Category Archives: Oregon

[Traveling Tales] A Double Date of Drinks at Block15 and 4 Spirits

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In what’s become a tradition of sorts, several times a year I venture off to Corvallis to visit my family, reconnect with nature and reset my personal frequency.  While the school year brings a hearty amount of hustle and bustle to the mostly agricultural community, the Summertime brings sleepy months of stunning sunsets mixed with fantastic weather; and the food and drink? Thanks to the Oregon maker spirit and an influx of former California natives, they live up to the state motto ‘Alis volat propriis‘, and they’re getting better all the time.

This romp around Central Oregon was absolutely different than anything else; first and foremost, after three years of planning – Danny and I were finally getting married, and secondly – it was fueled with the energy of the Total Solar Eclipse.   Though there were some fantastic moments over the entire week, one of my personal highlights was actually after the weight of the big day had been lifted and we were just left with some key players, including my now husband, my dad, our officiant + best friend and my cousin.  For one glorious afternoon, we enjoyed a double date of delicious drinks and rumpus games at Corvallis’ own Block15 Brewery and 4 Spirits Distillery.  Though I’d been through the former haunt of 4 Spirits, I hadn’t had a chance to visit since their migration. 

Now conveniently located side by side, 4 Spirits and Block15 pack a hearty one two punch of some of the finest beer and rustic whiskey Oregon has to offer.  When visiting, our friend reminded us of the old adage ‘Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear’, so off to 4 Spirits we went!

Boasting a bevvy of Rums, Whiskeys and a signature Vodka, at it’s heart – 4 Spirits is a philanthropic venture, giving back to both homegrown programs from Oregon and initiatives in Wyoming, Montana and Washington. To taste a flight of four hearty half ounce shots, it’s only $5 – and if a member of you group happens to purchase a bottle, then the rounds are on the house. For the whiskey drinkers, there’s the Bourbon Whiskey with delicious undercurrents of vanilla and caramel, the American Whiskey, and Single Malt; for the rum-ophiles, there’s a silver rum, a light rum, a dark rum, and my personal favorite (and take that to heart, because I’m not a rum drinker) – their habanero spiced rum; and last, and least, their vodka – which was great, but that’s not why one goes to 4 Spirits.  To add to their cornucopia of liquor, the new spot also offers a kitchen with munch worthy snacks like Stuffed Tots and fries, full sized fare ranging from burgers and sandwiches to pizza, plus a lawn version of Yahtzee, appropriately called Yard-zee.
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After loosening ourselves up with liquor, we were off to the second stop on our double date – Block15.  Literally a hop, skip and a jump across the parking lot sat Block15’s Brewery and Taproom, not to be confused with their restaurant located in the heart (aka. within the four blocks) of Downtown Corvallis.  For about $5-8 depending on your tastes, you can get a flight of five tasty beverages.  My favorites was Hopnotize, Wandlepad and the Lil’ Dab, a cannabis infused drink – cheers to you, Oregon.  Hypnosis was on the heavier side, so if you’re of the type that likes to chew their beer – this is your best bet. Though their food menu isn’t nearly as deep at the Taproom as it is at their Restaurant, the kitchen still produces some bomb eats including a DIY charcuterie board, hearty sandwiches and a hands down the best bier pretzel I’ve ever tasted.

For anyone who happens across Oregon’s Central region or finds themselves in Corvallis, between these two locations you simply can’t go wrong.  So hop on the good foot, and do the drinks thing.

For more on 4 Spirits and Block15, visit Corvallis – their socials:

4 SpiritsWebsite | Facebook 

Block 15: Website | Facebook | Instagram

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[Traveling Tales] Soul Searching at Oregon’s Silver Falls

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Growing up in the Bay Area during the midst of the explosion of computing in the 90’s, technology has more or less become my second language – some might even argue that it’s my first.  Fast forward twenty odd years and life more or less seems inundated with the same things I used to covet, like the corrosive use of cell phones and how they detract from pure and honest social connection.  The good news, is I’ve discovered a lovely trick: I turn to nature, and dive into a digital detox.  Whether it’s just five minutes soaking up the sun, a quick walk taking in the sounds and smells of the neighborhood without my tether of a phone, an afternoon in the park or a whole weekend away – delving into nature while escaping the calamity of the daily rat race is necessary, and practically deserves of it’s own tier on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

For me, Oregon has become a symbol of beautiful escape from the go-go-go faster reality of Los Angeles, hell – California even.  It’s my home away from home, and a fresh chance for me to recharge remotely while my anxieties dissipate like fresh dew on a Summer’s day.  The air up there tastes like the first sip of water after an afternoon of play while the skies have an unprecedented depth paired against the towering treeline.Silver Falls + More

Last month when I was visiting with my family for wedding prep, we had a chance to fit in a quick trip to Silver Falls and I’m infinitely happy that we made the time for it.  Sitting about two hours South West of Portland and twenty or so minutes from Salem, Silver Falls encompasses over 9,000 acres of land – making it the largest State Park in Oregon.  The park boasts a menagerie of different paths for bikers, hikers and equestrians, with twenty five miles of walking trails, 14 miles of horse trails and 4 for bikers.  In my opinion, any path is the right path – and all paths lead to exactly where you ought to be.  Gallivanting over to the South Falls, we walked directly behind the waterfall while I reveled in the sheer force of nature literally washing over me.

While ebbing and flowing throughout the park, my back straightened and eyes brightened; musing to myself that truly taking in the moment is a wonderful drug all to itself. Slowing down the world inside me and the world around me, I discovered new shades of green that I’d never noticed before while flowers danced intimately in the crisp air.  The goal, I’ve realized, is bottling up that calm, collected, one-with-the-universe feeling and making it accessible when you need it the most: back in the digital world, surrounded by cell phones and lap tops, WiFi signals and mixed signals, surrounded by all your stuff, things, and immaterial material possessions that do an odd job of mirroring a distorted view of self worth.  You are not your possessions, but you are your thoughts; you are star dust and dirt, and deserve to bathe your soul in them every now and again.

Where do you go when you need a digital detox?

For more on Oregon’s spectacular Silver Falls, head to their website.

Silver Falls + More
Silver Falls + More

Silver Falls + More

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”
― Henry David ThoreauWalden: Or, Life in the Woods

[Traveling Tales] Drink In Oregon’s Willamette Valley: Wine, Spirits and Cider – Oh My!

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If you’ve been spoiled on the finer things in life, chances are you were raised in California.  From the weather and the weed to the wine and the women – the Golden State more than lives up to the golden standard. But for those that choose to venture outside of the luscious landscapes and rolling hilltops of California, our neighbor to the north has a whole hell of a lot to offer.

Though it’s not the same as the Mediterranean climate of the Californian Coast, some (including myself) could make a convincing argument that the Oregon Coast boasts  equally beautiful conditions. The persistent Winter (…Fall and Spring…) rain paves the way for gorgeous green valleys with trees and wildflowers as far as the eye can see, a perfect pairing with the belated sunsets the Summer months offer.

If you rack your brain for the best in micropubs, I’m guessing San Francisco is one of the first – if not the first – city to come into mind.  But the reality is that Portland has more microbrews than any other US City.  Though the Willamette Valley isn’t exactly Portland’s neighbor, the gorgeous countryside is only a hop, skip and an hour drive away – and offers has so much to offer in the way of delicious distilleries and wonderful wineries.

The Hard Stuff

For the longest time, I thought that Wine Tasting was the only sort of alcohol tasting one could do – so when I discovered that distilleries also had tastings, I’d colored myself fascinated.  Oregon’s climate provides great opportunities for home grown spirits, and these are some of my favorites.

4 Spirits Distillery

Ever since a very memorable night my Freshman year of college, I’ve been convinced beyond belief that I’m not a rum girl; no way, no how. Enter, 4 Spirits Rum. For the first time in over a decade, I’ve not only drank – but enjoyed the flavor – of a variety of rums.  I’m also a sucker for a business venture with a community service flair, and 4 Spirits meets that mark – a portion of the proceeds of every bottle go to the Wounder Warrior Project.

Website | Facebook 

Vivacity

Ever hear of a spirit that’s been distilled hundreds of times?  How about thousands? Chances are, there’s still a ton of sediment in them; it’s why when you drink shitty alcohol, you feel shitty at the end of the mind.  The genius minds at Vivacity have their cauldrons set to be constantly distilling – almost infinitely, if you will. They’re distilling all of the toxins out and leaving you with the tastiest, cleanest, crispest gin I’ve ever tasted.  In addition to their gins, they have a kickass Coffee Liquor and a smooth as all hell vodka.

Website | Facebok

Spiritopia

Half science experiment, half distillery and all the fun – Spiritopia offers a fresh take on specialty liqueurs.  As we toured the facility and learned about the process of producing their delicious drinks, I browsed through the lab equipment in the warehouse and quickly reassessed why I’d switched my major from Biochem in the first place. The Apple and Pomegranate Liqueurs are dare I say perfect, but I have a major penchant for the Ginger.

Website | Facebook

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A Little Bit Softer Now

Liquor tasting is all fun and games until someone gets too drunk, if you’d like to err on the softer side of alcohol tasting – the Willamette Valley also offers a great variety of local wines and ciders.

2 Towns Ciderhouse

For the last decade, beer has almost become a sub-food group for me – it’s been delicious, it’s thirst quenching and yeah, I love a good tipsy feeling.  But, over the last few months I’ve felt a shift in the tasting wind if you will and have been etching over to the cider side.  Granted, I could kill a whole bottle of Martenelli’s Sparkling Cider to my face and have no thoughts about it – it’s no wonder I’ve found a new affinity for cider.  What I didn’t know until recently was just how many flavors of cider exist – all the varieties of apple, Wildflower, Elderflower, Marionberry, Ginga Ninja (a personal fav), Hollow Jack (a pumpkin cider), and so many more; and for $4, you can get a flight of four. Located in the heart of Corvallis (which, mind you, isn’t all that big), 2 Towns is open 12-7 Sunday through Wednesday, and 12-9 from Thursday through Saturday. The Ciderhouse is also featured at many local grocery stores.

Website | Yelp

Airlie Winery

Perfectly poised on a beautiful hilltop in the sleepy town of Monmouth, Airlie Winery has been a staple of the Oregon wine scene for over 30 years.  A female owned and operated venture featuring a few adorable dogs and a wide variety of wines to imbibe, Airlie features awe inspiring views and delicious wine, served with a smile and warm conversation.  For  a $5 tasting fee – which is donated to local food banks – you can tantalize your tastebuds with everything from roses to reds and whites, and my personal favorite – pairing consecutive years of the same wine to understand the nuanced differences a season can make. Airlie is open to the public Thursday to Monday from 12 to 5pm.

Website | Facebook | Yelp

Cardwell Hill Cellars

Just one glance at the landscape of Cardwell Hill Cellars would turn any average wine drinker into a full fledged oenophile.  Sitting in the shadow of Mary’s Peak, the highest peak in Oregon’s Coast Range, Cardwell Hill has been perfecting the art of both Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris for the last 16 years. In addition to their wide assortment of award winning wine, Cardwell Hill also offers a picnic area and boche ball court in addition to winery tours.  Each taste is $1, and the tasting room is open daily from 12pm until 5:30.

Website | Facebook 

What’s your favorite city for trying out new drinks?  Discover anything recently that you’ve fallen mouth over mind for?  Let me know in the comments below!

[Traveling Tales] Keeping it Coastal in Central Oregon

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“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder

Until a few years ago, I firmly believed that down to my core I was a city kitty; from a purposeful hustle and bustle like you’ve never seen before to vibrant, neon color schemes boldly emblazoned against the darkness of the night and the palpable buzz of a technologically savvy, creative beehive. I grew up in California’s South Bay Area and quite frankly one of the few reasons I’m proud to be from the Silicon Valley is that people actually know the area I’m from instead of “40 minutes south of San Francisco”, “a little East of San Jose” and “a lovely drive from Santa Cruz”.
Being close to San Francisco and San Jose meant that whenever I could immerse myself in their go-go-go nature, I would – but there’s something to be said for what Santa Cruz had to offer: a slower pace of life, a calmer approach to the present moment with a less populated view and a stunning landscape where the trees meet the sea.

When we live in a fast past environment, we’re forced to adapt to a fast paced way of doing, being and living.  Like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, we feel like we’re running just to stay in place. Suffice it to say that in Los Angeles – a quick wit, high levels of intelligence, deep passions and lack of sleep are  four cornerstones of the lives of basically everyone I consider a close friend.  Like a caterpillar in perpetual chrysalis, as age and experience boldly dance together inside, I’ve gladly shed the skin of my past while transitioning into a phase of my life that’s falls on the side of a country mouse than a city kitty. img_1148

This past weekend, Danny and I took a lovely deviation from our typically atypical LA life and jaunted up the West Coast for some wedding planning and much needed family time. For both of our first times, we blasted off out of the lovely Long Beach Airport and headed up to Central Oregon.  Originally, we’d planned on flying in Friday afternoon and leaving Sunday evening – but by extending our stay from Thursday night through Monday afternoon, we saved a few hundred dollars and got some extra family time; now that’s what I call a win-win!  After settling in for a cozy Thursday night, we woke up Friday morning fresh faced and adventure hungry; with a quick breakfast in our bellies and a glance at the stunning weather on tap for the day, we’d packed a bag and we were off off and away, ready to spend a day with the scenic Central Oregon Coast.

Our first stop of the journey was in Newport, Oregon to chow down on some delicious eats at Local Ocean Seafood, with a lovely view to the harbor. For as much as I consider myself a Bouncy Kitty of sorts – I’ll be the first to admit that I tend to eat a lot more raw fish, the likes of sushi, sashimi, tuna tartare and seared salmon make me salivate; but when it comes to the cooked variety, I tend to shy away.  Enter Danny.  He has a no holds, or foods, barred approach to chowing down and it’s expanded my culinary cravings tenfold.  LOS had the most delicious oyster shooters and seared albacore kabobs – and I know precisely what I’m ordering next time we go back!

 After a quick jaunt down the pier for a friendly conversation with some local seals, we were off off and away down the Central Oregon coast to Yachats, a small, sleepy town where I spent several memorable summer vacations with my dad’s side of the family.  But first, we plotted a few stunning beach stops on the way, first – to Ona Beach!

 

I had a million and a half flashbacks to fond childhood memories, tidepool hopping with my father, scavenging for sea glass, seashells and seashell things with my step-mom and breathing in the salty air while dancing in the sunshowers bouncing off the Pacific.  These memories and feelings fill my soul like a warm bowl of soup on a frigid day, or a hearty hug after a long night.

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Apparently, we couldn’t get enough of the beach because after leaving Ona Beach, we stopped again at Seal Beach to take in the awe inspiring view – and then, it was finally off for Yachats, a town so small that you have to remind people in Oregon where it is.  Translated from the Siletz language, ‘Yachats‘ literally means the ‘dark water at the foot of the mountain’ – one look off the cliffs down into the Pacific, and you’ll be sure to agree. A quaint community about halfway between California and Washington, Yachats sits right on the water and feels like it walked right out of 1950’s America. Back in the day after my grandparents settled in Corvallis Oregon, they snagged an adorable Summer home from a fantastic Rhododendron expert who scattered the flowers across our property.  The end result is a beautiful landscape boarded by the bubbling Bob Creek that sprouts to life and blooms only four weeks of the year, and we were lucky enough to be around to witness it.

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The last leg of the trip was definitely my favorite, if not for proof that my apple doesn’t fall far from the family tree. Back in August in 1987, hundreds of thousands of eager souls around the globe flocked to sacred, spiritual locations to participate in the  ‘Harmonic Convergence‘ – the first internationally synchronous  meditation event in recorded history.  Of course – my dad and his group of friends went; they chose an area called Cape Perpetua, and Danny and I were lucky enough to stop by for a sunny, afternoon visit – a rare, sunny afternoon at that, especially for anyone that knows the Oregon Coast!  Cape Perpetua is a slice of Oregon heaven with hundreds of tall trees sitting over bluffs that give a panoramic view of the entire Oregon Coastline. Pay it just one visit and you’ll see in a heartbeat why it’s so special.

 

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What I learned on my trip is that if you’re a fan of the California Coast, you’ll be head over heals for Oregon’s. Start planning your journey now and check out these helpful sites on the state’s natural wonders.

Travel Oregon | Yachats | You Might Like Oregon | Oregon National Parks