PNW Coast – Weekend Roadtrip

Earlier this month Sam and I took the car along the PNW coast and saw a few of the many, many spectacular beaches – each only about 2-3 hours away from Portland. The trip left such an impact on us that we’ve been longing to do it again, so we’re hitting the road again this weekend! So before there’s too many memories to recount,  I wanted to take some time and reflect on our coastal trip and jot down some of my favorite moments.

 

Driving through the Country

After work, we drove directly to Newport in the hopes of getting there with some daylight to spare. With an obligatory Taco Bell burrito puddling up hot sauce on my lap, we made our way through windy, country roads with (frustratingly) low speed limits that gave us plenty of time to sightsee. Since every road trip requires lots of time in the car, it’s a bonus when there is always something new and beautiful to see. One thing we didn’t do? Take a picture. Just imagine rolling amber hills, forested cliffs, and a windshield with more than enough dead bugs to make me question my validity as a new Vegan.

 

Catching the Sunset in Newport

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We did manage to get to Newport in time; we parked as close to the beach as we could and walked in the freezing cold coastal winds to enjoy the sun as it set behind the horizon. The majority of the town was asleep by the time we arrived, and was still asleep by the time we left in the morning, but seeing the cute shops in the street helped me imagine a bustling seaside town during peak hours. Maybe this weekend we’ll see that side of it.

 

Finding little Sea Creatures in Smelt Sands

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The next morning we drove about thirty minutes south down the coast to visit Smelt Sands, a really cool beach with tide pools, which, for those of us who have lived 15 years in a desert, are little pools of ocean water that get holed up in the crevices of rocks as the tide changes. Sam and I saw a bunch of crabs and starfish and since I grew up catching little sea critters just like that with my brother, I was incredibly delighted to experience this. Other living things here? Ravens or crows, I can never tell the difference. But they hunt the crabs here and it’s interesting to watch them work their way strategically through a shell.

Exploring Sea Caves in Depoe Bay (and grabbing lunch)

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Probably the highlight of the trip for me was Depoe Bay, where we spotted some caves along the cliffs that were accessible because of the low tide. I don’t keep up with the ocean’s schedule but we arrived around noon so I imagine that’s a good time to come and see these guys for yourself! Getting to them requires some scrambling and clambering but nothing too intense or advanced. (Sam’s Note: & don’t make the fun mistake that we did. You don’t have to scramble over the slippery algae rocks. There is a rope to help you get down towards the South side near the caves!)

Afterwards we grabbed lunch at the Chowder Bowl (the veggie burger was a special so they may not have it all the time) and grabbed some vegan Taffy at Ainslee’s.

 

Enjoying the Views in Neskowin

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There’s a really cool hill/cliff/hump?/chunk of land on the beach in Neskowin. If you make your way up you can sit on branches and enjoy some incredibly peaceful views of the ocean. Another thing to do here is almost die because you lose your footing (SAM) so make sure to be careful when you start the descent. Neskowin seems like the type of place where you find more to do the more you visit, so I’m super excited to head back and do some more thorough exploring. We enjoyed a veggie burrito and a beer at a little shop near the beach as we prepared for our final stop of the day.

 

Sleeping in Oceanside

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*Picture is from Newport but sleeping is all the same, isn’t it?

Oceanside automatically makes me think of Southern California, but the only thing the two cities have in common is that they’re both on the side of an ocean. Oceanside, Oregon is beautifully quiet, and quaint, and we found a good spot to listen to the waves as we got tucked in for the night. Just like Newport, I imagine this small town to be packed with surfers during the day but experiencing the quiet side of it was the perfect way to end the trip.

Our Way Home

On our way home, we stopped in several other small towns and revisited Cannon Beach (which is still my favorite, for now) and made it home with enough time to unwind and prepare for the workweek.

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Sam and I never used to have two consecutive days off together, but now that we do (on occasion) we’ve discovered the absolute magic of weekend traveling. I highly suggest doing this and just bumming it out in your car and pack a ton of PB&J sandwiches to make it cheap, and fun, and easy. On to the next one!

-Zach

 

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Lake Las Vegas Getaway!

 

It was 80 degrees out and we had that itch – that desire to see something new. So we rolled the bikes out, revved into the weekend traffic and arrived at the picturesque village just in time to catch the sunset.

Despite feeling like a little oasis, Lake Las Vegas is only about 40 minutes from anywhere in town. Making it a perfect getaway for those tourists who are tired of the crowded strip! This place is loaded with hotel rooms that all seem to have a view of the lake through the room window. There’s also a little shopping center that has multiple restaurants ranging from Italian to Mexican food, as well as a market with surprisingly low prices on their items!

We went on a Friday afternoon and were surprised with how quiet the town was, but it actually worked in our favor and helped the whole place feel very serene and peaceful. There’s a variety of dramatic backdrops here, which makes Lake Las Vegas a favorite for photographers and romantics.

For those seeking a more adventurous approach, the Lake Las Vegas website offers equipment rentals for several different water sports and activities. We saw one guy doing flips over the water on one of those pressure jetpacks and it looked pretty damn cool!

Also, if you’re debating whether to check out Lake Las Vegas during the winter season, definitely do! They set up an ice rink over a part of the lake during the winter.

-Sam

Asheville – What Not To Miss!

Sam and I had never been in a small town – not for an extended time, anyway, and arriving at the tiny, bo-dunk airport in Asheville came with a feeling of apprehension. The air was hot and humid and our cab driver was the Han Solo of cab drivers, jutting between traffic and tuning his police scanner to ensure we wouldn’t get pulled over. When we arrived at our little hotel, he smugly suggested a tip, adding, “Well you survived, didn’t you?”

We did survive, and despite the ride we got a pretty good impression of Asheville. Looking out of the window you couldn’t see an end to the green. The trees were healthy and thick and they crowded the mountains like a blanket. Rivers rushed along streets and under bridges and people were inner-tubing or kayaking – not the professional grade kayaking you might be picturing, more like the improvised “your cousin Billy has a slab of plastic that’ll float” type of kayaking.

Our hotel was a bit dingy, but cheap and close to bus stops so it did the trick. Our nightly routine here was getting a coffee at the iHop across the street; then coming back to our room and reading or watching Fresh Prince. If you travel, bring a book. Sometimes Fresh Prince isn’t on.

Downtown Asheville

DSC05169Downtown Asheville was about 5 minutes away from our hotel by bus. This was the only part of the city that actually felt like a city: tall, brick buildings and tons of little shops. Asheville’s community is passionate about preserving independent businesses, and everywhere in town we found signs plastered on the windows urging consumers to “Unchain Asheville”. While we were there, we tried to visit as many of these little establishments as possible. Our favorites? I’m glad you asked.

Best Shops

We love our food and we love our coffee, so top of our list are two cafés and a restaurant.

Wicked Weed Brewing

IMG_9050-1Beer and good food and even better ambience. We ate here twice, once as the sun cast heavy shadows over the narrow streets and we were able to enjoy all of it because of their amazing half indoor/half outdoor bar seating.

Double D’s Coffee

DSC05143The coffee was alright, a bit sweet, but the charm here is the fact that the café has been set up in an old English double decker bus.

The Rhu

DSC05205Again, the coffee wasn’t great but our experience was amplified by the fact that if you sneak upstairs to the third floor, there is an unused events space that was empty. Large windows and wooden chandeliers create an inspiring atmosphere and we spent some time reading here before a barista found us and kicked us out.

In addition to food and coffee, there are plenty of boutiques and knick-knack stores. My favorite shop was called Horse + Hero where we got a couple of shirts with amazing art by Andy Herod.

Best Views

In Asheville you can’t get away from the beautiful green mountains, but for some of the most picturesque moments you have to visit the Blue Ridge Mountains. We rented a uHaul truck to get around for $20 and also used it to visit the Biltmore Mansion, built by the badass George Vanderbilt. Make sure you do the wine tour here and then go pet some farm animals to sober up.

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Additionally, in order to get some good panoramas of downtown we climbed a fire escape to get some height. Drones are cheating.

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Overall, we were a bit underwhelmed with our visit to Asheville. To be fair, we did minimal research on the town and went in expecting something… grander. More to do, I suppose, for eager urban explorers. This was one of our first “let’s just go”/on the whim trips, and we’ve learned a lot since then. Maybe if we went again now we’d discover the secret charm little towns like Asheville keep tucked beneath layers of two-lane streets and single story homes.

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-Zach

Boston: Our 5 Favorite Food Joints!

Zach and I visited Boston in 2016 for the first time. We traveled by foot everywhere, and followed the crowd to help choose just which food establishments to give a shot! After trying 33 different establishments over our two-week stay, I’ve chosen our top 5. All of which are great in pricing, taste, and ambiance!

#5 PRET A MANGER

Perfect for consumers looking for fresh, healthy, light food options during their stroll through the city. Pret A Manger has freshly made sandwiches, soups, salads, and coffee! The location on State Street goes along side the Freedom Trail, which makes it a perfect rest stop for tourists!

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(We don’t have a photo of the establishment! But if you’re following this trail, you’ll pass Pret A Manger!)

#4 BOLOCO

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The specific location that we loved was located on Boylston & Charles Street; right across from the peaceful & beautiful Public Garden. Boloco specializes in burritos & also has great vegetarian options as well! & check out the Public Garden after you eat at Boloco!

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(Public Garden)

#3 AU BON PAIN

Au Bon Pain is Boston’s equivalence to Einstein Bagels, but pastry based. They have fridges filled with fresh sandwiches, yogurt parfaits, salads, and beverages. They also have an area where you can order hot breakfast and lunch sandwiches, as well as a huge self-serve pastry case. The one on Boylston St is a great location where you’ll get to see locals walking to work, teens skateboarding, and close to Charles River. Just take Boylston St down to Charles St, make a left on Charles, and up to Boston’s Public Dock on the Esplanade.

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(We also don’t have a photo of Au Bon Pain! But This is the Public Dock on the Esplanade. Gorgeous right!)

#2 GLOBE

While we were staying in Boston, we couldn’t resist going to a Red Sox game! Game night we felt like finding a cool bar establishment to grab some wings and beers prior. While walking down Boylston St, we found Globe. They’re a tiny restaurant with fabulous food and reasonable prices. But they have great seating that just can’t be beat! You can either sit inside to escape the heat, or they have outside seating that’s close to Boston’s Public Library. A great area to just watch the locals go about their days, and take in the amazing sunset while eating dinner.

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#1 DELUX CAFÉ

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One night when we were walking through the city on our way back to our hostel, we heard loud chattering coming from around the corner that we thought were just residential. However, it was actually coming from this little establishment called Delux Café! It’s one of those hidden treasures that are always busy due to their amazing ambiance, food, and friendly staff! We stayed here one night for over an hour, just talking to one of the bartenders about what it’s like to live in Boston. Definitely check them out!!

-Sam