Our Third Coast

Our last excursion in the northwest was to the Oregon Coast. On Friday night we stayed in Portland and revisited some of our favorite spots, including Rogue Brewery. It was a short night, as we planned an early start in the morning.

Saturday morning started in the mist for our tour through the Oregon countryside. We followed the two-lane highway through mossy forests until we reached Astoria, a small fishing town on the Columbia River. We ate lunch, snapped some pictures in the fog, and walked a couple blocks. From here we drove half an hour to Seaside, a coastal town that is famous for being the end of the Lewis and Clark Trail. We stayed in the car as we passed through the town, and afterwards drove to one of our new favorite places: Cannon Beach.

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We spent much of the afternoon walking along the boardwalk overlooking the Columbia River in downtown Astoria.

Cannon Beach is a small town nestled between arching cliffs. Just off the beach, enormous volcano rocks jut from the Pacific Ocean. We could have spent the rest of the day here, but we had one last stop. We drove an hour south and entered the Tillamook Cheese Factory fifteen minutes before it closed. We directed ourselves on a brief tour of the history of the company and watched the assembly line workers cut the cheese. At the end of the tour we ate ice cream cones made directly from the creamery. Mmmm! We concluded the day in Portland for one last walk around the city. We will miss it, but we will be back.

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20130220-222034.jpg  20130220-222039.jpg        Multnomah Falls – famous waterfall along the Columbia River


Thank you all for following. Our job in Washington is over and we will be spending a week in Lake Tahoe, CA with Matt’s family. We will have a few more posts about our travels across country. We can’t wait to see everyone again.


Trolley Dreaming

On Thursday night we drove over the mountain, caught a plane, and found ourselves in San Francisco before midnight.  We had big plans for the following day, and moonlight explorations lost to sleep.

Friday morning started with the hotel breakfast where we reunited with Ashley, Whitney, and Mike.  It’s always a good day in the company of friends.  As a San Francisco native, Mike laid out a Napa Valley itinerary that we were happy to follow.  To start we met Mike’s parents at their hotel, and we piled into the car like a high school basketball team.  Once out of the city, we crossed the Golden Gate bridge en route to our first winery: Bourassa Vineyards.  Here we learned the correct way to swirl a red wine as we sampled unfermented wine straight from the barrel.  Since the winery shared Mike’s surname, he loaded up on name-bearing gear and wine.

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After Bourassa, our knowledgeable guides ferried us through California farmland complete with cattle, horses, and more wineries than we could count.  We made it to five (!) more wineries before dark: Artesa, Domaine Carneros, Buena Vista, and two that we’ll try to remember for the rest of our lives.  In a different state of mind, we recrossed the Golden Gate Bridge with the goal of sleep.

DSC_1769  DSC_1770  DSC_1773 DSC_1774  Artesa Winery

DSC_1784  DSC_1799  DSC_1826  DSC_1841 Domaine Carneros Sparkling Winery

A later start on Saturday did not slow us down.  We stepped onto the trolley outside the hotel and ascended the steep city hills.  We disembarked in Union Square, did some window shopping, ate lunch, escaped a protest march, nearly lost each other several times, and ended up at the wharf overlooking the bay.  To reach the hotel we walked along 39 piers, but did not stop there.  We walked Lombard Street, Ghirardelli Square, Fort Mason, and back again.  We walked to dinner at Fisherman’s wharf for fresh crab.  We walked to Beuna Vista Bar, a place famous for pouring the first Irish Coffee in the country.  Finally, with broken feet, we walked back to the hotel and drank engagement champagne compliments of our friends Ashley, Whitney, Mike, and his parents.  We had a great time with you guys.  Whew! Let’s do it again after a long recovery.

DSC_1879  DSC_1880 Riding the trolley to Union Square

  DSC_1882  DSC_1886  China Town

DSC_1891  DSC_1893  “The Heart of San Francisco”

DSC_1894  DSC_1895  Trolley ride to the piers

DSC_1896  DSC_1899 DSC_1900  DSC_1910  The winding Lombard Street

  DSC_1913  DSC_1912   Ghiradelli Square and Fisherman’s Wharf

  DSC_1926  DSC_1928 Irish coffees at Buena Vista

As always, thank you for following.  Only three weeks until we start our journey east.  Anyone up for a road trip?

Seattle with Company

After great experiences in every northwest city, we were excited to return to Seattle.  Especially since Jeff and Caroline were meeting us.  Friday night we arrived at dinner time, and food was our top priority.  We walked through Pike Place Market, although it was closed, and continued along the water to Anthony’s Fish Bar.  We ate salmon and crabcakes as we talked wedding plans.  Our bar stops after dinner included Pike Place Brewery and The Bookstore Bar.

On Saturday we hoofed it from the first Starbucks to the Space Needle.  Sixty stories above ground, we had a sprawling view of Seattle and the distant mountains.  We enjoyed the view for an hour and continued on.  Returning to the hotel, we took the car across the bridge to Fremont, a small neighborhood village.  We ate hot sandwiches and walked for as long as we could stand the cold.  Nearing night, we found a taphouse to watch the end of the Ravens thrilling victory over the Broncos.  For dinner we drove to Belltown, another happening spot, and got our Mexican fix at Mama’s.  We capped the night with drinks at Clever Bottle.

Jeff and Caroline followed us home on Sunday for a tour of Moses Lake.  We drove them past several of our favorite places, but returned home for a quiet dinner.  As it had all weekend, the wedding planning continued.  After the weekend we are even more excited to come back to North Carolina for our exciting year ahead.

Big thanks to Jeff and Caroline for coming to visit! It was a great weekend and a highlight of our travels. It was so great to be with family.

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Cheesin over drinks at Brouwer’s in Fremont;  Highlight for Jeff – Fremont’s Statue of Lenin

DSC_1693  DSC_1702Fremont Bridge

Thank you all for following.  Our next post will be about our trip to San Francisco with Ashley, Whitney, and Mike.

Canadian Christmas

Before traveling north of the border, we visited Leavenworth, WA.  The town was built in 1890 as an outpost along the railroad.  Fifty years ago, amid financial hardship, developers decided to rebuild the town in the model of a Bavarian village.  Today, the town’s buildings are made of lumber frames and rounded turrets, all in the style of the German Highlands.  Nestled against snow-capped mountains, the tourist season begins after Thanksgiving when they decorate for Christmas.  We had heard about it for months, and finally we visited.

Leavenworth is only several square blocks, and the day we arrived it had snowed over a foot.    The sidewalks were packed at every corner with snow mounds and tourists.  Our only escape from the cold was the Icicle Brewing Company.  We stayed here long enough for one beer before going to dinner at the Baren Haus.  We ate schnitzels!  Coming out of dinner, the Christmas lights, the town’s signature, outlined every tree and store front.  We enjoyed the view for a short time, but had to hit the road before the roads became too icy.

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On Christmas Day, Matt followed the Gingrich tradition of making lasagna for dinner.  As snow fell outside, he obeyed Dale and Debbie’s recipe to perfection.  Overall the day was quieter than holidays past as we missed our friends and family.  But next year, we will make up for it.

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The following weekend we took our passports to the border, waited for an hour, and entered Canada.  Vancouver was an hour’s drive north and our late arrival kept us in for the night.  On Saturday morning we woke up to a misty northwest rain.  We turned up our hoods, bought coffee, and set out for the city.  After walking a mile along the water we arrived in Stanley Park.  Monumental pine trees and green lawns transported us out of the city.  The expedition lasted an hour before we circled back for lunch at The Boathouse.  From the restaurant we walked a short distance and caught a water taxi across the bay to Granville Island, an artsy section built in an erstwhile warehouse district.  We window shopped and, of course, found a brewery.

DSC_1382  DSC_1407 Vancouver marina

DSC_1412  DSC_1432Stanley Park

DSC_1477  DSC_1482Driftwood Beach

DSC_1512  DSC_1522 We visited Granville Island via water taxi and enjoyed shopping at the public market.

Returning to the mainland, we toured the bars/restaurants in Yaletown until settling on Rodney’s Oyster House.  Two dozen oysters capped our night before a two mile walk back to the hotel.  It was a long day on our feet, and we slept well.

Thank you all for following along.  Our next post will be about our return to Seattle to meet Jeff and Caroline.

We’re engaged!

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho is a small town located on Lake Coeur d’Alene. Just over the Washington border, its downtown is comprised of restaurants and art galleries. With the sloping mountains, towering evergreens, and secluded cabins, it is one of the most memorable places of our travels. We hope to return here one day.

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                Views of Lake Coeur d’Alene and the marina from our hotel balcony.

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We would return to this place a few hours later…DSC_1134  DSC_1135

On Saturday evening we had a boat ride around the lake to see the Christmas lights that decorated the Coeur d’Alene Resort. After the one hour cruise we returned to the dock in the middle of a snow storm. It had already accumulated an inch, providing some unsteady footing. Alas, we walked around the yachts and Christmas decorations, despite Britt’s protests for the state of her hair. The wind turned the snow sideways; the water was black below. We came up to a bridge that was decorated for the season, and here Matt pulled Britt close. He said, “I love you,” and hit the knee. He unzipped the jacket and removed the ring which he had hidden all night. Holding it out, he felt the snow seeping to his knee. Still another few seconds passed. Finally, Britt said, “Well, are you going to ask me?” It wasn’t the perfect proposal, but we are engaged!

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During our ride on the ferry “Coeur d’Alene,” we sipped spiked hot chocolate and coffee  while enjoying views of the lights surrounding the lake.DSC_1214  DSC_1218

Matt just seconds before the proposal…  Covered in Idaho confetti after our engagement!

Thank you for all the phone calls and congratulatory Facebook posts. We are fortunate to have such great friends and family. We look forward to celebrating with everyone in the spring. And thank you for following the blog. Our next post will be about our Canadian Christmas in Vancouver.

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Two Nights in Pearl

We missed our friends and family on Thanksgiving, but we did as well as we could in Moses Lake. Matt made the turkey and Britt made her mom’s apple pie. Neither were burnt. The rest of the meal included green bean casserole, brown sugar and marshmallow sweet potatoes, and Matt’s mom’s famous cornbread casserole. We could not have done it without the emailed recipes/phone calls.

DSC_1052    DSC_1072A Thanksgiving meal fit for a family of 8… just for the two of us!

The following Thursday was Matt’s 28th birthday. Britt made his favorite meal, beef brisket, again with the help of Debbie. She also bought him a homebrewing book which was put to immediate use. Matt appreciated all the phone calls/messages from friends and family, especially the call from his brother, Dana, who is in Afghanistan.

        20121210-210839.jpg        20121210-210848.jpgHappy birthday, Matt!

As part of the birthday celebration, we drove five hours to Portland. Our first time in Oregon! After the drive through the dark mountains, we crossed Burnside Bridge under the flashing sign for Portland. In the middle of a heavy rainstorm we unloaded the car at the hotel and hurried into the lobby. After Britt ran a comb through her hair, we set out for the first brewery of the weekend. After all, that is the thing to do in Portland.

Deschutes Brew Pub in downtown is the brewery’s second location, the first being in Bend, Oregon. The building style was similar to Tyler’s Taproom in Raleigh. The high arching wooden arches echoed the noise of the crowded restaurant. We had a seat at the end of the bar with a view of the fifteen taps. Matt ordered the famous “Abyss” and Britt had the classic pale ale. After beers here, we made one more stop. Tugboat Brewery is a lowceiling pub with bookshelves on every wall. Classic boardgames like “Sorry” and “Life” were also available for entertainment. With these beers finished, we turned in for the night.

DSC_1082Tugboat Brewery

Saturday began with sunshine, and we took advantage. From our ideal location we turned the corner to the food truck lot. Over one dozen stands were open with ethnic food from Iraq to Vietnam. We passed on these opportunities for a small pizzeria. For the next couple hours we wandered around the city for shopping and pictures. Settling these obligations was hard work, so we stopped by Rogue Brewery in the afternoon. The other pre-dinner stops included Bridgeport Brewery and Bailey’s Taphouse. As night fell so too did the rain. We found cover inside a Portland landmark: Powell’s City of Books. If not for the dinner reservation, we could have spent hours browsing. DSC_1083    DSC_1090 Portland lived up to its “hipster” image with food trucks and bike paths at every turn.

   DSC_1092    DSC_1093Powell’s City of Books… Matt was in heaven.

DSC_1095   DSC_1086               We enjoyed spending much of the day walking through the Pearl and Cultural Districts.

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We enjoyed several flights at Matt’s favorite brewery – Rogue.

Despite all the wonderful breweries, dinner was the highlight of the weekend. Jake’s Famous Crawfish lived up to the name in service and quality. Britt had the stuffed salmon and Matt had the crab and shrimp cakes. The gluttony continued into the next day when we visited Voodoo Doughnuts. We bought one dozen delicious treats with toppings such as fruit loops, peanut butter, M&M’s, fluorescent icing, and (yawn) powder. The weekend extended into the drive home, when we stopped in Hood River at the Full Sail Brew Pub. This small mountain town had no less than four breweries… Only in Oregon. No drinks for us in this one, just good food. Back on the road we were able to see the Columbia River and the waterfalls that we had missed on the way in.


Matt’s birthday dinner at Jake’s Famous Crawfish

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Voodoo Donuts… they were so pretty we walked away with a dozen.

Again, we missed everyone for the holidays. We have had so much fun traveling but it’s the people we miss most. Thank you all for following along. Our next post will be about our exciting trip to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Tis the season of change and great things are happening to our friends and family. Congratulations are in order for Dana and Carlie’s engagement, Trevor graduating Ranger School, Caroline moving from NYC to Asheville, Josh returning from Africa, Alison getting a much deserved promotion at work, Ashley Davis closing on her new house, Chris and Ashley moving into their new house, Kesson and Nate finishing their grad school applications, Amanda graduating with a Master’s in Social Work from UNC, Lindsey and Cade moving back to NC, and all of the recent graduates of Elon DPT’s Class of 2012.

Idaho Falls and Beyond

We arrived in Idaho Falls under the same weather as April… Snow. Returning to the familiar town, we enjoyed some of our favorite places: Snake Bite, Idaho Brewing Company, and the Idaho Museum. We had fun for the afternoon in town but as we left the snow started falling again. The clouds followed us north through the Montana mountains and soon we were driving twenty-five miles an hour up the incline. The exits were sparse until we reached Dillon, a small liberal arts college town. We were thankful to be off the roads and inside the hotel.

The historic and snow-covered Taylor’s Bridge in downtown Idaho Falls.20121125-200112.jpg

Matt enjoying his last “Grand Teton Burger” from our favorite Idaho Falls eatery, Snake Bite

The following day started cold, and stayed that way until we came out of the mountains. From here we began the most beautiful highway drive of the trip. We wound down through evergreen mountainsides highlighted with yellow dogwoods. The river ran beside the highway until it emptied into the lake at Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Soon after we were passing through Spokane, where the last trees stood before the desert. We endured the barren terrain until arriving in our new home!

Moses Lake is a small town built around the water. Overall it is a sleepy town, especially with the gray winter approaching. The downtown provides enough entertainment for the week with “Michael’s on the Lake” and “Michael’s Bistro.” Our apartment is located on the west shore in a quiet golf community that is nearly cleared out for the winter. Matt loves the place since he is able to walk 100 yards to the driving range and twice that to the clubhouse. When we signed our contract in Moses Lake, our hopes were high. The town itself is less interesting than anticipated, but its proximity to Seattle allowed us to have our first excursion.

The view from our apartment from the west shore of Moses Lake.

Over Snoqualmie Pass we drove Britt’s new car. We arrived in Seattle for dinner in the Capitol Hill district. This popular area of the city is comprised of narrow side streets through historic homes, and several blocks of restaurants. We chose to eat Mexican at Barrio, a dimly lit modern eatery. The food was excellent but the tap list left something to be desired, so we visited Elysian Brewery afterwards. Matt had a Smoked Squash Ale and Britt had the Immortal IPA. After the long drive we were tired, so we called it a night and went to the hotel.

The following day we started downtown at Pike’s Place Market. We watched the fish vendors throw their fresh catches across the counter to the package men. The market was filled with art and knick-knacks as usual, and we enjoyed the view of Puget Sound from here. Rex Ryan, the coach of the New York Jets football team, also walked by us. Matt thought of starting a “Tebow” chant, but decided to keep it classy. A major attraction in this part of the city is the original Starbucks. There were about thirty people ahead of us in line but we joined them. In forty one years Starbucks has grown from the single store at the pier to one of the most nationally recognized brands. It was nice to be part of this piece of American history.


Fresh seafood, produce, and meat vendors lined the walls of the the historic Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle.


The crowds were heavy and the lines were long outside the original Starbucks store.


We enjoyed Starbucks coffee and baguettes and berry pie from Le Panier, a French bakery on Pike Place.


From the pier we traveled to 5th Ave for some window shopping. Seven blocks farther up the hill we arrived back in Capitol Hill. The sun set early and the cold weather moved in. To warm up we decided on Indian food with a spice level that had our noses running. We also stopped for drinks at some cozy local spots, Quinn’s and Oddfellows, and perused the massive book selection at Elliott Bay Books. The night ended with us retracing our steps to the pier where we parked the car. For cities, Seattle is our favorite so far. We just wish the weather was better.

Thank you all for following along. The next post will include our Thanksgiving and the trip to Portland.