The Drive-In – Condon, Oregon

A few weeks ago I talked about the Condon Hotel which is a darling historic hotel in Condon Oregon. While we were there we obviously needed to eat dinner. There were a couple restaurants that we wanted to eat at, one was closed and the other was out of to go boxes. Third times a charm took us to The Drive-In, which is on the south end of town across the street from the newly built city park which was also having  a farmers market that we had wandered around earlier in the day.

We chatted with the owner a bit while we waited for our burger, which we split with a large order of curly fries and a chocolate shake. He had mentioned that they had recently opened but they were busy so I didn’t get the chance to get too many details about how new or the history of the building they occupied. It was clearly built as a drive in, and was very popular with the locals.

They had an extensive menu with some really fantastically inventive burgers. We chose one that had a slice of ham as well as the burger. It was incredible! If it weren’t a 10 hour drive from my house I would go there for dinner every week.

We had a wonderful time sitting there waiting for our food, not only chatting with the owner but the locals that came and went for their dinners as well. I love getting to witness this kind of small town community and caring. They do not have a full website but a Facebook page with their hours can be found here. I would highly suggest stopping in if you find your way out there. Though as I write this in August they are currently closed as they are feeding the firefighters in the area trying to keep the wildfires from burning any more farms and historic homes. Once again, small town caring and community, it’s so wonderful to see.

Additional Information:

  • 433 S Main St. Condon Oregon
  • 11am to 7pm
  • Closed Sunday
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Hotel Condon – Condon, Oregon

Condon Oregon was established in 1893, named by the first post master David B Trimbel after Harvey Condon whoes firm first sold the townsite lots in 1884 after having acquired the land from a local homesteader. The town was once the last southern stop on the Union Pacific line that ran down from the Columbia River. And like most towns in Oregon when the trains stopped running the people stoped coming.

The hotel sits on the main street of town, which thanks to an 1998 initiative has been listed on the National Registry of Historic places and has enjoyed some refurbishment money. Some new businesses have opened up including a number of excellent restaurants, a gift and bookshop as well as the theater and of course Hotel Condon.

Hotel Condon was first opened in 1920. It has been updated with modern amenities and offered complimentary breakfast as well as a wine and cheese reception in the evenings. Our room was just lovely, bright and clean. Updated with comfortable furniture, wi-fi and television. We thoroughly enjoyed the wine and cheese, which we ate outside as it was such a wonderful evening. Then we got burgers to go from down the street and hung around our room. I would highly recommend the hotel, even if it weren’t the only place in town.

Wonderful Ireland Walking Holiday

Traveling is a very unique thing, you have to balance how far out of your comfort zone you are willing to go, with the kind of creature comforts that will ultimately keep you sane while your whole world is turned upside down. Traveling is wonderful and adventurous and important to  knowing ourselves and enjoying life, but it is also hard and scary. So knowing what you want out of the experience and what you can handle are very important when booking travel.

If you do not want to spend 8 hours a day walking through the middle of nowhere or if you do but you want to rough sleep in the wilderness then Wonderful Ireland Walking Holidays is not for you, and that is absolutely okay. But if you want to see things off the beaten path, get a lot of fresh air and exercise but you also want the safety net of an emergency out in case anything happens then read on my friends.

Wonderful Ireland Walking Holidays offers several self guided walking tour vacations throughout Ireland. We chose the Dingle Peninsula tour which is 112 miles split up between 10 days of walking. Some of my group did the whole loop, I however opted for the shorter trip. I started with my group and then left after 5 days of walking. The company offers a variety of options for the peninsula from 3-10 days.

Included in the cost of the tour is airport/train station pickup and drop off. Booked rooms which include breakfast and sack lunches. Luggage transfer from inn to inn so you don’t have to carry your bag with you. Maps, guide-book, emergency cell phone, and hiking poles if you want them.

I wound up hurting myself on day two, so I can attest to how helpful and kind the individuals at the company are. I called on what we took to calling the “bat phone” the morning of a day of hiking, they organized a private ride for me from one town to the next. They showed up on time and I didn’t have to pay for the ride as it was included in the tour price.

The accommodations that were booked for us were above and beyond our expectations. Every single inn was clean, comfortable and the owners incredibly kind.  The food was exceptional every night and the sack lunches exactly what one would need for a 14 mile hike. As an added bonus every place we stayed had wifi so we could connect with our people back home and let them know we had made it to each town safe and sound.

Our bags were always waiting for us when we got to the next inn, clean, undamaged and undisturbed. Not that we were expecting anything less, but I do know people worry about others handling their personal property and there was never an issue with this group.

We were given a packet of very detailed instructions to go along with our maps. Not only is the trail marked to help guide you but the instructions provided down to the turn precise directions to keep you on track and keep you from wondering if you were headed the right way. They were detailed enough that never once did you have to worry that you might have taken a wrong turn. We spent the entire trek feeling confident we wouldn’t be lost or trespassing and that we would be safe the entire trip.

I cannot recommend the tour group enough. The owner is incredibly kind and helpful. He will answer as many ridiculous questions as you can throw at him and do so with a smile. Never once did we feel confused, worried or unsure of ourselves from inquiring about booking the tour all the way to being dropped back off at the airport on the way home.

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.

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.

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.