North Oregon Coast Press Trip: Day 1

2 03 2012

I met our guide and driver Tracie Driver (that is her name), at the Shilo Inn near the Portland Airport. Tracie owns and operates a wonderful company called NorthWest EcoExcursions. She also, as I would come to find out, has probably forgotten more about nature in the NorthWest than I’ll ever know. Just prior to 11am, six other travel writers and yours truly loaded into Tracie’s van and shipped off for Astoria.

It rained the entire drive. Rain, as well as fogged up rear windows, would prove to be a theme for the week. So too, however, would be the diligent van window sleeve-wiping of the group. Even when wet, perhaps especially so, Oregon scenery is breathtaking.

At around 1pm we arrived at the BRIDGEwater Bistro where we met Lucy Gibson, the wonderful human being that organized this adventure on behalf of the Oregon Coast Visitors Association. We were treated to a set of exquisitely plated tapas, followed by a set of desserts. This stop set the tone for what would be another theme on the trip; eating. We were going to eat our way down the North Coast of Oregon, and it was going to be delicious. I had purchased new pants with a slightly smaller waistline prior to this trip. By day three I was back into my “big boy” pants.

We left the BRIDGEwater Bistro quite full and bound for The Columbia River Maritime Museum for a guided tour. The museum and our guide Carol were remarkable. We learned a lot in a short amount of time, but what really stuck out for me was learning about the Bar Pilots of the Columbia River. Click that link to find out all about them, but suffice it to say that they just aren’t human.

From the Maritime Museum we headed down the street to the Oregon Film Museum and met with museum director McAndrew Burns. Names just don’t get better than that. The museum is housed in the old Clatsop County Jail and is absolutely fascinating. It also affords visitors the rare opportunity to purchase a “Set Pass” and shoot, star in, and edit their own mini-movie.

Then it was off to Fort Stevens State Park. It was about this time that the heavens decided to get serious about wetting down the Oregon Coast. We weren’t able to get out and see much at Fort Stevens, but Park Host Keith Dooley was kind enough to drive us around. At well over 4000 acres, the place is massive and as close to Shangri-La as a car camping family is likely to get. We also met with Jim Scheller from the Warrenton Trails Association. That made me giddy. He told us about the extensive trail system that weaves its way through the park and the town of Warrenton. I’ll have to do some field research on those trails this summer.

Then it was time to check into our digs for the evening and freshen up. My room at the Cannery Pier Hotel clued me into what trip theme number three was. We were going to be staying at some of the nicest places on the North Coast. I headed down stairs for the Wine and Smoked Salmon reception. Then the group went upstairs for the “Official” wine and appetizers provided by Clemente’s, which were “Officially” out of this world. Theme 2b; We were going to also drink our way down the North Coast of Oregon, and it was going to be delicious. During appetizers Christopher Lloyd (not that one, different guy entirely) from Columbia River Eco Tours gave us an engrossing presentation about the tours his company provides. We were supposed to have one of his tours earlier in the day, but the weather told us no. More field research for a later date.

We then loaded into the van and departed for the Rogue Ales Public House for yet another round of appetizers, but this time instead of wine we had beer samples. Now it was time for dinner proper.

Dinner was five courses with wine pairings at Baked Alaska. Yes, after three rounds of appetizers and drinks, it was time for a five course dinner. At Baked Alaska proprietor and Chef Christopher Holen, provided me with perhaps the greatest culinary experience of my life up to this point. No hyperbole, he and his staff blew my doors off with a combination of menu items and one of a kind dishes created just for us. Chris is a scary-good mix of talent and charisma that will take him far. I expect to see him on the Food Network before all is said and done.

When we departed for the hotel, it was somewhere around 9:45 and I was gassed. I typically don’t go to bed anytime before midnight, but on that evening I was drooling before my head hit the pillow. It’s a good thing too, because the next morning I had to eat breakfast and be ready to leave by 9am.




2 responses

2 03 2012

Cool! I’ve been wanting to check out the Cannery Pier Hotel, and do a whole bunch of the other things you did on this trip!

3 03 2012

Hi there nwtripfinder! I didn’t go into it in great detail in this post, but the Cannery Pier Hotel was a truly great place to stay, with amazing views. You’ll see the view from my room in the day 2 post 🙂

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