Oregon. Wild, weird and wonderful.

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.

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A few favorites from the trip:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.


a trip to bring me back


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.


#PureMichigan Summers



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: 


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Morsel Bakery – Exquisite bite-sized pastries and hand-crafted coffee. 321 East Front Street . Traverse City, MI BlossomDays24
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

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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, MIBlossomDays34 BlossomDays5 BlossomDays4
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 BlossomDays3
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 BlossomDays2 BlossomDays
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 


Michigan Wine Trails #puremichigan

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For a number of years I have always looked forward to our May weekend getaway to Old Mission, just north of Traverse City. Although it is often a little chilly, I still feel like this experience signals the start of summer for us. Blossom Days offers wine lovers the chance to taste barrel room selections and the best of the vineyard.


The eight wineries of Old Mission:


2 Lads Winery // 16985 Smokey Hollow Road

2 Lads does a great job with Michigan reds and offers one of the best views on the peninsula. The modern architecture offers an incredible tasting room experience.


Black Star Farms // 360 McKinley Rd. East
Black Star Farms original location is on the Leelanau peninsula and they added this location a few years ago. The tasting room is in a quaint farmhouse style and they offer one of the largest selection of wines featuring both dry and sweet. We purchased a Pinto Grigio – perfectly crisp with citrus notes.


Bowers Harbor Vineyards // 2896 Bowers Harbor Road

Bowers tasting room is nestled within the vines and they have a beautiful arbor to welcoming you to the experience. They had an incredible presentation on their process and approach to Chardonnay and their focus on aging in the traditional French method is admirable. They also have a fantastic vineyard dog and let’s face it, dogs make every brand better!


Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery // 3309 Blue Water Road

Brys offers estate grown wines and focuses on a European style approach to wine making. They have a beautiful tasting room and offered the best food and wine pairing (an incredible asparagus risotto salad). They have an outdoor space with adirondack chairs facing the vineyard and some of our favorite memories are spent sipping wine and watching Maggie.


Chateau Chantal // 15900 Rue de Vin

We have stayed at this bed and breakfast and their wine making has improved over the years. Perhaps one of the best views, seeing both bays, they offer a tranquil patio and we got their Chardonnay – a beautiful blend of buttery oak flavor.

Chateau Grand Traverse // 12239 Center Road

They are celebrating 40 years on Old Mission and have gamay noir that is not to be missed.

Hawthorne Vineyards // 1000 Camino Maria Dr.

The newest addition to the Old Mission Family, the tasting room sits high upon a hill and looks across to Leelanau.

Peninsula Cellars // 11480 Center Rd.

Located in an old school house, Peninsula is often our first stop on the Old Mission Trail. They have a great tasting experience.

We love the Old Mission and can’t wait to get back next May!

labor day getaway #puremichigan

Traverse City #PureMichigan

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Traverse City #PureMichigan

Every year we try to make it up to Traverse City for blossom days in May. But this year time got away from us and we kept saying were going to make it up to the Old Mission Wine Trail. After we realized that it was the end of August and we didn’t have any plans for Labor Day we snagged one of the few remaining hotel rooms and packed up Maggie to enjoy the last weekend of the summer in one of the most beautiful places in Michigan. We started our day with the Old Mission Wine Trail. We made our first stop at Chateau Grand Traverse and then made our way along the wine trail – catching the breath taking views at 2 Lads and Chateau Chantal. Taking in some fantastic reds (yes I said reds) at Brys Estate and then finding a new gem of a winery (with perhaps one of the best tasting rooms of the trail) Hawthorne. The second day of our trip we hit some of the vineyards on Leelanau peninsula wine trail but the highlight of every trip has to be L. Mawby. I am a sucker for a good bubbly, and I do believe they have some of the best. The wine trail had a great app that we found pretty useful in helping to navigate the 20+ vineyards.  In fact, we were having so much fun we couldn’t bare to go home on time. So we grabbed a hotel room for a second night and thanks to tripadvisor  we found an incredible independent owned place where we were able to get a 2 bedroom condo for the price of our hotel room the night before.  I will post more on some our family finds, but I hope you can enjoy the views as much as we did.