after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

The Oregon Trail: Outbound Flight and Digs

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t says:  g and I have just returned from our trip to Oregon and it was awesome!  We’ve decided to recount some of our voyage here for you because there was a ton of fun to be had, including good food, good wine, and lots of stories.  Rather than give you the day-by-day, I’m going to group together some of the like experiences so that it doesn’t seem like we did the same thing every day (e.g. wake up, eat, drink, eat, drink, eat, drink, sleep).  Plus, it’ll help us remember what made certain attractions different from others (e.g. the differences between wineries, restaurants, etc).

We started our trip to PDX with a 6am flight to Newark.  That’s right: our destination was Portland, but we had to fly east to Newark first for a 1-hr layover, and then fly directly to PDX.  This is humorous/stupid for a few reasons.  The first is that it’s kind of a waste of time to put up with air travel for such a short commute; I’d bet we’d spend more time boarding and de-boarding the plane than actually in the air.  Furthermore, I’d also be willing to bet that a bus would get us to the Newark airport faster at 6am.  The second bit of humor/stupidity is the cost.  Direct flights from PHL to PDX are in excess of $800, while the above one-stop flight was below $300.  I tried to get crafty and find some way to drive to Newark the morning for a flight directly to PDX … and found that that, too, costs over $800.  I contemplated just booking the PHL –> Newark –> PDX flight and just catching the Newark–>PDX leg, but feared that they might cancel our seats or something if we didn’t show up in PHL … Alas, we just “went with it” and flew from PHL to PDX via Newark … leading us to the last bit of funny … g and I were super-psyched that we were in seats 8A and 8B for the first leg, because that’d mean that we’d be towards the front of the plane, so we’d have an opportunity to de-board quickly at Newark so we could scramble to our next gate.  Turns out that the plane only had 9 rows.  Nine rows!  This plane was t-i-n-y (e.g. I knew every seat was full because I could easily SEE every seat).  It was so tiny that ALL wheely luggage carry-ons had to be checked.  As a matter of fact, it was SO tiny that it still had real-deal, legit propellers on the wings!  Propellers!  Had our phones been on, we would have provided you with a pic!

Fortunately, everything went off without a hitch.  We landed in Newark and caught our flight to PDX.  At around 4 hours or so, we had confirmation that we were indeed heading west, as this is what the window showed:

pretty mountain!

Now, upon landing in PDX, we were faced with our first real decision: which compact rental car to choose?  There was a grey Chevy Aveo.  And a yellow Fiat.  I was rooting for the Fiat.  g was rooting for any car that wasn’t yellow.  Conclusion: Chevy Aveo won.  I guess we’ll just have to Fiat another time … (we would have taken a picture, however, the dude right behind us in line HAD to go with the Fiat because there was no other compact car available after we took the Aveo, and we didn’t want to rub it in his face).  As a sidenote, g admits that had the Fiat been red, she would have done it in a heartbeat.

After this, there was some wine-tasting and some eating, but we’ll get to those in a future posts …

We eventually checked in to our overnight accommodations for the wine country leg of the trip.  We chose Abbey Road Farms Bed and Breakfast!

the entrance to Abbey Road Farm

metal chicken sculptures hiding amongst the shade to greet guests

and there’s REAL chickens, too!

see!  real live chickens!

the guest rooms are IN these converted silos!

Ok, so the above pic needs some explaining.  The proprietors had these old grain silos turned into rooms – and they’re all connected to a common foyer.  When we told lc about this, she wasted no time in sharing her opinion that this was insanely gimicky but perfect because there’s a sucker born every minute (thus implying that g and I are suckers).  That’s ok lc – we know that you’re just jealous that YOU didn’t get to stay in grain silos.  Now, we didn’t take any pictures of our room (plenty of pictures on their kind-of-dated website), but it was well-appointed with a good amount of space, heated floors, jacuzzi tubs, and extraordinarily comfy beds (seriously – it’s the first time we’ve ever had no complaints about beds while traveling).  It was actually nice and very clean.  Also, the view from our room (the Alpine Room, which apparently has the best view) was pretty frickin’ awesome:

alpine room view on a clear day (and you can see the patio we used for dining) – picturesque vineyards stretch out to the left, but we couldn’t fit them in the picture …

the sunrise in the morning (check out the fog)

So now you must be wondering: “What’s ‘the deal’ with Abbey Road farm?”  There’s a farm and there’s a BnB.  Together.  It’s a pretty cute place!  The farm is small but legit (it has chickens, alpacas, llamas, sheep – all roaming about certain sections of the land).  The farm’s proprietors, John and Judi, are a super-sweet couple who just really wanted to own a farm and found that they had the means to do so … and so they did!  From what we gathered, John (a very nice man) is full of ideals and further allowed to live out those ideals by virtue of having made a crap-ton of money in Las Vegas (something to do with insurance companies and hotel management).  However he attained the funds to buy the place, we don’t care, because the experience was absolutely wonderful.  We do want to note that John admits that he runs a “Gucci farm” – meaning that while he and his wife have done their best to learn and perform the activities necessary for farming, they do enlist the help of others to make sure things are done properly.  I’m not sure who’s idea the BnB side of the property came from, but however it came to be, it’s very well executed.  The rooms had everything we needed, the breakfasts were tasty and filling, the price was reasonable, and it was so pretty/peaceful that we often just brought back food to the BnB to eat on that patio while gazing into the distance (it was so much better than staying at a room in some hotel in one of the tiny towns like Dundee or McMinnville).  As a sidenote, this property is also next to Trappist Abbey, which John somehow helped to become a perpetually preserved/conserved land, so no matter now commercial Oregon becomes due to the wine trade, he’ll always have trees in his back yard.  Brilliant!  More sidenotes: they make their own goat’s milk cheese (the lemon zest chevre is AWESOME), and John’s currently trying to bring a farmer’s market to the property for locals and foodies to enjoy.

Trust us: we’d happily go back to Abbey Road Farms in the future – it’s the perfect accommodation for visiting wine country.  We hope they’ll still be there next time!

We did send some time in Portland on our trip as well, requiring a one-night stay in one of the city’s many hotels.  We got a great deal on The Nines using Expedia so we jumped on it.  Here’s the rundown:
–The Good:  Super-clean.  The staff is super-uber-nice/helpful/kind – it’s like they are trying their hardest to give the impression that they’re the Ritz or something – we give them an A+ for effort.  There’s a pretty fancy-looking restaurant in there – we wouldn’t recommend it when there are so many restaurants with such high praises in Portland, but it’s nice to know that there’s a back-up plan.
–The Bad:  Their logo, which is apparently a wonkified number “9” is pretty stupid-looking.  It’s ok, g and I turned all of the items in our room with that logo (e.g. coasters, pads of paper) upside-down, so they resembled the letter “G” instead.  How fitting.  They’re also trying way too hard to be chic – resorting to a lot of “first year in art school” type pictures/paintings/thingamajigs hanging on the walls to give them a more “modern”/”hip”/”cool” aesthetic – we weren’t fooled by their faux coolness.
–The Scary/Hilarious: After returning from dinner, we walked into our hotel room only to find that the lights were on, the TV was on, and my luggage was wide open with my clothes all strewn about.  My first thought: “HOLY CRAP – WE’VE BEEN ROBBED!!” – my mind started racing through the valuables we had with us (i.e. laptop, iPad, wine, g’s clothes).  It turns out that we were not robbed, rather, turndown service had happened, which involves turning on the nightstand lights and turning the TV to some sort of classical music station for ambience.  And the luggage … that was just me forgetting to put it away before we left for dinner (or as g would put it: “just being a slob”).  g apparently at no point thought we had been robbed and automatically assumed it was turndown service.  Oops.
–The Summary:  The Nines is a great hotel in a good downtown location, but it does isolate you from the real “culture” or Portland (i.e. anything seen in the tv series Portlandia).  Great restaurants are to the east and the parks are to the west, so it’s kind of in the middle of where you want to go to do things, however, it’s close to Voodoo Donuts and Stumptown Coffee and Powell’s City of Books so it’s not like you’re in the middle of nowhere.  I feel that if we had to go to Portland, we’d do The Nines again if we found it at a sale price (it’s very expensive otherwise).

Well, that’s it for now – stay tuned for the next two installments: the wine, and the food.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

21 May 2012 at 9:23am

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