Friday, September 25, 2009

Downtown Date - Days 3.5 & 4

(This post is dedicated to Amy, who sacrificed her sanity for 1 night and 1 day to watch our kids while we galavanted around Portland. She's a saint. Not many people would come out alive after watching 4 kids under three, but she was a champion!)

Every couple needs a get-away.  Really.

Don't you daydream about it?  We do.  We try to think of all the fun activities we would go do without the ball and chain of children.  (and I do say that most lovingly)

One time we went here and did this.  It was SOOOO worth it.
Another time we went to a waterpark all alone.  We felt like teenagers again running from slide to slide.
This time we decided to explore Portland - specifically, the food in Portland.

Months previous to this vacation, we had been watching the show Diners, Drive-ins & Dives.

 Haven't seen it?  START. 
It's about a guy named Guy who travels around to small mom n' pop type restaurants sampling their best menu items.  Well it turns out that Portland has the largest number of restaurants per capita in the nation...and some real gems, at that!
We had been salivating for weeks over the potential food that Portland had to offer.

So we did what any person with a brain and lovehandles would do, we mapped out a breakfast, lunch and dinner route.

First Stop - Pok Pok
This is a tiny Thai restaurant with a ton of local flavor.  It received reviews from every foodie and newspaper in the West.  Some of the dishes were a little spicy for my liking, but overall the blends of flavors were uniquely delicious!

As we were driving to our hotel we came upon a little street corner with this gem.  A portable Crepe trailor.  The crowd was interesting, to say the least.  I don't think I was bohemian (or high) enough to fit in.  Somehow my bleach blonde hair and Billabong jacket made me stick out like a sore thumb.  
Mmmm....a warm crepe with lingonberries, lemon curd, and chevre (goat cheese)
Come to find out goat cheese makes me gag, but the other parts were delicious!

After we were sufficiently stuffed, we drove to our hotel. We pulled up to "valet parking only" and I immediately broke out in a cold sweat. We don't have a very good history with valet parking. Once we drove our Subaru Justy to Troy's first company Christmas party in the heart of Orange County. Our muffler was dangling off the back and had started to melt into the bumper. The inside of the trusty justy felt and sounded like you were driving in a pepsi can.  We sheepishly slithered out of the car and handed our keys to the Four Seasons valet.  We listened to him sputter away right behind the BMW, Mercedes Benz and Jaguar.  So embarrassing!

Well, this time our car was loaded from front to back with vacation/kids/fastfood/beach CRAP!  My feet were actually resting on trash and junk in the passenger seat.  As I got out, a piece of trash blew out the door and when I stuffed it back in the car I even noticed a dirty diaper.  Yeah.  It was THAT BAD!  When he offered to grab our luggage, he opened the trunk only to find an open suitcase with clothes still strewn about.  I hurried to stuff in loose items like the blowdryer, computer, shoes, etc.  all while he was standing there.  I was all shades of red.

But once that ordeal was over, we walked into this....

Pretty much the sweetest hotel we've ever been privy too!  It was awesome and actually quite affordable for such a cool place.
You could see we were as giddy as school kids.

Troy busted out some sexy poses in the complimentary robe.  
I did a tribute to Sheena and jumped on the bed a few times.  I never was a cheerleader or a gymnast, but you'd never know it from these pictures!
We got plenty of rest in our feather beds so that we could build up the stamina for day 2 of our Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives - inspired food tour.

We even managed to burn a few calories on a morning run through the city.  We ran to this sky tram that gave us a great view of the city plus Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens.

Then off to breakfast!

If I could make a recommendation for ONE place to eat in Portland, it would be this:

Pine State Biscuits.  hands down.

I think we gained 5 pounds just looking at the sign, then another 5 just walking in the door.
The whole place smelt of buttery goodness and southern sauces, just like Paula Dean would approve of.

Oh and the charm...SO CUTE!

Just looking at these pictures makes me want to lick the screen.  I got a biscuit piled high with fried chicken, an egg, southern sausage gravy, cheese, and bacon.  Good thing I ran.  That should take care of my first bite!
I'm 99% sure this girl thought we were oinkers.

Our final stop on the tour de gluttony was a little diner called Blueplate.  Their specialties are mini sliders and mac n' cheese, but we decided to test out the sweeter side of their menu.  We sampled one of their mixed sodas, a chocolate malt, and maybe an ice cream sundae snuck it's way in too.  I know....we really do have a problem.

I thought I'd borrow the guys camera who was sitting next to me at the counter so that I could look cool, but instead I look like I have a googly eye.  Even my eyeball was gaining weight from all the food we ate!

We felt pretty good about the ground we covered over our short stay downtown.
Goodbye Portland...our bellies will miss you!

(Only 1.5 more days of vacation documentation...almost over.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Oregon Coast goodbyes- day three

Our time at the coast ended WAY too soon!  Each day we tried to balance activities and sightseeing with relaxation, but it still felt like there was so much of both left undone and unseen.  We never even made it through a late night movie on Chad's rad projector.  We ran out of time to drive up to Astoria or eat at the Pig n' Pancake.  We still wanted to tour the Tillamook cheese factory and ride cool buggy bikes on the sand.

But, we did make the most of the time we had.  And it was a good time.

The day of our departure started out with an early morning trip to the tide pools in front of Haystack Rock.  The weather was perfect.  Crisp and cool, yet just sunny enough to warm you through a light sweater.

The kids loved exploring.

Lucy didn't seem to like the idea of water this early in the morning, so she kept a low-profile on the dry sand inspecting each shell along the way.

Jack, on the other hand, wanted to touch, smell, and probably even taste some of the new sea life he discovered.  Early on, he found the remains of a dead jelly fish (you can see it in his hand) and refused to let it go.

When we returned back to the beach house to pack and tie up loose ends, we discovered Amy and Chad down at the beach having a delightful morning marshmallow roast.  

Who doesn't want roasted marshmallows at 10 am?

We said our goodbyes to the Cape Cottage and set out for a view point on the edge of town.  Appropriately, the Cannon family made a last minute stop in Cannon beach for matching sweatshirts that bore their namesake.  

I sense a photo shoot coming on....

Let's have a family cute-off.  okay...they totally win! 
How can we compete with matching sweatshirts?  That's a total "shoe in"

On our way out of town we stumbled upon 
Bell Buoy's Seafood and Restaurant 
after discovering the BBQ joint in the bright pink trailer home was closed.  

It turned out to be a pleasant mistake.  Troy and I were able to feast on lump crab until we grew claws.  
Such a good way to end a great trip to the Oregon Coast!

{some of these gorgeous photos, like the one directly above, were taken by Amy}

Now back to Portland for more vacation fun!
(just when you thought it was over, right?)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Oregon Coast - day two

This sleepy town of Cannon Beach reminds us of one of our favorite Southern California spots - Laguna Beach.

With a view of the famous haystack rock, you can walk the quaint streets with darling (troy's favorite word) shops and eateries around every corner.

{Haystack Rock - Cannon Beach, OR}

While there, we hit up the candy shop, of course!  Through the windows you can watch fresh saltwater taffy being made.  

Geppetto's Toys, which we wisely avoided entrance for fear our children would beg and whine for toys, then break into an irreversible meltdown upon hearing the word NO.

Up, up and Away Kites
We couldn't come to Oregon without getting a kite for the beach.  So many to choose from, but luckily the pricetags made it an easy decision!

Down to the beach to test out our new kite!

He loved it!  I can't wait for the next windy day at home to go again!

Amy, our sandcastle master, honed in on her sand sculpting skills.  I am pretty sure she'll be ready for this next year.

Everyone pitched in.

But from the beginning of Amy's castle construction, I could see Jack's wheels turning.  All he had in mind was sandcastle DESTRUCTION!  So given the green light, he and Finley had a stompfest!

Tucker (21 mo.) and Lucy (18 mo.)

I love these pictures of Lucy playing all by herself.  She is my little independent soul.

Wait.  I take that back.  This is my favorite.  
She is screaming at the birds at the top of her lungs.

The creation of Arial.


We've always wanted to go to the east coast to see the grassy shorelines, but Oregon had it all.  This trip killed two birds with one stone!

I think we filled our family picture quota for the next 4 years.  Thanks Amy for these beautiful pictures.

The bird whisperer back at work.

Running down the sand dunes.  Who has the best form?

We made the observation that Oregon beaches are much different than California.  Even on a 75 degree day, Troy noticed he was the only person over toddler age that had his shirt off and suit on.  People were fully clothed and flying kites, reading, riding horses, walking, etc.  Not nearly as many bikinis and artificial endowments, which I found somewhat refreshing.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Oregon Coast - day one

The second day of our vacation started off with a scenic drive down to the Oregon Coast where we planned to spend two glorious, rain-free, days playing and sightseeing to our heart's content.

However, as we know, no heart is truly content unless the belly is content, so 40 minutes into the drive, we had to stop for a bite at Camp 18.  It's been called the "sturdiest restaurant in the west" which Amy must have thought would be PERFECT for her STURDY-ish houseguests.  We've been known to out-eat the best of them and this restaurant did a fine job of letting us showcase our abilities.  btw - food may be a common theme in this trip, so if that bores you....well, you're just plain old weird.

Starting with the giant cinnamon roll that Amy ordered.  We regret to this day that we did not get a picture, but honestly, we had that thing divided up and devoured in lightning speed.  

So, thank you internet for not letting my readers down.  I bring you (drumroll please)....the massive swirl of deliciousness.  And we all know butter makes everything better, so why not slop a little on the top?  and again...if large quantities of butter bothers you, please refer back to my first insult.  weird...just plain weird.

After fully stuffing our faces, we managed to exit out the back and roll downhill to the river lining the property.  Since Amy and I both equally enjoy having a camera as a permanant appendage to our bodies, we agreed to take pictures with each other in them.  Something that doesn't happen very often.

Our Family

Our Portland compadres

Then back on the road again...coast-bound!

When we arrived at the beach house, we quickly laid our stuff down and headed straight for the beach.

You know it was exciting because if Lucy cracked some smiles, it MUST have been good!

Jack showed his usual excitement in sprint intervals and high-pitched screams.

....which leaves only one more celebratory ritual to be performed...

the ROBOT march!!!
*please note* objects (like extremely large paddle hands) may appear larger in picture than actual size.

After exploring the beach by our house, we decided to take a short jaunt up the road to investigate the famous caves and waterfall at Hug Point.

The vistas were breathtaking.  

And by the end of the evening we were all tuckered out and ready for bed (and a tad bit grumpy too)!

Please know, we are only on day TWO of the DeGraff Family Adventures in Oregon.

there's lots more where this came from.  lots.  
don't get too excited.