June 21, 2010

Driving The Great Northwest - One Last Happy Hour

Our home exchange has come to an end in Vancouver Washington and I can't believe how fast 2 weeks has gone by!  April actually turned out to be a great time of year to be in the Great Northwest with mild tempetures and very little rain.

Now it's time to head to Montana, but not before we hit just one more happy hour before we leave!

We had seen this great restaurant on the water when we rode our bikes along the Willamette River on April 18th and I thought what a great place to have a drink.  So on April 20th, the evening before we leave, we decided to drive over the Columbia River into Portland and stop in at the "Newport Seafood Grill".  

This is Portland's only floating restaurant!  Which seems sort of odd based on all the river's around here. 

We probably parked to far away, but we enjoyed walking the waterfront on our way there.

Happy hour here is from 3pm til 6pm and then again at 9pm until closing, every single day!  The place was pretty much empty when we arrived so we were able to pick our table at a window with a great view.  Actually the whole place is nothing but windows, so no matter where you sit, you will have a great view!

We actually ended up ordering off of the regular menu as the prices weren't that bad and everything looked really good.  I had the Mahi Mahi Baja style tacos with grilled mahi mahi, mango tomatillo salsa, cilantro lime sour cream, in corn tortillas for $10.95.  If you want three it's $13.95.  Two was plenty!  Stijn had the Alaksan Halibut Sandwich with seasoned grilled halibut, lemon caper tartar, sun-dried tomato pesto, dressed sweet greens and cucumber on a toasted brioche bun for $11.95.  Sorry no pictures of these fantastic dishes, we were too busy eating!

Stijn did have a beer and I had a glass of wine and we toasted to another fabulous home exchange, thanks to Terri, our exchanger in Vancouver Washington! 

You can also see these pictures at "Where's Debbie".  Just click on the album "One Last Happy Hour"

June 20, 2010

Driving The Great Northwest - Mount St. Helens

Another beautiful day in Washington draws us out to explore some more on April 15th. Sure beats doing taxes on that day!

We decided to take a drive up to Mount St. Helens and check out "Ape Cave".  This is a lava tube that was formed 2,000 years ago and is the longest in the United States at 12,810 feet (3.9 kilometers) long.  And it's only about 1 hour away!

We headed north on I-5, and then east on State 504 which took us past some beautiful lakes.

As we continued it was becoming apparent that winter wasn't quite finished up here yet!

Okay, so let me share something with you here....if you are going to go and explore this lava tube on your own in the off season, which this was, you are going to need to bring a flash light!  A big one!  Somewhere in all the brochures I read, I missed where a flashlight is a must if you are going to walk the mile and half long lava tube.  Hmmm.  But common sense might tell you that hey, your going in a long lava tube, underground...Hello!!  I have visited many caves and even a lava tube when I was in Hawaii, but it was always with a tour guide, and low and behold they had flashlights!  Okay enough of that.

We went ahead and went down the steep rocky wet stairs that lead into the mouth of the lava tube.

Took a few pictures and left in great dissapointment that we didn't get to hike through the lava tube.

So we say good-bye to Mount St. Helens and head back to meet up with Sterling and Carrie for Happy Hour!

If you would like to see more pictures of our day just click here "Where's Debbie" and then click on the album "Mount St Helens"

June 16, 2010

Driving The Great Northwest - A Bike Ride Along The Willamette River

I can't help but think how lucky we had been with the weather during our home exchange in Vancouver Washington.  I mean it was April and there was hardly ever any rain!  Read my previous posts, I'm not lying!  Nowhere will you read that any of our plans, while in the Northwest, where cancelled because of rain.

And on April 18th it was another beautiful sunny day and we decided to take a 10 mile ride on our bikes along the Willamette River in Portland.

Oregon is a fantastic place for cycling and you can choose a route that suits you from the many maps that are on line. Click here for maps.

We of course chose the path along the Willamette River because you know how I love the water! 


For a minute I thought I was in New England somewhere with the colors and the white steeple church!

And then on our way back to the car we were able to see how an elephant crosses the road in Portland!

There are a few more pictures of our ride on "Where's Debbie".  Just click on the album "A Bike Ride Along the Willamette River"

June 13, 2010

Driving The Great Northwest - Some Great Places for "Happy Hour" in Portland - Part II

Happy Hours are such a great thing in Portland Oregon that as you can see it has made it necessary for me to do a two part story about some of these great little spots!

So after our first evening on April 12th of discovering where the "locals" like to go, April 15th Sterling and Carrie took us in a different direction to try some of Portland's "Happy Hour" fare.

I know everyone has heard of the "Pearl District" in the heart of Portland.  It's the one talked about in all the travel books and magazines.  So of course that's where everyone (tourists) wants to go.  Well let me share a little secret with you...."The Historic Mississippi Avenue District"!!  This now trendy, historic part of Portland is located in the northeast in the Boise section at North Fremont Street. 

Portland Oregon's Historic Mississippi Avenue Shopping and Restaurant District has a culture all its own, combining originality, variety, and excellence with style and energy. Almost every business is locally owned and operated, making it a welcome break from the corporate fare found elsewhere.

Our first stop, "Casa Naranja".  Located at 4205 Mississippi Ave., the brightly painted California Craftsman Style house is what draws me in right away.

But with all the great options for sitting outside, "In" is not what we did.

We tried a few of the items off of the Happy Hour menu and I must tell you, the Yam fries are the BEST you will ever have, ANYWHERE!

Stijn was loving his burger and beer!

Our next stop brings us to "Amnesia Brewing" which is located in what seems to have been an old auto mechanics garage at 832 North Beach St.

This is a very relaxed place with picnic tables lined up outside where you can enjoy your beer and a barbequed hamburger or hot dog while enjoying a rare sunny day in Portland.

It was pretty fun to see that Belgian Beer, being the great beer that it is, was not available for Happy Hour!

But all is not lost.  We headed over to "Bridgetown Beerhouse" where Mike was more than happy to help Stijn fulfill his need for some good ole' Belgian beer!

There are some more pictures to see at "Where's Debbie".  Click on the album "Happy Hour Part II"

June 1, 2010

Driving The Great Northwest - Some Great Places for "Happy Hour" in Portland - Part I

First let me start by saying, thank you so much for being patient while waiting for some more posts on our trip through the Great Northwest.  I am home now, so it's time to get cracking on the writing and let you know about some more of the great things we did.

I would like to focus this post on some of what I think are the coolest places to eat and drink in Portland.  Having our home exchange in Vancouver Washington made it very convenient to visit Portland Oregon because we were only about 20 minutes from downtown.

There were a couple of evenings when we met up with some friends who live in Portland, Sterling and Carrie, and they took us to some really fantastic places.  Portland has some great "Happy Hour" spots and we tried to hit as many as possible during the next few days!

So let's start with April 12.  First stop "Jake's Famous Crawfish".  It's located at 401 SW 12th Ave. at the cross street of SW Stark.  Jake's has some outside tables and if you know me, you know my motto is "When at all possible, eat outside!"  Plus, it wasn't raining!  What to have, what to have?  Well how about some Steamed Mussels in garlic butter and Thai Curry Clams.  And let's try the Tempura Ahi Sushi Roll along with some Sweet Potato fries served with a Chipotle Aioli sauce for dipping.  And of course some great Oregon wine!  The prices for Jake's Happy Hour menu range from $1.95 to $4.95.  A fantastic price for what you get if you ask me!

From Jake's we walked a couple of blocks to SW 3rd Ave. and stopped in at "Huber's". 

Huber's has been making traditional turkey dinners in Portland since 1879.  But we're not here for the turkey, we're here for their signature drink, the "Spanish Coffee"!  Now, I don't like coffee, can't drink the stuff.  But put several types of liquer in it and light it on fire, I'm lovin' it!!

We end our evening with some "Beer Tasting".  Yes, I said beer, not wine.  So needless to say it was Stijn and Sterling who did the beer tasting.  The "Green Dragon" was the place for Stijn to try and acquire a taste for some good American micro brews.  This place had a very relaxed, warehouse feel to it with it's long wooden picnic tables for seating.  

It's time to make some choices, decisions decisions.

 and it seems the choices made were good ones!

What a great evening of exploring the great little "gems" of Portland!  Can't wait for our next "Happy Hour" tour!

If you would like to see more pictures of our evening just click here "Where's Debbie" and then click on the album "Happy Hour - Part 1"
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