Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Timberline Lodge at Mount Hood

The West Coast's notoriously wet spring weather finally paid us a visit when we left the coast and headed inland to Portland. We didn't have pouring rain - but it was a drizzly, unpleasant couple of days. We were planning to visit Mount Hood, about 60 miles east of Portland, but were debating whether we should go or not. After all, the mountain was shrouded in clouds. After asking around many people said "Oh, go anyway - you must see the Timberline Lodge. So we went, and they were right. What an amazing work of art and example of American ingenuity it is!

High up on MT. Hood it was too clouded in to get an exterior picture of the lodge so this is one of a painting in the lobby:

The Lodge was built by hundreds of hands eager to work after months or years of unemployment in the 1930s. Ninety percent of the men and women who built and furnished the lodge were hired by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the federal agency created in 1933 to provide work for the hundreds of thousands of Americans idled by the Great Depression.

There are many, many amazing stories about its construction - It was built and furnished in just 15 months. My favourite part of the story is how it was decorated.

Margery Hoffman Smith, a Portland interior designer, served as the State Fine Arts Administrator under the Federal Art Project and had the assignment of creating an interior that would be suitable to the setting and furnished entirely by handwork. Mrs. Smith's background in art and crafts made her sympathetic to the idea, and many of the designs for textiles and rugs are her own. She worked closely with the supervisors of the furniture and wrought iron projects and commissioned the art. She created the color schemes and the Art Deco details in the interior. Mrs. Smith wrote later, "The job was to be done and done in a hurry. There was no time; there were no facilities for blueprinting. It was a quick swing into action - and what action it was!" There were not many skilled artisans in the area so she hired those available and had them train journeymen tradespeople to create the required pieces. The results are spectacular. 

Unfortunately, in the lodge's early years, it had had four different operators, none of which was willing or able to maintain it. By 1955 Timberline Lodge was closed and in disrepair.

Richard Kohnstamm, the patriarch of the family that currently operates the lodge, remembered those difficulties as being due to financing problems arising from the fact that the government owned it. Kohnstamm decided to maintain the place as if he owned it himself. He lost money during his first five years of operation, but his timing turned out to be fortuitous, since he began operating it only a few years before skiing started exploding in popularity in the late 1950s. That popularity helped the family generate a profit starting in 1960. Kohnstamm, "The man who saved Timberline", died at the age of 80 on April 21, 2006. Richard's son Jeff is now the Area Operator of Timberline Lodge.

Today it is a National Historic Landmark, its furnishings restored or recreated according to original plans and photos. 

The resort has the longest skiing season in the U.S., and is open for skiers and snowboarders every month of the year. Activities include skiing, snowboarding, walking, hiking and climbing.

I took many photos while we were there - the lodge is very bright with natural light and then they added more- making photography difficult with my camera, but you will get the idea.

All the furniture in this room, including the light fixtures are handmade. The art on the walls appears to be original. Each had a light in front of it and therefore I could not get a clear photo.

The diningroom was being set up for lunch when we were there.
Ceiling in the main lobby
Seating area around the fireplace below 
A closer look at the hand made furnishings, fabrics and rug
The Blue Ox Bar
The Lodge was nearly finished when it was noticed that there was no bar. Improvising architects altered a space tucked away behind the lobby and designed for wood storage to create the Blue Ox Bar. The recently restored glass mosaic murals illustrate the well known Paul Bunyon legend and his beloved blue ox, Babe.
An example of the original bedrooms, on display in the main lodge
Images of local flowers, wildlife and colours were woven into the fabrics and in the art on the walls.
All the newel posts were carved from telephone poles. 
The artistry is amazing:
I could go on and on. The place was quite overwhelming. I think you would need to stay there a few days to take it all in. 

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Crabbing on the Oregon Coast

One evening, while we were having a beer on the deck and enjoying the sunset at the Pelican Pub and Brewery in Pacific City,

the couple sitting beside us suggested we go cabbing at Kelly's Marina in Rockaway Beach.

So the next day we did just that.

Kelly's Marina was a fascinating spot. Very informal and very popular with locals. Always a good sign. And so eclectic it is almost impossible to describe.
Don't you love the car?
Looking back from the crabbing wharf
We went crabbing in Maryland when we were there in the fall of 2012. There, you tie a chicken neck to a string and dangle it in the water until a crab bites. Then you carefully haul it up and snag the crab with a net. Here, Arch purchased a salt water fishing licence and for $10 we rented a crabbing basket with a huge fish head in it. And they give you a bucket for your crab and a measuring device to make sure the crab is legal. Males under 5 inches and any female must be returned to the ocean.

Crab Baskets for Rent - already loaded with fish heads
Thus armed we headed out to the dock to try our luck:

The basket had a rope attached, the idea is that you toss the basket into the water, hanging on to the rope, then wait 20 minutes or so:

and pull it in quickly (the crab will get out the top of the basket if you are not fast enough) and count your catch.
a couple of small ones in here
This one was female and was returned to the ocean.
After an hour and a half of trying we had nothing to show for our efforts and quit trying. Patience is not Arch's strong point. Also, it was not the best time of year to be crabbing.

But Kelly's is ready for that. They sell crab, clams and oysters to take home. Or they will boil the crab and clams right there and you can eat them at one of their many informal dining areas.
Under a shelter if the weather is not the best
Or outside, at a selection of tables, some made of west coast redwood:
Around the fire pit or at a picnic table overlooking the water
Or at this large table made with one very wide board
The chairs were amazing:
The front edge of the seat is shaped to be comfortable to sit forward and enjoy your feed of crab and the remainder is perfectly sloped to sit back in comfort and enjoy the sun.

And, if you want to spend the night and try your luck the next day, there is a small RV parking area with electric and water hook-ups overlooking the docks:

All in all a great spot run by lovely people.

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tillamook Cheese Factory

"You must visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory". This was the first thing we heard from anyone who had already visited the Oregon Coast. So we visited.
The first thing that you see is this ship on the lawn in front of the factory. And we wondered what on earth a ship had to do with cheese making.
As it turns our this ship in an important part of the Tillamook story. Tillamook residents built the Morning Star, Oregon's first official ship, to carry their dairy goods to market. At the time, the rough wagon trails over the mountains took too long, so the sea-faring Morning Star helped bring fresh dairy products to Portland, where they could be distributed more widely. Today our products return the favor by carrying a small Morning Star schooner on their logo.

Cheddar cheese making came to the area in 1894 when renowned cheesemaker Peter McIntosh brought his cheddar cheese-making expertise to Tillamook County, where he taught the locals all he knew and earned himself the nickname "Cheese King of the Coast." Over 120 years later, the same cheddar cheese recipe he developed all those years ago is still used to make the famous cheese!
In 1909 several small creameries joined forces to ensure all cheese made in the Tillamook Valley was of the same high quality. They formed the Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA)…and the rest is delicious history. The company is still a farmer-owned co-op today.

Over one million people a year visit the facility and their products are widely available in western states.

The factory tour is self-guided with many excellent storyboards that tell you what is happening. And there are large viewing windows where you can watch the action on the factory floor. We were there on a Sunday so not much was happening:
These people were packing very large blocks of cheese
The tour exits you into a very efficient tasting area:
Which then exited you into a cheese shop and restaurant. Which Arch really appreciated as it featured his two favourite food groups:
and Ice Cream
in many yummy flavours
So I purchased enough Tillamook extra old cheddar cheese and butter (which is fabulous - a very low moisture content and therefore very rich) to last us quite a while. Arch bought fudge and ice cream, which disappeared very quickly.

We love cheese and buy and eat quite a bit of it. So always have bits and pieces of leftover cheese in the fridge. I use them up by making Welsh Rarebit:

Rarebit (sometimes called rabbit) is a British cheese dish. In Britain, it is often served as a small savoury at the end of a meal or as a lunch or supper dish with a salad.

Welsh Rarebit

2 tbsp butter
12 oz grated old cheddar cheese (make this your main cheese - about 6 oz at least, then add any leftover HARD cheese you have in the fridge to make up the other 6 oz.)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Pinch cayenne
¼ cup beer
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
6 slices thick toast
2 tbsp chopped parsley

Combine butter, cheese, lemon juice, mustard and cayenne in a pot. Stir in beer and Worcestershire sauce. Heat gently, stirring until cheese is melted and mixture is combined, about 7 minutes.

Spoon mixture over toast making sure cheese mixture covers edges to keep them from burning under the broiler. Place under broiler and broil for 1 minute or until cheese is golden and bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley.

Serves 6
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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Oregon's Art Deco Bridges

The minute we saw the first bridge on US 101 heading up the Oregon Coast we knew we were in for an interesting drive. It was spectacular and as we went along we saw several more. Unfortunately I had to take all pictures from the window of the Adventure Bus as there were no suitable (for us) pull outs to stop at. Until we came to the Cooks Chasm Bridge. Fortunately there was an information plaque there.
Below is a close-up of the description
And my photo of today's rebuilt bridge:
Several of these bridges were built during the depression years as part of FRD's New Deal to put people back to work. I am going to add pictures of several that we crossed so you can see the variety of design.

This bridge was being restored
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Friday, April 25, 2014

California Coast - Part 3

We explored the Northern California Coast from RV parks in the Sonoma Valley - one in Santa Rosa and a Thousand Trails Park in Cloverdale - The Russian River RV Campground..

I know several readers are interested in the Thousand Trails parks in this area. We really liked this one. It was isolated with limited cell and MiFi coverage (2 bars 3G) and no TV reception but really beautiful and well located on the border between the winerys of Sonoma and Napa and the redwoods of Northern California and just a 30 minute drive from the coast.

We've come to realize that Thousand Trails Campgrounds (and they are campgrounds, nor resorts - although they all have club houses, swimming pools, etc.) are indeed "get-away from the real world" spots. If you want TV - bring a satellite dish.

One day we drove out to Bodega Bay to have lunch at the Spud Point Crab Company. This was a tiny spot with a big reputation:
Basically a small take-out spot on the side of the road with outside seating
The seafood chowder is kept hot in large pots outside and the crab cooker is outside as well:
The large pot in the foreground is the crab cooker
The menu appeared to be pretty limited but when we got to the front of the line (there were about 10 people in front of us), inside the building there was a much more extensive menu. Which you can view on their website.
These are the specialties of the house.
Arch had the clam chowder and crab sandwich and I had the crab cakes. All very delicious. I am not sure why all the restaurants we visited served clam rather than crab chowder. Maybe the crab chowder does not "hold" very well after it is made. There is a recipe on this blog for Lobster and Scallop Chowder. If you can get fresh crab I suggest you substitute crab and clams for the lobster and scallops - really yummy.

We took a different route home and stumbled upon the Northwood Golf Course, Set among the redwoods in Monte Rio. A unique and historic spot. To quote their website:

Northwood Golf Course combines the magic of the architecture of Dr. Alister MacKenzie (Augusta National, Pasatiempo, Cypress Point) set amidst towering Redwood trees. It's like nothing you have played before, and prompted Travelin' Joe Passov of Golf Magazine to place Northwood on his top-5 MacKenzie courses... in the world!

It was quite affordable so Arch wen back to play another day:
He booked a tee time and asked the booker to pair him with other players. His partner turned out to be a lawyer from San Francisco. Between the stories his partner told him and the challenge of the golf course he had quite a day.

Close to our campground in Cloverdale was The Hamburger Ranch & Bar-B-Que. We soon realized it was a very popular BBQ place frequented by the locals. So we decided to try it out.
Arch ordered the ribs and tri-tips plate - it was huge and he ate every bit of it:
And paid the price the next day. I think he is through with US Bar-b-que for this year. For my Canadian readers - in the United States BBQ means smoking and slathering with special sauces (usually sweet or spicy, or both) and then grilling - not cooking on the barbecue.

We left California wine country and headed north along route 101, Taking a side (but parallel) route along the Redwood Scenic Byway - a 39 mile drive through towering redwoods:

Arriving back at the ocean at Eureka. Unlike the coastline between San Diego and San Francisco, the California Coast north of San Francisco is really quite accessible, with much of the land preserved as state parks and beaches. And beautiful.
This is just North of Bodega Bay
Our final night in California was at Trinidad, on the Oregon border. We stayed at the Cher-Ae Heights Casino - a great boondocking spot - and after unhooking the car took a very scary drive along the ocean. Beautiful but.....
In most places the road was washed out one way - it is left to the drivers to decide who goes first - with several washouts and no guardrails. I was too scared to take pictures.
At one point we stopped at a look-off:
That is Arch out on the end of the walkway. No way I was going out there.
Then it was on to the Oregon Coast. Beautiful and quite different than California. But that is a subject for another day.

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