White River Falls – Tygh Valley, Or

White River Falls was a hydroelectric plant that supplied Sherman and Wasco Counties with power from 1910 until 1960. Much of the damn and associated hydropower bulidings and equipment are still standing at the base of the valley, which you can see in the picture below.

The waterfall itself is about 90 feet, and while in the summer the water flow doesn’t seem like much, in the spring it has enough volume to have earned the nickname of ‘The Niagra Falls of the West’.

The park is free for use, the upper park includes the parking lot and a lookout as well as a series of placards explaining the history of the dam. We did not hike down due to the heat and timing but the trail leads off from the upper lot, down along the cliff, past the hydro building and back along the river. The trail then goes onto state land and private land. There are quite a few resources out there discussing both history and usage of the area, this site World of Waterfalls covers it nicely.

I would very much like to go back in the spring to experince the waterfall at its height and also in more friendly weather to hike down into the canyon. It was a very beauitful spot, and just off the main highway from Maupin so if you find yourself in the area with a little extra time I high suggest the stop.

 

Tralee Ireland

Tralee is the 14th largest urban area in Ireland, at a whopping twenty-three thousand residents. It is also the largest town in County Kerry (which includes the town of Kerry where the airport is). It’s not very big. Regardless, it is incredibly charming and full of things to do. I honestly wish we would have had a couple of days to spend here.

Alas since the purpose of our trip was our walking tour, the only time we had was the afternoon and evening of the day we landed. The next morning at 9am we got up and started our hike to Camp.

After we checked into our guesthouse, we hit the ground running in hopes of battling the evils of jet lag. We started off with a snack and a drink at The Ashe Hotel, named after Thomas Ashe.  As an important member of the fight to Irish freedom and the preservation of the native Irish culture and language he had quite a number of things named after along the peninsula.

We then set off to tour the Kerry County museum, unfortunately they were closed when we got there. If this is something you really want to see be sure to plan ahead, things do tend to close earlier than we expected in Tralee. Instead of the museum we toured around the Tralee Rose Gardens.

The rose garden leads back to a large long brick wall with a small door in it. Behind the door is the grounds of St. Johns Church. The church that stands today was built in 1854 on the foundations of a chapel that had been built around 1780 a few remaining artifacts from that original chapel remain including the holy water font. After wandering around here we met up with the rest of our friends for dinner. I wish like everywhere we went on this trip I had more time to spend in town. It was such a lovely place and look forward to going back one day.

Friend, Oregon

Friend Oregon is by most writes a relatively intact ghost town. It has a graveyard, a school and a store. However, it is also on or near someone’s property! When we drove down to take pictures and explore the little town we were greeted by a pack of dogs. Farm dogs and likely very nice but we weren’t willing to test the theory by exploring on foot. So all we saw while there was the store front.

A very cool building and an excellent example of early 20th century architecture which is so common here in Oregon. My favorite part always being the use of large windows. My dream house would probably look similar. Large wall to wall windows and a big porch for reading outdoors.

Friend was named after George J Friend, the post office which was established in 1903 was done so on his old homestead site. The town was the end terminal of the Great Southern Railroad so at the time it was a very busy spot. But the railroad stopped operation in 1936 and with it the town slowly died.

Food Tips – Ireland

I am kicking off the many posts around my trip to Ireland this last summer with a post all about the food. For no reason other than food is one of my favorite things about travel. And the food in Ireland, surprisingly, was some of the best I have ever had. Now I say it was a surprise only because I made a classic travel mistake and assumed something. I assumed because my experiences with food in England haven’t been my favorite and because Ireland and England had been closely tied for much of its history that the food would follow and be similar. I could not have been more wrong if I tried.

One of the things I was most skeptical of was the packed lunches provided by our guesthouses each morning of our hike. To be quite honest I packed and planned so I didn’t have to eat it. But on the first day I took it all the same and turns out it was incredible. As was every packed lunch afterward. The lunch meats, unlike those in the US, were fresh, not slimy and the sandwiches were not layered with condiments. So when it came time for lunch, while it was smashed because it rode around in my bag all day, it wasn’t soggy. It was just delicious and I felt sheepish for judging it before trying it. The one I was most skeptical of was a tomato and cheese which through the packaging looked like some sort of coleslaw, and turned out to be the best grated cheese I have ever eaten. Also these cheese and onion chips were awesome.

The one thing I was most excited about to eat here was the goats cheese, which is aplenty in Ireland. I know a lot of people, some of which were in our group on the trip, that don’t enjoy goats cheese. The goats cheese was creamy and mild and in no way resembled what we have back home. The cows cheese that I bought for the non goat eaters, was actually much more pungent than expected. I loved it all. And am sad I didn’t have the opportunity to try more.

If you find yourself in the area and want to try some cheese I would suggest trying to find it in Tralee, or Dingle. Both have large grocery stores. Annascaul also has two grocery stores but they are quite small and only had a couple of cheeses, not types of cheese a couple of packages of cheese. To go with the cheeses I suggest the Irish Oat Crackers I found in a couple of the stores. They are just oat flour, butter, buttermilk and salt. I plan on trying to recreate then this winter, because as simple as they were they were amazing with cheese!

Dinners I will be talking about in posts about each restaurant we ate at, but they too were surprisingly good. However the biggest surprise was probably the Full Irish Breakfast. It was a little different at each hotel, but along the same theme. Tomato, pudding, sausage, bacon and eggs. I could rarely eat it all as they were quite large and served with a side of breads and fruits. Did I mention this was delicious? It was. And every morning since I left I wake up thinking about how great it would be to start the day with something similar. If you find yourself on the hike it is a must try, at least once. It fueled us for the entire day, tasted amazing and was so much fun to experience a traditional type meal made with care by a local inn owner.

Antelope, Oregon

Antelope like a lot of small rural towns in central Oregon, is just that small and rural. Mostly unknown these days, its heyday having long since passed since the railroad stopped running, buildings mostly left empty save for the few  souls who enjoy the solitude and low-cost of living.

But unlike most towns, Antelope was the center of a large federal investigation in the 1980s when a group purchased a large plot of land just outside town and little by little things got very out of hand.

Antelope was originally a wagon route connecting the Columbia River shipping route with Canyon City in Central Oregon. The town continued to grow until 1900 due to increased traffic thanks to the railroad. In 1981 the Rajneesh group purchased a ranch outside town, continued pressures between the group and the locals escalated until 1985 which ended in the group vacating and the town being left again to the locals. Sadly because of the conflict many people had moved away. So what was once a small but busy down with a opperating school and a cafe. Is now just a handful of houses and a post office.

When we visited it was very quiet, we poked around a few of the old buildings. Being mostly interested because we had been watching the Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country. We also wanted to make sure we weren’t disturbing any locals so we mostly just picked our way around the school and drove through town a couple of times snapping pictures.

It is a very cute little town. It is sad that because of that conflict it has turned to ruin. It would have been nice to see more life returning to it. I hope next time I get a chance to drive through this part of the state, which is gorgeous and I highly recommend the road trip, that it has a little more pep in its step so to speak.

Casamento’s Restaurant – New Orleans, Louisiana

What can one really say about the best meal of their life? No matter what it will insufficient and at the end of the day all I can say is next time you find yourself in New Orleans if you have no reason to be in Uptown, go there anyway. Stand in line for a table at the microscopic Casamento’s and no matter what else you order, make sure you include a side of spaghetti and meatballs.

Casamento’s has been operational since 1919. Opened by a Sicilian man by the name of Joe Casamento and still retains the exact same spotless decor as the it did the day it was opened. It is small, tiled floor to ceiling and quite possibly the most charming place on the planet.  Kept operational today by Joe’s grandson CJ.

You can either sit up front with the oyster shuckers, who will give you all sorts of history about the restaurant. Or in the back closer to the kitchen, which you walk through to get to the restrooms.

Since I don’t eat shellfish, I could only watch in awe and sniff the incredibly aroma coming off the bbq’ed and cheese covered oysters my dining companions ordered. While I very impatiently waited for my fish. Which by the way was so good I almost cried. It doesn’t look like much but it will change your life.

Despite the fact that we all had entrees and most of us had an appetizer we also ordered the spaghetti and meatballs. When at an Italian restaurant you have to try to Italian food, right?! Again it doesn’t look like much but I really did cry a little bit eating this. I have never in my life, even in Italy had such incredible marinara sauce. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

We were so hungry after a long day of exploring, and then walking all the way from the Garden District to the restaurant, then waiting for them to open that we managed to eat everything we ordered, including dessert. And honestly, I probably would have eaten more. We almost went back the next and last night of our trip but we weren’t really in the area. Sadly. So next time, this will be my first stop, and quite possibly the only place I eat.

Additional Information:

  • Uptown (south of the Garden District)
  • 4330 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115
  • Closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday every week.  June, July and August as well as all major holidays.
  • Open Thursday through Saturday 11 – 2 for lunch. 5:30 to 9 for dinner.
  • Sundays 5 until 9 for dinner only.

Historic Balch Hotel – Dufur, Oregon

I had been wanting to stay at the Historic Balch Hotel for years, but given its location to myself it was always just too close and just too far away to drive out for a single night. Luckily this last year my mom and I decided to embark on a central Oregon road trip and I knew that without a doubt we would be finally getting to stay here.

Dufur is a small town in North Central Oregon, only a few miles south of The Dalles. It sits on the east side of Mt. Hood. I woke up extra early the night we stayed so I could try to get some pictures of the sunrise reflecting off the snow and clouds around the mountain. But it was a whole mess of private property between me and the view so I didn’t get a chance to get as clear of a shot as I had hoped.

The town was established in 1893 by Andrew and Enoch Dufur. The Dufur family were reglious refugees in early America, fleeing one of the many Huguenot conflicts in France around the time of the French Revolution, likely right before Louis XVI signed equal rights for Protestants in France. Andrew was educated at Pacific University in Forest Grove Oregon.  In 1872 the brothers purchased the land that is now Dufur.

The Balch Hotel was built in 1907 by Charles Balch. It was the height of luxury at the time with hot running water and electricity. Made popular by business men and individuals passing through town to and from The Dalles or beyond due to the Great Southern Railroad station in town at the time.

The hotel itself is a charming little place and beautifully maintained grounds. They are often host to small wedding parties, and concert goers as they offer coach service to Mary Hill Winery in The Gorge. They have a fully functioning dining room, dinner was delicious and breakfast is complimentary. They do not offer modern convinces like televisions but they do have wi-fi. As well as a fully functioning spa, and several lounge areas with a large selection of tea and books.

 

 

 

Lafayette Cemetery No1 – New Orleans, Louisiana

The Layfayette Cemetary No1 is located in the heart of the Garden District in New Orleans. Which was established at the time of the neighborhood (1833) to bury the family members of the wealthy land owners who built the area up to what it is today. Similar to other famous cemeteries in the area, the burial is done in tombs above ground. The thing that I particularly like about this one above others is that there are trees, and thus it is not in the blazing sun while you tour. It is also the cemetery used in the filming of Interview with a Vampire.

The practices of above ground burial is not uncommon world wide, though it is a bit here in the states. The reasons why the local folks chose above ground burial traditionally is varied, ask anyone and you will get a different answer. But I would image to a certain degree all reasons have some merit and probably played into the decision. For more information check out Prairie Ghosts site.

Regardless of the reasons why, it really is a lovely little plot of land. A large number of companies will provide walking tours if you are interested. I don’t always suggest such a thing but we really enjoyed the one we partook in and would highly suggest using them if you are interested.

The tours provide not only information about the burial practices and types of tombs but also history of some of the more famous residents, so you also get a good deal of local history which I found really interesting. I have been on a few tours, in a few different local cemeteries and this was by far my favorite.  It also happens to be across the street from the Commander’s Palace, famed brunch and jazz location.

Additional Information

  • Google Maps lists address as: Prytania St New Orleans, LA 70130
  • In reality it is a square block between Washington Ave, Prytania St, 6th St and Coliseum St.
  • Take precaution, heat stroke is really common.  Always wear a hat and sunscreen.
  • Muggings are common in all the cemeteries due to the nature of the environment so never go at night and always go with a group.

Garden District – New Orleans, Louisiana

The Garden District in New Orleans is 250 acres of sprawling mansions, tree lined streets and the most relaxed atmosphere imaginable. Quite the change from the beautiful but very crowded and cramped French Quarter.

Originally established in 1833 on plantation land bought and developed by wealthy tradesmen from all over the country. Who mind you built their large mansions here rather than the French Quarter to avoid interacting with the Creoles.  It wasn’t until 1852 that the area was annexed to become a part of New Orleans. As such everything about the area is a far cry from what you would expect if all you know of New Orleans is the French Quarter.

The large plots still intact with the original Victorian architecture feels like something about of a movie. Which it is in fact often a part of a movie as filming in this area is quite common, as are celebrities, many of whom live in the area. Sandra Bullock being one of them. I did see her house, though not her. Which is too bad, I swear if she just gave me a chance we would be the best of friends.

But the Garden District isn’t just fancy houses and old trees. It is also home to the Lafayette Cemetery No1.  A beautiful example of the traditional above ground burial practices in the area, which also happens to be tree lined and fully shaded unlike the ones in the French Quarter. Uptown, though not a part of the official Garden District is just a hop skip or street car ride down the road and is filled with local shops and restaurants. Food every bit as good as other parts of town, but with more local flair, less touristy.

Many companies offer walking tours of the area which I will admit is kind of fun. There is so much history it is nice to just take a stroll while learning something. Though if you are on a budget there are any number of self guided walking tour printouts you can find on the internet.

If you are looking to experience some of the charm and beauty of the area but you don’t want to listen to party people shouting all night this is the place for you. Quite, beautiful, clean, and safe. Perfect.

Flora Nola – New Orleans, Louisiana

I wanted to split my New Orleans posts up between the north side of Canal Street and the south side. Or more specifically the French Quarter and the Garden District. They are both really fantastic parts of the city but with very different atmospheres. I love the French Quarter, but there is something really special about the Garden District and if you are looking for a more quiet experience of the city sticking to the south end of Canal Street is really advised.

So for no reason other than getting to share some pictures of the flora of the area, here is a ridiculous amount of pictures of plants. The picture above was taken closer to Tulane University right off the main path of the Audubon Park. If you are in the area with young kids this would be a great place to spend some time, there is a zoo, a golf course, a nature institute and I am fairly certain the park as a whole is larger than Central Park, don’t quote me on it though. I had to take a picture of the tree above because my eyes just about popped out of my head when I realized how big it was. From this angle you can see that it stretches from one side of the street to the other but on the other side it also stretches across the next street over AND around the house which shares the property line.

The above picture was just down the street in the same neighborhood. It is of a Norfolk Pine (you know those little potted trees you see around at Christmas) well it was at least 20 feet tall. Never in my life have I seen such a large one!

Back over in the Garden District you will see these palm leaves every where, not just in plant form but on wrought iron every where you look. It was a popular pattern during the architectural booms of the city and such a great tribute to the area.

I honestly have no idea what type of leaf this is, but I just loved the vibrant green and curling edges. I found it sitting on a path in the Lafayette Cemetery. Which is full of these gorgeous trees. Did I mention too that this was in November, as someone from the Pacific North West it is so lovely seeing so much green when I had just left so much brown and grey.

These little ferns you can see popping up all over garden walls, house walls, steps and tombstones. Really anywhere, though it always amazes me that life finds a way in the worst growing conditions.

Oleander, deadly and so beautiful. And smells so amazing, though a lot of people are terribly allergic.

I just could not get enough of all the plants, over grown and lush. So incredibly. I could and did spend entire days walking around just looking at plants. If you love the outdoors, love plants/flowers or just enjoy spending your vacations strolling around aimlessly with a cup of coffee the Garden District is the place for you.