Thursday, May 23, 2013

Portland: The Final Day

Our ventures finally led us back to Portland for our final glorious day of vacation. Our day started in the hills overlooking the city at the Portland Rose Garden that was this huge park with many levels and areas of hundreds of different types of roses (who knew that there were so many?!?!). There were SO many people here enjoying the view over the city, the beauty of the park and the roses, and the absolutely perfect weather...lots of people laying out reading on their own, hanging out with friends, and enjoying picnics. It is the PERFECT spot for a picnic. There were really cool areas organized in this part such and an amphitheater with grassed stadium seating and a small Shakespearean garden to host outdoor plays (and you could even imaging some awesomely photographic wedding occurring here).

Following this Jeremy took us the the MOST FANTASTIC PLACE IN THE WORLD TO HAVE EVER EXISTED! One of my mad passions in life is libraries and bookstores. I seriously LOVE being surrounded by all of the books and love reading. Powell's Books is a new, used, and out of print bookstore that is MASSIVE; the largest bookstore that I have ever been in and I felt starstruck being there...needless to say I was very overwhelmed. It takes up an entire city block, is several stories high, and is set up exactly like a library with the Dewey decimal system minus the actual numbers on books. Ahhh, we all immediately split up upon entry to wander around, spent at least an hour there, and I didn't even make it past the first two rooms. I WILL GO BACK HERE. For anyone who enjoys reading and bookstores/libraries, this should be on your life list. And the prices...oh the prices were fantastic...unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) our excess luggage space we came with was now filled with wines, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.
After that (Note, I am shocked I left Powell's under my own free will versus kicking and screaming) we headed down to Deschutes Brewery Public House to enjoy some libations and take in the Pens game. This was a REALLY popular place for the weekend, but we had enough of our own space, and the drinks and appetizers were great. If you like beer, this is the place for you.

For our final meals on the West Coast, it was determined that we absolutely could not leave without indulging in sushi. So to Sinju we went! If you enjoy sushi, you will enjoy this place...they have some unique (and really tasty) rolls that I have never seen elsewhere, so it is fun to try new things!

What Jeremy, Shawna, and I enjoyed

Adam's seafood ramen

So this marks the end of one of the best vacations that we have ever had and I would love to repeat any of our adventures, they were that great. You cannot go wrong visiting any of our adventure sites. Ahhh...until the next time!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Washington to Oregon: The Return

Another sad departure was had this fine morning, as we were leaving the wonders of Walla Walla and Washington State to return to Hood River and the state of Oregon. The sadness was met with equal anticipation of things to come though. 
The morning began with breakfast out on the patio watching the Walla Walla Balloon Festival begins and seeing the hot air balloons dance around the sky. It was a really rough way to start the day.

Our first stop out of town was at North Star Vineyards for a wine tasting and hopes of meeting their huge Great Danes. Fortunately, wine was tasted and purchased, but the pups were not there to be seen. Some of the most fun we have on these trips are with the "wine dogs" or "wine cats", just an intriguing mix of animals with an abundance of love and personality. This location was one of the more comfortable tasting rooms we have been to, and the boys quickly found them swallowed into the oversized leather furniture while the girls chatted away with the wine guy.



North Star Vineyards

Our next stop was L'Ecole Winery (I learned some French this day, as L'Ecole is French for school). This tasting room was located in an old school that had been beautifully refurbished, keeping much of the original structure intact. From the old wooden staircase, to original bookcases (not seen below), and even an old chalkboard, the place had such character and sense of history.

Book case AND wine case...I LOVE their thinking!
Two of my favorite things that go SO well together!

Old school house turned wine tasting room = glorious
And then finally...back to Oregon

Adam's hops fields...and my finger
He didn't give me enough notice and we were on the highway, it was the best I could do

The Columbia River Valley

Once we got checked into Hood River it was out we went. Our evening started at Volcanic Bottle Shoppe because rumor had it that they carried "Pliny the Elder". I guess this is a SUPER rare and coveted beer that Jeremy and Adam were all about having. There was much happiness and excitement all around between this, Shawna finding a really great beer, and my having an abundant selection of ciders that I had never heard of (and were delicious!). This was a really chill place to hang outside in the back patio area and enjoy some olives with our drinks and just socialize and people watch and continue to relax. Many people came with their dogs, so they were roaming all around looking for attention, and our table was happy to oblige.

This is suppose to be an awesome beer
The beginning of an epic evening

Then off to dinner we went and continued the epicness of the festivities. Hood River is a great little town with eclectic places to taste wine and beer, they have a variety of well rated restaurants, and they had an AWESOME little farmer's market that we stopped in at on our way out of town. Not much more to do than a day's worth of activities, but it makes for a really fun day.

Jeremy's "LIFE" picture at dinner

Below are some of the gorgeous irises found at the Market...if I lived here I would either grow these flowers myself or be buying the frequently to display in my house. They are the largest irises that I have ever seen (sorry my photo perspective does not show this) with the widest variety of colors. SO pretty!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Washington State

Hello Walla Walla! It is much more fun to say that you are in the city than to type it. Our trip had an overall wine-flavored theme, with a sprinkling of beer, and LOTS of relaxation (all of us needed a serious break from reality and daily life).
Again, thanks to East Coast time, we were up bright and early...fortunately for us, the wine people understand, and the tasting rooms opened up at 10am. Never to early right? We started out at Charles Smith Winery. He has two different wine lines...both are equally awesome. Adam and I seriously fell in LOVE with the architecture of the building, and have both vowed that the house we build with have so many of the design elements from this place incorporated. The front walls were glass and flip out to become a glass roof for an outdoor patio. How awesome is that!?!?!? The walls are nesting walls that collapse inside of themselves to make the space as big or small as you want, the tables are all on wheels to move around and keep the design of the space ever changing, and the cases of wines have custom tops that become high-top tables on entertainment evenings. Seriously fantastic. While we were there, the wine steward told us about their "BBQ and Blues" event later that evening, so our plans for the night were solidified. Who doesn't like BBQ, wine, and good music? Terrible people that we don't want to hang out with ever, that's who.

Charles Smith Tasting Room

Awesome door/ceiling

In LOVE with the decor

Movable lounge area/stage for entertainment

The boys, content and comfortable, all is well with the world

After that we meandered around the town, did a few more wine tastings, and came across Adam and Jeremy's new heaven (and you thought it was in Whole Foods back in Santa Barbara...), known at Salumiere Cesario. Gourmet cheese, at least a dozen different type of salumi, olives, spice rubs, wines, fresh breads and spreads, and so much more. So yes, we definitely had lunch here. A lunch of a cheese and charcuterie plate with a shared bottle of wine with broken bread and spreads. EAT HERE. If no where else, EAT HERE. Your entire being will thank you. I never said it was a balanced diet.

This was before he realized he was allowed into the closet

I don't know if I really want to talk about the next place because it was that awesome, and I want it to stay that awesome, but I want the owners to be successful so I want people to patronize it, but I never want it to change, so I don't want too many people to go. But seriously, I have a HUGE CRUSH on this bar, the owner, the town, and everything ever about this place. It is by far the coolest, awesomest, and tastiest bar I have ever been in, and WILL return to this area just to go here. JimGermanBar. Waitsburg, Washington. AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME. The menu is on butcher paper taped to the wall, the liquor shelf is plywood, the owner custom makes ever cocktail with only the freshest of ingredients, and it is a true art. I think Adam even has a bit of a crush on the owner after watching him work. You would never suspect this bar to exists in the town that it does, a tiny town in the middle of nowhere that looks like it is stuck in the 1950s, but it does, and it is all things great about this life. BEST COCKTAILS EVER. You will want to drink here, I promise.

JimGerman Bar = PERFECTION

My ginger concoction, so many versions of happiness experienced

Group cheers

Sadly, and trust me, we were actually very sad to leave, we ventured back to Walla Walla for the "BBQ and Blues" before dinner.

Of course we had to get BBQ, pre-dinner snack to wash down the wine with

Pulled pork, brisket, and chicken...Mmmm

Afterwards, we ventured down to (what is really nice about Walla Walla is that you park in one place and walk everywhere) dinner at one of "the places" to eat, Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen. It was obviously too tasty for pictures because I have none to share. We all shared a cornucopia of appetizers because there were too many fun-sounding things to try and none of us wanted to miss out. Ahhh, what a wonderful day...perfect and relaxing in every way.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Oregon: Round One

From California we headed north to Oregon and Washington, two states that neither Adam and I had ever been to. We landed in Portland, Oregon, and I FELL IN LOVE with this city. We only stayed long enough to pick up the rental car and grab breakfast at Bijou Cafe, but it was long enough to know that we definitely wanted to spend much more time here. Do yourself a favor (I know I say this a lot in my blog, but I really mean it each and every time), eat at this cafe if you ever find yourself in Portland. The food is local and delicious, and it is just a really nice place to chill and watch the world pass you by. No worries, we came back to Portland at the end of the trip, so more in the next Oregon post.

Portland, a beautifully green and active city!

We very quickly exited the city to get our hiking on, and Jeremy found us the most gorgeous place in the world. None of us were planning on the 7-mile excursion we ended up trekking, but the scenery could not be beat. Seriously, enjoy the pictures. Also, if you like to hike and ever find yourself in Oregon, this hike should be at the top of your list. There is a trail that starts at Wahkeena Falls and ends at Multnomah Falls. You could do the trail either way (Multinomah to Wahkeena), but I recommend the path we unknowingly took because there is nothing that beats Multnomah Falls...if you start with that view, the rest of the hike isn't going to be quite as impressive. The way we hiked, it just got more and more awesome.

Wahkeena Falls

The Columbia River basin, view from our hike



The top of Multnomah Falls

It's a REALLY long way down, Shawna was NOT impressed, but did well




Afterwards, we kept on our journey toward Walla Walla, Washington. We found this wonderful little town called Hood River, Oregon (home of Double Mountain Brewery, of course we stopped there), that also had a nice spirit about it with wine rooms and such, so we stopped in and decided to come back to it for our unbooked night later in the week. I should mention that Jeremy and Shawna planned this ENTIRE trip and can be thanked for all the awesomeness that it was (THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!). For our stay in Walla Walla, they booked us at Arius Bed and Breakfast on the outskirt of town = PERFECT. Quiet, beautiful, relaxing. Like I said, perfect. The best part was that we were the only guests, so the owner, Dave, let us have the run of the place. If you are looking for a place to stay, you will be very happy here. We were.