Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


Snow in June

IMG_3345No, not to worry. Our weather continues to delight us. My first year in Oregon’s Willamette Valley is almost complete and we are very much enjoying the climate.  After spending almost 20 years in the heat and humidity of Tennessee and then in West Virginia’s warm spot of Huntington, I find the cooler temps in Oregon much more comfortable. While y’all are roasting, we will have a high near 70 with some light rain. The crops thank you. The body can wear a jacket with a hood and manage just fine. Only visitors use umbrellas. IMG_3347

However, as a newbie I am still discovering the many new things that grow in this abundant land. IMG_3349

I learned this is called Meadowfoam and the seed produces a cooking grade oil that will not go rancid and oil for use in cosmetics. I’ll try to get some of the cooking oil and see how it compares to other kinds.



Time Off

Thanks to my sister Laura giving me a special gift to celebrate 60 years, Graham and I enjoyed a brunch cruise on the Willamette River in Portland.We’d been on a dinner cruise a few years ago on the Ohio River out of Huntington, West Virginia with our friends Deb and Milt Hankins, so I sort of expected something similar.Willametterivermap

Not being super familiar with Portland yet we drove in early to give ourselves plenty of time to find parking (2 blocks away for $5)  and maneuver around the Rose Festival which had the riverfront area blocked off for concerts and rides and other fun fair activities.DSC_0058

We made it to the dock in time to chat with the captain who, while chomping down a commercial donut, told us how terrific the food is. (And it was pretty good!)  Missed that donut photo for you, though!DSC_0005

DSC_0002DSC_0035aThe cruise headed upriver, which is south from downtown Portland. The gray overcast cleared and we ended up with beautiful blue skies.  Activity on the river shows how much people enjoy having this playground. DSC_0002a

Development along a riverfront can tell you something about the way a City considered its access to a natural resource. While we did see one industrial business, it is only fair to tell you that most of the commercial and industrial development in Portland is along the Columbia River, not the Willamette.This has left the shorelines free for recreational and residential development for much of what we passed.OMSI (Science Museum) includes a submarine built after WWII

OMSI (Science Museum) includes a submarine built after WWII

I particularly enjoyed the floating houses.


And of course there were plenty of mansions.


As we returned downstream the number of bridges became apparent, from the aged Sellwood Bridge which is past time getting replacedAll bridges are given a safety rating from 1 to 100. The Sellwood Bridge rating is a 2. Would you drive across it?

All bridges are given a safety rating from 1 to 100. The Sellwood Bridge rating is a 2. Would you drive across it?

to the new Portland-Milwaukie light rail bridge which will provide a river crossing for mass transit, bicycles and pedestrians, but not automobiles.dsc_0014

We caused one lift bridge to disrupt traffic,but turned back south(upriver) before the next one.DSC_0052

Both Graham and I noticed some downtown construction features-a rooftop tree planted plaza and solar arrays over one roof.DSC_0064aDSC_0064  There are a lot of things about Portland that are truly admirable! The respect for the natural resource of the Willamette River that flows through the City is one great example.




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Some Best Places to Eat

We are foodies, no bones about it. I’m a pretty good cook but Graham is so much better and while I can make some good chow, he can serve a dinner that many homestyle restaurants can’t. So when we travel, we enjoy discovering places that offer well prepared meals.

I thought I would present a few here that we have experienced, so if you are in those areas, you can share in our delight.

The Brooklyn Seafood, Steak and Oyster House, located at 1212 2nd Avenue in Seattle, Washington was recommended by the concierge at Graham’s hotel when I joined him for one of his professional conferences. Located in downtown Seattle, it provides one of the widest selection of oysters in a seafood rich city and has been recognized by the locals in the areas as one of the premiere restaurants in the city. Flights of small samples of 3,4 or 5 different items are offered for red wine, white wine, white wine with oyster pairings, micro-brews, beers and oyster pairings, vodka, vodka and oysters with caviar, scotch, vodka, tequila, port, and dessert wines. They are strong on Washington wine offerings. Menu options are broad and well prepared.

On a trip to Newport, Oregon a couple of years ago I had searched the internet and thought I had found a great option for fresh seafood, but a chatty gentlemen at our bed & breakfast asked where we planned to eat and quickly persuaded us to change our plan. I had not found the place he suggested because it was not listed as a restaurant, but as a fish market.  Local Ocean Seafood is located at 213 SE Bay Boulevard, Newport, OR at the harbor where the fishing fleet is docked. Fish in the display case for purchase to take home indicate not only what the fish is, but whose boat and how it was caught. The market has a small open concept kitchen and tables for about 20 people. To say we ate fresh seafood is to simply say grass is green, the sky is blue. But you know that day when the sky was such a beautiful shade of blue you always compare to it now? And the beginning of spring when you notice the grass is different? It’s that kind of fresh.

Heading across country we can highly recommend Cafe Cimino in the tiny town of Sutton, West Virginia to be on your own foodie magnet radar. I’ve written about this wonderful world class restaurant and bed and breakfast in my custom trip planning blog before and it is well worth it to press the point again. Chef Tim Urbanik uses the freshest and most local ingredients he can find to prepare menus that tease your snobbery down to real eating. We have gotten to  know Tim and Melody and Tim’s son Eli well and I assure you that together they will provide an escape from the routine. 

Located in beautiful Lancaster County in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, Lily’s on Main has captured the concept well. Designed with an art deco theme to coordinate with the reclaimed and renovated theater next door, the restaurant at 124 East Main Street offers a wide variety of well prepared seasonal dishes.

One place that ended up a great surprise was a small corner bistro in the Bolton Hill neighborhood in Baltimore located at 1501 Bolton Street. We asked the woman at our b&b where to eat and she said “Oh, the place down the block is pretty good.”  Well, B is a gem! It was a beautiful summer evening and we sat outside. Service was warm and friendly, the food was flavorful. Using local ingredients from their own farm source and preparing all recipes from scratch makes  a difference few people experience. And the people in Baltimore who have been there agree and have awarded it prize after prize.

One thing that all these restaurants have in common  is that they use local  ingredients as much as possible. Not only are local ingredients fresher and higher in nutritional content that anything that has to be shipped hundreds and thousands of miles, a kitchen that takes the time to use high quality foods to prepare dishes will provide a taste to the diner that few ever experience. Go…eat…enjoy!


Healthy Sourced Fast Food

Can fast food, with the typical burger and fries menu, ever be considered to be healthy? Since the 1960s we Americans have been eating more and more at places like McDonalds. In fact, many of the people who eat daily at fast food places no longer cook at home and believe they eat more cheaply than purchasing the whole food and preparing it.  bv_giftcards_beige

When I mentioned I was driving to Vancouver, Washington to pick up Graham from his conference, one of my new local friends told me that Burgerville is a place to consider stopping for lunch as we drive through Newberg on the way back to McMinnville. I checked their website and was surprised to find that the sources for their food – their beef for their burgers, their chicken for the chicken dishes, the pork served as bacon and sausage, and more – are almost all local!

If healthy, quick food seems like an oxymoron, you haven’t been to Burgerville, a chain of 39 Pacific Northwest quick-service restaurants. Burgers here are made from pastured vegetarian-fed and antibiotic-free beef. The eggs on the breakfast biscuits are from cage-free hens that have never been treated with antibiotics. Salads offer mixed greens topped with smoked salmon and Oregon hazelnuts. Even desserts and sides rely on seasonal, local ingredients – blackberry milkshakes are only available in season, as are the hand-prepared buttermilk-battered onion rings made from Walla Walla sweet onions grown in Washington and Oregon.

Burgerville purchases wind power credits equal to 100 percent of their electricity use, recycles used canola oil into biodiesel, and offers its hourly employees an affordable $30-a-month health-care plan.   As their sales increased, it is clear that conducting business sustainably is good business.

Because of the timing of the trip, I grabbed a breakfast “basket” instead of stopping for lunch. The sausage came from a farm that raises its animals without antibiotics and hormones in a humane environment.  Orange juice from California. Buns baked in Portland. Potatoes from Washington. And more. The effort is to use local as much as possible and where the distance is needed, like the orange juice, the concept is to keep it as minimal as possible.brgrvl brk

I support the company’s effort to support local farmers. Although I have made an effort over the past few years to eat less fast food because of how it is prepared,  if I find myself on the road and need some food, at least now I have a option where I know I am getting real food and not pink slime.Last_Burgerville