Saturday, April 19, 2014

Oregon Farm Loops: Do you want to know where your food comes from?



Vintage Farm House at Boondockers Farm
When you think of Oregon you probably think of two things: first, the beautiful green forests and second, the hip town of Portland.

So that leaves a lot of land to be covered. And what many don't realize is that land is often agricultural. Increasingly, Oregon farmers are moving toward organic and sustainable farming methods. Increasingly, urban restaurants, the best ones, look to those farmers for their ingredients.

It isn't surprising, then, that true foodies want to know more about where their food comes from.  Over the last ten years, the wine business as well as the business of touring and tasting those wines, has boomed in Oregon. 

One way to get out there and experience Oregon agriculture is through a self-directed Country Farm Loop like the one in the Molalla area, not all that far from Portland.

Via their interactive map, you can plan a day or a weekend in the country. You can plan stops at an alpaca farm, a U-Pick berry farm, farms where you can see the animals up close and personal and farms where you can learn about sustainable farming practices. 

I've been to a couple of places along this loop and always like the drive through the countryside. There is always something new to discover. Most recently I spent some time out at Boondockers Farm. Owners, Evan Gregoire and Rachel Kornstein are more than happy to show you around. But be sure and call first. 

At Boondockers, on beautiful pastureland, you'll find out about the rare heritage poultry raised there. They have Ancona, Saxony, and Silver Appleyard ducks. But what is unusual is that these ducks, free to roam enclosed pastureland, are guarded by beautiful Great Pyrenees dogs.

Evan and Rachel are knowledgeable and creative. Talk to them awhile and you'll learn how they farm and how they raise their animals. These farm animals are raised for eggs and meats and they are provided with a very good life. This is reassuring. 

With a small cadre of interns, the farm provides more than you would expect... Heirloom vegetables and seeds, cattle, chickens, turkeys, hogs.  You'll find some of the farm's bounty at farmers markets in Portland and other items are headed for high end restaurants. 

Places like this are where your food comes from if you shop and dine in the right places. The closer to the source, the better. 

With the weather warming up, it's an excellent time to get out in the countryside and experience The Molalla Country Farm Loop. Go wine tasting, talk to the farmers, do a little shopping and come home a more informed food enthusiast.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Where to Hunt for Easter Eggs in Vancouver Washington



If you are looking for an egg hunt in the Vancouver, Washington area, there are many choices. Here are some of the Easter events coming up:

Annual Community Egg Hunt at Hough Elementary Field, 11am-1:00pm
April 19, 2014 - 11:00 AM
Vancouver, Washington
This annual community egg hunt will take place Saturday, April 19th, from 11:00am-1:00pm.
Free Popcorn! A hot dog lunch will be available for purchase. There will be games and great music. Free prize drawings, donated by local business’ at the end of the hunts.
Egg Hunt #1 (Ages 2-2nd grade) starts at 11:30am
Egg Hunt #2 (3rd-5th grade) starts at 12:00pm
Come join the fun, rain or shine! If you have any questions, please contact 360.695.8448 

Easter Egg Hunt at Esther Short Park in Vancouver


Easter Egg Hunt for Acceptance of ALL Abilities – 2014
Come for a FREE inclusive afternoon of acceptance and fun from 1 PM – 4 PM on Saturday, April 19th, 2014 at McKenzie Stadium in Vancouver, WA! This Easter Egg Hunt, Resource Fair and afternoon of Eggstra fun Entertainment and Acceptance is open to those with autism, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities or special needs of any type and their families.
They will embrace neurodiversity, differing abilities and promote Acceptance for ALL. Come enjoy a special afternoon where you can feel accepted, connected and empowered! Website

Camas Easter Egg Hunt at Crown Park - Traditional Easter Egg Hunt,
Brier Park, 15th Avenue and Everett Street , Camas, WA. Phone: 360-834-5307. Event date and time: Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014, 10:00 am start, by age groups, up to 10 years old. Easter Sunday. Join Camas Parks and Recreation for their annual Easter Egg Hunt. This free event will have over 10,000 candy and prize-filled. There will be over 10,000 candy and prize-filled eggs hidden in designated hunting areas at Crown Park. This free event begins at 1:30 pm sharp and is for children ages 2 to 12 years. All children must be accompanied by an adult and adults are only allowed into the designated area for the 2 to 3 year olds. The Traditional Easter Bonnet and Contemporary Hat contest will take place following the egg hunt. 


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hilarious Flight Attendant Video (And I'm Still Not Flying!)

You've probably read my rant about flying commercially and why I just don't want to do it. This marvelous video shows a flight attendant trying her best to make flying more fun and relaxing. But not matter how funny she is, all I see is how full the plane looks... how jammed in the "customers" are. Have a look....




Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Touring Santa Fe: Guided and mapped tours for the walker and the driver



Todos Santos Chocolatier in Downtown Santa Fe
Photo Copyright: Elizabeth R Rose
My favorite way to see Santa Fe is on foot. Travelers to Santa Fe are strapping on their walking shoes and hitting the streets to experience the cuisine, culture and charm of this southwestern city. Listed below is a sampling of Santa Fe’s dedicated walking tours highlighting the best of this pedestrian-friendly destination: 

Chocolate Lover’s Odyssey
For visitors with a sweet tooth, the Santa Fe Chocolate Trail offers an array of edible delights, featuring four chocolate shops equipped with dark chocolate truffles, fudge, bon bons, Mayan chocolate elixirs and more. Travelers can follow the trail as it winds through the heart of historic Santa Fe, showcasing the city's rich history with cacao. Artisanal chocolate shops on the trail include The Chocolate Smith, Todos Santos, Kakawa Chocolate House and CG Higgins Confections and more. Visit www.santafe.org for more information.

Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail
New Mexico holds the honor as the green chile capital of the world – and chiles aren’t just an ingredient in this city, but a way of life. The green chile cheeseburger has been a staple on menus around the state since the middle of the last century and with the vast amount of restaurants offering this beloved dish, visitors can follow the state’s map to find all of the outstanding green chile cheeseburger restaurants, cafes, drive-ins and joints. Visit www.newmexico.org/green-chile-cheeseburger for more information.

Coffee Lover's Tour
Visitors and locals alike can take a tour of Santa Fe’s top cafes and roasting houses and find plenty of places to sit back, relax and enjoy a cup of Joe. Travelers who participate will have the opportunity to chat with local baristas and taste their way through several different styles and kinds of espresso and coffee, with great views for people-watching along the way. Visit www.santafe.org for more information.

New Deal Art Legacy Tour
When the Great Depression took place in the 1930s, New Mexico was able to stay afloat, thanks largely to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, which employed at least 167 New Mexico artists who produced more than 1,000 creative works across the state. Improvements were made to courthouses, city halls, libraries and schools, among others. The Legacy Tour allows visitors to take a deeper look into the aftermath of the New Deal and its effect on New Mexico and Santa Fe specifically. Visit www.santafe.org for more information.

Literary Landmarks Tour
In the early 1900s, Santa Fe was home to a literary colony inspired by the natural landscape and famous for producing an array of books, essays and poems.  Through this Santa Fe tour, visitors can experience the homes of these writers and learn more about the legacy of Santa Fe’s golden literary era. Visit www.santafe.org for additional information.

New Mexico Food Tours
Foodies can get the most of Santa Fe’s culinary scene with New Mexico Food Tours, which offer walking food tours throughout the heart of historic downtown Santa Fe. Demonstrations, samples and stories make these tours an ideal way to explore one of the Southwest’s greatest destinations. Advance purchase is required and tickets start around $65. Visit www.santafeschoolofcooking.com and www.foodtournewmexico.com  for additional information,

Santa Fe Tour Guides
For travelers seeking to get the most out of their stay, it helps to get professional advice from the tour operators of Santa Fe Tour Guides. The 22 professional tour operators specialize in the field of cultural tourism throughout Northern New Mexico and have spent years learning and sharing the many ins and outs of Santa Fe and the Southwest. Some of the group’s most popular areas of exploration include the land of O’Keeffe, the ghosts of Santa Fe, the Rocky Mountain outdoors surrounding the city and the area’s distinctive history. Visit www.santafetourguides.org for more information.

Please visit www.santafe.org for additional information on packages, saving specials and all Santa Fe has to offer visitors.

Information courtesy: Santa Fe CVB

Wordless Wednesday: Tulip Fest in Woodburn, Oregon


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Springtime in the Other Vancouver: Enjoying Spring Sights in Vancuouver USA

Monument to Captain Vancouver on the Washington side of the I-5 Bridge
When you say Vancouver, most people think you are talking about Canada. However, just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon lies Vancouver USA.

Vancouver, named after Captain George Vancouver who explored the Pacific Coast of northwestern America, lies on the Columbia River and is a port city. Vancouver is also a vibrant town which is less crowded and less hectic than its neighbor across the river.

The downtown area anchored by the Hilton Hotel and Convention Center is a pleasant place to spend a day, especially when the weather starts to warm. It's easily accessible from the Washington side of the I-5 Bridge.


In Spring the weekend Farmers Market, held downtown just off Esther Short Park, is a draw both for the excellent food and live music. The Farmer's Market is colorful and fun. Whether you are shopping for dinner or for a bouquet of flowers to grace your table, you'll probably find it at the market.
You can buy plants, produce and more at the
Vancouver Farmer's Market

Once it is tulip time, Esther Short Park will be dotted with beautiful tulips, a gift of Burgerville's founder George Propstra. Mr. Propstra donated funds to improve Esther Short Park with the caveat that there will always be tulips, a nod to his Dutch heritage. And there are... hundreds of them.

Historic Slocum House
On the southwest edge of Esther Short Park you'll find the historic Victorian-style Slocum House. This beautiful home is what is left of the former downtown neighborhood. The house was moved to the Esther Short site from about a block away.
The house, originally built prior to 1842 by Charles W. Slocum and his wife Laura. was fashioned after their Rhode Island home. It is a modified Italianate villa with a widow's walk. Today it houses a tasting room for East Fork Cellars and is available for special events.

On the east side you'll find the "Salmon Clock." The huge Salmon Run Bell Tower is a three-scene piece of art that rotates to tell a Native American Chinook Tribal story about the importance of salmon. It is the anchor and showpiece of the renovated Esther Short Park. The 69 foot clock tower was dedicated in 2002 as part of a reclamation effort to beautify downtown Vancouver and keep the area safe. Having lived in Vancouver prior to this effort, I can tell you that the area has vastly improved. Now it is THE place to visit in Vancouver.  More
Salmon Run Bell Tower


Just south of Esther Short Park you'll come to a railroad bridge that has been transformed into a Veteran's Plaza with murals depicting the wars that Americans have fought. It is a permanent memorial to the men and woman who sacrificed, in many cases everything, to preserve our freedoms and way of life.

If you keep walking to the river, you'll then come to the Captain Vancouver Monument... you'll see the red sculpture depicting the explorer's vessel.

And then, enjoy watching the majestic Columbia River flow under the I-5 bridge. It is an old fashioned draw bridge, soon to be 100 years old, and will lift for vessels such as tall workboats pushing barges up and down the river. Continue on the Renaissance Trail along the river for a scenic walk.

An excellent Halibut Dinner at Grays
After all this sightseeing you'll be ready for a meal. If it is Farmer's Market day, you'll find a variety of booths with both ethnic foods and traditional foods.

The Hilton's Grays at the Park has excellent food.

If you walk the Renaissance Trail, you'll pass several fun restaurants.

Vancouver has newly become welcoming to food trucks. There are at least three good ones and, on some days, you'll find one in the downtown area.

For a relaxing day without the hassles of big city traffic, head to Vancouver USA.

Visit Vancouver Website

More on Esther Short Park
Vancouver Public Art

Photos Copyright: Elizabeth Rose Photography

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fear of Flying: 10 Reasons Commercial Air Travel is Last on my List



It's on again and off again... my love-hate relationship with flying. While I am intrigued with the concept of flight, it is commercial air travel that has my stomach in knots.

I come from a family that loves the air. My mother dreamed of being a woman pilot. But since it was not yet time for most women to fly, she ended up working for the Army Air Corps as a civilian personnel specialist. But her dreams were filled with flying.

My son had always been intrigued with flying. I signed him up for Aerospace Explorers at age 14. We went to air shows, to aerospace facilities and he got his first taste of flying. I have to admit I was as thrilled as he was to see aircraft and spacecraft. He now has his own plane and flies for recreation and for charity work in the Bahamas. 

But I am not flying.

Why? Well, let me count the ways...

1. Thieves: Did you hear about the group of airport staff who were recently arrested for pilfering the suitcases of travelers?
2. Getting Undressed: Did you ever feel like you were disrobing in front of strangers at the airport? I don't like getting dressed before traveling in a nice outfit and then having to undress (shoes, jacket, belt) to go through security.
3. Early Arrivals: There are not many who relish getting to the airport 1-2 hours in advance of a domestic flight.
4. Hurry up and Wait: How many really like waiting in security lines and then having to move it, move it, move it.. Removing your computer from its case, take out any liquids and stuffing your jacket, purse and more into dirty bins to go through the X-ray machines.
5. Lining Up: Enjoy standing in line to board the plane?
6. Bin Hogs: I don't like waiting for the glutton to stuff two huge carry-ons into the overhead bin.
7. Cell Phone Convos: I cringe as I am forced to listen to the most intimate details of a person's life while seated next to them or waiting in line. And now it's being discussed that passengers can talk on the cells in flight? Noooo!
8. Health Concerns: Care about your health? I don't like having to seat myself with strangers, some of whom may be coughing and sneezing. Even if your seat-mate doesn't give you something, the airplane air is drying and makes it much easier to catch something in that crowded airport.
9. Terror in the Skies: Of course we've been watching the news and reflecting on the loss of a huge commercial jet over the Indian Ocean. I don't like to think that we might be in danger of hijacking or pilot diversion.
10. Stormy Weather: Oh yes, and there is the weather. I haven't forgotten turbulence and having to be re-routed because of a dust storm on the ground as we were landing. I haven't forgotten watching the cowlings on the engines ice as we climbed through ice pellets. Yikes!

It is hard being a travel writer who really doesn't want to fly. But being grounded has given me more time to explore the West in detail. Driving back roads, hiking and walking have given me opportunities so see history, culture and natural beauty not otherwise experienced. And I meet wonderful people on my travels instead of stressed out people crowded into an airplane.

There is something freeing about looking up into the sky during a storm and enjoying the clouds, the wind and the rain. With my feet securely on the ground, the weather has become a thing of beauty rather than something to be avoided or feared. 

I don't know when or where I will fly commercially again, but, believe me, it is on the bottom of my travel bucket list!