“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.

Hmmm.

Until later, MJ

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

www.sleepinglady.c

om

www.boudreauxcellars.com/

www.runoftheriver.com/

www.leavenworth.org

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

Road Trip!!!!

May 4, 2010

I travel. I write.

I’ll be wandering the Pacific Northwest checking out great places to Stay, Eat & Play.

Watch for new posts every Friday.

Until then!  MJ

A New Year

January 5, 2010

Little surprises every day so far.

Day One on my walk through the woods:  A tiny blond Faerie Princess in silver & orange gossamer standing under a cedar partially hidden in the ferns. Wha?  She didn’t move. But I, after catching my breath, walked ten paces around the bend into a grove of cedars and found her father, ceramic coffee cup in hand, mother in purple sweater with baby brother in backpack wearing knit cap with kitty ears. She was simply a three-year old in her new Christmas princess outfit. But still…

Day Two on my walk up the road, three things: Five guys in a hot tub – never would have known it was there behind that cabin in the trees without their ruckus. A man standing in the middle of the road talking on a cell phone, waving to someone unseen on the golf course. My favorite Rendezvous Grill waiter Brian driving past, stopping, reversing to tell me they found my red gloves, lost since November.

Day Three on my walk back from a friend’s – shortcut across the golf course, three things: A great blue heron pretending to be a stick next to a pond. A golf ball imbedded in the  soggy, matted fairway turf – almost stepped on it, how can that be? Another golf ball just off the fairway in plain sight. Pocketed smiling.

Day Four driving to the post office: Three neighborhood dogs frolicking around the county workman in the road holding the stop sign while others sawed off branches away from the power lines – one black lab-ish mutt sitting at his feet anxious for the man to play, one frisky young Malamute pawing at his sign pole, one older black & white sheep dog circling. All a happy mess.

Today, who knows? Lots of rain, river high.

Over the Mountains Washington State

Leavenworth

Leavenworth

Leavenworth – that ever-so-cute Bavarian themed town with all the festivals – is a draw to many and an “I’d rather be hit in the head with a bat” destination to others. Guess what? There’s a lot more going on. Younger folk seriously into recreation have discovered white-water rafting, hiking, biking, skiing, bird watching and rock climbing – a panacea just a couple of hours east of Seattle.

oliviarockclimbing

Olivia on top

To prove the point, we left the town behind (only a mile or so) and hiked way up Icicle Ridge on a hot afternoon crunching dry leaves and kicking up dust until I gave up not needing more spectacular views of the valley below from elevations making me increasingly weak-kneed woozy. Beer & bratwurst heaped with onions and sauerkraut for lunch and then a drive up the Icicle River canyon to watch John Race and Olivia Cussen rock climb up a granite cliff.  They also demonstrated “bouldering,” a new take on rock climbing without gear in groups who spot while friends take turns acrobatically scrambling up and down giant boulders. The married duo’s Northwest Mountain School teaches rock climbing, skiing and mountaineering all over the world, but their ideal location called home is Leavenworth. Training includes beginners to military survival techniques in Afghanistan.

bouldering

Bouldering help

Back to town and a tour with a cheery guide in Lederhosen telling the stories behind all those painted murals. Lots of shops, many selling souvenirs and a few more discriminating. Not to miss: Schocolat hidden at the back of the filled-with-gorgeous-antiques Ganz Klasse. Dinner at Pavz where crepes rule, not your French delicacy, but American style huge with heaps o’ filling plus pies and chocolate cake slices big enough for a family of five.

sleeping lady

Sleeping Lady

To bed at Sleeping Lady Retreat, under a mountain backdrop profile of a sleeping lady whose nose, boobs, etc. have the ridge & retreat so named. Away from the crowds and away from anything Bavarian themed, no TVs or distractions, tucked in a cabin amid aspen woods.

aspen

Aspen woods

Next up: Apples & Float Planes.

Summer’s Over on the Road

October 21, 2009

Jetty Landing, Everett

Jetty Landing, Everett

PART I of three in Washington State

Summer went out with  a splash, warm days, brisk eves, five days on the road roaming first Seattle overnight in the dishy sleek new LEED certified Hyatt at Olive 8 – a mad dash through Barney’s & Pike Place Market before happy hour at the hotel’s Urbane where six of us gathered for shoestring fries, a cheese & salami plate, an excellent chicken liver pate with balsamic gelee and “savory clams” that were steamers a bit overpowered by Thai chillis.

In the morning off to Everett (four writers in a van with two p.r. young twentysomethings who drove and were supposed to represent Washington State yet were woefully unprepared but quite nice & pretty to look at). Toured the Future of Flight museum and the Boeing plant, top secret, had to leave purses in lockers no phones or cameras or anything not even spy pens or buttons. They’re building the 878 Dreamliner jet with tipped wings, very pretty, and they even have a jumbo Dreamlifter jet which opens sideways at the tail and the nose cone specifically built to retrieve wheels and fuselages, etc. too big for conventional cargo manufactured elsewhere in the world like Japan or Germany.

Still in Everett, who knew there was a pleasant waterfront hard to find amid industry, a new Navy base and Kimberly Clark paper mill. A ferryboat ride to the narrow, sandy Jetty Island manmade from dredging & tossing sand over the breakwater rocks which now after several years has volunteer cottonwood trees & wildflowers (good) blackberry vines & Scot’s broom that we always called scotch broom as kids (bad, with efforts to eradicate) but loads of birds, salmon fry taking advantage of a river-made lagoon at the far end and deer and coyote swimming over for a jaunt. Two miles long and about 40 yards across. Muddy sand flats stretch out into the bay from the jetty where we’re told kite-boarders swarm for easy launching and reliable afternoon winds.

Then it was a trip back and forth some 60 miles to Sultan in the foothills of the Cascades (Hwy. 2 that we would take right through Sultan over the mountains the next day, go figure…see above) to the Sky River Meadery, a small home-brewing outfit making honey wine, that is, mead – too sweet for some, delicious for others.

Ninety Farms

Ninety Farms

The GPS (!) got our drivers lost so we arrived a little too late to Ninety Farms outside of Arlington to take decent pictures of the sheep and cows meandering in the fields or the guard llamas that ran right up to us to make certain we weren’t going to harm their “mama,” Linda Neunzig, owner of the organic farm (lamb & beef supplier to upscale restaurants & specialty shops). The “local chef” for the evening in our itinerary, unnamed, turned out to be none other than the amazing Russell Lowell, of Russell’s Restaurant & Bar in Bothell (Bill Gate’s personal caterer). We were going to eat in the barn, but it was too chilly, so we gathered inside Linda’s cozy farmhouse full of her kids’ fair trophies for equestrian skills and showing animals. Washington wine (14 Hands cab for me) and butternut soup, salad, braised vegetables from the garden, cut-it-with-your-fork tender luscious home-grown beef perfectly done and the (ok-to-die-now) warm chocolate morsel with raspberry drizzle.

Russell's butternut squash soup

Russell's butternut squash soup

Lovely evening with Linda & Russell, good conversation and our one vegetarian (who had a specially prepared “tower” of layered veggies) wasn’t grossed out. Happy to bed at a motel catering to business folk along the ever-enchanting Interstate-5.

NEXT UP: Over the Mountains to Eastern Washington.