Ilwaco, Washington

February 5, 2014

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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

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Portland, Oregon

January 11, 2014

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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.)

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There’s fashion.

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

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

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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.

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A cozy, walkable city with a European flavor.

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

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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.

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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!) mcmenamins.com / 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)

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