Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: A 55 Foot Tall Precarious Balancing Rock

It's Wordless Wednesday so I thought I'd post yet another photo from my Mighty 5 tour of Utah's National Parks. This is the famous Balanced Rock formation at Arches National Park just outside of Moab.

The total height of Balanced Rock is about 128 feet and then the balancing rock rises about 55 feet above the base.

You can get a sense of the scale of this tenuous rock by looking at the people climbing on the formation. That huge rock is about the size of three semi trucks.

To get close to Balancing Rock, if you dare, there is a loop trail from the parking lot. I skipped that. I hear that another such rock fell off of the formation in the 70's.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Where to Go with Your National Parks Senior Pass (Before its too late!)


So you’ve read the articles on the Santa Fe Travelers blog cautioning you to get your National Park Senior Pass before its too late! You plunked down your $10 and have your shiny new pass with the photo of the blooming cacti on it. But now what? You’ve looked at the map and you don’t even have a National Park in your state. Oh oh!

I have a friend who doesn’t travel far, usually, and she got her pass and posed this exact question. She lives in the Portland, Oregon area and thought she might have to travel to Mt. Rainier National Park or Crater Lake to use her pass. That’s far for her.

National Park Senior Passes are for More Than National Parks
So after a little research I found that she could use her pass to gain entry at much closer, yet very exciting places to go:

In Vancouver, Washington is Fort Vancouver. Located on the north bank of the Columbia River, in sight of snowy mountain peaks and a vibrant urban landscape, this park has a rich cultural past. From a frontier fur trading post, to a powerful military legacy, the magic of flight, and the origin of the American Pacific Northwest, history is shared at four unique sites. Discover stories of transition, settlement, conflict, and community.

The entrance fee to Fort Vancouver is usually $5.00 but with a Senior Pass, its free!

And then on the coast, there’s the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park. The park brochure entices you to “discover the rich heritage of the native people. Unfold the dramatic stories of America's most famous explorers. The park encompasses sites along the Columbia River and the Pacific Coast. Follow in the footsteps of the explorers and have an adventure in history.”


To enter these sites is usually $5.00 but with the Senior Pass, it’s free!

So the Senior Pass is a great deal. It can save you money on entrance to national sites and national historical parks and National Recreation areas. The lifetime national parks Senior Pass also gives seniors a 50 percent discount on federal use fees charged for camping, swimming, boat launching, parking, and tours.

When is it Too Late to Purchase a National Park Senior Pass?
So when will “it be too late?” According to the Santa Fe Travelers, “If you want to take advantage of the $10 rate, buy your lifetime National Park Senior Pass now. When is the price going up? According to the National Park Service no date has yet been set, but it will be sometime after October.” Currently, US citizens or permanent residents are eligible to buy a pass on their 62nd birthday.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tulalip Resort Casino Announces 2017 Easter Dining Options


The Tulalip Resort Casino complex, north of Seattle, includes dining options certain to please. The chef team at the Tulalip ResortCasino has hatched several egg-trodinary Easter Sunday dining options for the whole family. Guests can choose from the Resort’s signature Eagles Buffet, to dinner specials at the award-winning Blackfish Wild Salmon Grill, Tulalip Bay Restaurant, or Cedars Cafe.

Blackfish Wild Salmon Grill
Blackfish Wild Salmon Grill is the Resort’s innovative Pacific Northwest seafood restaurant, influenced by traditional tribal culture and cuisine, served in a casual setting.

This year, Chef David Buchanan will be serving fresh Sous Vide Sockeye Salmon 110° with a spring pea jus with jardiniere vegetables and lightly curried cous cous for $31. The special will be available in addition to the regular dinner menu from 5 pm until closing on Sunday, April 16, 2017. To book a table online, visit here, or reserve by phone at (360) 716-1100.

Tulalip Bay Restaurant
Tulalip Bay Restaurant is an award-winning combination of a classic steakhouse and a traditional Italian restaurant with a superior wine list — where old world taste is fused with local Northwest ingredients.

For Easter 2017, Tulalip Bay Chef Jeremy Taisey has crafted a Spring Braciole of Beef Tenderloin with pancetta, date jam, tomato relish, and a Chardonnay reduction. The special is priced at $35 and will be available in addition to the regular dinner menu from 5 pm until closing on Sunday, April 16, 2017. To book a table online, visit here, or reserve by phone at (360) 716-1500.

Cedars Cafe
Cedars Cafe offers a relaxed atmosphere for breakfast, lunch or dinner and is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

This Easter Sunday, Chef Brent Clarkson is serving up broiled to perfection lamb chops rubbed with olive oil, seasoned with garlic and a fresh herb marinade; served with a Riesling wine demi-glace, orange mint sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, charred asparagus, and crispy onion straws. The special will be available for $25 and comes with a choice of a house salad or soup du jour; and will be in addition to the regular menu on Sunday, April 16, 2017. For more information and to reserve a table by phone, call (360) 716-1276.

Eagles Buffet
Eagles Buffet is offering a mouth-watering selection for Easter Sunday Brunch and Dinner. Many of the items will be served all day during both meal services.

The menu* will feature a selection of brunch items, such as Made to Order Waffles, Steak and Eggs with chopped onion rings and pepper jack cheese, Prime Rib Hash, French Toast Casserole with bananas and rum sauce, and BBQ Braised Pork Belly. 


With a nod toward dinner, Eagles Buffet offers a variety of main dishes, such as Rotisserie Leg of Lamb with rosemary, garlic, and artichoke along with Chef John’s Seafood Mac and Cheese, Smoked BBQ Beef Ribs, and Dungeness Crab and Artichoke Dip. Guests can also enjoy chef specials, such as the Baked Wild Salmon with lemon dill pepper, Slow Roasted Prime Rib, Honey Baked Ham, Tender Pot Roast, and their signature dessert selection, which includes Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream.

Savor Eagles Buffet Easter Sunday Brunch and Dinner all day from 9 am to 9 pm. The holiday brunch and dinner are priced at $24.95 for adults and $13.95 for children ages 2 to 10 (prices do not include sales tax or gratuity). Tables are seated on a first come, first served basis. For more information, please call 360-716-1462, or visit online at TulalipResort.com.

Information provided by Tulalip Resort Casino.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Utah's Canyonlands Amazing View

I'm working on a series of articles about Utah's Mighty 5 National Parks for Wander With Wonder and I have to stop periodically and just look into the beauty of my photographs. It was an amazing trip. I toured with Southwest Adventure Tours.

This is my inspirational photo from Canyonlands. Some say it rivals the Grand Canyon! Views from the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park reach from the depths of the Green and Colorado rivers to the mountaintops. Clouds top the layers of sandstone and rock to complete the picture.


I was amazed at the views and the depth of the canyons.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Spring Hiking in the Long Beach Peninsula of Washington


Sloshing through ankle deep mud on a rare sunny or more predictably rainy day is a quintessential Northwest experience. When spring’s urge to get outdoors calls, find perfectly wet trails plus 28 miles of sandy, public beach on Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula.

Spring Hiking on the Long Beach Peninsula
Well known for the oyster beds of Willapa Bay, great food, bird watching, and charter fishing, the Long Beach Peninsula also boasts an impressive system of trails. An estimated 30 miles of trails traverse the peninsula through grassy dunes and old growth forests, over rocky headlands, around wetlands and through scrub pine forest.

Local experts suggest the following for great spring hiking:

The soggy, 1.5-mile round-trip Coastal Loop includes plenty of short ups and downs, with steep sections. Features included huge, ancient Sitka spruce (some 10 feet in diameter), views of the Columbia River, and fauna and flora including newts, frogs, bald eagles, owls, foxes, otters, huckleberries, mushrooms, and flowers. Access to this 1.5-mile round trip loop is near Serious Pizza and the park office at the entrance to Ilwaco’s Cape Disappointment State Park (Discovery Pass required for cars). Dogs on leash are permitted.

The Weather Beach and Bearberry trails at Leadbetter Point, on the north end of the Peninsula, are likely to be under water this time of year. The 1.1-mile Bay Loop (green trail) offers mud without wading, birding sites, scrub pine forest, marsh grass fields and flat terrain. A Discover Pass is required for parking at Leadbetter Point State Park.

Delight in signs of spring (and mud) on three trails at the headquarters of the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge: ¼-mile Art Trail mostly on boardwalk; fern-laden Cut Throat Climb, a ¾-mile loop; and nearby third-mile Teal Slough, showcasing millennium-old western red cedar and Sitka spruce trees. The refuge headquarters is near milepost 24 on State Route 101. Teal Slough is 1.6 miles northeast of the headquarters.

Spring Hiking on the Paved Discovery Trail
For the mud adverse, all but a short section of Discovery Trail on the west side of the Cape Disappointment headlands is paved. This 8.5-mile long coastal interpretive path stretches from Ilwaco on a forested climb and descent to Beard’s Hollow wetlands, then through grassy dunes to a mile north of Long Beach, with a forested spur to North Head Lighthouse added in 2014. Access points most with free parking are at the Port of Ilwaco, Beard’s Hollow, the Seaview and both Long Beach beach approaches, as well as the south end of the Breakers Resort. In Long Beach, the trail parallels a ½ mile wooden boardwalk. The trail is shared with cyclists, and dogs on leashes are permitted.

For more information on the Peninsula’s trails and recreational offerings, please call the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau at 360.642.2400 or access www.funbeach.com.

Information provided by Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau

Friday, March 24, 2017

Portland Dining Month: Reasons to Get Out and Savor Portland Cuisine


You've got a week more to enjoy Portland Dining Month. This is about much more than saving a few bucks. While the three course menus total up to only $29 during the month of March, that is only the lure to entice us all out to Portland Restaurants. Portland ranks #10 in the number of restaurants per capita in the U.S. (San Francisco is #1). Trulia touts Portland as one of the "Top Metros for Eating Out."

Dining out in Portland... yes!
But some of us, for various inexcusable reasons, don't venture out to Portland's top restaurants as a rule. It takes a special month to get us out of our financial and foodie comfort zones. So here's why you should devote the last days of March to getting out to Portland restaurants and choosing the $29 three course Portland Dining Month Menus.

Portland Dining Month Does the Work For You
The Portland Dining Month website organizes your decision-making process.You can search for a restaurant in a particular neighborhood by using their map and can search restaurant options by type of restaurant. Once you get to your chosen restaurant you can click to see their menu (very important) and, in many cases, click to book a table. Reservations are always recommended. Portland Dining Month partners with Oregon Food Bank, making a donation to the hunger-relief organization for every reservation booked through the OpenTable links on their website.

Portland Restaurants Strut Their Stuff
Portland chefs take pride in their cuisine and their restaurants. They genuinely want to reach out and share that with new customers. So, it's not about saving money for them. Portland Dining Month menus are carefully thought out and sequenced to provide you with the best the restaurant has to offer. Our recent visit to Urdaneta introduced us to such innovations as Coliflor... roasted cauliflower with dates, capers, almonds, with a brush stroke of leek ash emulsion. I loved the tender cauliflower and the sweet addition of the dates. In fact the whole menu was memorable.

Urdaneta's roasted cauliflower, dates, capers, almonds with a leek ash emulsion

Urdaneta's beautiful and tender filet of culotte steak, romanesco, leek marmalade and valdeon foam.
Since there were two of us and two choices per course we had it all! That gave us an opportunity to taste six small plates (including 2 delectable desserts) from the kitchen of Chef Javier Canteras. We enjoyed watching the chefs cook and carefully plate each course to order in the open kitchen. Pairing the tapas with Spanish wine added an authentico touch to our experience. That's extra.

We enjoyed watching the Urdaneta chefs prepare each plate in the open kitchen.
You'll Make a Foodie Find
I've been to Nel Centro in downtown Portland before but didn't realize that getting there could be simplified by using the adjacent hotel's valet parking. During Portland Dining Month I found out that we could valet park at Hotel Modera.

From Nel Centro's Portland Dining Month Menu. Save room for dessert!
We enjoyed the options during Dining Month. I chose a rotisserie chicken which ended up providing enough chicken to take home for dinner the next day. My friend selected the lighter sweet potato ravioli with black truffle butter and hazelnuts which was amazing. We all agreed that the gorgeous and very creamy Lemon Semifreddo was the hit of the evening. I don't usually order dessert, but during Portland Dining Month if it is on the menu I indulge!

So Get Out and Dine!
For the entire month of March, more than 120 of the city’s top-tier restaurants are offering three-course meals for just $29. Returning for its eighth year March 1, 2017, Dining Month offers 31 whole days to chew your way down your restaurant bucket list — whether it’s revisiting a Portland classic or sampling something new.

Autentica's Pork Carnitas... we'd return for this dish!
I found myself choosing Autentica two years in a row (not that I could remember I chose them last year!). The reason? Well, I love authentic Mexican food and love the twist they put on their regional cuisine. This year I chose everything on the menu that included avocado, my favorite, and savored the excellent Carnitas de puerco: roasted pork shoulder with grilled tomatillo salsa and salpicon which was a new dish for me.
I am a lover of avocado and Autentica makes theirs with plenty of cilantro, another fav of mine!
I always enjoy the anticipation of the March listing of Portland restaurants. Next year, I'll try three or four new ones. It's hard not to return to ones I have tried and loved, but trying new things is half the fun of this dining month!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge

Multnomah Falls is one of my favorite places to take visitors. Many others feel the same way. I've been working on an article for WanderWithWonder.com that will help you avoid crowds and get there more easily. Soon to be published!
Beautiful Multnomah Falls, the tallest falls in Oregon.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tanner Creek Tavern to Open in Portland's Pearl District

Veteran Portland restaurateur and chef David Machado has signed a lease for a new 5,000 square-foot restaurant in the Pearl District, opening late summer. Tanner Creek Tavern will be located at the corner of NW 9th and Everett, adjacent to the new Hampton Inn Suites, which is currently due to open mid-summer. It will be Machado’s fourth restaurant currently in operation, his sixth as an owner overall.

 The restaurant name and décor will bring together a bit of Portland history: Tanner Creek, named for an old tannery built by an early Portland settler in 1845, currently traces an underground path beneath the Pearl District and flows into the Willamette River near the Broadway Bridge. The restaurant décor will call out some of the industrial elements that speak to the city’s early industrialization period: concrete, steel, Douglas Fir beams, tile, and glass. The restaurant will consist of a dining room, lounge area and bar, as well as two private dining rooms, and seasonal sidewalk seating. 

Machado has carved out an enviable track record across a restaurant career that now spans three decades. Early in his career, he moved to Portland from San Francisco and opened Pazzo Ristorante as executive chef. He went on to head the kitchens of Southpark Seafood Grill and Wine Bar, Hudson’s Bar and Grill at the Heathman Lodge in Vancouver, Wash.; and The Heathman Restaurant in downtown Portland.  In 2003, he opened Lauro Mediterranean Kitchen, a neighborhood bistro in Southeast Portland that was later named one of the best new restaurants of the year by Bon Appetit.  Two years later, he opened Vindalho to critical acclaim, an innovative and urban-chic approach to Indian food.  Today, he is the owner and operator of downtown’s Nel Centro at the Hotel Modera, and Altabira and Citizen Baker in the Hotel Eastlund.

More details on the concept, menu and chef will be announced in the upcoming months.  Tanner Creek Tavern is online at www.tannercreektavern.com, on Instagram @tannercreektavern, on Twitter @tannercreekpdx, and Facebook at www.facebook.com/tannercreektavern.



Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: International Women's Day 2017

On this day designed to recognize women around the world, International Women's Day, I am sharing this photograph of two women in Guatemala. They are selling necklaces and stopped for a break to chat.
Photo copyright: Elizabeth R Rose

Monday, March 6, 2017

Dig Or No Dig, Long Beach Razor Clam Festival Slated for April


It’s fun to dig for razor clams but if that isn’t possible, you can still celebrate them! The Razor Clam Festival returns to Long Beach for a lively weekend of food, foraging, fun competitions and entertainment. Activities will take place in downtown Long Beach, Washington, Saturday, April 29 and Sunday, April 30, with digging along the entire 28-mile span of wide, sandy beach pending state approval.

Keep your fingers crossed that there will be digging
for Razor Clams this season.
Festival highlights include the ever-popular Clam Chowder Taste-Off (Saturday, 1-3PM, Long Beach Elks Club) with samples cooked up and served by local restaurant chefs to ticket holders, who vote for the prized “Best Chowder” award, and the Clam Fritter Cook-Off (Saturday, 3-5PM, Veterans Memorial Park), where Ilwaco High School Culinary Arts Program students vie for top recognition awarded by a panel of Tom Douglas restaurant chefs.

The Amateur Chowder Competition offers twelve home chefs the chance to compete for cash prizes and the highly sought out title “Best Homemade Clam Chowder” as judged by chefs from Tom Douglas restaurants. The competition takes place at the Long Beach Elks, on April 29, from 11AM to noon.

Other festival events include the following:

       Clam Digging and Clam Cleaning Lessons both days. Registration is at www.longbeachrazorclamfestival.com/free-razor-clam-digging-lessons/;
       Clam Contests, April 29, 8AM-noon, Dennis Company, Long Beach, including free samples and prize drawings by manufacturers of clam-digging tools;
       Oregon Mermaids storytelling, face painting, photo ops and more, April 29, 11AM-2PM, Long Beach Train Depot;
       Street entertainment including Dennis Duck, the Beard’s Hollow Pirates and Clam Bathing Beauties;
       North Jetty Brewing Beer Garden & Un-Clammy Foods, April 29, 3-8PM, Veterans Memorial Park.

“The Clam Guy,” David Berger, author of the soon to be released Razor Clams: Buried Treasure of the Pacific Northwest (due out in July, University of Washington Press) will attend as an honorary guest.

Expanding options for things to see and do, the Saturday Market at the Port of Ilwaco will open for a season preview, April 29 from 10AM to 4PM. In Long Beach, the Giant Squirting Clam and World’s Largest Clam Pan provide the perfect souvenir-photo backdrop.

Headquarters for the event is the Long Beach Elks Lodge where free coffee, updates, festival keepsakes including sweatshirts, t-shirts, mugs, hats and more will be available both days.

Long Beach ranks among the best places to dig for razor clams with a vast digging area, easy beach access, the gentle slope of the shoreline and other favorable conditions.

For additional clamming information and regulations, please contact the Dennis Company at 360.642.3166 or visit WDFW at www.wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/.

For lodging (early reservations suggested) and destination information, visit www.funbeach.com or call the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau at 360.642.2400

Information courtesy: Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau