted for the soup of the day – chili.

 

Tillamook Grilled Cheese

 

Tillamook Huckleberr ICAfter shopping – for cheese curds and some of the Vintage White medium cheddar we entered the ice cream line. Huckleberry for Bob, Caramel Toffee Crunch for Nancy. We did restrict ourselves to single dips but good sized dips they were.

 

Tillamook Caramel Toffee CrunchA half mile down the road stands the Blue Heron French Cheese Company. Not wanting to go home empty handed we purchased a small wheel of the traditional brie and a wedge of the herb brie. (You got a dollar off it you purchased two – such a deal.) Three bottles of Riverhouse salad dressings also found their way into our bag.

 

Blue Heron Brie

 

Back in Cannon Beach we stopped at the market to pick up milk and chocolate milk to wash down the sweet treats later this evening. Need I say we won’t be going to dinner tonight? Over the top I know but an opportunity that doesn’t happen often. Not counting, just enjoying.

To the Sea, To the Sea

“Ocian in view! O! the joy.” Wrote Capt. William Clark in his journal on November 7, 1805. I know that joy today as we arrive in Cannon Beach after several years absence.

  • We drive along the Washington side of the Columbia River from Longview to Cathlamet.
  • Columbia River from Ferry A spur of the moment decision finds us waiting on the Puget Island Ferry, the last ferry operating on the Lower Columbia. The ferry departs Puget Island on the Washington side of the river on the hour. Stopping to absorb the surroundings is a nice alternative to rushing down the highway.
  • We listen to local conversation as the ferry operators chat with the regulars and tease the children. We overhear the lady in the pickup next to us on her cell phone; she’s asking if someone was in Denver when they had the 4” of rain and hail. Our eyebrows shoot up, knowing we need to check this out.
  • Nine cars and trucks make the 11am crossing. Ten minutes and $3 brings us to Westport, Oregon.Fort Clatsop
  • The sun shines on Astoria, Oregon today. On previous visits, under grey, wet skies I’ve always thought of Astoria as rather forlorn. The town seems much cheerier under bright blue skies.
  • Lunch at the Gunderson’s Cannery Cafe on the dock of the Sixth Street viewing tower. I order crab cakes, Bob salmon cakes and we share. To my amazement I preferred the salmon.
  • Lewis and Clark National Park encompasses seven national historic sites plus state parks in Oregon and Washington, all significantly tied to the Lewis and Clark  Corps of Discovery. The corps spent the winter of 1805-06 at the quickly erected Fort Clatsop. It was a forlorn 106-day stay with rain all but 12 days, illness and scant supplies.
  • We browse museum displays, watch an orientation movie, visit the replica fort and walk trails through the thick forests. Unfortunately the ranger programs don’t start  until next week.
  • Cannon Beach Sunset Arriving in Cannon Beach we check into our oceanfront accommodations at Tolovana Inn.
  • Happily nested, we decide to eat on the property at Mo’s. Famous for their clam chowder, Mo’s Seafood Restaurants dot the Oregon coast.
  • What better way to end the day than a sunset beach walk?

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