Wednesday, August 31, 2011

West Coast Road Trip - Day 2: Cannon Beach to Portland

The drive to Cannon Beach from Astoria was only supposed to take all of 34 minutes. Just one half an hour of gorgeous Oregon coast line in the warm pink glow of a west coast sunset, but that didn't so much happen. We got back in the car, back on the road and ran smack into some pretty horrendous traffic stemming from the 30th annual Hood to Coast relay. A quick check of our phones told us with the fireworks scheduled to start in one hour. We weren't going anywhere fast, so we made a stop for dinner at the Lil' Bayou Restaurant in Seaside Oregon. The moment the fireworks started to thunder and rain sparkling red and gold ash over the beach, we hopped back in the car and took advantage of the empty roadways.

Seven minutes later, we arrived at the Land's End Motel in Cannon Beach. It was breezy and cool out, so we started a fire in our fireplace and settled in for a great night's sleep.

Up with the sun again, we went for a run on the beach, showered and packed, checked out of our hotel, and headed off to a delicious breakfast at the Lazy Susan Cafe.

Since it was a little chilly, I started the morning off with a cup of hot cocoa and a warm blackberry scone.

Then, as if that wasn't enough, I continued to feed my face with some super tasty granola, yogurt, and fruit with brown sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top.

Alex went for the ham and cheese omelet that came with a side of fresh fruit.

He also ordered a side of the most amazing thick cut, pepper spiced bacon that I have ever tried in my life.

After breakfast, we stopped by the Wine Shack and picked up a bottle of Pinot Noir from Oregon on the recommendation of our friend Erica. Apparently it's the best Pinot Noir that there is. Then we headed off to the beach for a few photos of Haystack Rock.

Cannon Beach is an absolutely beautiful beach with grassy dunes, white sands, and of course, the geological monstrosity, Haystack Rock. The coastline is wide and the fog and the cool sea mist give the beach a hauntingly mysterious quality.

We did a little exploring and dipped our toes in the water, but the icy temperatures kept us ashore.

I’d like to come back to Cannon Beach at some point and stay for a week. I’m usually not a huge fan of the beach, but I loved the chilly temperatures and the chance to wrap up in sweats and dig my toes in the sand for warmth. Cannon Beach is my new favorite beach in The States.

Next we headed back into town to check out the local shopping and eating scene. There were lots of cute little stores and cafes. There was a place to take cooking classes and a place to buy homemade rootbeer.

We decided to check out Fultano’s Pizza for a little lunch.

Alex grabbed a slice of pepperoni, and I went with the classic plain cheese. The pizza was okay, but a little heavy and buttery for our liking. The best part was probably the travel size grated parmesan cheese that I picked up on our way out. What a neat invention.

We were sad to leave Cannon Beach, but it was time to press on to Portland.

When we arrived, we got off the highway fully prepared to be thrown into a vibrant little city of ecologically obsessed, well educated, health crazed, hippies. We were pretty badly mistaken. Portland is not all that similar to the way it is portrayed in TV or movies, nor did we find it to be the picturesque little enclave everyone raves about. At first, we were a little miffed, but decided to try harder. We ditched the car and headed off to the world famous VooDoo Doughnut Shop for a sweet treat. As soon as the corner, the two hour line smacked us right in the face. No time for that. So we decided to move on to Powell’s Books a place the bartender at Two Bells had told us about, while I furiously texted my friend and Portland aficionado, Joel, for some suggestions.

Powell’s Books was definitely right up our alley. Over a city block wide, this bookstore is a-dream-come-true for anyone that likes to read. With practically every title known to man in stock, it was hard to know where to start first. We grabbed a map at the door and decided what we needed was a book about visiting Portland. However, I couldn’t help but stop in the pork aisle of the cookbook section.

While we waited for a text back from Joel, we picked up a few ideas from the travel section and headed back out in the city. We started with the Portland Saturday Market, since I like street fairs. It was okay, there were some neat art vendors. However, there were also a lot of junk vendors selling jewelry clearly imported from other countries rather than handmade which was a bummer.

Trying to stem the tide of disappointment, we thought it would be a good point in our day to visit one of Portland’s famous drinking establishments as recommended in a text from Joel. On the way we saw this sign. I thought it was appropriate.

We grabbed a seat in the bar section at Henry’s Tavern on 12th Street and ordered a few beers. Mine was a delicious Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat from Eureka, California. 

The menu looked super delicious so we grabbed dinner. Alex had a side salad and pepperoni pizza. I had a giant cob salad with Henry’s homemade honey basil vinaigrette. Both meals were fantastic. My only complaint might be slightly too much bacon. But really, can you have too much bacon?

After dinner we headed off to our hotel. If you ever go to Portland, you must stay at the McMennamin’s Kennedy School Hotel. My boss recommended it to me, and I’m recommending it to you. It is awesome.

This one time elementary school was reconverted into a hotel, brewery, restaurant, and movie theatre. It is truly a sight to see and a destination within itself. Our room was adorable and only a little bit creepy.

It even came with its own mason jar, pint glass, coaster set. Guests can have their jar filled at any of the five onsite bars for only $5.50 and enjoy a McMennamin beer right in their room.

After dropping our stuff, it was time to explore. Right near our room was the movie theatre. We peeked in to see a showing of Bridemaids just beginning as patrons waited in line for pizza and beer.

We grabbed our first drink at the teeny tiny Honors Bar. We had the nicest bartender who served us Ruby and Hammerhead Ales and told us about the history of the school. 

The thing I found craziest, is that guests and patrons can move freely throughout the hotel with their drinks. No need to stay put or commit to one bar.

Next we headed to the Boiler Room Bar in the basement

We cozyied up in a booth and grabbed a few more drinks. I tried the Copper Moon, and Alex tried the Terminator Stout. Both were delicious.

Then we headed back out for the Cypress Bar. We had to try all of them of course. After, we checked out the rest of the school: the gymnasium, the library, and the Detention Bar. We somehow missed the soaking pool, but not the spooky murals all over the walls.

When we got back to our room, I decided to try to find out if the hotel was haunted. There were no reports online, however, there was a creepy hand print on our mirror, which may or may not have been there before we headed out for the night. Duh duh dun.


  1. A plate of bacon?! Um, YES Please!

    Also, I know you're no longer in Cambridge after your move to DC but my good friend is hosting her first blog giveaway on her blog Wicked Good Travel & Activities ( about the What The Fluff Festival in Union Square, Somerville. I wanted to pass along a link to her post about this Boston based event and giveaway with the request that if it's something you think is interesting that you might consider linking to it on your blog. I know she would be very grateful.

  2. I've always really wanted to go to Portland because I've heard great things, so I'm glad for your very honest report of how it is so far! I hope things start looking up - judging by the super cool hotel, they already are :)

  3. Looks like you had quite a nice trip, the pictures are amazing, everything looks great especially the food, it looks so yummy. Hope to see more from you soon!