Thursday, August 21, 2008

Oregon my Oregon

So the other weekend our friend Daniel (the third component of Trek Trio) escaped from Iowa and came out to see us. We decided on a 'close to home' trek. We loaded up the gas guzzling SUV and headed to the Oregon coast to spend some time at a few of our favorite haunts and hoping to make a few new Trek Trio discoveries. Beginning in Manzanita, about an hour and a half drive from Portland, we drove north to Cannon Beach and stopped for lunch at the comfortable and charming Warren House Pub. Warren House features a full compliment of house brewed beers with appropriately Oregon-ish names like "Duck Dive Ale" and "Clear Cut Lager" and a great menu of delectable sandwiches . Try my perennial fav, the Oyster burger. No fries but they provide a darned fine pea salad (or chips if you prefer) on the side. The bar is dark and cozy and the staff always seems to have the eclectic music selection tuned just to my liking. An added bonus for visitors - no need to leave your your canine friend in the car as the pub features an inviting, dog friendly beer garden out back.

Next stop was the old fishing town of Astoria, Oregon where we checked into the historic Hotel Elliot in the center of the quaint downtown. The Elliot may not be for everyone as it simply drips old hotel ambiance: musty building smells, creaky elevator, frosted glass panels over dark wooden room doors. I half expected an old sea captain to appear with a floozy on his arm. Of course I loved it. The rooms themselves are decorated in period appropriate decor and, though small, were very pleasant. The bathrooms had (wow!) heated tile floors that would be fabulous on a typical chilly Oregon coast weekend. (it was 80 when we were there) I would advise asking for a room above floor 2. Ours had a lovely view of the ventilation system. Our friend Daniel, however, had a very nice room just down the hall which looked out to the hills and the Astoria Column. Location Location ...

Before dinner we popped into The Schooner just across from the hotel. We immediately made friends with the charismatic and interesting bartender, Rob, who managed to design the ultimate Cosmo while keeping us mesmerized with a fast paced monologue that ran the gamut from surfing to parenting. He had a cool tattoo of the NY Yankees logo too...we ran into him later at the Baked Alaska. (ok.. I was a little smitten)

We dined at the popular Italian restaurant, Fulio's, just around the corner from Hotel Elliot where we experienced the wonders of grilled romaine lettuce salads. (you will just have to trust me on this one) After dinner we wandered down to the Shipyard Inn for an energetic night of 70's rock and dancing. They have an impressively large hall located in the back of the bar that could easily seat 500 people. When we were there the crowd was significantly less than 'full house' (you could have safely done cartwheels across the width of the floor) but we enjoyed the Jimi Hendrix sound alike guitarist and the Astoria crowd who were totally into it.

The weekend finished up with a night out in Portland. Because we live there I generally avoid mentioning any of my experiences as, strictly speaking, my Portland life isn't travel oriented. But
this particular night I went on a 'trip' of sorts. I tried absinthe for the first time. Just that week I had read the 'real thing' (Yes, the Absinthe of decadent Paris and Tolouse Latrec!) had become legal and Oregon bars were beginning to serve it. So while we lounged at the Blue Hour bar I noticed a beautifully decorated bottle sitting on the shelf - Absinthe. I knew immediately I had to ..well.. experience it. (Am I detecting a Jimi Hendrix theme to this post??) Blue Hour spared nothing in the whole ritual of the Absinthe 'setup'. The silver slotted decorative spoon.. fire lit sugar..the beautiful little crystal glass of water on the side. The cube drops.. the water swirls.. the blue turns to a milky green. Without going into too much detail, I will just say I am one of those susceptible to the 'green fairies'. The night whirled to a finish with my husband (and my cat) having forbidden me to go near the stuff again.