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Adventures in Oregon: Newport

This past weekend, we set off to show Sydney the magic that is the Oregon coast. We headed to Newport since it is a straight 1-hour shot from our house, and by straight I mean incredibly winding and curvy. We pulled into town and savored a late lunch of clam chowder at The Chowder Bowl. A heads up to fellow pescatarians: this is the only clam chowder I’ve been able to find in Newport that does not have bacon in it. The ambiance is a bit lacking but it’s cheap and tasty with friendly service, making it great for a quick bite and respite from the chilly air outside. You also have the option of having your clam chowder served in  a sourdough bowl but a word to the wise – it is bigger than your face and if you eat it all, you will probably feel like John Candy finishing that ginormous steak in The Great Outdoors.

After lunch, we ventured over to the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse. About a million other people had the same idea so, after a brief tour, we navigated our way back outside and down to the beach.




Leisurely walking along a beach without any hurry to be anywhere is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world, even when the chill in the air makes you pull your coat just a bit tighter.



The light was, in a word, breathtaking – everything was coated in the most beautiful combination of lilac and amber as the sun made its gradual descent toward the horizon. Witnessing beautiful natural light is like opening a giant Christmas present for me, so I was excitedly running around, framing shots, while Andrew lectured casually pointed out points of geologic interest.


And yes, every bit of the above photo was totally natural – not staged at all. wink wink.



We hung around to watch the sunset and the Hunt siblings patiently let me taken a million and one photos, which I again politely narrowed down to a somewhat more reasonable amount. You’re welcome.













While hanging out at the beach, we noticed a small parade of fishing boats heading out of the bay into the ocean just as the light faded.  As we watched them bob along the rolling sea, I thought about what a tough mindset you must have to head out into the cold and darkness, vulnerable to an unforgiving ocean. I’m 100% sure I would be way too much of a wimp to ever do that – I know without a doubt that I would be that person who immediately falls off the boat at the first big wave and is promptly eaten by a shark. Andrew on the other hand would love it – not me falling off and being eaten (at least he better not) but just being out on the water, amidst all its dynamic power. Sorry Andrew, you didn’t marry a sea-faring lass; instead you got a land-lubber with an extra healthy respect for the ocean that keeps her firmly on shore.

Being that Rogue Brewery was just a stone’s throw away, we stopped in to sample some brews and warm back up. We were too late for a tour but had fun creating our own tasting flights.


I enjoyed small pours of the Plot Twist Pear Cider, Rogue Farms ORE-gasmic Ale, Rogue Farms 7-hop IPA, and Pumpkin Patch Ale.

The Plot Twist is a sour rather than sweet cider and was definitely an interesting and unexpected taste. The OREgasmic ale is brewed with 100% Oregon ingredients and had an incredibly smooth finish; it’s the kind of beer that could pair with anything. The 7-hop IPA is brewed with (you guessed it!) seven varieties of hops that are grown at Rogue Farms just up the road from us in Independence, Oregon. It was hands down my favorite – just the right amount of bitter and aromatic with a citrus undercurrent. The Pumpkin Patch was decent – not the best pumpkin ale I’ve had but better than most. It was fun to try out some new-to-me flavors and I’d love to head back for a tour of the brewery sometime.

We enjoyed a fabulous (albeit cold) afternoon showing Sydney around Newport.  We can’t wait to explore other parts of the coast – so much to see! From Astoria (where they filmed The Goonies!) to Tillamook (home of delicious cheese) to the vast Oregon dunes, there are plenty of adventures to be had! Hope you stick around!



Follow along on our Adventures in Oregon!

Catch up on other post in the series:

Willamette National Forest


Adventures in Oregon: Willamette National Forest

When Andrew and I found out we were moving to Oregon, we avidly pored over the Oregon tourism website (check it out here but be forewarned: you will totally want to pack your bags and catch the next flight here). The abundance of natural beauty excited us and we vowed to explore as much of the great outdoors in Oregon as we could. I thought you might be interested in tagging along so I’m starting a new series called ‘Adventures in Oregon’ and I’ll periodically update you on new places we’ve checked out. Hope you enjoy it!

During Sydney’s visit last week, we decided to spend our Black Friday amongst the evergreens in Willamette National Forest. You can actually purchase a permit from the National Forest Service for $5 to cut down your own Christmas tree. We thought this sounded like a fabulous idea and a great alternative to waking up at dawn to do battle with the shopping hordes. The weather was wet and chilly but not totally miserable so we loaded up in the car with Thanksgiving leftovers, numerous layers of clothes and a saw for the perfect utterly natural Christmas tree that I envisioned. It would be just like the Griswolds in Christmas Vacation,  going out into the woods to find the perfect tree, except we wouldn’t have road rage against a couple of rednecks and run off the road.


We set off on the road, stopping to purchase our permit and collect a map noting where we could cut. As we drove into the forest, the rain picked up its pace. Supposedly, the type of tree we would want would be at higher elevations so we wound our way up, up, up into the mountains.


We stopped to eat our lunch at the Hackleman Old Growth Grove and hiked a short little loop trail while we were there. Some of the trees in this grove are over 500 years old – just incredible to see! The trail itself was a lovely little walk. The primary loop is a nice wide path that is wheelchair accessible, with another small foot path looping out deeper into the woods. The rain continued to pour on us as we hiked but I was so in awe of the massive sentinels lining the trail, that I didn’t really notice.


This wasn’t an area for cutting Christmas trees but I did notice that the firs there had very sparse needles and looked, well, rather homely. No offense to the trees – they looked perfect in their natural setting but they would have looked rather sad in my living room. I realized that we might have to go to higher elevations and probably hike for quite awhile to find something decent.

After we ate our lunch, we headed over to an area labeled ‘Tombstone’ on the map – inviting name, right? We had all gotten pretty darn wet at the grove and as we drove, the rain intensified, coming down in sheets. We parked the car and debated the merits of venturing into the woods in search of a tree that might not be there – as if in answer, the sky opened up and the rain came down even harder. We took that as a sign to try for the tree on another, less soggy day. We wound our way back down the road and, almost like a consolation prize, the rain lifted long enough for us to stop and hike a quick interpretive trail over Trout Creek for a view of Walton Ranch.


The view was just beautiful with the clouds hugging the hills and evergreens framing the vista. The meadow below tends to draw elk in the winter months, so we’ll definitely head back up there again to see if we can catch a glimpse.




The rain gave us a respite just long enough to soak up the beauty of the trail before escorting us back to the car. Though our search for a tree was a bust and the rain didn’t know how to take a hint, it was still a lovely first look at Willamette National Forest, and enticed us enough to head back just two days later. Check back tomorrow to find out what Oregon looks like when it’s not raining – here’s a hint … it’s absolutely beautiful!


The Great Pie Debacle of 2014

We survived our first Thanksgiving on the west coast – or more accurately, our first Thanksgiving without our parents celebrating with us. I was more than a little afraid that I would turn into a homesick basketcase but we were lucky enough to have Andrew’s younger sister Sydney here with us which made for a really fun time together. And goshdarnit, we pulled off a delicious and cozy Thanksgiving dinner: maple roasted brussel sprouts, stuffing, herb gravy made from scratch (courtesy of Sydney), homemade rolls (courtesy of Andrew), sweet potato souffle with toasted hazelnuts, a quorn roast (our faux turkey), cranberry sauce and of course pumpkin pie for dessert.








However, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a culinary mishap or two. Let me set the stage: a freshly baked marionberry pie is cooling on the kitchen counter, its delicious aroma wafting through the house. Full of anticipation of the glorious baked goodness, I naively assume that our four-legged roommates will understand just how much this pie means to me and abide by house rules of not stealing things off counters.

This was my mistake.

I clearly did not give thought to the fact that one of those four-legged roommates was also anxiously awaiting the chance to dive into the deliciousness. I walked into the kitchen and  heard a wild shriek/scream … which I then realized was coming from me, as a I stared down at the ruin of berry guts and pie crust on the kitchen floor. I will probably never know how many guilty parties were involved in the Great Pie Debacle of 2014 but am 99.99999% sure that Annie pulled that pie down and Ella swooped in to help her clean up the evidence. What the little thieves didn’t realize is that the pie was H-O-T so they couldn’t really eat it …. payback’s a female dog, isn’t it?

I was so upset that the pie was no more, I could only stand there in shock while Andrew and Sydney cleaned it up off the floor, and Wally did everything in his power to prevent them from doing so – darting in to grab as much pie crust as he could before it disappeared. Annie, either guilt-ridden or upset that she didn’t get as much pie as she wanted, offered to bake another one but I declined (she always confuses the salt and sugar).


I believe this all could have been avoided if we had not watched the National Dog Show.



Seeing a hound win again gave them all big heads and an attitude of superiority. Their conversation to each other probably went like this:

Annie: I’m pretty sure mom baked that pie for us. We should eat it.

Ella: Of course she made it for me, I mean us! The only thing I can’t figure out is why she put it up on the counter and not in my food bowl ….

Annie: Oh that’s easy! Mom totally put it on the counter out of reach on purpose. They’re training me to be a human and walk on two legs – this just gives me practice at standing on my back legs and using my front legs like arms. They’ll be so proud of me!

Despite the shameful pie incident, we had a truly lovely holiday together. We all enjoyed a fabulous food coma, good conversation and cozying up on the couch with the four-legged criminals (yes…. I know … the dogs ruin my pie and I punish them by snuggling on the couch – what can I say but it was Thanksgiving and I’m a total softie). While we certainly missed the rest of our families, Andrew and I were very grateful to have Sydney here to celebrate the holiday. Hope you all had just as wonderful of a Thanksgiving (minus the pie business – I hope you didn’t have to deal with any canine disasters!)

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Happy Thanksgiving!


On this day of Thanksgiving, I have so much to be grateful for. I am married to my very best friend, I have parents who love me no matter how I screw up, and I have married into a family that treats me like I’ve always been a part of them. I have five dogs that I love like children and who keep me on my toes (all.the.time). I have a roof over my head, good health, and most importantly, a personal relationship with God.

There are so many little things that I take for granted: a functioning car, COFFEE, a cozy fireplace, farmers markets and grocery stores, fresh air, warm wool socks on chilly mornings, legs that can run and jump and hike, music and literature and well-made films that invite me into another world just for a little while, the ability to read and write and breathe.

When you list it all out like that, it is impossible to feel anything other than humbled and grateful. I would do well to remember that gratitude each and every day – not just Thanksgiving.

The dogs are also grateful on this day – here’s what they told me they were most grateful for:

Sawyer :  “Beds. and couches.”


Wally: “Laps. and couches.”


Sasha: “Toys. and mom and dad.”  (she’s so sweet…. and smart)


Ella: “Food. and crumbs. and warm blankets. and did I mention food?”


Annie: “Mom and Dad. and dirty dishes in the sink…..”

(please ignore the incredibly high pitch my voice reaches in this video … and do you notice how Annie eyes the stove at the very end, already contemplating if she should check for any food up there?)

Happy Thanksgiving!

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The Hunts Head West … The Home Stretch

When I left off, we had stopped for the night in Montana. We awoke and took full advantage of the Belgian wafflemaker at the continental breakfast bar, walked/fed/walked the dogs, packed back up and hit the road. Beautiful blue skies greeted us and the fact that this was our last full day of travel fueled us onward.

We swung through Butte, hopped out quickly to see the Berkeley Pit, and then continued on, intent on covering a lot of ground and making good time.


(Interesting factoid: this is Berkeley Pit. Once upon a time, it was an open pit copper mine. Now, it is one of the largest Superfund sites in the country – all that water you see is incredibly acidic due to heavy metals leaching into the water and is rising closer and closer to groundwater level every year.)

We crossed into Idaho and paid a quick visit to Coeur D’alene – such a pretty place!



Before we knew it, we had crossed into Washington, and the miles continued to tick by.


We stopped for the night in Richland, just shy of the Oregon border. Our accommodations (the Red Lion Hotel) were perfect for the dogs – we had a patio door that exited onto a huge lawn and offered easy access to a ton of green space along the river. The dogs enjoyed a really great walk before settling in for their peanut butter kongs while we settled in for some room service pizza and salad (which was surprisingly delicious!) The beds were super comfortable and I had the best night’s sleep of the entire trip which was much appreciated.


Breakfast was included with our room and another pleasant surprise – it was a hot buffet with actual well-cooked food, served with a beautiful view of the river. The place was very dog-friendly – practically every other person I saw leaving in the morning had dogs (most of them quite big). If you ever find yoursefl in Richland, you should definitely consider this place (and this hotel doesn’t know me from Adam so rest assured I’m not a covert commercial).

We packed back up and hit the road, excited that we were on the very last leg of our journey!

I was all prepared to take a photo of ‘Welcome to Oregon’ but we actually crossed the border on the bridge going over the Columbia River. There was a teeny tiny green sign that I completely missed – I got this instead:


Not quite the same, huh?

We made a quick pit stop at the Visitor’s Center and stocked up on every possible pamphlet and brochure on things to do in Oregon. I also saw this gem in the bathroom and it made me think of home (this exact same sentiment hangs in the ladies restroom at the animal shelter I worked at).


We drove along the Columbia River, traversing from eastern Oregon to Portland and then heading south to Corvallis.



It felt so good to finally pull into the driveway of our new home. All that driving was over!!

However, that meant that now we got to unpack. oh boy.


Basically, we just took everything in this truck and shoved it into the garage so we could go through it at our leisure.

The dogs were not helpful at all – I tried to teach them to be little pack mules but they wouldn’t have any of it – something about how they were the ones who pay the bills and do all the work around here.



Unpacking is not fun. We did manage to unload everything from the truck and start the slow process of bringing it inside and putting it away. Keep in mind that we sold most of our major furniture when we left NC so we had no couch, no dining room table and no washer/dryer. The house quickly descended into total messy chaos with cleaning, painting and the discovery that our adorable vintage oven did not work.


The rest of the day was a blur but I do remember hitting up the grocery store and somehow a delicious carrot cake hitched a ride home with me. As tiring as the day was, it’s always a good day if it ends in cake.


With our cross-country journey at an end, we now had a new chapter before us as we started life on the West Coast.

Up ahead on the blog: the epic washer/dryer fail of 2014, house projects (aka covering up puke green cabinets and hideous flesh-colored trim), adventures in furniture thrifting, checking out the coast, and hiking, hiking, hiking!

Hope you stick around for more!


Catch up on the journey: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 & Day 4

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