Central Oregon Coast Press Trip: Day 2

22 06 2012

Day 2 started out with breakfast in the same spot I chose to end the previous evening; at the MIST Restaurant. Though this morning, I would be in the actual restaurant and avoid the lounge altogether. We were joined by Revelle Lewis, Sales Manager for Surftides Lincoln City. Revelle was a joy to talk to. She detailed the history of the hotel and the renovations done to the property. As good as breakfast conversation was, I struggled to avert my attention anywhere except on the Crab Cake Benedict and house-made sausage that I was squaring up on. I really liked this place. So much so, I already have plans to go back in September.

We bid adieu to Revelle and Surftides and headed for the Jennifer Sears Glass Art Studio. The original plan that morning was to go out to the beach after breakfast and go glass float hunting……Where by an incredible press tour-induced stroke of luck, we would happen upon glass floats. The weather that morning was less than agreeable so Lucy did what Lucy does, and arranged for us to go to an actual art studio and blow glass floats for ourselves. We were met at the studio by Sandy Pfaff, Executive Director of the Lincoln City Visitor & Convention Bureau, Katera Woodbridge, Interactive Marketing Manager for the same bureau, and Artist, Kelly Howard.

Back story: glass floats have been prized finds for beachcombers in the Northwest for quite sometime. Japanese and Korean fisherman once used handmade glass floats for their nets, occasionally the nets and or floats would break free and make their way across the Pacific Ocean and end up on our beaches. The practice of making glass fishing floats is now a rarity in Japan and Korea but every now and then, a real one shows up on the shores of Oregon. What’s less rare now are ornate, vibrantly hued, handmade glass floats created by local artists being spotted on the beach. It’s like the ultimate Easter egg hunt, and people take it seriously. On this day, I had the pleasure of blowing my own glass float. Well kind of. I was given a heavy amount of help and tutelage from the lovely and talented Kelly Howard. Since a greenhorn glass blower is more likely to produce a molten, mis-shapened blob or burn down the place, the amount of help given was necessary and appreciated. I got the finished product in the mail a couple of weeks ago and it rocks! I’m 98% sure it’s better than the one that Roy made.

We went from glass blowing to shopping. We visited the Tanger Outlets in Lincoln City. General Manager, Diane Kusz, gave us the layout of the place and a swag bag containing a discount book. We were off to enjoy an hour of independent shopping. If I recall correctly, we all benefited from this. I learned from my first press trip that you should really bring an additional piece of luggage to tote back items picked up along the way. I might not be the sharpest tool in the box, but I can learn a lesson. And having extra luggage, especially when they let you loose in an outlet mall, is a valuable one.

Next up was lunch at Fathoms Restaurant at the Inn at Spanish Head. Once again we were joined by Sandy and Katera. Roy Fact #2: If you’re a rookie travel writer on a trip with Roy Stevenson, expect to get hazed. Roy is insistent that you earn your stripes. Upon learning of my recently attained bachelor status, it became Roy’s mission in life to “hook me up”, as it were. He insisted that I sit next to, converse with, or propose marriage to any female within 20 years of my own age that didn’t have a ring on her finger. I typically don’t embarrass easy, but I’ll admit that Roy got me a few times. At lunch the incredibly patient Katera was Roy’s chosen Adam Target. Much to my pleasure, she took everything he said with a grain of salt and chopped him at the knees when necessary.

Lunch was fantastic by the way. The views from the restaurant where as good as any I’ve encountered on the coast during a meal and the Spanish Salad I had was remarkable. I once again tried to order “light”, but a salad with grilled chicken, almonds, green olives, piquillo peppers, Manchego cheese, croutons, and creamy piquillo pepper dressing ensured I ate every bite and dang near licked the plate. Oh well.

Then it was time for glass blowing. “Again?” you say. Yes, but this time instead of rookies fumbling around a studio, we were going to watch a true artist in action. Buzz Williams owns and operates Alder House III, and he was mesmerizing to watch. His glass blowing studio and residence sit next to each other in an otherworldly chunk of forest that might as well be straight out of a Tolkien novel. At the risk of getting too steamy for a blog post, Buzz coddles, maneuvers, and takes on molten glass like a skilled and caring lover. If it sounds odd, visit a glass blowing studio sometime. These places are chock full of double entendres. Allusions to lovemaking aside, this was a great stop. I never really paid attention to glass art before, but this day in Lincoln City has converted me into an appreciative fan of the art form.

After visiting with Buzz, we left to check in at the Salishan Spa and Golf Resort, our home for the evening. The grounds at the Salishan where as enchanting as the forest that Buzz Williams calls home. I would have to scope out the place later because we had only a few minutes to freshen up before leaving for the Beachcombers Haven. The Beachcombers Haven offers vacation rentals on a prime spot of Gleneden Beach. It was in one of these charming beach front units that we met the proprietor of Beachcombers, Alyce Thomson, and Owner Operator of the Flying Dutchman Winery, Dick Cutler. We were going to do a little wine tasting and chat about their respective businesses. For me, this was one of the highlights of the entire trip. Sure the wine was great and the beach view was stunning. But Alyce and Dick are world class. Alyce is a spitfire source of enigmatic energy with a quick wit and a sharp tongue. Dick is mellow, smooth, and has a glimmer in his eye that lead me to believe he’s seen and done more good living than I’ll ever sniff at, and there’s a whole lot more to come. I want to be Dick when I grow up. Combined, the two friends formed a chocolate and peanut butter-esque conversation team that was inviting, engaging, and infectious.

After much wine and chatter it was time for dinner. As an added bonus Alyce and Dick chose to join us. Dinner was at the Surfrider Restaurant and Lounge at the Surfrider Resort in Depoe Bay. Apparently the theme of the day was “Try to eat while nature’s splendor smacks you in the face”. The view from the Surfrider Restaurant was on par with the view from the Fathoms Restaurant, only now it was sunset…..and whales where swimming by…..and Allen gave me an assignment for Northwest Travel Magazine….and I’m eating scallops……and Dick was sitting next to me! Good gravy this day was cutting my way. I left dinner full and rosy cheeked. When we got back to Salishan, I decided to explore the grounds. Resorts like these are fun to just walk around in. Somehow my exploration lead to the Attic Lounge for a nightcap. The bar was amazing. So far the Central Oregon Coast is setting the bar really high in many aspects, not the least of which is lounge quality. The Attic was another super cozy, warm, uber-relaxing venue with top notch drinks. I was lucky enough to be joined by Lucy and Allen for a drink and then it was back to the room. Checkout the next morning was 8:15 am.

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Central Oregon Coast Press Trip: Day 1

6 06 2012

Can you imagine the luck? Just a couple months after the North Oregon Coast Press Trip finished and my perma-smile began to dissipate, I had the honor of being invited back for the Central Oregon Coast trip. And it was a reunion of sorts. Once again Lucy Gibson, Public Relations Director for the Central Oregon Coast Association, was riding shotgun. Guide, Tracie Driver, from NorthWest EcoExcursions was back behind the wheel of the tour van. And I was very pleased to see Editor of Northwest Travel Magazine / Press Trip Poobah, Allen Cox, back as well. It was to be a much smaller group this time around though. In addition to Allen and me, the only other writer along for the journey was travel writer extraordinaire, Roy Stevenson. I had never had the privilege of making Roy’s acquaintance before, but did he ever announce his presence with authority. And it was far from a bad thing. Roy is a Kiwi with a larger-than-life personality and only one speed; a speed that manages to kick into overdrive with the addition of sugar and caffeine. Roy is capable of leading even the most pious individual down a path of press tour induced, middle-aged skullduggery. I love him. The “Code of the Road” prevents me from divulging too much, but I can assure you that nothing transpired that Mrs. Stevenson wouldn’t approve of, save for the sugar and caffeine intake.

Tracie, Allen, Roy, and I all met at the Shilo Inns Portland Airport Suites Hotel and headed south. We met Lucy in Depoe Bay at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Center. We visited briefly with a pair of delightful volunteers, Fred & Betty Robison, before crossing the street for lunch. Roy Fact #1: Don’t get him started on World War 2. Roy writes about all sorts of non-travel related topics, and WW2 is one of them. When he found out that Fred was in the war, he was all over it.

We eventually got to the Spouting Horn Restaurant for lunch. The view of Depoe Bay was fantastic, as was my BLT and cup of chowder. Tracie and I frequently end up seated next to each other for meals. After just now working off the additional chin I garnered from the last trip, Tracie and I agreed to try and order “lighter” meals whenever possible this trip. The half sandwich and cup of soup was a great start. We’ll see how it goes.

After lunch we walked across the street to the Whale Watching Center. We actually saw whales! The center is under renovation, but there are still a number of great exhibits to peruse. Plus there are binoculars and a great vantage for spotting whales.

We watched whales for about a half an hour and then something odd happened. We had free time. On the last trip, our itinerary was packed to the gills. I don’t recall any complaints, however. It’s really hard to die from an overdose of awesome. That being said, I would typically pass out the second my head hit the pillow. On this day though, we were given an hour to just stroll about and visit the wonderful shops of Depoe Bay. It was great. I bought an ice cream cone and took a bunch of pictures.

Done with shopping, we headed for the stylishly refurbished Surftides Lincoln City, our lodging for the evening. Man was this place fantastic. And not just because of the bottles of wine and meat and cheese tray they had waiting for me in my room. They have outside fire pits, fresh baked cookies in the lobby, super comfy beds, and a killer bar and lounge attached to the restaurant, MIST. I had enough time to freshen up and drink some wine before making my way back down to the van to leave for dinner.

Dinner was at the Chinook Winds Casino Resort, in the Rogue River Steakehouse, and it was impressive. We where met by Teresa Simmons, Public Relations Assistant Manager for the Casino, who was excellent company. She detailed the role that the Casino plays in the community, as well as some of the finer points of the Resort itself. We were treated to several delicious appetizers and then I received one of the best tasting, best plated orders of scallops that have ever been placed in front of my face.

After dinner we headed back to the Surftides where I explored the grounds and went to take pictures of the bar. It’s important to cover all angles when you visit these places. Just don’t ask me for pictures of very many exercise rooms. All kidding aside though, the bar was cozy, and had a stunning view. I hung out for a drink or three, went back to the room, and called it a night. Breakfast was scheduled for 8:30 am.