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Friday, October 7, 2011


 We just got back from a wonderful vacation/staycation in Oregon. Here's the route we took: 

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Originally, we were planning a trip abroad, since we love to travel so much, but after our first year as B&B owners, we thought more deeply about what it was we wanted from our "time away." Instead of a 9 hour flight, stressful navigation, and a lack of gluten-free/vegan options, we opted for a more local road trip (we've never been on one together and now seemed like a great time).

We started out with friends and family at Mountain Springs Lodge in Leavenworth, WA. 
Mountain Springs Lodge, Trailhead "cabin"

It had about 20 beds, a hot tub, fireplace, big screen TV, huge kitchen, and an outside table-side firepit (great for chillier nights). There was a master bath with a Jacuzzi tub, too! It's walking distance to Plain, WA (home of the Just Plain Hardware store and mini mart) and 15 minutes to lovely Leavenworth, WA. So much fun! My favorite part was our giant dinner and breakfast together, and our time chatting around the table fire. I was happy to not get very good phone reception, as I was attempting to unplug as much as possible for our vacation. We made forts (my niece was with us), talked about community, and told many funny stories.

Mini Stonehenge

The next morning we drove in to Leavenworth to walk around (there's a wonderful park down by the river) and enjoy gingerbread cookies (I know, wrong season, but so good!). We said goodbye to our friends and on our way out of town we stopped at Sage Mountain Natural Foods for some delicious raw food snacks (and to shamelessly drop our B&B business card!). After that, we headed to Ellensburg and took another pit stop at Better Life Foods to grab some water and snacks. Then it was down through Yakima and Goldendale, swiftly avoiding some forest fires (the weather was about 97 degrees, dry enough for spontaneous forest fires). FYI: Goldendale is home to a (mini) replica of England's Stonehenge (see above).  Not many people know that or have visited it, and it's hidden off the highway, but an interesting site nonetheless. It's right above the gorge as you descend into Oregon.

Then we drove through The Dalles and into Memaloose Park, to camp for the night. 
The park has a lot of RVs, but each spot has its own water spigot, the main bathroom showers are clean and free, there's an amphitheater for the old school Smokey the Bear movies (not sure if they show them anymore, but it seemed like a perfect spot), and it's really close to Portland (1.5 hours away). It was an insanely hot day (and night) at the park and we sleep in our Honda Element with all the windows open. There was also an amazing moonrise! I wanted to stay longer, but now we know where to go for next time! I'd bring earplugs too, since we were close to the train, which does travel all night.

We woke early, packed up, and were off to Portland for our day at Powell's. We purposely set aside funds for a day at Powell's and it was awesome! We had a few breaks, but mainly from 10:30a-4:30p we were knee-deep in books. And for us that was a PERFECT way to spend the day. Plus, we had to get some additional reading material (we always travel with books, but of course we needed about 20 more) for our lazy days ahead.

massage chairOne of the highlights of our trip was visiting a former B&B guest of ours! We went to visit her at her store, Relax the Back, where we got to try several massage chairs, beds, and other various back-supportive contraptions.
(yes, this was heavenly!)
For dinner we ate at  Zeppo, which had gluten-free pasta. Yay! Lake Oswego is poshy-posh and lovely.
Becca even saw a charging station!  Awesome. It was also free, btw.

After a lovely breakfast with our hosts, we were off to Breitenbush Hot Springs!
We spent 4 days and 3 nights delighting in lovely naturally hot (some of them were seriously hot) pools, a geo-thermally heated sauna, and experiencing some of the BEST bodywork we've ever had.

The vegetarian meals (included in the price of admission) were okay, but what made them extra good was that there were gluten-free vegan options AND we didn't have to cook them. Yay for relaxation!
We didn't have a lot of time to read (must. be. in. pools.), but we met a bunch of cool folks, doing cool things and it was great weather, so being outside in nature truly rocked!

After our melancholic goodbye (it's sad to leave a relaxation haven like Breitenbush), we headed west to Newport, OR. It was a lovely drive through the back roads/highways 22, 226, and 20. We loved the scenarios and the small towns. But we couldn't wait to get to Sylvia Beach Hotel, where we booked the Agatha Christie Room. We originally wanted Mark Twain, but it's a challenging room to book because lots of other people seem to like it too.

If you've been to Synergy Bed and Breakfast, you'll know that we're avid readers (or at least we have a lot of books to read, when we do get a chance) so a lot of this vacation was based on reading, books, and relaxing. But until this point in our trip we didn't really have any solid (uninterrupted)  time to read. Sylvia Beach Hotel has author-themed rooms, values reading and quiet time and creates a great atmosphere, so we were overjoyed that they had a reading room, a library, deck chairs, and many literary-themed nooks and crannies. They also serve a lovely breakfast (not for the gluten-free though), and there's the option for a family-style dinner at night (additional cost though).

We spent a WHOLE day in this room (save for a few meals) and it was AWESOME. Who knew that vacation might just need to be some quiet time with a few books? The ocean was also beautiful, and it was just blustery enough to stay inside, but not too bad that you couldn't take a stroll.
We enjoyed a good meal at Cafe Mundo (one block from the hotel).

Cafe Mundo

We also made a stop at the natural foods store Oceana. They had a lovely salad bar and tons of gluten-free foods. Delicious local treats too.
On our last day, we went to Savory Cafe, which features gluten-free crusts and vegan options. Delightful! We also played a game of Scrabble  (we don't know these people, but that's the table). Really nice.

We would have really enjoyed one more FULL day of reading, but we were headed back to Portland to house-sit for the guests (now hosts) we were staying with. The weather took a turn and we drove back in clouds and sprinkling rain, which was okay for us. We were really grateful for the awesome weather we had been having throughout our trip.

Josh went for a nice beard trim (What? On vacation? That's how we roll!) at Gentleman's Edge, in Lake Oswego. While he was doing some male bonding (didn't seem fit for a lady), I walked around and found the Lake Oswego Farmers Market. Tucked in a little plaza area, this farmers market was an awesome satellite market. I saw celery that was ENORMOUS. And bought a cute little skirt!

Several people told us about the Portland State University's Farmers Market (which is not to be confused with the Saturday Market, in a different area, or the Food Cart Market).

We were blown away! So many beautiful farm food stalls, several gluten-free bakeries (even a raw one!), and various food stalls (not as many vegan ones as I would have liked). But overall, well worth a morning, strolling around.
That was juxtaposed with a long wait for Voo-Doo Doughnuts. I didn't have any and Josh bought two but could only stomach one. Too rich! They do have vegan options, but no gluten-free. Fine by me. Too much sugar in any case!

To satisfy my raw cravings we ended up having dinner at Blossoming Lotus, which is primarily raw and mostly vegan. Best meal of the trip! So delicious. Not too cheap, but well worth it.

We packed up on Sunday to head back home. I was sad for our adventure to come to an end. We went to Kornblatts Deli for lunch, walked Hawthorne street, and then got in the car for a rainy ride home.

Overall, the vacation took place within about a 4-5 hour radius and it was just as good, if not better, than anything we could have planned abroad. With the same amount of planning, intention, and a lot less money, we were able to create the exact experience we wanted without the plane trip, foreign currency, and lost luggage. Don't get me wrong, I love a nice, long, easy vacation abroad as much as the next person, but we're going to start taking more trips closer to home. We have such a beautiful bio-region!

So come back and visit us, or if you're local, book a staycation with us. We'll show you a good time and together we'll create awesome memories.