Oregon-California Family Road Trip: 11-Day Itinerary

We recently embarked (and returned all in one piece) on our first {family of four} multi-day road trip.  The journey was eventful to say the least, and to my surprise, a whole lot more enjoyable than I anticipated.  I’ll admit that I expected wild tantrums occurring in the backseat along with piercing baby cries that would be impossible to quiet.

And while there was some of unpleasantness, it certainly wasn’t the norm.  More often, we found ourselves enjoying the scenery, having the luxury of researching possible lunch and rest stops, and actually engaging in grown-up conversation! The one thing that did cut into our travel time (and sometimes sanity) was the amount of bathroom stops required for a 3.5 year old!

We’ll dive into more specifics of each of our destinations (and even pit stops) in the coming weeks and months (we covered a lot of ground!), but first we want you to see the bigger picture, and a few statistics for fun.

Day 1: Salem, Oregon

A good distance away (but not too ambitious) from our home in Seattle for the first leg of our trip, and also the home of my husband Slaed’s aunt, uncle and cousin.  Here we visited with family and took some time to explore the capitol.

Salem, Oregon | WildTalesof.com Continue reading

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The Astoria Column: A Serendipitous Encounter on our Adventure in Oregon

After a hearty lunch at one of my favorite Oregon breweries, Bergen and I (solo mother and son travelers) were looking to explore the town just a bit more before getting back on the road to drive to our ultimate destination of Nehalem Bay State Park on the coast. I was thinking we would just wind up and down the historic streets, giving me a chance to marvel over the many Victorian homes with the hope that my little passenger might nod off, and as well as give me a bit of a break.  But then, signs began to appear pointing us toward Coxcomb Hill.  I was intrigued.  I figured, given the fact that we were winding our way up the steep streets of Astoria, that Coxcomb Hill must be the highest point in town. Astoria Column | WildTalesof.com Continue reading

Food Carts of Downtown Portland, Oregon: 3 Tasty Choices

Knowing our train would be rolling into Portland at about 6 pm, right smack-dab at Bergen’s dinnertime, we knew we needed a plan.  A loose plan, at least.  We needed to grab something quick for him and didn’t really have time to sit down.  We also needed to check into our hotel and get him to bed. Given that he had an early nap and walked up and down the line of train cars for most of the duration of our trip, he was more than ready to hit the hay.

With food carts being all the rage and definitely a kid-friendly way to go, we thought we’d give it a try.  A little bit of research is recommended as hours can be unexpected and locations can change.  In general our plan was to “wing it” and see what caught our eye on our walk from the train station to the hotel.  Just in case, ahead of time, I jotted down a couple of options that I knew would be open.

It turns out, that the three of us got our dinners from three different places.  Each cart served us delicious food, made to order, and extremely fresh.  Each “chef” took their time, in a good way; a way that let us know they were serious about their creation.

Portland Food Cart Piñata Takos wildtalesof.com

Piñata Takos: SW 3rd & Ash (Downtown Portland)

Just a block from our Embassy Suites hotel, we decided this Mexican joint would be perfect for Bergen’s dinner.  We ordered him up a quesadilla with carnitas: Something we knew he was sure to enjoy.  I started to worry when the guy who ordered tacos, and then the guy who ordered a burrito got their food before us, but it was worth the wait.  The tortilla was light and flaky, the carnitas flavorful, and the cheese melted just right.  The portion was of course more than enough for Bergen, and actually gave us (Slaed and me) a bit of an appetizer before Slaed ran out in search of dinner for the two of us.

Downtown Portland Food Cart-Piñata Tako: WildTalesof.com

As I settled Bergen into bed, Slaed went out on his mission, and came home with two winners.

Portland Food Cart-Elmasry Egyptian WildTalesof.com

Elmasry: SW 3rd Between Stark & Washington (Downtown Portland)

Elmasry was the one cart that I had my heart set on.  I knew it had late hours, unlike many of the trucks and carts that are only open for lunch.  I also knew it served one of my new favorite foods: Shawarmas.  I’m just beginning to learn about the shawarma, but from what I understand, it’s a  middle eastern specialty similar to a gyro.  It did not disappoint, and in fact as Slaed walked back to deliver it to me, passersby commented on how tasty it looked, and asked where they could get one! A great combination of well-spiced chicken, fresh cut veggies, and a cool yogurt sauce, all wrapped up in a warm pita, I devoured every last bite.

Downtown Portland Food Carts: WildTalesof.com

Taste of Korea: SW 3rd Between Stark & Washington (Downtown Portland)

Just a couple of carts away from Elmasry was a Korean BBQ cart where Slaed found his meal.  He chose spicy barbeque chicken, which was served with rice and kimchi.  I can attest to it’s spiciness as I watched Slaed sweat across the table from me.  He was a fan but determined that he might be a bit of a wimp, because it was just a little too much for him.  Nevertheless, he still highly recommends the cart.

For all of our meals, along with taste, the price was also right.  Each dinner was $6 or less.

Tell us about your street food experiences.  Where in the world is your favorite spot? Have you every tried something completely new to you? What did you think?

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This post is linked with Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday.

More adventures in Portland: 

A Wild Tales of…Travel and Adventure 2013

Just what does 2013 have in store for us? For this new year of travel, we’ve made some tough decisions, booked a few flights and accommodations, have a few more possible trips (though not yet finalized), and even some time where we know we’re going somewhere, but we just don’t know where yet.

Tough Decisions

Back in the late summer, we finalized plans to remodel our house.  We knew there would be some days and weeks of particularly heavy construction.  What better way to deal with the noise and inconvenience than to skip town? We strategically planned two trips around some of the more invasive periods.  One was our Christmas trip to Truckee, CA to visit with my family.  The second would have been a trip to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.  We honeymooned in Nicaragua, and a good friend was offering up his bungalow once again. We thought we had a perfect getaway, and couldn’t wait for Bergen to use his passport for the first time.

Then we got to thinking, and agonizing, and worrying, and analyzing the travel time and distance.  As we learned from our Kauai trip, and then again even for a short trip down to California,  our young toddler and airplanes do not mix well.  A trip to Nicaragua would have meant three-long-flights, than another 1 1/2 hours of driving.  Only to stay for a week, and turn around to do a repeat trip back home.  We are adventurous, but also realistic, and we finally had to draw the line in deciding it was too much for our little traveler.  With Slaed only being able to take a week off from work, it just wasn’t worth the huge effort.  We resolved to keep the time “in transit” to a minimum this year, and save some longer voyages for when Bergen is a little older, and has a longer attention span.

Travel Plans

Just because we’re not going to Nicaragua, doesn’t mean we’re staying home until Bergen grows up a bit.  We have several trips planned that involve a more manageable itinerary.

2013 Wish List

  • We head to the San Juan Islands this month, and aside from taking it easy and enjoying the view off the deck of our rental house on Orcas Island, I can’t wait to explore the State Parks and tiny villages scattered throughout.  I’m particularly excited to hike up to Mount Constitution in Moran State Park, and we have plans to see the Aeolian pipe organ and experience a live performance at the Rosario Resort.
  • In March, we’re off to the Phoenix area to visit my mother-in-law.  We’ll finally get some much needed Vitamin D and Grandma time, see the Mariners face the Dodgers in Spring Training, and hopefully see some new places.  A road trip to Prescott, AZ is in the works, and I also have my eye on the Desert Botanical Garden.
  • Bergen loved the train so much last year that we planned a repeat trip down to Oregon in April.  We may stick with Portland, but are also thinking of going further south to Eugene.
  • Lastly, we have 2 trips to Montana on the calendar.  In June we head to Paradise Valley to celebrate the wedding of two dear friends.  Along with their celebration, we’ll spend some time in Yellowstone National Park.  In October we’re back to Big Sky Country, but this time to Missoula for University of Montana’s homecoming (Slaed’s alma mater).

Travel Possibilities

  • I really hope we can squeeze in a trip to Madison, Wisconsin for my cousin’s wedding in August.  Maybe we can work Chicago in there too?
  • Growing up, as far back as I can remember, we vacationed in North Carolina’s Outer Banks.  My parents loved it so much that they bought a beach house there, and it became our getaway.  Many a spring break, summer break, and even Thanksgiving break were spent there from grade school to college.  Over Christmas, my brother mentioned his plan to visit in early September with his family.  I think we should join him!

As usual a whole lot of Seattle and the Puget Sound area is waiting to be explored by us.  I even have a little Seattle project up my sleeve that I can’t wait to tell you about.  We’ll continue to visit our favorite places, and make time for new discoveries.  I can’t wait to get going!

Where will 2013 take you this year? What are your resolutions? What do you hope to change? What do you plan to keep the same?

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A Perfect Evening in Astoria, Oregon

Perfect weather. Perfect food.  Perfect drinks. Perfect transportation. Perfect company.

This lovely evening in Astoria started out with a chauffeured ride in a 1945 Cadillac to our chosen restaurant: The Fort George brewery.  It felt like we were stepping back in time.  We stayed at the Cannery Pier Hotel, and one of their luxury accommodations includes complementary chauffeur service in one of their vintage cars.

Dinners out are a bit different now that Little B can {more or less} sit in a high chair.  I love that he can now be a part of it all.  We bring along food for him to keep him occupied (and fed, of course), and usually even manage to steal bits from our plates for him.

As soon as we arrived at Fort George, we knew we had made the right choice for dinner. Beers were chosen: a lager for Slaed, and the Rye Pale Ale for me, and with a quick glance at the menu, I was ready with my order.  Slaed on the other hand needed more time.  Does this happen with any one else…? He often insists on each of our dinners adding up to be the perfect combination.  The two can’t be too similar or it just won’t work. The reason I tell you this is because when it came down to it, thanks to our server, we really did order the perfect combination! House-made sausage with peppers, onions, and sauerkraut AND fish and chips.  Not just any fish and chips though.  Albacore fish and chips.  The best fish and chips you’ve ever tasted.  Like butter.  I was so busy eating that I neglected to take a picture of the food.

mr. black bean face

yes, the beer is served in mason jars. one of my favorite things.

We could have had the Cadillac come to take us back to the hotel, but we wanted to see more of Astoria, and take advantage of the beautiful night.  Off we went exploring…via the the Astoria River Walk.

an “old fashioned” phone booth

Astoria-Megler bridge at sunset

connecting Oregon and Washington…

I called these “pier graveyards”…they were everywhere.

There is so much more to Astoria.  Interesting museums, Victorian-style houses, Lewis & Clark… This was just a quick trip.  I’m already planning our next adventure.

Info to Know:

  • Astoria is in Northwestern Oregon; situated near the mouth of the Columbia River.
  • It was the setting for the movie, “The Goonies”, filmed in 1985.
  • The Cannery Pier Hotel where we stayed is pet friendly.  It’s located just below the Astoria-Megler bridge on Basin Street.
  • Fort George Brewery is in “downtown” Astoria: 1483 Duane Street.
  • The Astoria River Walk follows the Columbia River.  About 4 miles are paved.  The riverfront trolley runs along 2 of those miles. Find out more here.