Gorgeous day for our next road trip, sunny but cool, fluffy white marshmallow clouds dropping shadows over the tree tops. This time we are taking LilyPad, Ribbit bringing up the rear. First overnight will be Portland, OR and Liz had several must-do plans.
Our only disappointing excursion this family time was the Portland Italian Festival. Mangiamo was not happening for these three Italians. All of us were somewhat dismayed by the passing off of pizza, spaghetti and gelato, totally unimaginative and cliché foods, as Italian festival fare. Our conclusion was that there isn’t much of an Italian population in Portland, at least not the verbally expressive sort that demand excellent food and make up “la famiglia mia”. Nothing else but food and music, the singer being just OK, we left within the hour.
Remembering last year’s visit, we were all looking forward to the Portland Saturday Market. Humongous, a neighborhood unto itself, original art, crafts, music, food and a dancing water’s fountain for the mini kids, a you-must-do-this stop when in Portland. The sound of Tam Tam’s followed us around the Market, intermittently interrupted by guitars, street singers and a few horn solo’s .
Along the Market path we passed Portland’s VooDoo Doughnut Shop but the line stretched around the block and our former experience with aching teeth and tummies caused us to veer away and take in the rest of the expansive Market offerings before its closing.
So many choices for dinner but The Old Spaghetti Factory won out for its reasonable prices, gluten free choices and being nearby when the hunger bug bit. Back to LilyPad for our nights rest in anticipation of an early morning departure for our final family reunion destination, Lewis and Clark Golf and RV Park in Astoria.
Lewis and Clark Expedition spent the winter of 1805-1806 at Fort Clatsop, a small log structure south and west of modern-day Astoria. It was abandoned after a long hard winter and the fort is now an historical park.
Astoria was named after investor John Jacob Astor. His American Fur Company founded Fort Astoria in 1811 as its primary fur-trading post and was the first permanent US settlement on the Pacific coast. Located on the south shore of the Columbia River, the city is served by the Port of Astoria and is a deep-water port capable of hosting cruise ships.
A small town but full of fascinating history, the appealing quality for Liz was its movie making history. The Oregon Film Museum, on the National Register of Historic Places, opened in 2010 and is housed in the old Clatsop County Jail. The building was used in a famous scene in the Goonies movie and its opening coincided with the 25th anniversary of the film. The museum houses artifacts from the large assortment of movies filmed in Astoria including Short Circuit, The Black Stallion, Kindergarten Cop, Free Willy, Free Willy 2, The Adventure Home, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, Benji the Hunted, The Ring Two, Into the Wild, The Guardian, Twilight and National Lampoon’s Animal House.
The Goonies, her favorite iconic cult classic, was filmed on location in Astoria in 1985. The Walsh family home still stands and the owners allow walk-ups and picture taking on the outside. Our families first stop on our togetherness outing was the Walsh House. As we chatted while taking Kodak Moments, the owner watered plants in the front yard seemingly oblivious to our existence.
The house was on Liz’s Bucket List and the group all joined in the visit, possibly because the span of ages were all familiar with the movie, possibly because it was a beautiful day and a walk outdoors was an ideal outing. Whatever the reason, it was well suited for a joint adventure of ages that spanned nearly 8 decades and allowed us to chat happily among ourselves Italian style.
Our lunch break happened at a small restaurant, T Paul’s Urban Café, not usually able to cater to a group of 11 but they managed to seat us all together in the back area near a beautiful salt water tank and we all bubbled over with conversation while enjoying our meals.
Most went back to the beach house, some went in search of seafood, our threesome scouted the town for coffee and activities that were open on this usually closed-on-Monday town. The Blue Scorcher Bakery Café was a unique find, scrumptious bakery goods, very Oregonian with gluten free and sugar free offerings, typical of what we have found in the small bakeries throughout Oregon. Greatly impressive was the intricate foam designs floating in our coffee.
Front door was closed but back door was wide open, so we stuck our heads inside to check out their artistic wares. Dozens of yarns, all in various stages of the dye process, being turned into intriguing works of art.
My mother’s side of the family consists primarily of opinionated independent women, the characteristically Italian hand gesturing non-stop talking kind, sometimes articulating all at the same time, resulting in the men becoming verbally challenged by our sheer numbers and volume. Luckily the few we do have are all good natured and if they have an opinion, they wisely keep it to themselves when the female clan is in session. With only two of our Grandmother’s five children remaining, Auntie El and Aunt Susie, a gathering was long overdue. This was the first time all four of the female cousins had assembled since our beloved matriarch passed away a decade ago.
We met at my cousin’s beach front house and she rented the house next door so we could all meet up and celebrate joyously with much vino and an abundance of excellent Italian food.
Our newest family member, four month old Emilio, named after our grandfather, was welcomed into our clan.
Two glorious days of family togetherness, so glad that Liz came to share in the family celebration. All those that had gone on before were remembered with wine glasses raised in toasts and so dearly missed. A foggy sunset after dinner from the back porch of the beach house, Family, Wine, Italian food…Life is Good.
Morning arrived, hugs, farewells to family and promises to gather again soon. With Liz’s vacation nearing an end, we planned visits to several points of interest along the journey back to Eugene Oregon, Liz’s last night with us before our return to Lone Pine.
Cannon Beach was a fun ocean side village with lots of shopping and a wonderful Farmers Market to explore. Vintage structures, funny sayings on top of garbage cans and lots of dog water bowls outside the boutiques to show which were dog friendly.
A sad realization was reached when our drive along the foggy shoreline did not reveal any Puffins, my favorite bird. The rocky shore along Seaside is a well known nesting site.
Although there will be more coastal areas in which to search for Puffins in my future, I was excited about the prospect of sharing the experiencing with my daughter. We settled for admiring a fine-looking six foot high solid wood Puffin carving.
Tillamook Cheese Factory is a must visit if in the area. The factory is self guided but interesting with many displays of vintage cheese making equipment. If you catch the workers in a friendly mood, they will wave back at you.
The tour ends with you being offered several yummy samples of cheese. Exiting, you must walk past the ice cream and few walk on without making a purchase.
With LilyPad packed up and ready to roll, we left for Eugene and began cramming as much into the last few hours of mother/daughter/dad togetherness as humanly possible.
Within a four block radius we found enough to satisfy Liz’s appetite for last minute vacation-nearing-an-end anxiety.
Eugene Wine Sellers offered wine tasting and samples of dark chocolate Limoncello infused fudge. Oh so delectable.
Across the street, The Wandering Goat, another coffee house catering to an attention-grabbing collection of human pin cushions with colorful tattooed skin, the employees closely resembling their patrons.
In search of a nearby local brewery, we happened upon Ninkasi Brewing Company, sampling what read as interesting. Dark, thick, heavy stout with a chocolate essence was my tasting choice. Not the dark chocolate flavor I expected so I passed on a glass. John abstained, Liz chose an IPA. We relaxed on the porch until all was consumed.
Cattycorner was Natural Grocery, a small health food store. I would have loved more time to peruse its shelves but the growling in our tummies could not be silenced.
Across the street the Pizza Research Institute caught our attention. Quirky, eclectic, wood fired original pizza creations complimented the jumbled collection of vintage plates. It was very warm inside, the fans not creating enough breeze to encourage the flies to move on. What we ordered was not what arrived but the salad was colorful and included unusual veggies, the dressing was amazing and with our pizza, both filled us. Liz and I tried dry soda, a low sugar fruit infused bubbly water which will be added to my fridge whenever I come across it in stores.
On the way back to Ribbit, Liz and I were beyond delighted when we turned the corner past the brewery and came upon Blairalley Vintage Arcade. Immediately upon pulling open the door, high pitched squeals of glee interrupted the dark quiet room and when our eyes adjusted to the dark, they were met with twinkling pin ball lights dancing across every inch of the walls. Only a quarter per play, even John was drawn into the games but Liz and I raced each other through most of the quarters and John didn’t grab fast enough to spend his share.
Santa Cruz California’s arcade and I were intimate partners in the fast pace solo entertainment of pin ball skill for most of my teen years and continued on long after John and I were married. Their amusement worth has kept me fascinated for most of my life and, strangely, was passed on in DNA to my children. Slightly strange thing to pass on to ones offspring.
Liz’s vacation was at an end and when she was settled into the waiting room at the airport awaiting departure, we continued on to Lone Pine to ready the campground for a new group. Unpack, plug in and relax into a peaceful nights sleep.
My Verilux “happy light” usually wakes me each morning but this morning our welcome back a.m. was full of noise and excitement! Tree limb trimmers converged on our parking lot bringing in huge equipment to take down and chip multiple limbs intruding into electrical wire space along our logging road. The crew stayed to chat for a while before continuing on down the road.
Loud whap-whap-whap nose coming from above our heads and the sheriff’s department helicopter dropped down from the sky and landed in our field. Small with no doors, the helicopter flies around the area in pot patrol expeditions. Minus heaters and doors makes for 50 degree working conditions so they drop down and land to warm up and join with their fuel truck.
They drew crowds from both campgrounds and were allowing a special treat, parents were able to photo their kids seated at the controls.
An hour later they were up, up and away.
Soap, Scrub, Power Spray vault toilets, Scrub, Wipe, Power Blow pavilion and tables before our next group arrives for their enjoyable camping experience presented by yours truly, Lone Pine Group Campground Hosts Extraordinaire.