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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Dunes – Oregon

The Oregon Sand Dunes are one of the largest expanses of coastal sand dunes in the world. They stretch for 40 miles along the Oregon coast and is designated as a National Recreation Area  or NRA (the other NRA) as a part of the Siuslaw National Forest.

Within the larger park system, there are many different road access points, usage areas, and activities. Everything from horse back riding, to off roading, fishing and hiking. There are also camp sites and some have camping cabins (my favorite way to camp).

Even without all the added recreation options the dune are impressive. Some as tall as 500 ft and ever shifting with the wind and rain. They are dotted with trees and takes, tide pools and local flowers that are brave enough to grow in shifting sand.

We went down last for our anniversary trip in March, the weather could have been better. Dry and low winds but slightly cloudy made for the prefect day of walking around. And boy is it hard walking around on them, let alone trying to race up them. I didn’t win.

In some areas there are trails but in a lot of the park you just head out straight into the dunes. It feels other worldly and rumor has it they inspired Frank Herbert to write his science fiction epic Dune.

Salishan Resort – Lincoln City, Oregon

This spring we took a quick jaunt to the coast to relax and just be away from things. The late winter/early spring is hard in Oregon, it’s about the time we all start to go a little crazy from all the clouds and rain. Having the trip to look forward to certainly helped eliminate some of “okay I am all done with this now” thoughts that are constantly circling around in my brain that time of year.

We chose to head down to the central part of the coast, and spend our few days at the Salishan just south of Lincoln City. The resort is lovely, spread out over a large swath of land. Part forest part golf course with three main building complexes and room buildings scattered around the property.

The rooms themselves are wonderful, they have a variety of sizes, we went with the base king sized room which had a mini kitchen and a fireplace, as well as the usual bed, balcony, bathroom and seating area. It was built in 1961 and remains the premier golf resort on the coast.

The main complex houses the registry desk, restaurants and a bar as well as conference rooms and the pool accessed by outdoor breezeways. The restaurants overlook the gold course and provides ample indoor and outdoor seating.

The sports complex is up the hill down a few winding roads (walkable via foot path if you wish to hoof it) and provides access to basketball courts, tennis and golf rentals.

The spa complex is back down the main entry road across the highway, also accessible via foot path, but there is ample parking if dashing across a busy highway isn’t your thing (there is a traffic light and cross walk though).

We had grand designs to explore the coast all weekend, and you can very easily given the resorts central location. However we wound up just settling in to a cozy routine of eat, walk, read, swim, repeat that we wound up doing very little else in the end. We really couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.

 

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.

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.

 

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.

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.