~ by Maria Benner
We recently returned from a two-week trip to Washington, Oregon and Arizona. In Washington and Arizona we visited family, but the reasons for going to Oregon were purely to have fun and to visit good friends from our college years. Downhill skiing, long walks on the beach, visiting breweries, and eating donuts are all things that make us happy, so that’s what we did in Oregon. Here are our 5 favorite experiences in the Beaver State.
5. Tillamook Cheese Factory. The last time we were in Tillamook more than 15 years ago, we forgot to bring our wallets to the cheese factory tour, so we couldn’t buy any ice cream at the end of the tour. I did not make the same mistake this time, and got to enjoy a delicious waffle cone with rocky road ice cream fresh from the factory. The new visitors center is under construction, but is scheduled to open sometime in 2018.
4. A donut shop on every corner in Portland. We had been meaning to try a VooDoo donut for years, but didn’t want to stand in a long line. This time there was no line around 2pm. I ordered the Portland Cream (raised yeast shell filled with Bavarian cream topped with chocolate and two eyeballs, representing the vision of the great city of Portland), and Scott had a traditional cake donut. Delicious! Then we found out about the new donut place in town called Blue Star Donuts, so of course we had to test them as well. I ordered the Raspberry Rosemary Buttermilk cake donut, and got a bonus Blueberry Bourbon Basil donut for free, because the donuts were not very fresh that late in the afternoon. I thought they were a bit dense, but Scott liked them more than his VooDoo donut.
3. Craft Breweries. Oregon is a destination for world-class craft breweries that are creating avant-garde recipes, and reinventing the craft brew scene. We visited the new Pelican Brewing facility in Tillamook and Block 15 Brewing in Corvallis. Block 15 really impressed us with its spot-on hazy IPAs and decadent imperial stouts. In Bend we went to Crux Fermentation Project, Boneyard Beer and Deschutes Brewing. We showed up to Crux during Sundown Hour when all beers are $1 off, and everyone watches the sunset while warming up around the fire pit, or playing lawn games. In Portland we sampled brews at Culmination Brewing, Cascade Brewing Barrel House, Great Notion Brewing, Fat Head’s Brewery, Back Pedal Brewing, and Hair of the Dog Brewing. Scott painted live at Cascade (click here to read about that). Every brewery had something unique to offer, and we couldn’t get enough of the fruity, hazy, hoppy IPAs and the barrel-aged sours.
2. Skiing at Mt. Bachelor. We rented ski equipment, and hit the slopes of Mt. Bachelor for the fist time. The resort is only a half-hour drive from Bend. Unfortunately we didn’t have good luck on snow. There wasn’t much of it, and the groomed runs were icy. The Summit was closed, so we missed out on skiing a large percentage of the terrain. The views were incredible though, and we had a great day outside in the sunshine. We’ll have to come back when conditions are better.
1. Oregon Coast. We couldn’t go to Oregon without visiting the Oregon Coast, so we booked a hotel room with an ocean view in Rockaway Beach for one night. We got really lucky on the weather, and enjoyed a five-mile walk on the beach during sunset. The next day we experienced typical winter weather, but we left it behind as we drove over the mountain pass to Portland.
People ask us why we would ever want to leave beautiful Alaska. Well, we try to only go to remarkable places, and Oregon is definitely one of them.