Category Archives: adventures in oregon

Adventures in Oregon: Manzanita


One of the things I absolutely adore about Oregon is that there are so many coastal towns. The mister and I have plans to tackle this entire map, and use their guide for suggestions on where to eat, sleep, and explore. Two weekends ago we took off on a random trip to Manzanita, about 2 hours away from Portland. It’s a very tiny place, currently holding about 550 residents. (Also cool trivia–Manzanita means “little apple” in Spanish.) The drive was super gorgeous. We had driven through US-26 to go to Astoria and Cannon Beach two years ago, in the middle of winter. There was snow everywhere and the roads were slick, so we weren’t paying much attention to the scenery, especially since everything was covered in white. This time, the trees leaves were changing colors, and it seemed like a completely different road entirely.

It’s funny how much I took the Pacific Ocean for granted living in Santa Cruz my entire life. I hardly ever went to the beach except to run on it or alongside it. I’m not a sun person. I avoid it (as much as possible) like the plague. I’ve always been the fair-skinned type that gets burned, so lying out in the sun on the beach even for an hour I’d come home like a bright red tomato. No fun, I tell you. But I must admit I do miss that crisp, clean ocean air.

It was super windy that day, to the point where we were getting blown away. As you can see, I was quite cold. There was enough wind to even accomodate the wind surfers! After a little walk on the beach with the hair blowing in my face, we were pretty much done… note to self to pack lots of layers next time!

We had a lovely lunch at a locally owned bakery/cafe by the name of Bread and Ocean, a very tiny but cute place. They served artisan sandwiches and soups, homemade bread, and a wide range of cookies. We had the “picnic lunch”, which included a half sandwich, cup of soup, and a cookie. We both had the roast beef with blue cheese on their rosemary potato loaf, carrot ginger coconut soup, and peanut butter and ginger cookies. It was the perfect chilly coastal day lunch!

What I look forward to the most in visiting these coastal towns is to find niches and word-of-mouth places. Little shops and stores to poke around in. Finding great places to eat. Being able to take pictures. And experience new things with my man. We found a cute old-fashioned candy store on our way out that had Fireballs, Tootsie Pops, Airheads, Gobstoppers, and every other childhood nostalgic candy you could think of. We also left with some more “adult”-type candy, artisan chocolates. Pumpkin spice and beer truffles, peanut butter cones, chocolate covered graham crackers. It was a gem!

Speaking of gems, we found this great spot on our drive home: Camp 18. It was definitely the highlight of our trip, for sure. We noticed it on the side of the road on our way to the coast and made a promise to each other we would stop there on the way back. And my goodness, I am so glad we did! Such an amazing sanctuary to take tons of photos (as you can see)! It’s an old logging museum and restaurant made out of a huge log cabin house! There were all sorts of tractors, wagon wheels, machinery and other heavy equipment outside in the parking lot. We walked around and tripped out for a good hour or so!

When we stepped inside, I nearly squealed with joy how cool it was inside. I felt like I was in a completely different state, like Colorado or Montana or some equivalent woodsy type place. It even reminded me of Yosemite in some ways. There were antler chandeliers everywhere, and it was super cozy like Christmas time. It reminded me of a place my grandparents would live in, very homey and family-like. Deer heads, saws, black and white vintage photographs, you name it. It was full of awesome stuff to check out.

J had the patty melt, and I had fish ‘n chips (not pictured), some of the best I’ve had in quite some time!

This was down in their basement area… a little model of the whole place! Can you imagine making something like this?!

I love this place and would recommend anyone to check it out! I can’t wait to stop by again sometime on our way back cruising through 26! Who knows where we’ll be headed to next.


Adventures in Oregon: Camping in Mt. Hood National Forest


Two weekends ago, the mister and I took our first official camping trip together. We got really lucky and scored a wonderful campsite in a gorgeous campground, Kingfisher, which is located in Mt. Hood National Forest, about an hour southeast of Portland. We were able to book it just two days ahead of time, right before the Labor day weekend! Such a score. Sitting near natural hot springs along the Collawash River, we had access to dipping our feet in the refreshing, crisp water, and also going up the road seven miles to take a soak in the renowned Bagby Hot Springs. A mile and a half hike in and back, you could soak in a wood bathhouse in the middle of a heavily wooded area. With a little bit of a wait and patience, you can have a room all to yourself and a lovely few of the surrounding greenery. I’d highly recommend it.

We also took a wonderful 7 mile hike earlier that day following along the river. It was absolutely breathtaking. The river was so clear and colorful, it was tempting to drive right in!

For one of our dinner meals, I insisted we make one of my favorite childhood camping meals, salmon burgers. My stepmom gave me the secret recipe so I could finally make them myself (recipe after the break). They definitely hit the spot. We used my cast iron Lodge for all of the cooking… you really don’t need much else. It was especially great for cooking sausage patties, hash browns and eggs for breakfast!

If you live in or around the Portland area, I’d highly recommend a trip into the woods in this national forest! It’s quite a beautiful sight to behold.

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Adventures in Oregon: Mirror Lake & Hood River


I am a collector (the Here We Go Magic tune has me pinned, I must admit). I am a collector of several things. Owl figurines, vintage tumblers, cookbooks, photographs, cards, beer, magazines, you name it. But that last one, magazines… that has been happening as long as I can remember. I have always been a hoarder of magazines. Up until just a few months ago it had taken me around 2 years to finally sort through my collections of Cooking Light, Rachael Ray, Sunset, Ready Made, Bon Appetit, Vegetarian Times, Martha Stewart, Country Living… um, yeah, I’ll stop there before I completely embarrass myself. There are some issues that I can never get rid of, namely those produced in the October months (it’s an Autumn thing, y’know). And Sunset… those are nearly impossible to trash. With constant ideas for day or weekend trips in and around the Portland and Oregon areas, I kept them filed old school Pinterest style.

I want to explore. I want to have adventures. I want to experience all that Oregon has to offer. The mountains, the trees, the dirt, the coastal ranges, the fog, the rain, the secret beaches, the small towns, the fresh seafood, the locally crafted draft beer, the lakes, the views, the parks… so I’m going to do it.

It’s timely that Sunset’s September issue just came out with a feature about exploring the coast of Oregon, Bandon in particular. It’s a great place to start off with ideas. Here is also a great archive to refer to. Some day I will get around to all of these wondrous places they seem to boast about.

And with that, here is adventure #1 of many to come. Hopefully you’ll stash away a few ideas for your own getaways, too!

Boyfriend took the reigns on this one. It was his wonderful idea to take a weekend trip to Hood River, stopping off mid-way along 26 east to take a little hike and picnic to Mirror Lake. We toyed around with the idea of just going up for the day, or spending the night in a private hostel across the river in White Salmon, WA. We booked the room for a night.

We started off with a hearty meal at Burgerville. Breakfast sausage sandwiches, hash browns, and protein smoothies. 6 bucks bought us satisfying classic fast food breakfast that we didn’t feel too guilty about.

We hopped on the road toward Sandy, OR through cute little logging and farm towns full of Christmas trees (we must have passed at least 5!) like Zig-Zag, Rhododendron, and Welches, lastly landing in Government Camp. The Mirror Lake trailhead caught my attention with the line of parked cars along the highway. It was the most ideal gorgeous day to go for a hike. It couldn’t have been better.

Doing our research, we found that the elevation gain was only about 800 feet. But we didn’t factor in our trek from Portland. Add another 2,000 to that. Within 15 minutes or so of hitting the trail, slight altitude sickness hit us. I felt a little fatigued and light headed, but I thought that maybe I was getting low blood sugar. He, on the other hand, had it worse than I did. We had to stop a few times and take it easy, almost considering turning around. But we kept going, water in hand. Maybe it was something in the air?

When we finally made it to the lake about 1.5 miles later, we felt fine. The breathtaking view of Mt. Hood easily took our minds off any discomforts we were experiencing. We set up our picnic lunch of Cubano wraps, grapes and sparkling water and watched kids and dogs take dips in the chilly water. A few mini crawfish were even spotted.

Once we got back to the car, we foraged ahead another hour to Hood River. Hood River, located on the Columbia River of the Gorge, is known for it’s excellent windsurfing and kiteboarding opportunities. Skiing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, mountain biking and more are available for outdoor enthusiasts. It’s filled with lovely historical homes and buildings on steep sloped streets, a quaint and charming downtown area with little boutiques and restaurants, not to mention a plethora of wine tasting bars. It was over 90 when we got there, so we tried to avoid the sun as much as possible. We ducked into a few shops, had a bit of ice cream, making our way over to Double Mountain Brewery. The heat was getting to us, so a little pizza ‘n beer pick me up was in order.

The waitress was kind enough to bring me samples of a few beers I was curious to try. I can’t even really remember what I had, I just remember not liking anything. I hate to be so harsh, but all three I sampled were terrible. I mean, I know I can be a beer snob, but I thought this was a place where beer snobs went. Oh well, I guess I just don’t “get it”, which is fine with me. I’ll go back to my newly discovered favorite cheap Trader Joe’s bohemian lager any day.  The seasonal sour cherry beer tasted like acidic vomit (sorry, but it’s true). The brick oven pizza crust was my favorite thing there. We had “The Buffy” (goat cheese, kalamatas, peppadew peppers, and basil), but the sweet and spicy peppers were not doing any favors as I was already in a sweat. Oh well, sometimes you just strike out. Next time we’ll go to Full Sail!

We stopped into a pinball pizza arcade, but it wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for, so we hopped in the car to drive across a janky toll bridge over to White Salmon to check out our hostel (even though it was too early to check-in). It took us approximately 10 minutes to drive around the entire town. At that point, we were tired and over it. We called the hostel and cancelled our reservation as we couldn’t imagine what we would have done on Sunday if we stayed, and we’re glad we made that decision. At least we were prepared! And now know what all the “fuss” is about.

This weekend we’re going camping at Kingfisher. Stay tuned!