Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Road Behind

View from the last car on Amtrak's Empire Builder
Cascade Mountains, WA

Guess It Wasn't Working Out

From a Flathead Valley (Montana) morning paper delivered to our sleeper car, one of the liveliest ledes I've read in a long time:

Vanderbilt Private Rail Car, Old Blue Eyes, and A Dream Holiday

On one of our stops where we're permitted to get off the train for fresh air and a stretch (these are few and far between), I spy a grand old train car attached to the back of our train, in fact to our sleeper car.


It has a fascinating history:
New York Central 3 was one of four sister cars commissioned in 1927 by the New York Central Railroad and placed into service in 1928. However, its amenities were considerably different from the other three cars, because it was designed as the personal office car of Harold Sterling Vanderbilt, the last of the famous Vanderbilt Family to direct the New York Central Railroad. The most significant difference: It had a huge brick fireplace in the dining room. (Unfortunately, the fireplace was removed during a major post-war rebuild, and replaced by the present mahogany breakfront, which is an exact replica of the breakfronts initially built for the other three cars.)
 

Just now, on a fresh-air stop in Minneapolis-St Paul, we saw two more, this one from about 1914, with three staterooms, dining area, and staff facilities. Recently it joined half a dozen other such cars on a coast-to-coast trip for an artist/musician group playing in various cities across the country. Doesn't that sound like fun?

I fell instantly in love
with this car from the 20s

All these old cars hook up to Amtrak to move their passengers down the line. The guy in charge of this one said it was Frank Sinatra's favorite car.

Check out the observation area...

Plus, this little guy, along for the ride but pouting because he was sent back inside for running.
 

Can't get onto the website to read about its history, but you might be able to: http://261.com/
Wouldn't it be a dream vaca to charter one of these?

Amtrak Breakfast with Sharon and Eddie

Good morning, campers. We're up and at 'em as Amtrak prepares to slide into Minneapolis-St Paul about 4.5 hours behind schedule. Strong coffee and lively conversation with Eddie and Sharon, our breakfast mates in the dining car.

Eddie's an old-soul Navy reservist 
who lives on Whidbey Island, WA

Sharon from Seattle:
 We share energetic snark about the state of the world:

Passenger trains run late because freight trains have the right of way. So you might sit on a side rail while freight moves up or down the main line...and you might do this for quite a while. Amtrak's not your first choice for punctuality, but then I'm not certain air travel is so different.

We're now in the observation car, reading and writing to you. The downside to this moment is the guy proselytizing to anyone who will listen. He's tedious and we're both trying not to hear him, but we may be driven back to our room.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Bar Mingo, Portland Oregon

Our food sensibilities took a decided step up yesterday, from one-frypan camping magic to Portland's take on Italian at Bar Mingo. We left Beverly Beach Campground in the morning, arrived at our hotel in time for a quick shower, and by 5:30 were sipping luscious cocktails and having scintillating conversation with our good friend Caroline.

A smart university student, she's a designer at heart. Check out the great dress she created and wore to Fashionxt.
 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

Yachats Oregon + Dungeness Crab Cakes

Dinner last night at the historic Drift Inn in tiny Yachats, Oregon: Dungeness crabcakes.
 

Via wiki:
Yachats (/ˈjɑːhɑːts/ YAH-hahts) is a small coastal city in Lincoln County, Oregon, United States. According to Oregon Geographic Names, the name comes from the Siletz language, and means "dark water at the foot of the mountain". There is a range of differing etymologies, however.[7] William Bright says the name comes from the Alsea placename /yáx̣ayky/.[8] At the 2010 census, the city's population was 690. In 2007, Budget Travel magazine named Yachats one of the "Ten Coolest Small Towns of the U.S.A.",[9] and Yachats was chosen among the top 10 U.S. up-and-coming vacation destinations by Virtualtourist.[10] In 2011, Arthur Frommer, founder of Frommer's Travel Guides, listed Yachats number seven among his ten favorite vacation destinations in the world.[11]


Art had seafood lasagne. Local musicians played in the corner while the Bears flashed bright on the bar's TV. Nice vibe.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

48 Hours At Tillicum Beach

In early October, on the day of the shutdown, authorities showed up at federal parks such as the stunning Tillicum Beach, where we've stayed on earlier trips (turns out we were here 3 years ago nearly to the day), and told them to close down in 48 hours. The on-site host went around to all campers and told them they had two days to vacate. 

You've heard us talk about camp hosts before--in state parks these are mainly volunteers who get to stay free in exchange for a handful of duties. In this particular federal park--and hundreds of others-- the camp host is employed by a company that contracts with the US Forest Service. But because of some bureaucratic tangle, the park here never closed.

Until the afternoon we pulled in and the friendly host told us we had just 48 hours before he'd been ordered to put up the chain.

You can see what makes this campground unique: 
extraordinary views of the Pacific

Fine with us. We were doubtful given the insanity in DC that it would be open at all. Normally it is--every day of the year.

Tuesday started out well with breakfast at the Bunk House, and don't even ask what town it's in. We drove south from Cannon Beach looking to have a late main-meal breakfast.
And we certainly found one.

I love the vibe in places like this, people watching at 9:30 am. The two women back there appeared to be having Bible study, the couple just in front of us bloody marys. Now there's a contrast.

Then there was the just-married guy at the next table, clearly in love with his daughter.

It rained on and off all day driving south along the coast. We stopped at Fred Myer in one of the larger towns to do a modest grocery shop. We first learned about this store in Boise when we accompanied Camille (hi Camille!) during our most enjoyable visit, and it seems the number of organic products on offer has grown.

We pulled in to Tillicum, unpacked between showers, slept to the sound of the pounding surf, and awoke to this clear blue sky. Many sites have an enchanting hobbit-like entrance to the beach.

Where we stretched it out for a few miles on a good walk.  What is it about this seaweed that's so otherworldly?

Here's a lo-o-o-n-g one.

This is one of the deepest beaches we've seen on this coast.
It's a real gift in the midst of an Oregon October to sit like a lizard in the sun, reading. And, by the way, so enjoyed this book.

Plus, more rocks for Wayne sitting on the cover.
Lunch is canned soup: Amy's Thai Coconut. Excellent.


Hello. 
Are you looking at my giant motor home where I have a bed on the dashboard?

The day was glorious, with sun and crazy cloud formations moving steadily through.

Another beach entrance.

Art's got a fire all laid for when the sun goes down.

Dinner tonight: chicken and return of the beets
chicken thighs with onion, garlic, oregano, green olives, lemon juice, and tomato
+ steamed beets in olive oil


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Hug Point State Rec Site and Cannon Beach, Oregon

We awaken Monday in Nehalem Bay State Park to a pounding rain. Then, silence. Then another wave of it. And again. The clouds are dark and moving stealthily off the raging Oregon coast. We pack up during a sunny break and we're on that killer road again, rocks meeting water. Jeez, it's a dream.

A quick turn left off the main road and we're checking out Hug Point State Recreation Area, just off 101 north. My map says there are campgrounds here, but sadly it's wrong.



We meet Abby the rescued schnauzer from Alabama and her friendly guardian, who with her husband is on a 9-week holiday. They started out with the intent of seeing as many national parks as they could (cue the sad horn). But they're having fun.

Taking a moment to stand in the cave, which had an unusual and persistent vibration from the water breaking onto rock.


A few towns north is Cannon Beach.
The City of Cannon Beach is located on the Pacific Northwest Coast of Oregon, 80 miles west of Portland and 25 miles south of Astoria. Cannon Beach is surrounded by the rugged natural beauty of forests, ocean beaches, and rivers. Only four miles in length, and with a population of 1,695, Cannon Beach is a popular and picturesque resort area, playing host to an estimated over 750,000 visitors annually. Although Cannon Beach was incorporated as a city in 1957, it has been occupied much longer: first by native cultures, and then, since the late 1800s, by American settlers. In 1806, Captain William Clark, of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, traveled south to our area in order to secure needed blubber from a whale beached near the mouth of Ecola Creek.
Here's our fancy campsite with a beach view, at The Waves Motel...and there are the iconic Cannon Beach rocks.

The gas fireplace ensures Art won't have to chop any wood, and I'm eyeing the bathtub.

The town itself reminds us a little of Carmel, low-key signage, all tiny shops, plenty of fresh-roasted coffee, no sign of any big-box stores (I haven't done it justice in these pix). Our innkeeper recommended The Driftwood for lunch.
Good choice. Art digs into some velvety clam chowder while I work on my, uh, tomato juice (ha).

A couple of Dungeness crab dishes later, these campers are pleasantly sated.

We stopped at Cannon Beach's all-volunteer library to check out the book sale.
 Carla's a gem.
Tonight, the fireplace is lit and the Pacific is pounding just steps from our window.