Island Time Kayaking

Casey’s view of the world

Eugene, Oregon

November1

Nathan, and subsequently I, were invited to Eugene, Oregon.  Nathan was invited to discuss website stuff with the Eugene Area Bed & Breakfast Association.  We had never visited Eugene before and weren't sure what to expect.  We left on October 27th.

Originally we weren't going to do breakfast for our guests the day we left as they had to be at a seminar at 7:30, but since it was one our guests first time staying at a B&B we decided doing the full experience was the right thing to do.  So breakfast was early.  Since it was just two guests and the third for coffee it was pretty easy though and they really, really appreciated it and enjoyed it.

After our guests left, I made a breakfast for ourselves, hash browns, fried eggs and bacon and I didn't burn any of it this time.  Then we busily set to packing suitcases and the car, as well as showering trying to be quiet as Lauren was still sleeping.  All in all we didn't do so bad, we actually left the inn, with the kitchen cleaned, dishwasher running, car packed, everyone bathed, fed, and dressed at 9:30am.  Pretty amazing if you ask me.

We headed south with a full tank of gas in Sandy and no real plans as such.  Really our only plan was to make it to C'est La Vie Inn around check in time.  Lauren was pretty good on the way down.  She was awake for much of Washington but then fell asleep and slept until we decided it was time to stop for lunch.  We picked a convenient spot just north of Salem and had Subway.  I chose to go with the sandwich of the day (Italian BMT) and Nathan had the Philly something or rather.  I got mine as a meal for $5, his was $6 for the 6" alone!  Their deals are pretty good when they have them and it is something you want to eat.  Lauren enjoyed the olives, cucumbers, pickles, tomatoes, and onions from our sandwiches, and then we were on the road again.

Since we left a bit earlier than anticipated we arrived in the Eugene area around 1:30pm or so, which is a tad early for check-in, so we decided to head further south to Cottage Grove and Pacific Yurts.    We needed somewhere for Lauren to run (on all fours) for a little while, after so long in the car she was getting a bit restless.  Plus Nathan and I have wanted to visit them for at least the last five years, probably longer.  It was well worth the trip.  It gave us so many ideas and inspiration.  They have three on display.  Two of the 20' models with different features and one 30' model.  They are so well done.  Lauren had fun crawling around (ha ha a-round, get it?) them and we were looking at the different features and discussing how we would do them.  One of them had extra door openings that were then framed in with real windows without the lattice in front of it.  Smart, but you can only have so many door openings.  Another had decorative wooden slats (like in a cabin, kind of ) covering the vertical uprights and had wiring chasing through them and then around the upper support ring.  It also had very well disquised doors in the wood so you could get to the electrical and even an electrical panel.  So smart and also gave you more electrical options and lighting, and made it look less like a yurt.  What we would do would be a hybrid of the three displays I think.  The one thing we know we would do without a doubt would be polished concrete floors with radiant floor heat.  So easy right.  It is one open space anyhow, and if you do build the walls for the bathroom/kitchen you don't have to worry about heating those two separate spots!  Plus then the floor is always nice and toasty.  They gave us an updated catalog and price list and we have been talking about different things we could do with them ever since.  I keep trying to figure out how to make it look Victorian though so I an put one in the front yard!

After much contemplating, and a wrong turn trying to find I-5 we arrived at C'est La Vie Inn.  Before we left I decided to see if they were in our NW Victorians book, as they are also a historic Victorian.  Not only were they in the book, they were on the same page as us!  And even more interesting, it was painted yellow, just like ours, but now it has a very similar paint scheme to us.  Too funny.  So we arrive at the inn, and it is beautiful.  The gardens, walkways, gates, leading us to the front door where there are two notes.  "Don't let in the cat, it's not ours."  That made us laugh as when we took over our inn we too had a sign reading the same thing.  And even more eerie, the cat they don't want let in is an orange and white tabby, same as the one that we didn't want let in here.  But it doesn't end there.  There is another note on the door that says, "If we don't answer the door bell we may be in the garden."  Um…yup we have one of those too!  Doo doo doo doo…No not really that spooky, it is just funny.  So we start walking around the house and taking in the amazing gardens.  Truly amazing, I can only wish that some day our garden looks this manicured, well put together and amazing.  They also have an outdoor cat house like Nathan wants to build.  A cat door through the house to an enclosed area outside so the indoor cats can enjoy the great outdoors.  We run into Jack feeding the neighborhood cats, and he gives us the tour of his garden.  Complete with nametags (common and latin names of most of the plants), miniature garden, train garden, rose garden…then we come around the back of the house and we see their carriage house.  Ok, it is a little freaky.  They built this carriage house with a space on the ground floor for functions (you know like the one we want to build) and a suite upstairs.  The only difference is that we would have a subterranean garage for our cars and the suite would be two bedrooms, instead of just one.

They have done all the upgrades we would love to do to the inn.  New flooring, stripped woodwork, amazing doors, the tile work, they spared no expense from what I saw, and they did the restoration seamlessly and flawlessly.  Jack got us settled into the Casablanca suite (above the carriage house and away from other guests that Lauren could disturb with her new found high frequency screaming), and told us that Anne Marie was due to be home soon, but that her computer had crashed so he wasn't sure what we were going to accomplish that day as far as website stuff.  So "settling" isn't really an appropriate term for this suite.  Beautiful antique bed and dresser, excellent appointments, large jetted tub, kitchenette, work space, bathroom with shower, Romeo & Juliette balcony off the sitting area where you could look down on the garden and listen to one of many fountains.  Done in an Art Deco style.  It was large and comfortable.  Very VERY similar in design to what we would do.  Our suite (The Nisqually I call it) in our Carriage house would have you still enter through the common area and have the one room with the jetted tub, but where the balcony was in their suite we would have another bedroom with two beds, ultimately two queens, and then a Romeo & Juliette balcony off there, and perhaps a tub but it would most likely be a clawfoot with integrated shower rather than a large jetted one and separate shower.  This we think would appeal more to families and/or friends traveling together, or even business travelers or legislative individuals.  You could rent the suite as a whole, with just the king room (with jetted tub) or just the two queen beds.

Oh exciting news though!  Lauren took her first steps!!  Unassisted and unprompted.  She pulled herself up on the ottoman, looked at the doors for the balcony and took one, two steps (grunting as she went) then sat down and crawled the rest of the way.  So apparently we need to visit more B&Bs, she stood up for the first time in Leavenworth, and walked for the first time here!

Anne Marie arrived back at the inn and she gave us a quick tour of the guest rooms and told us she was cooking dinner for all of us and we were going to dine in their private area.  She was making spaghetti, and while running around trying to fix her computer, giving us a tour, and other errands she was also making the spaghetti sauce.  It was really exceptionally good.  The sauce was smooth and rich, the pasta cooked perfectly with fresh basil, and these chicken meatballs.  She did tell us she didn't make them, they were from Costco, so of course on our way home we picked up a package of them!  She also made her "winter salad" which was some sort of green (can't remember what she said, something French that she buys at Trader Joe's) with beets.  Very nice dinner.

The next morning we woke up, or rather Nathan woke up and it was a mad rush as we thought we were going to be late for breakfast.  Lauren had slept in, I had to wake her up to get ready.  We arrived in the dining room and we were the first down!  Always the way.  Breakfast was fresh made bread, broiled grapefruit, and a chile cheese souffle with sausages.  Not too much, not too little, just right.  Plus we had some yummy coffee.   Anne-Marie was having a bit of a rough go.  First her computer crashed, then her coffee pot broke.  For most people this is an inconvenience, for an innkeeper it is an emergency!  So since her computer wasn't back up and running, but hopefully was going to be later in the afternoon, she suggested perhaps using the guest computer to do a little work and then going for lunch at a local winery.  She said it was a great spot for lunch, not as pricey as dinner, but the food was still excellent.  It sounded good to us.  So while Nathan did a little computer stuff, Lauren and I went out to the garden to take some photographs.

Anne-Marie, Nathan, Lauren and I headed off for lunch leaving Jack behind to try and find a replacement coffee maker.  Like I said, for an innkeeper, not having a coffee maker is an emergency, although I think I would have skipped the coffee maker hunt for the lunch we had at King Estate.  After driving through the Lorane (I think) valley we turn off and start heading up hill to the tasting room and restaurant.  We were greeted in the lobby by what turned out to be Executive Chef Michael Landsberg.  Anne-Marie was very well acquainted with Chef Landsburg.  Since we were also dining with Lauren we decided to skip a tasting as she was getting near her normal lunch hour and she does tend to get cranky without food at regular intervals on her schedule.

We were seated and our waitress Angela brought some items over for the little one to play with (large straws, some corks, metal dip containers).  In my mind I was thinking, "This girl knows kids!".  Later she revealed she had 4, the oldest being 19!  She did not look her age.  Back to the story.  Angela asked if we wanted to start with some wine.  We hadn't had a chance to review the list in full so she left us to have a look-see.

A few minutes later she brought out a cheese and fruit plate for the little one and three flights of wine as compliments of the chef to help us decide on a bottle.  They were all amazing.  Each with completely different flavors.  Nathan and I both liked the Syrah, Anne-Marie was partial for the Pinot Noir, but in the end we decided on the 2007 Walla Walla Syrah.  We also ordered the Smoked Mushroom and Mozzarella Terrine.  It went with the wine so well.  The smokiness of the mushrooms played so well with the mozzarella, and the dark notes of the wine.  Delicious.  We ordered our main dishes, and a few moments later Angela came back with another round of appetizers courtesy of the chef, this time crabcakes.  Oh…they were…delicate, moist, flavorful, fresh….amazing.  Then our mains came.  I ordered the leg of lamb, Nathan had the smoked chicken.  I couldn't tell you what his tasted like, I looked away for a moment and it had been completely devoured.  That must have meant it was out of this world as Nathan hates chicken on the bone, and this was definitely on the bone.  Later he said he was tempted to pick up and gnaw on the  bones it was so good.  Mine, was again deliciously amazing.  The flavors were so well balanced.  The mushroom with the eggplant and cumin with lemon, it makes my mouth water even now on a full stomach.  My only con was that it was well done, and I prefer my lamb to medium to medium well.  A few years ago I wouldn't have been able to tell you how I liked my lamb other than in a field, but I have a new appreciation.

Three and a half hours later, yes seriously, we drug ourselves away.  Full of amazing wine and food.  We stood outside in the mist and fog admiring the yellow grape leaves and the rolling hillside.

Kudos to our waitress Angela.  She is perhaps the best waitress I have ever met.  Every need was taken care of and she was so good with our little one, it wasn't until the very end of lunch that she got restless.  Nathan wanted to make sure he had her name right so he asked her on the way out and her response was, "My name is Angela if you liked me, otherwise it's Gertrude!"  Also a standing ovation to Chef Landsberg and his kitchen.  Job more than well done!  I can't wait to visit the area again just so we can come back and have some more wine and food!

On the way home we stopped briefly at Sweet Cheeks winery.  No tasting, just to admire the view, but at this point Lauren had literally passed out in her car seat.  She was so tired that the car next to us accidentally set off it's alarm and she didn't flinch.  We also toured another B&B on the way, Gimpl Hill Pensionne.  A small bed and breakfast done in an Italian style on, funnily enough, Gimpl Hill.  Great views, very friendly hosts.  Really close to town but in a rural setting.  After arriving back at C'est La Vie, Lauren and I hung out in the suite, she refusing to nap after taking a 20 minute one in the car, even though she was so tired she could barely crawl, and me trying to get her to relax and sit still in the hopes she would nap.  Nathan and Anne-Marie finally got in a few hours of the website work we originally came down to Eugene for.

That night there was a showing of the Metropolitan Opera at the local movie theater that Anne-Marie had wanted to see, and she offered to arrange for a babysitter so Nathan and I could join her for an evening out without Lauren, but she was already is a grumpy mood from not having a proper nap so I didn't think it was a good idea to let one of Anne-Marie's friends suffer through that experience!  So Anne-Marie went off to the Opera and she recommended several restaurants within walking distance.  In the end we decided on Mexican because we knew that Lauren would like it and we wouldn't have to force her to eat it.  So we set off in search of El Jarro Azul.  A Mexican, Salvadorian, Ecuadorian Restaurant highly recommended.  It wasn't too far from the inn, and was decorated with hundreds if not thousands of chili pepper lights on the ceiling.  They feature a very extensive Tequila list, but unfortunately didn't have any creamed tequila, we have yet to find anyone that carries it.  I was at a loss with what to order, so much of it sounded delicious.  I asked one of the owners what was popular and what she would recommend.  In the end I got the Salvadorian style burrito with steak.  It said it was $5.95,  but somehow I just thought that was for the burrito before you added meat, but on the bill it was indeed $5.95.  The burrito was again delicious.  We did not have a bad meal the entire time we were in Oregon.  The slightly different flavors of El Salvador were very present, not muddled, and the burrito was huge.  I don't know what the spices were but I was a fan.  We were also a fan of the fresh salsa, it was not bitter, actually slightly sweet but had a kick at the end.  Nathan had nearly the same thing as myself but it was called Jorge's Special and came on a plate with tortillas on the side and was chicken.  Lauren liked both of them as well!  No tequila for us, although after inhaling the burrito I didn't think I was hungry for a shot of tequila to settle my stomach might have been in order.

The next morning as they didn't have any other guests we told them not to worry about breakfast for us, but Anne-Marie insisted that we must eat something, so we joined her for bagels with cream cheese and coffee.  It was perfect after all the food we had eaten the day before.  After breakfast we packed up the room so it could be turned over for the guests checking in that afternoon and made our way towards home.  In Salem we decided to get lunch, but instead got lost, but found ourselves, instead of at Applebee's at The Ram, a good trade I think.  We had delicious burgers with fries and onion rings.  Lauren enjoyed a lunch of pickles, apple juice, and one onion ring.  After telling her it was going to make her tummy upset she got sick on the way to the car, but didn't seem to mind in the slightest.  Our waitress at the Ram gave us directions to Costco.  We wanted to see what there was to see and to see if we could find any "tax-free" bargains.  We found the chicken meatballs we had had for dinner the first night in Eugene, as well as a kids music set complete with drum,  it will make a perfect present for Lauren for Christmas.

After Costco we hit the road again and arrived back in Olympia at about 4:15pm.  Our guests had already checked in, and we had dinner plans at 6pm, so we quickly did a few things we needed to, unpacked most of the car, and off we went again for another lovely meal!  It was a great trip all in all, not what we had expected, but pleasantly so.

Taking a break.

September19

We are finally taking that much needed break that has been escaping us.  The issue we have found as innkeepers is that even if we don’t have guests we are still at work and work, so in order to get that "weekend" that the collective of people who work outside their homes receive we actually have to go away.

So what is an innkeeper to do?  Well we called upon a few of our fellow innkeepers and created a lovely break for ourselves.

 


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First stop is Bosch Garten Bed and Breakfast in Leavenworth, WA.  We have been to Leavenworth several times, but usually in conjunction with an event, a parade, a meeting, a lunch spot on the way through.  We haven’t had a lot of time to spend and explore.  We are looking forward to getting to know Leavenworth a little better.  We are spending two nights so we should have the opportunity to explore a little.

Next stop is we arrive.  This is more of a stop for us on our way to the San Juan Islands, we thought instead of driving straight from Leavenworth to the islands we could break it up and enjoy some time with friends.

Our last stop is a vacation rental in Friday Harbor.  With Lauren we didn’t want to impose on our fellow innkeepers that don’t normally allow children.  A night or two is one thing but we were really hoping to go away for about a week and that we felt was a bit much to ask of anyone.  So we found this spot and we think it will work really well for our needs.  We are able to cook, the location is right in Friday Harbor and near the ferry terminal, and we were given a great price.  We are staying for four nights here.  This should give us the opportunity to explore the island, go to the other islands if we choose, or just to hang out and relax in the condo.

It has been a long summer full of projects and not a lot of time for relaxation, we are truly a go go go family.  This week long break should give us some time to STOP and relax for a while.

 

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Crazy roadtrip

September12

Nathan and I wanted to take a trip out to Kansas so Lauren could see Grandma and Grandpa and we could also visit friends in IA and MO.  The time frame for doing so was a bit ambitious 7 – 10 days we could be gone, four days of that would be just the getting there and getting home, not to mention the day or so it was going to take to get to or from KS from MO.  That didn’t leave a lot of time for visiting.  And 12 – 16 hours in the car each day?  With Lauren?  She might do ok, but she might also get really pissed off.  So we thought, perhaps we can just fly grandma out here, but that didn’t work and grandpa couldn’t come either.  So then maybe just flying Lauren and I out there, but that didn’t work, grandma said to just wait, so we are.

Hopefully we can do the trip in the spring of this coming year when we can take more than 7 days off and do the trip some justice.  Half the time in the car each day and actually seeing things along the way, plus spending some time with friends and family.

We are still taking some time off but we are just doing a restful getaway in WA.  We need a break and our fear was the trip we were planning wasn’t going to be restful and we would come back and still need a break and be even more drained.  We are heading back up to the San Juans.  We haven’t been there since we were married up on Orcas, nearly three and a half years ago.  We thought it might be the perfect place to getaway to, the only problem is holy moley it is expensive.  Sorry to any of our B&B friends up there but there was no way we could afford it.  I thought, oh maybe one of the little cabins at this place…$300 a night?!  How about a room at this kid friendly place…$275!  The motel we stayed in about 5 years ago?  Now an upscale "motel" with a spa and $295 a night! Ouch.  so I found a nice, cozy (small), vacation rental on San Juan that is $130 a night, gives us access to the ferry, so we can go island hopping, and looks perfect for what we need.  No pool, no hot tub, but a jetted tub, and a kitchenette with a cooktop and microwave so we can stop at Costco on the way and eat well and not spend a fortune eating out (although fish and chips at the pub might be nice).

We are looking forward to our little break, just have to get past our last big outdoor wedding of the season and a meeting and away we go!

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