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CAB226 Sep 15th, 2009 05:52 PM

First time to OR, last week in July
Okay -- first trip report here, for my first trip to Oregon.

Finally joined after lurking and reading for AGES. Asked some questions before the trip and got some really good advice.

Okay, so a friend and I travelled together from July 25th to August 1, 2009. Flew on Continental from Newark to Portland on a 7 am flight. Arrived on time after an uneventful flight and got our rental car and headed into downtown Portland to find our hotel.

Stayed at the Hotel deLuxe for one night. Very nice room, if on the small side (although not tiny, just small). Great service at the hotel. We were able to check in early, and then headed out.

We walked to the Farmers Market and loved it. I go to the Union Square Greenmarket in NYC on occasion, and while that is a great market, thought this one was much better. Wether I'd think that if I went on a regular basis, or I was in the moment, I don't know; but it was definitely a great market. We got some bread and pate and fruit and cheese for picnic lunches.

We then wandered down along the river and to the Saturday Market, where we found a couple crafty things to buy. Found that a place called (I think) Dan & Louis and had some oysters (they had a whole bunch and we got 2 of each -- don't recall right now which ones, but all were good -- of course, some better than others, but no duds) and a glass of wine. Made our way back to the hotel after and dropped our various purchases and headed out again -- walking to the International Rose Test Garden. We didn't know it was all uphill from the hotel. Not too bad, but not necessarily a "nice" walk either, given the 90-something degree heat. Rose Garden was great, although I think the flowers certainly would have been better if they hadn't been in the middle of a heat wave.

After that, wandered down toward and around the Pearl District. We found a McMenamin's bar that I don't recall the name of at the moment, but it was right across the street from the bicycle storage/sculpture. Had a really nice wheat beer -- Ruby Red, maybe? Then wandered some more and ended up at REI -- fantastic store. I got a bike jersey and another top (didn't realize it was going to be SO hot and didn't have more than 1 sleeveless [i.e., HOT-weather] top), and my friend found a great pair of hiking boots. Made our way back to the hotel again.

After cleaning up, we had a drink in the hotel bar -- good drinks, but a great bartender. Mike was his name, and he gave us some advice about when we were going to be in Cannon Beach, and some advice about some other parts of our trip. Then headed to our dinner reservations at LePigeon. Fantastic restaurant. Great food. Really interesting flavor combinations. Great wine. Sorry I don't recall details a month and a half after getting home.

Not too late after dinner (maybe 10:00?), but we had started the day at about 4:30 east coast time and were going going going all day, so we just headed back to the hotel and crashed for the night.

Day two next.

CAB226 Sep 15th, 2009 06:14 PM

Okay, day two.

We had planned on spending Sunday morning doing more in Portland, but were told by folks here that "you can't come to Oregon and not see the Columbia River Gorge", so we got up early and were on the road by about 8 am to the Gorge. We went to Multnomah Falls, Wakheena Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and LaTourrell Falls, and Vista House. The folks who encouraged us to go there were so right. They were all amazing! Gorgeous falls and great hikes, and the views from Vista House were fabulous. It was a hot day, but not really bad at all because we got started early and were in the shade from trees and coolness of the falls this morning.

Then we headed back to (through) Portland to McMinnville for two nights at the Hotel Oregon. Very nice hotel -- quirky, interesting rooms, huge room (one its own and certainly compared to our room in Portland). Couldn't check in at around 1:00 when we got there, but they kept our bags and we changed in the restroom and JUST made the shuttle to the Passport to Pinot event at Linbrook College as the end of the IPNC weekend. It was outside and it was hot -- hotter than the day before in Portland -- I figure upper 90's. But at least there were tents and lots of trees so again, not awful. Great event, with fabulous wines and great food. Went to dinner that night at La Rambla with folks we met at the event. Honestly a bit less than sober as a result of all the wines tasted, so don't recall details about dinner. I know we had calamari and several other things and paella to finish the evening; and all was very tasty. I'm a little disappointed in myself for not staying more sober, but I was on vacation and not driving, and such is life.

Day three next.

CAB226 Sep 15th, 2009 06:29 PM

Day three.

We wandered around McMinnville (I should say we wandered just up and down the main street) in the morning and ended up having breakfast at the hotel (honestly didn't notice any other places for a full breakfast). We sat outside, which was nice; and food was good, but service was fairly lousy. All we had was omelettes, and it took ages to get our food. Seemed like they had forgotten about us.

Headed out to tasting rooms around 10:30 or 11:00.

First place we went to was the Museum that houses the Spruce Goose. Very cool museum. I really am amazed by aircraft. The Spruce goose was amazing. You know it's huge, but when you see it, you realize it's HUGE. Visited the tasting room there -- serviceable but nothing spectacular wines. Very nice non-alcoholic sparkling grape juice, though.

Where else did we go? First place was our favorite: Sokol Blosser. Only wine we didn't like was a red blend (again, sorry I don't remember the name, but we saw it on a lot of wine lists during the rest of the week; and it started with an M). We think if they hadn't poured it after an amazing pinot noir, we probably would have liked it. The aforementioned PN was wonderful as was a white blend called Evolution, and a dessert Riesling.

Next was Domaine Serene. Really liked the high end PN's there, but not $85 a bottle worth.

Also went to Chehalem -- very much liked that -- got a couple of whites and a Pinot.

Will be back and finish Day 3 in a bit.

CAB226 Sep 15th, 2009 06:47 PM

Day 3 continued.

Okay, went and got my guidebook and receipts and brochures and such, so should have some more details on stuff I don't thoroughly remember.

Museum with the Spruce Goose was the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum.

Totally wrong about Domaine Serene. We didn't actually go there -- it was Archery Summit.

Went to Rex Hill, and Carlton Winemaker's Studio -- had met Mr. Hammacher at the IPNC and loved the wine he poured then. Bought a bottle of his eponymous wine and another one he made but for another winery. Also visited Anne Amie.

Today was the hottest we experienced -- 106 degrees, and the a/c in the car was not the greatest. It kept us from being uncomfortable, but it didn't keep us comfortable. Luckily, all the tasting rooms were air conditioned. :-)

By the end of the day, we were a bit wined out, so to speak, after the tasting event the day before and the tasting room visits today. As a result, we just went down the street from our hotel to the Golden Valley Brewery for dinner. We did an appetizer of Cajun oysters and a salad for dinner. Again, to bed early.

Day 4, heading to the Coast, to come in a couple of days -- can't post tomorrow night.


Andrew Sep 15th, 2009 07:39 PM

Nice report! A few comments:

<i>We wandered around McMinnville (I should say we wandered just up and down the main street)</i>

Yep - not much more to the town beyond 3rd Street, but it is a cool little strip, no? Linfield College has a tiny campus next door you could have also wandered around on, but it's not particularly amazing or anything.

<i>We sat outside, which was nice; and food was good, but service was fairly lousy. All we had was omelettes, and it took ages to get our food. Seemed like they had forgotten about us.</i>

Nope, they didn't forget - that's just McMenamins! They are widely known in Oregon for their lousy, slow service, at almost all of them. I still recommend Oregon visitors check out a McMenamins despite the service, because it's a unique Oregon experience and generally the food is decent. Usually their burgers are quite good. (The service at the McMenamins near my house, on NE 15th and Broadway in Portland, is actually a bit better than the average for the chain.)

I've walked by the Hotel Oregon a few times, but the McMenamins Edgefield out in Troutdale (edge of the Gorge) is really an amazing place to visit, just for the scenery inside and out. Next time...but the service may not be any faster there!!!

mms Sep 16th, 2009 06:01 AM

Sounds like a nice trip. Too bad you missed the absolute best place for breakfast in is less than a block from La Rambla and is the Wildwood Cafe. You did hit some really good places though, including La Rambla. Too bad I wasn't with you, for some reason I have never had bad service at McMenamins:)

CAB226 Sep 17th, 2009 06:37 PM

Well, Andrew, we saw a little bit of Linfield College at the IPNC Passport to Pinot tasting event., as it took place there Granted, we really didn't particularly pay attention to the campus, as we were more focussed on the Pinot Noir and the food and talking to the winemakers. I do recall briefly noticing that it was a nice looking campus, though.

And mms, we did miss Wildwood Cafe. Even if we did have lousy service for our breakfast at Hotel Oregon, at least it did taste good. Oh well, if I ever return (sure hope so, but there are so many places in the world to see, you never know -- I don't get back tot too many places), I'll make sure I go to the Wildwood. Either that, or make sure you join me at McMenamins to make sure I got good service. :-)

CAB226 Sep 17th, 2009 06:45 PM

Need more time than I have tonight to put together day 4 and later -- more to come....

pdx Sep 17th, 2009 06:59 PM

Nice trip, cab. I've never been to McMinnville, never even considered it. Guess it's time to amble down that way.

lcuy Sep 17th, 2009 09:03 PM

Thanks for reporting. Looking forward to the finale!

hetismij Sep 18th, 2009 04:15 AM

McMenamins Edgefield has good food, great service and friendly staff. We ate there twice and loved it. I wish we could have stayed there too but they were full. It's the only McMenamins we tried so can't comment on the others.
We are of course Europeans so are used to waiting for our food, and enjoy a pause between courses, which is what we go there - it felt very European all together.

Looking forward to reading more of your report - bringing back memories for me, and reminding me of the things we didn't get to see - all the more reason for another trip :).

mms Sep 18th, 2009 05:29 AM

pdx--You haven't been to Mac? I personally love the town. Definitely allow most of a day. I am down there a lot...used to go if you want suggestions, just ask:)

pdx Sep 19th, 2009 03:48 PM

mms - recommend a restaurant or two for dinner and I'll get my hubby to drive down for a little getaway dinner some afternoon-evening. we can wander around and check it out, see what's up.

mms Sep 19th, 2009 04:55 PM

pdx--Ok, where to start...there are a lot of good places down there! La Rambla, Bistro Maison, Orchards and Nick's are all right smack in the heart of downtown and all are very good. In the back of Orchards is Honest Chocolates, which is very good. HC has another new location in Newberg, BTW. If you want ultra casual then head to Alf's for burgers and shakes. Alf's is right next to Linfield, on hwy99w. Just stay away from Sage...ick!!!

pdx Sep 20th, 2009 08:15 AM

Thanks, mms. I'll start planning a nice afternoon-evening outing. Date night ♥!

nanabee Sep 20th, 2009 08:29 AM

Thanks for posting Cab! I'm glad you had a chance to eat at Le Pigeon. It is one of my favorites. My daughter was married at McMenamins/Edgefield in Troutdale. It is a great hotel. However, the rooms are not air conditioned so with the hot weather you had it was better to stay somewhere where they do have AC.

CAB226 Sep 20th, 2009 06:36 PM

LePigeon was great! While, as I said, I don't recall the details of what we had at this point, I do recall that it was fantastic. My friend and I were both blown away by the food. And since we were only in the Portland area one night, and the Gorge one morning, we didn't even consider the McMenamins Edgefield. Since the 2 hottest days of our trip were the two in McMinnville, we were rather glad the McMenamins Hotel Oregon did have a/c. :-)

CAB226 Sep 21st, 2009 06:47 PM

Okay, day 4 here, Tuesday, July 28th.

We checked out and headed West, then South toward our hotel in Yachats for the next two days, Overleaf Lodge. En route, we stopped off in Depoe Bay. Gorgeous! Definitely not the Jersey Shore. Saw a whale and some dolphins off the coast here. Back on the road, and stopped at Cape Foulweather. Drove South some more and stopped at Yaquina Head. Wandered down to the tidepools and into the Interpretive Center. Unfortunately, didn't get into the lighthouse, as the wait was about half an hour and we just weren't willing to wait.

Back on the road again, and the next stop was Nye Beach -- wandered around a bit, then had lunch at the Chowder Bowl there -- not the world's greatest chowder, but probably top 5. :-) After lunch, we walked over to the Bayfront in Newport and wandered around there for a bit. Saw (and heard -- goodness, they are loud!) some sea lions and/or seals on the docks.

Finally, headed to Yachats. Loved the Overleaf! Great big room, with a cozy gas fireplace. ground floor room, with a little deck outside. We settled in a bit and then went for a walk along the beach. We went South on our walk and ended up at the Adobe for a drink. Nice, friendly bartender; great view out the windows. We were thinking about dinner there for the next night, based on the view and the girl at the Overleaf check-in's recommendation for the food. However, when we looked over the menu, it really didn't thrill us. Ended up at a great restaurant the next night, details about which I'll get into on Day 5 of the report. Anyway, had a couple tasty cocktails, chatted with the bartender and another patron, and had a nice time.

Walked back to our hotel, freshened up, and headed to dinner. Another recommendation from the girl at check-in: the Drift Inn. Nothing super-special, but a friendly, casual atmosphere, with a duo playing music, and tasty food. My friend and I both ended up with the same thing -- a crab-crusted fish -- quite tasty. Ended the evening at the bar across the street -- okay, but seemed very much like a locals' place. My friend had a blast; I had an okay time.

Day 5 soon...

CAB226 Sep 24th, 2009 06:35 PM

Day 5

We headed south from Yachats and drove down past Florence and took a dune buggy ride with Sand Dunes Frontier. What a blast! We could have driven the buggy ourselves -- thank God we didn't! Let the folks who know what they're doing do it. Seemed like we might tip any number of times (probably would have if we had been driving) but our driver knew what he was doing, and where he was going. Also, everything looked the same to us -- have no clue how we would have found our way back if we had been at the wheel.

Next drove further south to Reedsport and the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area. While there is no guarantee you will see elk, and we don't know how often people do or do not see them, but we were lucky enough to see a reasonable sized group of elk. Pretty cool!

Turned around and headed back north, to the Sea Lion Caves. I liked the views from outside the cave a lot better than inside. It was dark and crowded and smelly and we were not particularly close to the sea lions. Wouldn't say I'm disappointed I went, but don't know that I'd recommend it to folks.

Next was Heceta Head Lighthouse. It was a bit foggy, so couldn't see distant views, but a nice lighthouse and a decent hike up to it.

Back to Yachats and lunch at Luna Sea Fish House. Very tasty grilled scallops and chips.

Then back a little south again to Cape Perpetua. Wow! Spent several hours there. Hiked up the Saint Perpetua Trail to the top -- gorgeous views. Hiked down and then to the water to see the tidepools and spouting horn. Can watch the water for quite a while, it's so fascinating.

After a little relaxation and cleanup in our room, dinner that night was at the Yachats River House. Fabulous meal! I had a squid appetizer salad that was great and my friend had a rich, earthy mushroom pate. We both had the tandoori salmon for our mains. Also really great!

Day six, we head north...

kimamom Sep 26th, 2009 12:09 PM

Sounds like a wonderful time, we have been on the Oregon Coast in Seaside for awhile, we love Coastal Living! ***kim*** ((#))

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