HAVE BEEN BUSY
Last week was our 4-year wedding anniversarary! Hooray! To celebrate, we both took the whole week off and went on vacation.
The weekend before the vacation we had a big ol’ yard sale. I followed the advice of my own article about Garage Sale Etiquette, and the whole thing went swimmingly. Carrie actually did most of the work during the actual hours of operation due to the fact that I was working on the big Bead Factory Fashion Show handouts, as I had been doing the entire week leading up to that weekend.
I should say that Saturday went very well; Sunday was pretty much dead. We made enough moneys to buy lunch. Carrie did get to hang out in the front yard with Laura & Lawrence and play backgammon while drinking margaritas, so the day wasn’t a bust by any means (I once again spent much of the day working on handouts). After it was all over we loaded everything that was left into my car and I ran up to Goodwill and gave it all to them.
The next day we left for vacation. We rented a house in a tiny little town called Tierra Del Mar, Oregon. We found the house through homeaway.com. We actually stayed at this house. Tierra Del Mar is sewiously small; it consists of about 12 streets branching off from the main thoroughfare. If you sneezed you would practically drive through it without noticing. It’s about halfway between Tillamook and Pacific City.
Wait, did I say Tillamook? If you know me, then you know that I loves me the cheese, and Tillamook happens to have a great big ol’ factory that just pumps out the stuff. So that was the second stop on our journey.
What was the first stop? A Burgerville in southern Washington. They (coincidentally?) have a fantastic bacon burger with Tillamook cheese all up on it. They also have sweet-potato fries and very delicious milkshakes. Y’know, I shouldn’t say that Burgerville was our first stop because we didn’t actually stop there; we just hit the drive-through. We stopped at a rest stop a ways down I-5 and ate our yummy foodstuffs at a picnic table OM NOM NOM. Burgervile is kind of a tradition whenever we drive to Oregon. There was also a dog area at the rest stop, so we let Suki run around in it for a bit.
Then we headed on down to the Tillamook Cheese Factory using this route. It wound up through the “mountains” between Portland and the coast. It was very pretty. But naught so pretty as the pretty cheese in that factory.
We, as is our custom, bought the packaged odds-and-ends. When they carve cheese into those brick shapes, what do you think happens to all the leftover bits? They shrink-wrap them and sell ’em at the factory for a reduced price! They only had one style that day, a garlic white cheddar. That was okay with us!
From there we got on 101 and headed on south to Tierra Del Mar. It was after 4:00 by the time we arrived, so we quickly hauled everything out of the car and then walked Suki down to the end of the road where there was a big, huge, northwest-coast-style beach. A few miles to the south was a big ol’ Haystack Rock, though not the Haystack rock—that was up north many miles out of view near Cannon Beach, where they filmed bits of The Goonies. This Haystack Rock was not in the movie The Goonies. Don’t know why they couldn’t give both rocks different names.
We played fetch with Suki. She seemed to like the beach quite a bit, and didn’t mind getting her entire mouth completely coated with sand. It woulda bothered me. Ah, well.
I took a short video of the beach so you could see just how crowded it was there:
Yeah. After fun in the surf and sand we headed back to the house where I hosed Suki down (she didn’t like that). For din-dins that evening we made clam chowder from scratch (it just seemed right to make clam chowder while you’re staying at the beach).
Carrie made this really fascinating bread product. I’ll see if I can describe it:
For this recipe you will need:
- (2) cans of buttermilk biscuit dough
- Shredded cheese
- Cook the bacon until it’s crispy, then crumble it to bits.
- remove all of the biscuits from the cans. Cut them up into little 1″ – 2″ triangles.
- Arrange half the biscuit bits in a single layer (as best you can) in the bottom of a greased baking pan (it’s supposed to be a fluted bunt pan, but they didn’t have one there so we just used 2 regular 9″ square pans). The triangles don’t have to be tightly interlocked; it works better if they’re just loosely arranged.
- Sprinkle half the crumbled bacon and half the shredded cheese on top of the layer of biscuits.
- Make another layer of biscuit bits on top of the bacon/cheese layer.
- Sprinkle the rest of the bacon and cheese on top.
- Bake in an oven at an appropriate temperature (??) until the biscuits are cooked to a nice, golden brown.
The cheese seeps into all the cracks between the biscuit triangles as it melts, and then when it cools it creates this matrix-like glue holding the whole thing together. To it it, you just rip off a triangle or two and pop it in your mouth. You can dip it in your chowder first if you’d like!
After that first evening, the low clouds rolled in and stayed for the remainder of the vacation. When I say low, I mean like 50-100-feet-off-the-ground low. Fog unless you were at sea level. It was actually kinda nice because it kept the weather very, very moderate. It weren’t too hot and it weren’t too cold. It weren’t too windy, neither.
The rest of the days of the trip were spent exploring all the little towns along the Oregon coast. We went as far south as Newport, where we had some beer inside the “Brewers on the Bay” pub at the Rogue Brewery. That place was really cool; you had to actually walk through the distillery (guided by arrows on the floor and taped-off areas) to get to the pub. It almost felt like you were trespassing. We went as far north as Seaside, which we did not like very much; it had a strange, aggressive, “angry carnie” energy about it.
Our favorite town was Cannon Beach, which was clean, well-maintained, and tourist friendly. Lots and lots and lots of cute shops full of cute stuff. I didn’t buy anything.
An interesting thing to note about our trip: we didn’t ever eat out at a restaurant. We had beer at the Rogue brewpub, but not food. We cooked our own breakfasts and dinners, and we packed picnic-style lunches that we took with us. It was really tasty and a much less-expensive way to have a vacation than to eat out for every meal. We made horribly delicious things from scratch, such as beef fajitas, chicken salad, burgers stuffed with bleu cheese and covered with garlic cheese, etc. We made way too much; we brought home leftovers from pretty much every single meal we made (except for the breakfasts, which we usually scarfed right down).
Another interesting thing to note was that there was neither TV nor internet tubes at our vacation house. We brought my MacBook, though, and it has a nice media player. So we watched a lot of My Boys and Veronica Mars and some Anthony Bourdain while we ate our breakfasts and dinners and relaxed in the evening. We also brought some books but didn’t actually end up reading them!
Early on in our stay we were were heading south through the fog along a big, forested cliff over the ocean. I needed to find a restroom (a side effect of having no large intestines), so we pulled over at this one touristy landmark type place that had a gift shop. It didn’t have any restrooms, but there was a lookout outside where you could stand at the top of a 500′ cliff and look out over the ocean. It was so foggy that you could only see maybe halfway down the cliff. It was like Silent Hill. Still looking for the bathroom we continued up a ways to the Devil’s Punch Bowl area of the Oregon coast, where we just happened to stumble upon a winery at the edge of another (smaller) cliff: Flying Dutchman Winery.
After quickly ascertaining they did not have a public restroom and backtracking to some port-a-potties we’d spotted, we came back and did a tasting. They had really, really tasty berry wines. We bought half a case of blackberry and raspberry wines. We’d never have known about this place if I hadn’t had to go to the bathroom!
While driving through Pacific City we noticed something familiar about the place. We’d eaten at a restaurant there and stayed at a motel there many, many years ago on an overnight trip we’d taken with Geoff, Josh, and Melissa! It was the trip where Josh and Carrie both tried to learn how to drive stick with Melissa’s car. Ah, nostalgia.
There was also a cute little town to the north called Nehalem. It had like two blocks of cute little shops, all linked up with covered walkways. It also had a bead shop (we stopped at at least two bead shops during this trip) that had a going-out-of-business sale happening. Hey, I just learned that there’s a Google Street View of Nahalem, of all places! Go take a look.
Eventually it was time to head back home. But just because it was our last day didn’t mean we were done with our vacation! Not by a long shot! It was time for wine. Wine time!
Instead of going back the way we came, we jutted south and then headed east on Highway 18 towards McMinnville, towards the heart of Willamette Valley wine country.
Traveling generally northeast on 99, we hit the following wineries:
- Yamhill Valley
- Had a cool koi pond out front. We bought a couple of whites.
- Anne Amie
- Very classy place. We bought three bottles, including a shockingly tasty Müller Thurgau and an easy red blend they called Amrita. We ate a picnic lunch at a table on their patio
- Archery Summit
- Least-expensive bottle there was $48. We didn’t buy any but did the full tasting (generous amounts). Got to drink some $100 pinot noir. It was easily the best wine there, but honestly not $75 better than a good $25 bottle of pinot noir.
- Our perennial favorite. We got a couple of interesting whites, including a dry Gewurztraminer (which was kinda fascinating). We tried to have a snack on their patio but were driven away by bees.
- Interesting little place, had an unusual selection. We got a bottle of sparkling rose wine (the most expensive single bottle we got on our trip) and a very delicious ice wine.
Carrie did the driving so I did most of the drinking, and I was a little tipsy by the end, I tell you what. But still—still—we weren’t quite done!
Late afternoon, following phone directions, we wound ourselves into that strange hilly area directly south of downtown Portland to the apartment of Heather & Chris. They took us all up curvy roads towards the top of the hill.
The roads skirted around huge, forested chasms, along the sides of which were many terribly expensive houses built on stilts hanging over these chasms. It was kinda crazy. One house was only connected to the hillside by its driveway; the rest of it was supported by stilts. The road was actually level with the TOP floors of these houses. Often they extended three or four stories down into the chasms. Is Portland a more geologically stable area than Seattle? ‘Cause it’d be suicide to build like that up here, what with this being earthquake country ‘n’ all.
Anyway, we did not fall into any chasms on the way to Council Crest Park, which is basically at the summit of the hill. It’s a pretty cool park with a big watertower in it. There’s a steep hill on the southeast side of it that dogs can run around in, so Suki ran around in it with us all.
After that we got back on the freeway and headed north for home. About the only thing we missed on the whole trip was a jaunt to Voodoo Doughnut in downtown Portland, but we didn’t feel like stopping either time we drove through the area.
It was plenty dark by the time we got home. But get home we did.
As a P.S. of sorts, this post wins the record of having the most labels of any of my posts!