Sunday, August 23, 2009
A Spectacular Sighting on the Oregon Coast
On our second full day in Oregon we woke up nice and early and headed out of our lovely Portland hotel. We were headed to the Coast and hoped to spend the better part of the day chelaxing (chill + relaxing) in one Ocean playground or another.
Before leaving the city we stopped by Starbucks for a quick bite to eat:
My meal consisted of a small tray full of a hard boiled egg, a teensy bit of cheese, about 1/3 of an apple, a tiny amount of grapes and a mini WW bagel. I washed all of this down with an iced Americano. All in all I was impressed with this meal offering - it offered the perfect combination of protein, grains, fruits, and fats. Too bad they don't sell this in Canada or else I'd probably find my way to Starbucks more often!
Pretty soon we were on our way headed towards the Coast. It quickly became clear that we weren't the only ones that had that idea. But no worries - we enjoyed our drive through the forests. Coastal forests are VERY different than anything you find in the Rockies. Here everything is so arid so you don't see lush forests. Driving through them in Oregon was a treat! :o)
The particular route we took to the Coast took us straight to Tillamook. Home of Tillamook cheese, ice cream, and all sort of other delicious dairy goodies! I'm not sure if they sell Tillamook products elsewhere but in my experience they tend to be available mainly in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.
Tillamook dairy products are made by a farmer co-operative that has existed for over 100 years! And I have to tell you - they know what they're doing. Should you ever come across Tillamook products I highly recommend you give them a try. :o)
Given that I think so highly of Tillamook products I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise that we stopped at the Tillamook factory for lunch. The place was crazy bloggies! Kind of like a dairy Disneyland. The parking was massive and the place was absolutely packed!!!! I should have known the wait for lunch would be extensive - silly me.
First the fiance and I sat down to look through the menu:
Hahaha - do you notice a trend? Everything was pretty well based around one type of grilled cheese or another. We figured when in Rome - the fiance and I both ordered the Centennial Grilled Cheese. This entree featured a cheese created to celebrate Tillamook's Centenary and it came paired with a pickle and a tomato soup.
I had assumed my grilled cheese would be super quick to prepare. You can imagine my shock when I was told that it would take 45 minutes for our order to be ready! Clearly there were throngs of dairy-lovers ahead of us. Not to be deterred, the fiance and I decided to have dessert before the meal. :oP
We shared this delicious Oregon Strawberry cone. It was awesome! You can't tell from the picture but there were really generous chunks of strawberries embedded in the creamy goodness. I'm not usually one for ice cream (I prefer Froyo) but if I were to have any ice cream this would be it.
After a bit more waiting our order arrived and I have to admit it looked great:
The grilled cheese was delicious probably because it was made from aged white cheddar. The soup was creamy and paired perfectly with the sandwich. Now I have to admit that being Hispanic I didn't grow up eating grilled cheese sandwiches (I think this may be my 3rd one ever) but this is definitely comfort food for a lot of people. Such was the case with the fiance - he happily declared it reminded him of many home school lunches.
Now while the sandwich was delicious I only managed to eat half. I quickly reached my cheese saturation level. We felt bad throwing the other half away but cold coagulated cheese didn't sound like an appetizing mid-afternoon snack. :oP lol
I'm glad we went to the factory! The cheese was delicious and it was certainly an experience. But I think I'll leave the grilled cheese sandwiches for an indulgent home day - that way I can control serving slices.
After the factory we drove North ward up the Coast. I don't know if you bloggies have ever been to the Oregon Coast but it's simply SPECTACULAR!!!! Such wide, clean, beautiful beaches!
I last visited the Oregon Coast in the summer of 2007 and ever since I'd been dreaming of going back. Last summer I couldn't make it because I was too busy studying for the bar and moving but this summer I was determined to pay some of my favourite views a return visit. :o)
One of my favourite places on the Oregon Coast is Cannon Beach. It's a small and incredibly yuppy resort community full of wonderfully tended gardens and cedar shingled homes. Frankly it looks like something out of Martha Stewart Living!
Aside from idyllic beach locales, Cannon Beach also has incredibly fresh seafood restaurants. For an early dinner we headed to a place we had tried on our previous trip:
This particular place is family owned. In fact it's staffed largely by relatives and they catch most of their own seafood!
Not to mention the whole restaurant/fish store is full of lovely little touches that make it feel extra homey:
To start dinner the fiance and I both had an oyster shooter. Now I know the very thought of a raw oyster is gross to some people. But trust me! This one was deliciously fresh and hence beautiful:
I followed up my Oyster with a little "boat" full of shrimp and fresh crab. I was in pescatarian heaven! :o)
With a happily full belly we left the restaurant and headed to what is easily my favourite part of Cannon Beach - the views from nearby Ecola State Park. They are spectacular! To die for really! In fact I think they're right up there as one of the most beautiful things I have seen in my life!
Le Sigh. :o)
We spent a good long time up at the park. Truth is I can scarcely get enough of those views! After the fiance promised we would return some other time, I agreed to leave. Our next stop was the town of Seaside, where we spent the night.
Seaside is one of those beach resort towns that were built around the turn of the Century. It apparently was the kind of place were nearly fully dressed ladies would come with their families to enjoy an outing at the beach. Today you can see remnants of that past in it's long and glorious promenade, vacation homes that line the Coast, and it's fair like central street.
I happen to think Seaside is just about the perfect place to enjoy the sunset. Which is exactly what we did! :o)
On our last morning in Oregon we woke up nice and early and headed out for a long run on the Promenade! The salty sea air and the wonderful views made this an awesome place to run!
We ran all the way to the end of the Promenade and on our return trip we were alternating running with boot camp style workouts (walking lunges, push ups against a bench, and triceps dips on the bench). In fact we were working up quite a sweat until we were interrupted by a tourist coming out of his vacation home who said "There are whales down on the beach!!!"
Of course that's all it took for me to go happily bounding through the sea grass to the shore. Now since I was out for a run I didn't have a camera with me - which means there are no pictures. :o( But believe me when I say that memory will forever be imprinted in my mind!
What we saw was a group of about five killer whales feeding. They were very close to shore and kept on circling the same area. You could see them churning about the water while they ate their breakfast. The most spectacular thing however was how much of the whales we got to see!!! Usually you only see the fins but on this occasion the whales rose out of the water (perpendicular to the waves) and you could very clearly see their mouths opening and closing (really wide actually) while they fed.
I was in awe.
It was such an unbelievable treat to see these wonderful creatures. And just imagine - had we not been out for an early morning run we would have missed out! I felt incredibly blessed to e able to partake in that moment.
The fiance and I stood there watching until the whales left (they were probably out there 30 minutes). Afterwards we ran on the beach all the way back to our Ocean Front hotel. For breakfast we tucked into some grocery store finds we had picked up the night before:
After breakfast we headed out the door and began our long (!) journey back home.
Once lunch time came around the fiance wanted fast food so we settled on Burger King since I knew they served veggie burgers:
Dinner came many hours later when we stopped at my favourite Pho restaurant in Spokane. I had my usual - tom yum shrimp pho. Yummers!!!!
We hadn't been planning on our Oregon trip but it turned out to be an awesome impromptu adventure! I couldn't be happier we took a leap and headed out on the open road. A weekend getaway was just what the Doctor ordered. :o)