The autumn chill in the air inspired us to take a colorful fall road trip – sort of…
After a flight dropped us in Portland, Oregon, we navigated the bustling city and discovered our eclectic haven for the night at the McMenamin’s Crystal Hotel in downtown. We were pleasantly surprised to find the city clean, safe and as lively as ever. The Crystal is one of McMenamin’s properties, celebrated for their unique and fun atmosphere.
Shortly after checking in, we found ourselves dining at Jake’s Famous Crawfish restaurant, conveniently located just a stone’s throw from The Crystal. The extensive fish and seafood menu they offered was one of the largest we’ve ever seen, and both the food and service were excellent.
The next morning, as we prepared to head to Salem for some wine tasting, we kicked off the day with a delicious breakfast at Cheryl’s. I simply couldn’t resist trying the Frittwich, an apple fritter grilled with smoked gouda, cheddar, bacon jam, a fried egg, and arugula, all served with a side of potatoes. Meanwhile, Jan opted for the satisfying Portuguese Fried Rice with Linguica!
Now, on to the road trip.
Our first stop was Salem, where we met my brother Kevin, who took us to Cristom Winery where our sister-in-law, Pam works. Royal treatment, amazing vistas and luscious wines awaited us. Organic and biodynamic farming marks Christom’s vision for great wines for the next 100 years. If you are in the Salem/Willamette Valley area, you will find many note-worthy wineries known for wonderful Pinot Noirs.
And there is nothing better than family hugs and laughter, fine wines and dining at a food truck court!
We planned our road trip, with the main destination being Joseph, Oregon, ever since our friends had told us about this hidden gem in the northeastern corner of the state.
So after our family time, we headed back to Portland to pick up the historic Columbia River Highway. Multnomah Falls, Cascade Locks and Columbia Gorge Discovery Center distracted our driving, requiring an overnight stay in Broadman.
Our morning drive to Joseph was delayed by traffic, er rather cattle herds.
I doubt anyone complained when the river and canyon view was so picturesque, and the little herd dog was fascinating to watch.
Joseph is truly a scenic location. The main street has restaurants, art galleries, Wallowology Natural History Museum along with boutiques, shops and more museums. A short distance out of town features beautiful Wallowa Lake. Another 1 hour+ drive will take you to Hell’s Canyon, deeper than the Grand Canyon and Joseph Canyon. Top all this off with a bronze foundry! Our friends who hosted us arranged for a tour at the foundry which taught us so much about this ancient art form.
Before heading back to the airport, we spent two days in Walla Walla. We toured the Whitman Mission Historical Site and Fort Walla Walla mostly because I have ancestors who traveled the Oregon Trail. Walla Walla has a main street with numerous wine tasting rooms, a variety of shops and businesses. Brasserie Four, a French bistro, made us feel like we were back in Paris. A cheese and charcuterie plate with pommes frites and fine wines was our dinner the first night. We can highly recommend Maple Counter Café for breakfast and Yamas Greek Eatery for lunch too.
Alas, our road trip was ending, but amazing scenery, fun and fine dining, and precious time with friends and family was the gold ring.