I have spent a lot of time flying this year. Nearly 64,000 miles jetting from here to there. I have had insightful conversations, learned from million milers and have had my fair share of the middle seat. Some may think I would get tired of flying but every time I break through the clouds and see the wonder and beauty of this incredible world, I am awestruck. #wheelsup
We just spent about a week in Oregon visiting Doug’s brother Tim and his daughter. Our trip was mainly in the Portland area but we also were able to venture out to the coast and to the border of Oregon and Washington. I love how Oregon treasures it’s land. The forests, waterfalls and jagged coastlines were beautiful and respected. While they were accessible, it is remarkable how much people here realize what a gift they have and fiercely protect it. I wish this was the case in more parts of the world.
A few favorites from the trip:
- Tillamook State Forest and Coastline – this was one of the most beautiful drives I have ever taken. It rivaled California’s Highway 1 and the Hana Highway in Maui for me. Epic trees, gorges, rivers, waterfalls and cliffs leading down to the ocean. My favorite coastlines have a wild quality to them and this stretch of coastline had cliffs rising from the ocean floor (Haystack Rock). And beyond the beauty, it was an incredible family day. Mags walked a little too far out and ended up getting soaked, but she loved it. I hope she can always keep her sense of adventure and love for the ocean.
- Downtown Portland – I wish I had more time to explore this weird and wonderful place. It reminded me of Detroit because of it’s gritty and authentic spirit (once you get past the line of hipsters). They have an incredible sense of style, food and culture appreciation and dedication to local craft. A few highlights were Powell Books, Cascade Brewing and Salt and Straw.
- Willamette Valley Wine Tasting – Tim (Doug’s brother) owns a wine sales business and created an incredible day for us of wine tasting. I would say an Oregon Pinot Noir stands up to France any day of the week. The vineyards are breathtaking with views of the mountains and quaint towns with main streets and food cultures that would rival any leading city in the U.S.
- Mcmenamins of Edgeville – This historic poor house turned restaurant/winery/brewery/hotel/entertainment complex was truly a one-of-a-kind experience. On almost every surface, 19 local artists painted the story of the building dating back to the early 1900s. The complex was created as a poor house and has transformed many times over the years, serving as a tuberculosis hospital, nursing home and children’s mental hospital. The murals were some of the most interesting, vibrant, detailed and diverse that I have ever seen. It is a true Oregonian experience.
- Multnomah Falls – Another awe-inspiring landscape. This 620ft. waterfall is only minutes outside of Portland but feels like another world. We went along the Columbia River Highway (another top 10 drive of all time) and saw many waterfalls, forests, and the entire Columbia River valley. (It was a bit crowded with tourists, but still worth the crowds to see something so beautiful).
It was an incredible family trip (really some of the best food, laughter and ofcourse, vino!). We had the chance to get to know our incredible and kind niece and Maggie had the chance to even jam on the harmonica a little with her uncle Tim. We can’t wait to get back to Portland and enjoy the wilds of Oregon.
We were looking forward to all things lobster on this trip and our many lobster rolls did not disappoint. However, my favorite #lobsterfest experience was our impromptu lobster broil on the beach. We were getting an epic lobster roll from the 5 Islands Lobster Company (found through this wsj review on the best lobster rolls in Maine). The location is probably a postcard somewhere. It was beautiful, hard to find and quintessentially Maine. The marina had a fry shack, creamery stand and a lobster shack at the end of the dock where you could buy the “bugs” fresh from the boat. Something new that we saw throughout Maine was the soft shell lobster (only available fresh because they can’t be shipped). The meat inside is sweeter and a bit smaller than the traditional hard shell and it surprised us how easy it was to just break open the shell when cooked.
Maggie and Doug picked out the lobsters in the back room. We found a fantastic recipe online as our foundation and added some of our favorite ingrediants, and picking up some fresh clams, sausage, corn, garlic, beer, potatoes and onions. And in about an hour, we had the makings of our feast.
We cooked the boil in our condo (because open fires weren’t allowed on the beach). We were only a few steps away from the beach so we packed up the finished product in a box with two wine glasses, some fantastic Vermont Cider and our beach bag.
Maggie had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and played in the sand while we had quite the feast while watching the sunset. It was a gorgeous night and the lobster was some of the best I have ever tasted. It was the perfect vacation moment. I felt loved, fulfilled and happy to be with those I love most in one of the most beautiful places in America.
Recipe: Beer Lobster Boil
2 Live Lobsters
1 Pound of Clams (Make sure to clean them properly)
3 Garlic Gloves, sliced
Medium Onion, diced
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Can (tall boy) of Pilsner Beer
2 Ears of Corn (Cut in halves)
1-2 Pounds of Small Redskin Potatoes
Half Pound of Andouille Sausage
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a large boil pot, sautee onion and garlic in the butter until translucent. Add quartered sausage and sear for about 3-5 minutes. Add the beer and deglaze the pot. Add corn and potatoes to the pot. Layer the clams and Lobsters on top. Squeeze half a lemon’s juice into the pot. Cover with a tight fitting lid. Steam for about 15-20 minutes or until the lobsters are bright red (make sure they are fire-engine red in order to be done). The clams should also be open (if there are some that are not – be sure to discard). Remove the corn, potatoes, sausage, clams and lobster from the pot and reduce the liquid in the pot for about 3-5 minutes. Reserve a cup of liquid for dipping sauce. Assemble all the elements into a picnic basket with shellfish crackers/kitchen shears. Take a white wine or great craft beer and enjoy boil on the beach with a beautiful sunset view.
Standing on the beach tonight reminded me why I love to travel so much. While I agree that it offers an escape, it also helps me see the world as a much smaller place. When I travel from a mountain to the ocean in one day and enjoy the ride with those I love most, it helps me to put life into perspective and see that we all are sharing one connected community. Exploring, adventures and having conversations with strangers along the way is a gift. We met so many people this week while on our road trip through New England. Everyone had a story to share, like the New Yorkers spending their Labor day in Maine in the condo next to us. They helped us carry our cooler up the stairs and played with Maggie. Or the mother/son duo from New Hampshire that is doing a beer themed road trip together that we met waiting in line at Hill Farm Stead. Everyone has a story and often a great bit of advice, from the best beer taps in Maine to the perfect lobster role and even how to tame a wild two-year-old.
This week has been an adventure and one full of many stories. I vowed to myself that if the blog ever became a chore, I would take a break. And as a new job, getting our house ready for sale and life got in the way, this summer deserved a break. And now, I have been inspired once again to share my finds.
Summers wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Traverse City. I have said this before, but I believe it is THE most beautiful area in all of Michigan and a top 10 in the United States. Perhaps it’s the cherry orchards, the sleepy mainstreet, the breathtaking bay views or the locally owned restaurants and wineries that keep us coming back. It may be the combination of these things or just a certain kind of magic that helps us to forget our normal lives and slip into a moment where we can feel a sense of wonder and freedom. I think it is that element of wonder that makes us crave vacations and as I have added more responsibility to my life, I find it harder to attain. Yet, this place has the ability to make me put my hand out of the window, feel the breeze in my hair, savor some bubbly and enjoy the moment.
Here are a few of our favorite places to explore:
Morsel Bakery – Exquisite bite-sized pastries and hand-crafted coffee. 321 East Front Street . Traverse City, MI
Located in one of our favorite areas in Traverse, The village at Grand Traverse Commons or the former Northern Michigan Asylum, Higher Grounds joins many of our top bakery, restaurant and shops. The coffee shop roasts their own beans, provides pour overs that rival the best cups I have had in SF and are green friendly. So, don’t expect a traditional to-go cup, if you need it to-go you will be walking out with a thrift store coffee mug with no lid. So take some time, enjoy the patio and savor the hand-crafted taste of outstanding coffee. 806 Red Dr #150, Traverse City, MI
Family park without the crowds (our secret find from the locals) South West Bay Shore (22) just outside of Traverse City on your way to Suttons Bay. https://www.shortsbrewing.com/
It is a little bit of a drive from Traverse, but the beer makes it well worth the pilgrimage. Most nights they have live music and the food is locally sourced, gourmet-inspired and absolutely fantastic. 121 N Bridge St, Bellaire, MI http://www.lmawby.com/index.php?route=/
LMawby – You can’t go wrong with bubbles. BY FAR, my favorite vineyard in Michigan. The wine is fantastic, the people are fun and the design is the best! 4519 Elm Valley Rd, Suttons Bay, MI
A new addition to our Suttons Bay loop, Tandem Ciders feels like Michigan. They have a worn wooden bar with pickled eggs and ciders from orchards all over the peninsula. Located in a restored barn, the tasting room is nestled in the country side and feels like a get away. 2055 N Setterbo Rd, Suttons Bay, MI
The wine is decent, but the tasting room and the attitude of this vineyard always seems to make it the last stop on our tasting tours. 8580 E Horn Rd, Lake Leelanau, MI