Silverton, Oregon

 

Oregon like most rural states is littered with small charming towns. Not terribly well know, to either tourists or locals in nearby cities. I grew up in small towns though, so even while I lived the majority of the last 15 years in Portland I would often seek small towns for weekend retreats.

I have managed to make it to just about every one of them within a two hour radius of Portland and now that I live in one of them I spend even more time wandering around country roads discovering new areas to spend my time.

A few months ago, when Oregon was still in the grips of an ice age, or what most people would call an average winter (I complained a lot this year about our third snow to my coworkers in Minneapolis and got no sympathy), out of desperation for change a friend took me on a surprise adventure in Silverton.

Silverton is situated just north of Salem along Silver Creek, which is fed from the 10 waterfalls in the Silver Falls State Park the largest in Oregon. The town like any has had it’s controversies and triumphs the later more famously known is the story of Bobbie the Wonder Dog who after being separated from his owner in Indiana found his way back home to Oregon six months later.

Now a days the town is fairly quiet though with the uptick in Portland residents the small surrounding towns are enjoying some extra tourism. The town which had been fairly quiet when I was younger is now filled with antique stores, cafe’s and jewelry shops.

We spent the better part of the day between the antique stores and the book store. I always love seeing small independent book stores and try my best to help support them. This one in particular was a used book store as well and I managed to find a few items to add to my collection of out of print books.

After checking out the book store we headed down to the waterfront walk, and were pleasantly surprised by the local food coop, a small nursery in an old gas station and a jewelry store that had an impressive collection. I bought myself a pair of earnings, but what I really wanted was everything in the store.

We ended our day at a local café next to the river, sharing a table full of crepes and coffee. It was lovely. Good company, and a pleasant outing to distract from the fact that our spring is about two months behind this year and we are all dying of vitamin D deficiency.

Things that shouldn’t be missed:

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Kelsey Anna Ruth

You know when you meet someone randomly and you just know instantly deep down in your soul that this person is one of those grand, kind, friendly, life loving, wonderful people. That is Kelsey.

I informally met Kelsey on the rainiest Mother’s Day that Oregon has ever seen. Ducking between drenched booth tents at a local craft fair with my mom. Both of us running around looking at the crafty wares, on sugar highs from our five pounds of cinnamon roll French toast from the Block House Café in Dayton.
I instantly noticed Kelsey’s beautifully hand lettered greeting cards and desperately wanted to touch them (I am the shopper that gets kicked out of stores for touching everything) but given the soggy weather I thought better of it. Instead I took a picture of her social media information and got a hold of her later.

I have no idea what she was thinking when I contacted her to meet up for tea. Likely, “who is this crazy person and will she wind up trying to murder me”. No, that is what I would think because I watch too many murder mysteries, she is lovely and kind so she probably just thought nice things.Either way, after a ridiculous amount of time we finally managed to find a mutual place and time to meet and so one very sunny Friday afternoon we met up.

We talked about all manner of things. Between our equal love of Oregon, deep seeded needs to travel and our passions of the simpler things in life. Kelsey hails from Oregon, the daughter of a musical family, who grew up knowing, loving and creating art. She left Oregon to attend college and not surprisingly wound up majoring in art.  When finished she came back, to be in the lush greenery of her home state and amongst her family. She currently works several jobs but is hoping to make her hand lettered cards a larger part of her life and income. Which I have no doubt will happen.

We talked a lot of about the importance of art in the world at large. She feels strongly and I am inclined to believe her that while technology has forged many new forms of art, there are still important lessons learned when putting actual pen to physical paper. In her words there is an intimacy to the hard work of written words. Which has drawn her to create her beautiful hand lettered creations. The act of creating physical art can be humbling, as you cannot just press undo. These lessons in learning to slow down and appreciate this often arduous but loving act are important ones that people could stand to take part in now and again in our current fast paced world.

Currently Kelsey only sells at Viv’s Vintage Market, a local market put on several times a year by the Vivian Lee Foundation to fund cystic fibrosis research. This market is the one I visited the day I met Kelsey and first noticed her artwork. At a recent event (not the one I was last at) Kelsey created a beautiful piece that was donated and auctioned off to aid the efforts of the foundation. This idea of creating art to not only serve as a personal outlet but to communicate and better the world was an idea that was born in part from her travels abroad.

Her most memorable trip, she recounts, took her to the Red Cross Museum in Geneva  which had on display countless pieces of art that were gifted from countries and groups that had been given aid by the organization. This and the community values that she learned from her travel abroad has kept her inspired to cultivating the values she wants to see in the world. To give back where ever she can.

Not only is Kelsey terribly kind hearted, well traveled and totally smitten with Oregon  (she suggest spending time in the gorge if you haven’t yet). She is also into vintage and fashion. A girl after my own heart! She suggested if you haven’t yet to check out Sweet Jayne on NE Broadway, it is her favorite local boutique which specialized in all things she supports, small batch, local artisan goods and hopefully, maybe someday soon you can find her cards there too.

But until then, you can find her at all the upcoming events for Viv’s Vintage Market. The next confirmed market is Saturday and Sunday, December 9th and 10th at the Red Berry Barn in Sherwood, Oregon. You can also keep up with Kelsey personally on her blog and instagram which I would highly recommend. All pictures in this post are her property and used here with her express permission. Thank you Kelsey for creating such beauty in the world, and allowing me to help share it.

 

 

Indian Canyons – Palm Springs California

Palm Springs is one of our favorite places in the world to hike. We always go in the winter when the weather here in Oregon is at its worst and the weather in the desert is the best. One of our favorite locals is Indian Canyons a group of hiking and equestrian trails on the native Aqua Caliente lands.

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There are couple trail heads and several trails at each trial head. Some hikes providing these lovely stream and palmed canyons and some higher up in the hills with endless views of the valley.

Admission costs are per car and then per person as well. The money goes to the native groups that live and work to maintain the land so I don’t mind one bit having to say it. Since there is a pay gate you have to wait in line, so I would suggest getting there early to avoid waiting. Some of the hikes are fairly long too so getting there early will behoove you anyway. When you drive in they provide a driving and trial map which helps since there really isn’t any road signs once you get in.

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Parking is also fairly limited at both trail heads so again, get there early. At the main trail head there is a trading post that sells souvenirs and snacks as well as providing real bathrooms. The smaller trail head only has pit toilets.

I don’t think I would call any of the hikes easy, and I only say this because no matter how short some of the hikes may be there are still some very steep parts. Even getting to the interpretive area at the base of the main trail head you have to walk down a canyon hill from the parking lot and trading post.

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We have hiked the larger hills twice, once with my parents on an insanely sunny day and once we got to the top we spent most of the time just sitting and looking at the views. It was also REALLY hot for being December and I didn’t want to push it so I took a seat on a sunny rock and just enjoyed my surroundings.

The second time around we hiked alone and the weather was the exact opposite, we got warnings from the park rangers that it was raining in the hills and to look out for flash flooding. We brave stupid Oregonians pressed on, lucky for us it was just a light drizzle and because of the weather we had the trail to ourselves. It was beautiful to see the desert come to life with the light rain and to be all alone out there was restorative and peaceful. In retrospect it was pretty stupid, we could have really gotten hurt and probably should have just not gone that day.

Where: 38520 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA

When: Open daily October through June. Friday, Saturday and Sunday (July through September). 8am to 5pm, but last entrance is at 4pm.

How: By car to get there, it is quite far from town even though it looks like it is close to town. Once there you can go by foot or bring a horse and go by hoof.

As always please be prepared, hiking in the desert can be dangerous. Sunny weather can mean dehydration, sun stroke stumbling onto snakes or scorpions. Cloudy weather can mean flash flooding, trail wash outs and sink holes. Always dress appropriately, bring food, water, sun screen and a basic medical kit.

The Convent of Our Lady Of Mount Carmel – Lisbon Portugal 

 

One of the things I knew I wanted to see while we were over in Lisbon was the Carmo Convent, or The Convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. All I knew about it going in was that it was a church that lost it’s roof allowing you to stand beneath the arches of it’s gothic structure and see the bright open sky.

 

 

As with everything else I found in Lisbon, the ruins of the church were everything I had hoped. After a short walk up the hill from the main shopping street in the Baixa (pronounced Bai-jha) district of Lisbon we found ourselves standing in a small square outside the convent next to a shoe store (more on that later) and a government building (more on that later as well).

The cost to get into the convent was minimal, I think perhaps two or three euro, and while the attraction itself is quite small it is very much worth it in my opinion.

 

The convent was built starting in 1389, and survived in tact up until the 1755 earthquake that flattened most of Lisbon, with the exception of the Alfama district which was protected by the large rock that it sits on.

Some attempts were made to repair the church, but in 1969 another earthquake hit the area toppling again most the of the repair attempts.

 

Today it acts as a monument and archeological museum, though as mentioned it is small, it is quite nice. There are a few gothic tombs on display as well as some local artifacts from Roman, Visigoth, and Moorish excavations. As well as a few artifacts from Peruvian digs.

There is a nice book store on the far left inside the museum itself, which sells quite a few children’s books, as well as tour and religious texts. There is also a public restroom near the entrance on the inside of the convent which is always good to know and not often found it seems when touring Europe.

 

Oh look at that, I take terrible selfies.

How to get there and links for more information:

Where: Largo do Carmo 1200 | Largo do Carmo, Lisbon 1200-092, Portugal
How: Metro – Baixa-Chiado Station, or walk which is what we did.
When: 10AM-5PM

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmo_Convent_(Lisbon)

http://www.golisbon.com/sight-seeing/carmo-church.html

 

La Rambla – McMinville, Oregon

For our anniversary this last year we decided not to do anything big. Instead we spent a weekend in a small town just south of where we live that happens to house one of my all time favorite restaurants in the world.

I discovered La Rambla a number of years ago, right around the time my parents and I were discussing spending Christmas in Barcelona. I had started researching things to do and places to eat in Barcelona and as Google has a tendency to do, it pointed me to a restaurant near me (in Oregon) that was named after one of the attractions we were looking at in Spain. So I had to try it. The rest is history.

La Rambla is a small tapas restaurant  in McMinnville Oregon. Frequented by locals and wine enthusiasts alike the restaurant has never been anything but packed regardless of day or time I have visited. The small intimate restaurant offers a wine list that is 7 pages long and a small but comprehensive list of snacks, entrees and desserts. And of course cheese.

As luck would have it (or perhaps my one track mind when it comes to a decent cheese plate) I forgot to take any pictures of our latest visit. Except the one of the cheese menu. Which I took so that I could remember the name of the goat cheese that knocked my socks off (Cana de Cabra in case you were wondering).

For our meal we shared a bottle of wine,  a few cheeses, a small flat bread ending the meal with churros and chocolate. We were happily stuffed and also slightly disappointed we didn’t get to try more from their outstanding seasonal menu. I guess that just means we will have to go back. I think I would be pretty okay with that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basílica da Estrela – Lisbon Portugal

One thing that my Stepdad really wanted to see was the Estrela Basilica which was something that was not even on my radar. But I could not be happier that he drug us on the long trek (by foot) across town to visit it and I would certainly recommend it to anyone interested in seeing the top sites in Lisbon.

The church itself was commissioned by Queen Maria I of Portugal in the late baroque architectural style. Queen Maria was the first undisputed queen regent of Portugal. Meaning she was heir to the throne and even though she married to Peter III his power would cease and pass to her oldest living child upon her death.

 

According to my stepdad’s research (though I cannot attest to it because I didn’t read the information myself) Maria had trouble conceiving a child and prayed on the matter for years. Long story short when she did finally have a child she built the Basilica in commemoration as promised for answering her prayers of a child.  She has a hard reign, loosing her husband, and then being moved to Brazil to rule during the Napoleonic occupation of Portugal. Over the years she slowly slipped into a state of madness and eventually died at 81 at which time her son took over the country. She is currently entombed at the Estrela Basilica.

As I mentioned we walked there from the Baixa neighborhood though the old Tram 28 will take you there as well. It is free and open to the public in the main church area, though as with most religious building donations are accepted and appreciated. I did not light a candle this time for fear of nearly setting fire to someone again.

 

We however found a man who may or may not have been affiliated with the church that we paid three euro each to walk up a VERY narrow staircase to get to the roof of the church. My husband lead the charge, I had no idea what was happening and one point thought perhaps we were not only getting scammed but possibly robed. It turned out fine and the views were spectacular, totally worth the hundred some-odd stairs we wound our way up.

We stood on the roof for a while and took in the views and the sun. The PNW doesn’t get any sun this time of year so being in such a pleasant place was a really nice break. Plus in all my years of touring Europe I had never gotten to be on the roof of a church so I was digging the new experience.

 

The bells started going, so we retreated into the dome structure, if you think church bells are loud wait until you are standing next to them! Once inside the upper portion of the dome you can walk around the whole space and look down on the church floor. The dome was big.

Loved the detailed work on the arches, always a fan of arches.

 

Looking back toward the main doors…

Looking down on the main alter…

The last and final thing of note about this church is there is a famous 500 piece nativity set carved out of cork that can be seen. We found ourselves there on a day when the viewing was not available. Which didn’t really stop my parents, though they did get caught skulking around areas of the church they shouldn’t have been and promptly got booted out by the guy who let us up the stairs to the roof. Again no idea if he was affiliated with the church, but evidently did have enough authority to kick my parents out.

There is also a very nice park across the street with a café next to a pond, the bathrooms looked horrifying though. We did not venture.

Address and additional information:Praça da Estrela, 1200-667 Lisboa, Portugal

Ruddick/Wood Tavern – Newberg, Oregon

One of the harder things about leaving the city is that suddenly there aren’t a lot of local places to pop into for a drink or a snack. At least that seems that case in the Portland area. Though given how little I drink leaving the bar scene wasn’t a sacrifice by any means.

Though from time to time a girl needs a local place to sit down with her girlfriend for a good old fashioned gab fest and have a glass of champagne and a plate of fries. Enter the Ruddick/Wood Tavern in Newberg Oregon.

It has all the relaxed PNW charm without any of the traffic or parking challenges of it’s city counterparty. The interior was left mostly salvaged and the walls are adorned with topographical maps of the local hills.

It’s not a large place but it does offer a fair amount of seating options, and while it has always been pretty busy when we go in we have always found a seat. We try to make it on Wednesdays for their “Whiskey Wednesday” specials. The selection is extensive and I have not yet had to order the same drink twice, except for their sparkling rose. But that was on purpose because it is so delicious it is hard not to repeat the glass, bottle <insert serving of choice> over and over again.

Every time we go in we make a pact to order something different off the food menu, I think it has really only worked about half the time. They have an excellent rotating cheese plate that we keep ordering and have never been disappointed. I think we may order it because the menu says “cheese and accoutrements” which halfway through a bottle of champagne becomes too much for us to handle and we probably wind up ordering it because we find it so funny.

The other must order is the fries plate, which comes in a variety of options. We have ordered them all and I don’t think I can say which is my favorite. They are all good and worth a try.

You can find the Ruddick/Wood Tavern at 720 E. First St, Newberg, OR 97132. It is around the corner from the main restaurant Ruddick/Wood which serves lunch and dinner from 11:30am to 9pm.