Ilwaco, Washington

February 5, 2014





Getting there. Across the Columbia River from Oregon on the Astoria-Megler bridge to the Long Beach Peninsula.


The Port of Ilwaco marina. One fun summer for the parents: my brother with appendicitis in the Ilwaco hospital followed by a stay for me, age five, with whooping cough. Walk the waterfront, Time Enough Book Store, art, head out fishing over the Columbia bar to the blue Pacific Ocean. Shrimp. Sturgeon. Tuna. Salmon. Dungeness crab.



Buy a fresh Dungeness from OleBob’s (that’s Ole & Bob, not good ol’ Bob) or more local seafood from Jessie’s Fish Market.



Then through the woods on Hwy. 101 loop road  to North Head Lighthouse & Cape Disappointment State Park.



EAT? Jeff McMahon’s Pelicano. Excellent fresh, local seafood with views of the harbor. Wonderful wines + cocktails.


Or Serious Pizza. Seriously!  At Cape Disappointment. Chi (and husband Jim not shown) Kreitzberg. Long lines in summer – worth it.



STAY? China Beach Retreat + Audubon House eclectic luxury on a secluded estuary of the Columbia.Image

Or The Lighthouse Keeper’s Residences (or yurts) at Cape Disappointment.


Or the Inn at Harbor Village – lovely B&B in a historic chapel (Innkeeper’s photo).


Portland, Oregon

January 11, 2014


I still can’t get over the feeling of being in a real “city” even though I lived in Seattle and then Los Angeles for years. It’s a feeling left over from childhood where visiting my grandparents in their apartment on Belmont Avenue in Portland was an exciting and exotic thing being a girl from the boonies, the woods, on the banks of the Clackamas River.

An autumn ritual, there were excursions to  shop for school clothes. How delicious to be in the city – Lipman’s, I. Magnin & Co. long gone, a break for teatime with grandmother Nauneral at Meier & Frank now The Nines hotel and Macy’s. (The Nines + MAX top; Departures lounge atop The Nines below.)



There’s fashion.




And tons of parks. The wee Directors Park as seen from the Paramount Hotel.


PDXDirector Park

And Architecture. Michael Graves’ Portland building with Portlandia + Fox Tower.



And food, glorious food.

Little Bird + Pok Pok + Higgins + Block & Tackle + Kenny & Zukes  + Cacao + Castagna + Le Pigeon + Paley’s Place – too many to mention + amazing food carts.


A cozy, walkable city with a European flavor.

The river, streetcars,  birds, bridges, bikes and books. Powell’s not to miss.

Olympia, Washington

November 1, 2012

After three days in Olympia, I wonder if this might be the friendliest place in the Pacific Northwest—from the desk clerks at the Governor Hotel, restaurant and store staffs to children in strollers and even the guy fixing a milkshake with ice cream & milk spinning out all over his shirt and face. Smiles. And laughs. What the?

Maybe there’s something to Olympia Beer’s former famous slogan “It’s the water.” (“Oly” was brewed with local artesian water from 1896 until 1983 when it was acquired by what would become Pabst Brewing Company.) There is an artesian well downtown pumping a steady stream of crystal clear water for use by anyone so inclined. But even if you’re not drinking that artesian water, maybe it’s the water of the Deschutes River tumbling into town over Tumwater Falls and into Capital Lake before joining Budd Inlet on south Puget Sound. And lest we forget, rain. All that ionization breeds well-being?

I can’t say. All I know is for three days this fall in Washington State’s capital city I met, passed by, or was waited on by extraordinarily friendly people.

eat  Food glorious food…



The Bread Peddler Artisan Bakery & Cafe – a terrific local hangout, fabulous food and baked goods. (above: Spinach frittata, pastries, Nicoise sandwich, peanut curry soup.) See blog Cafe Diaries.


Find locals too at 5th Avenue cafes. above: Darby’s Cafe (great breakfasts I’m told, not enough time to try); 5th Avenue Sandwich Shop or McMenamin’s historic Spar Cafe.

















acqua via simple, rustic inspired food in a tasty chic atmosphere. above: Artichoke  soup w/Parmesan & white truffle; Porchetta di Parma  roasted pork loin w/caramelized onion, white cheddar & apple butter 1/2 sandwich on grilled foccacia; hand-made chips.















La Petite Maison fine French cuisine in a 1908 restored Craftsman-style home tucked away in a West Olympia busy outskirts neighborhood. Inside, it’s another world – intimate dining in the attentive care of chef Justin Wells and his cheerful/knowledgeable/head waitron/sommelier wife Zoe. Excellent wines & carefully prepared cuisine. above: olives marines & baguette; salade de samoun fume (house smoked salmon – more like gravlox, waaay salty) smothered in herbs and arugula w/fresh radish; baked pear in caramel, house-made vanilla ice cream.










Swing Wine Bar & Cafe a cozy house on a hill, warm, inviting, casual. Extensive wine list, creative cocktails, great food. above: a flight of red wine suspended in artful presentation with friendly bartender Sean in background. Well-lit open bar comfortable for women alone. The “Lush Rush” happy hour 4-6 pm daily.















Traditions Cafe & World Folk Art  for wholesome paninis, soups, salads,  coffee & herbal teas – a community hangout with views of  Capital Lake & the capital building. Casual comfort food + import fair trade store with everything from quirky gifts, toys & books to fab silk scarves & colorful hand knit wool caps. above: Chai tea + ginger molasses cookie.



Buck’s Fifth Avenue for everything spice.








The Farmer’s Market for seafood, meats, seasonal produce, arts & crafts.Shopping on





4th & 5th Avenues to shop.  Crazy about Shoes? Bonaventure Shoes & Yolli. Flow & Function, eclectic collections of really neat stuff.



stay The newly renovated (top floors) Governor Hotel. A great location downtown, easy walking everywhere or catch the free Dash shuttle to the Capital grounds or Percival Landing waterfront park & Farmer’s Market.

The Governor Hotel renovations are stylish & quirky. Check out the hand-tinted vintage photos of Olympia governors in odd situations (holding trout, getting a haircut) or notable landscapes (a 1960s Ford Fairlane convertible parked in front of Capital Lake with the capital building in the background – you’d swear it’s Don Draper & blonde on a date)

Room(s) with a view west Capital Lake (beyond city street); east Sylvester Park.









Out of town worth the drive: The Inn at Mallard Cove a Tudor manse tucked in tall firs on the edge of Puget Sound.









Shoes off (socks provided) for the expanses of beautiful Oregon white oak flooring. Three well-appointed (luxurious linens, antiques) guest rooms upstairs, each with its own subtle theme and color palate, gas fireplace, balcony, and ensuite bathroom. Owners Linda and Don Malatestato have taken great care  to provide a warm and welcoming English home. (Yet, oddly, with all the exquisite detail & English Tudor authenticity in this handsome home, pre-fab window grids pretending to be panes are achingly out-of-place.) Both Don & Linda are accommodating and gracious so don’t be put off by the over-regulation, including having to sign a “no-smoking” agreement. Ask Linda over her lovely breakfast about the serendipitous journey to finding their dream inn. Don will even guide you by kayak to the nearby Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.) Below: baked pear, chicken sausage, Quiche, fresh-baked banana bread and tea for breakfast (or coffee, vegetarian options available); ensuite bathroom to die for; room with a view.














Oh, yes! the view. Even in the dark morning rain.



play  Not only great places to eat and unique shops downtown, but this is recreation heaven. You can hike or bike trails, kayak and motor or sail from city marinas directly into Puget Sound. Don’t miss nearby Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge for fabulous bird and critter watching. Miles of gravel trails & boardwalks take you through woods and out into the tidal marshes.


Getting there  I’d love to say take Amtrak – so easy from Portland or Seattle – but alas, unless you have a friend pick you up, take a bike and are diligent enough to pre-plan (Thurston County Bicycle Map)the easy, but tricky sometimes unmarked bike paths, willing to take an hour transit ride for the less than 20 minute hop into downtown, or call a cab (approx. $30) you’re out of luck. Drive then. Easy access from I-5.


Thanks to wonderful lodging hosts, Carole Zahorsky from Zahorsky PR, and George Sharp from Olympia/Lacey/Tumwater Visitor’s Bureau for helping me meander and enjoy this lively city on the Sound.


July 31, 2012



Image  Image

We’ve got this great cottage at the Gearhart Ocean Inn – a small living room with gas fireplace, tiny kitchen, bathroom, and the cutest upstairs loft with two beds. The décor is beach fresh in colors of pale sky and sand, every detail near perfection. It’s pouring rain outside, but Jessie and I have our books and can curl up in front of that fireplace. Next morning, sunlight streams through the windows, so we get up, dress, and stroll down the block for breakfast at the Pacific Way Bakery & Cafe. Uh, oh, rain bursts in big blobs and we sprint those last few yards to the bakery door. We sit on high stools at our round marble table with coffee for her, tea for me, plus our almond croissants and veggie tarts. A steady flow of customers come and go, arrive and greet, sit at small tables, or leave with their breakfast treasures. A woman, just arrived, and joining friends, says, “I haven’t even brushed my hair this morning!” I think, gosh, me too, and say it. We all laugh. Strangers in our cozy café.












The sun reappears and we hasten back to Ocean Inn to procure bikes – simple, one-gear town bikes, available for guests. It’s cool, but sunny, and we whiz happily through the neighborhoods pointing out a favorite house or yard, wending our way past Gearhart Golf Links (established 1891, first golf course in the west) to the beach. Nearing the sandy approach it starts to rain and we swerve, changing direction, heading, jackets zipped and hoods up, home. By the time we reach the inn driveway – ten blocks laughing, unprotected knees soaked – the sun is out. We ride by our inn and continue our sightseeing, more beautiful beach homes, the kind you might see on Cape Cod or Nantucket Island. When it starts raining again, we’re done. Swoosh, back to the inn as fast as we can, bikes put away, and into our cozy cottage suite and that welcome fireplace.

Gearhart by the Sea is a small, inviting beach town – retiree, yuppie, kid & dog friendly, upscale charming.

You’ll find:

Fitzgerald’s Cottages (same owners & breezy style as Ocean Inn, larger family suites w/ bunkbeds) hidden adjacent to Back Alley Gardens & Natural Nook Florist & Gifts (formerly Fitzgerald’s Home & Garden Store). The garden center is terrific and one can still find home décor and knick-knacks at the Nook, but I could breeze through, circumventing the florists – fun to see them at work – and admire some items, but not gasp nor drool over exquisite items as before. Pacific Crest Cottage next door – a browser’s paradise.










Gearhart Golf Links  / McMenamin’s Gearhart Hotel & Sand Trap pub-style restaurant (Terminator stout/chocolate milkshake!) / Trail’s End Art Association art classes & monthly exhibits in the little red house. And the Gearhart Grocery, fresh food, deli, etc. 

Of course, don’t miss: Pacific Way Bakery & CaféGearhart Ocean Inn & the wonderful beach!!! (Look for all sorts of flotsam coming in from the Japanese tsunami. Don’t know what you’ve found? Dial 211 for questions & reporting)

catch up

February 29, 2012

It’s been a long time keeping up with travel writing. Busy immersed in editing the new edition of Wild in the City: Exploring The Intertwine with Mike Houck. Over 100 contributors, great sites, rambles, natural history essays… Great book!

If you want to know Portland-Vancouver area natural spaces, this is it.


So, back to travel adventures this extra day 2012. Upcoming: On the Coast – Astoria, Long Beach Peninsula; Updates on downtown Portland.

Road trip with my sisters and niece. First night in downtown Seattle at the  renovated New Renaissance Hotel – posh and tasty, top floor salt water swimming pool, had to stay swimming (some hot tubbing it) until closing at 11 p.m. Cookies and milk delivered to our elegant chic Presidential Suite where we were staying thanks to a front desk mix-up. Lucky us!

The next day takes us to Anacortes overnight near the dock for the morning ferry. From our P. Suite aerie we could see traffic backed up all morning heading north, so took ground routes through the University District – later found out from friends that accidents had held up traffic all day Tacoma to Everett. Kudos to the New Renaissance for terrific views of Puget Sound and freeways heading north saved us sitting in traffic all day…

Pike Place Market in Seattle for lunch, ferry to San Juan Island, fresh-picked Friday Harbor blackberries for sister Sue’s home-made pie at friends’ farm, orcas! lighthouse, southbeach, happiness… more later.

In the meantime, Happy Trails, MJ

“Dog days”

Don’t know why, but I seem especially attractive to dogs this week. It all started interviewing Harriet Bullitt, the extraordinary 80-something CEO of Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort (so named after the mountain profile in the property background).

Harriet Bullitt of Seattle Bullitt fame–TV & radio stations, magazines, philanthropy–retired to the retreat east of the Cascades in early 2000 and took up residency across the Icicle River. Retired, uh, not. This energetic, enigmatic woman still oversees her environmentally sound resort, 67 acres including rustic cabins and meeting spaces connected by meandering paths through stands of pine and aspen, KOHO radio station, The Grotto lounge and O’Grady’s Pantry deli café on campus as well as music venues, art everywhere and an organic garden that supplies Chef MacDonald’s excellent fresh, organic cuisine. Sleeping Lady feels like the best of childhood camp, but with good beds and private bathrooms.

Harriet arrives with her Icelandic shepherd, Loki, via cable stretched across the river that a logger, familiar with such, rigged up using an old lift chair from Stevens Pass ski resort. (Sister Sue Cody captures this pic. – Harriet crossing the river with one of the art salmon in foreground…)

I meet Harriet at O’Grady’s Pantry and sit down in an armchair nearby in front of the stone fireplace. Roki suddenly stretches on hind legs and paws at my shoulder, nose in my face, tail wagging. Harriet’s blue eyes widen, her mouth agape, “Roki never does that…doesn’t take to strangers.” After a minute of nose to nose interaction, Roki lies at my feet while Harriet shakes her head and laughs.

Driving five miles up the stupendous granite canyon of the Icicle River, down to river’s edge and across a hand-hewn timber bridge is Boudreaux Winery.
Rob Newsom, a tall, lanky southern gentleman perhaps in his forties or fifties, hard to tell, looks more the wine connoisseur and vintner than mountain man, even though he’s hand-built the remote bridge, log house and winery.

Rob’s blind chocolate lab, Roux, drops at my feet a slobbery half-chewed stick, nudging my shins to pick it up. Rob says no and Roux lumbers away. Later, touring the winery admiring the beautiful French oak vats, Roux reappears with a pine cone and lays it at my feet.  Sue tries to get Roux to pay attention to her by moving the pine cone, but Roux slides it back to me.

“What’s with the dog charmer?” Sue asks after I tell her about Roki too.

Next, it’s downtown Leavenworth walking along the sidewalk when a young collie leaps to great me nearly pulling his owner off the bench on which he’s relaxing.  He apologizes for his dog’s behavior, but Sue says “Don’t worry, dogs love her today.”

In the evening, a fifty-ish couple with a tiny black miniature poodle pup on leash approach walking the path back to our room from the dining hall at Sleeping Lady. Sue whispers, “OK let’s see,” and tries to get the dog’s attention. But no, the fluffy pup leaps for joy straining the leash trying to get to me. The owners apologize and Sue explains that dogs just can’t help themselves today. We laugh ourselves to our cabin.

Next day, Sue bets that the dog magic is gone.

Visiting Run of the River Resort their massive St. Bernard (pup!) comes right to me and Sue tries ruffling the neck, good boy, good boy, and he accepts this, but is sitting (all 140 lbs) on my foot leaning against my legs as she tries to dissuade his attachment.

Finally home, I’m watering plants out on the front porch and it sounds as though someone is talking near my back door which is open to let some air – that’s the lane access, so not unusual for neighbors to gather and visit a bit there, voices carrying. I decide to go see, as I know neighbors on both sides of my cabin are gone. What ho! A strange black collie-ish mutt is sitting on my doorstep smiling. He’s come up the two steps and is sitting on the sill, not coming in like a good dog, but there in the entrance. Well! Of course one has to pet and say good boy a few times and who are you? He does not answer although seems happy indeed. (And makes me wonder about who was talking –  I don’t see anyone or anything, except the carpenter’s van next door and the carpenter way on the other side of the neighbor’s house…the dog walks back up the lane where the carpenter is, looking back at me like aren’t you coming too? I’m not and shut the door.


Until later, MJ

Links to Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort, Boudreaux Cellars Winery, Run of the River Inn, Leavenworth information:



A fine sunny day on the central Oregon coast. Friends Miss Magoo, Goods and I head south to Yachats for lunch at the Adobe Resort and Restaurant because the dining room overlooks the ocean. The pretty grass bluff with tiny pink tufted flowers contrasts nicely with the teal ocean, which happens to match the corduroy jeans I’m wearing. After fairly good family fare – tuna melts, not too greasy but bland red-snapper fish ‘n’ chips, a decent coleslaw and good French fries, we’re off to Cape Perpetua Lookout where on this sunny day we can see nearly 25 miles south.

I leave Miss Magoo & Goods sitting on a bench in the sun and take a short walk through the woods to a rock shelter where I meet Dustin & Miguel.

I hike back through the woods to the other side of the headland, barely a quarter mile. Here, I can see the (through tree branches) the shoreline stretching 25 miles north. Back to find Miss Magoo sunning on the bench and goods talking to a park ranger. Sitting in the sun, that spectacular coast…aaahhh.

Back in the car, Miss Magoo says she has a surprise and drives us in her red VW bug up the Yachats River to see “Oreo” cows. We think she’s had perhaps a bit too much sun.

We soon see a pasture of black and white cows, two white horses and a handful of white goats. Nothing remotely resembles an Oreo.

Miss Magoo stops the car near a woman opening a gate, rolls down her window, and asks, “Excuse me, are there Oreo cows near here?” Goods and I are rather mortified, but the woman nods, like, geez, tourists, and points up the road. “See?” Miss Magoo says to us, triumphant.

Sure enough, around a bend (near milepost 3) there are Oreo cows. Black, white, black.  It’s laughable. It’s amazing. We want to hug them.

“OK, one more surprise,” Miss Magoo says, and we continue to the end of the road where stands a covered bridge.

I walk through the bridge, that is, across the bridge, and encounter the true end of the road: a most charming welcome sign warning not to do anything on this property.

Well that’s a fine day, followed by another and an excursion north to Depoe Bay for lunch at Tidal Raves Seafood Grill overlooking a lazy low-tide ocean with waves lapping at sandstone cliffs and kelp bulbs bobbing like children in a crowded deep-sea pool. Raves is right! A to-die-for green curry with halibut and excellent halibut tacos with black beans done to perfection.

No dessert, thanks, but on second thought…a huge chocolate chip cookie hot from the oven with vanilla bean ice-cream alamode. We decide to return later some evening, perhaps on my next trip to the coast, for the intriguing Rootbeer Float dessert drinks.

“Some evening later” turns out to be the next night after we three laugh ourselves silly through the movie “Date Night” and then race to Tidal Raves just before closing to test the Rootbeer Float dessert drinks.

Turns out I’d rather have a real rootbeer float and a real vodka martini rather than the mix. Another huge chocolate chip cookie hot from the oven alamode though.

Later, MJ

Something is happening at the Sylvia Beach Hotel, that proud doyenne on the bluff overlooking the ocean at historic Nye Beach in Newport. Fresh air in the guise of a new hotel manager is slowly but surely helping revive this wonderful literary hotel (all about books, no phones, no TVs) that has slumped a bit from its glory days of shabby chic. Little by little, the sanitarium drab beige is being replaced with color. The Alice Walker room is now rich amber yellow. Shakespeare, J.R.R. Tolkien and Virginia Woolf (my favorite, that Bloomsbury flourish) rooms are new. Twain is spiffed up, new club chairs in the library and Dr. Seuss is happy, happy, happy in bright primary colors with a whimsical can’t-wait-to-jump-in-it Cat in the Hat bed.

There’s no place that I know that holds magic like the Sylvia Beach Hotel, thanks to playful, mischievous owner Goody Cable and partner Sally Ford, so that’s where I’ve arranged to meet my long-time friend Ann, who has driven from Lake Tahoe with five friends in tow. Some complain about walking up the three flights of stairs with their luggage, but Ann reminds them: we met at the gym! All that is forgotten next door over margaritas and canapés thanks to SBH neighbor and friend, the divine Miss Magoo, who thinks her name today is Lauren. Later, at the hotel’s Table of Contents dining room, wine and family style dinner, your choice: duck or salmon or chicken with green salads, cheesy orzo and a done-just-right green bean-red pepper-onion vegetable medley. Delicious and way plentiful.

A sunny day, the next. After walking on the beach, where we find a twenty-dollar bill, Miss Magoo & I take a quick trip to what is apparently known locally as the “Dog Thrift Store,” – a big old building on the edge of the county fairgrounds, proceeds of which support Lincoln County Animal Shelters. There’s tons of stuff, but we’re mostly looking at designer clothes and shoes. Miss Magoo finds a pair of black Chinese Laundry open-toed mules with kitten heels. Très chic.

At Mai’s Asian Market there’s everything from foot-tall ceramic waving kittens, kimonos and paper mache hanging dragons to royal bee jelly. I load up on teas and ginger.

A man and his teenage daughter arrive needing flu relief for mom at home and Mai selects an herbal tincture, writing down directions. After they leave, Mai suggests I test the Ginseng Royal Jelly for “energy.” She hands me a small amber vial of liquid and a teensy straw. I sip. Honey sweet. She smiles and says, ”very good for you.”  What the heck, I buy a box of the vials.

But then, having done what Mai deems “good for me,” I go to the Newport Café.

Tuna melt yes!!! “Home fries” with skins on, yes!!! Lightly battered tuna, salmon or halibut fish ‘n’chips, yes!!! Omelettes, shrimp salads – everything coming out of the kitchen looks amazing, heaping wonderful. It’s the real deal. This is where you’ll find locals stopping by to show off the new baby, where grandpa brings his 10-year old grandson for pancakes, where farmers, fishermen & tourists mix – all there for the same thing: good ol’ fashioned home cookin’. Yum!

Sit yourself down on cool counter stools.

NEXT UP: heading south on the Oregon Coast, Yachats.

Until then, MJ