Oregon Travel: Visiting the Adelman Peony Gardens

If you love peonies, you should not miss visiting the Adelman Peony Gardens located in Salem, Oregon, just an hour south of Portland. The peonies are in bloom generally from May – June. During this bloom time the Adelman Peony Gardens has an open house daily 9 AM – 6 PM to allow you to visit their display gardens, their peony production fields, and they have an indoor display showroom. Their open house is also free!

Visiting the Adelman Peony Gardens just north of Salem, about an hour south of Portland is free and open generally from May-June during bloom season Visiting the Adelman Peony Gardens just north of Salem, about an hour south of Portland is free and open generally from May-June during bloom season
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My Recap of Our Secret Supper Leap Dinner

Today’s post is a photo journal of a the Our Secret Supper Leap Dinner. Our Secret Supper is another one of my picks for the EaterPDX Top Pop Ups and Supper Clubs in PDX. Our Secret Supper, led by Eva Kosmas Flores with Danielle Firle of Table Culture and working with Tournant, is differentiated from others in the Portland area because they bring together food and people with scenery. The location is generally at a destination guests must travel to (and often spend the night), making it an adventure event outside the meal itself.

The exact location of the dinner is kept secret until 24 hours before hand, adding an element of surprise – all you know is everyone always shares one long table usually set up outside at a beautifully tablescaped and thoughtfully curated space. Each event almost seems like you have stepped into a fairytale or glossy magazine photoshoot that you get to live in for a few hours.
Our Secret Supper Leap Dinner Our Secret Supper Leap Dinner Menu

Our Secret Supper has been on my to do list for a while, but this past April when I saw their date of their spring dinner, “Leap“, coincided with my birthday to the exact date, I decided to stop waiting for friends’ budgets and schedules to free up and treat myself. Here are the photos and my experience from my guest perspective of the Our Secret Supper Leap Dinner. [Read more…]

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Visiting the Oregon Dunes

Did you know that there are sand dunes in Oregon, only 3 hours away? And that in fact, the sand dunes are part of a National Park that is protected? The 182 acres of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is part of Siuslaw National Forest extends for 40 miles along the Oregon Coast from Florence to Coos Bay. In places, the dunes extend 2.5 miles inland, and some of the dunes reach as high as 500 feet. It’s breathtaking – it’s land, but ripples and moves like water.

I wish I could say that I was very clever and decided to go drive down the Oregon Coast and visit the Oregon Dunes in preparation for watching the new Mad Max: Fury Road movie and this was all part of a planned theme for this Travel Tuesday post. I admit, it’s merely coincidence: I was actually looking to see Velella velella in person (those blue wind sailor jellyfish that have been washing ashore by the thousands. On my coastal weekend though they were all going to California, figures).

From Portland, to drive here it’s possible to simply take I-5 down and then go west on OR-38W, but we decided to take a really scenic route. I recommend taking OR-99W S to OR-18 W instead. This means you get a chance to drive past the wineries through McMinnville and lovely forest roads, so it is a lovely drive that gives you a chance to admire the bounty of Oregon even though you’re on the road, rather than just the usual speeding down the interstate. It adds 45 minutes rather than going more directly, but I think it is completely worth it.

You could stay at many places in reach of the Dunes, and for this trip we chose to stay in Florence. It’s a coastal town where we were able to find an affordable room in walking distance of their Historic Old Town that offered close to a dozen options of eateries and places to have a libation, and only a short walk to admire the Suislaw River Bridge. After several hours of driving I like staying someplace where we can walk around to areas instead of more driving in town. If you are looking to eat with a view of the river and bridge in a elegant setting, I would recommend Waterfront Depot, which is a small intimate restaurant (reservations recommended). There are plenty of other restaurants you can see walking down Bay Street, varying from the eclectic Spice or Bridgewater Ocean Fresh Fish House and Zebra Bar to Seafood,  casual bar and grill, pub burgers and beer, family-friendly Pizza or Firehouse themed and more.

Suislaw River Bridge, view from Historic Old Town Florence Suislaw River Bridge, view from Historic Old Town Florence Suislaw River Bridge, view from Historic Old Town Florence Suislaw River Bridge, view from Historic Old Town Florence Suislaw River Bridge, view from Historic Old Town Florence Suislaw River Bridge, view from Historic Old Town Florence Fun painting outside in Old Town Florence, Oregon in front of Bay Street Grille

There are also many options for camping, but I’m not a camping girl so can’t help you there. I can point out as a reference though this video from Grant’s Getaway. He mentions campgrounds like Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park with its 80 years of history as a family vacation spot.

But back to visiting the Oregon Dunes. There are two kinds of experiences you can have at the Dunes. First, you can just walk. It can be serene and peaceful to just see the undulating waves and hills of sand. The area you walk may just be all desert like you’re in Lawrence of Arabia, or Armour of God II: Operation Condor or Raiders of the Lost Ark. Or there may be shrubberies, or even oceanside. It was mesmerizing for me just listening to the waves and watching the waves of grasses in the wind.
Oregon Dunes area by Florence, South Jetty area Oregon Dunes area by Florence, South Jetty area Oregon Dunes area by Florence, South Jetty area Oregon Dunes area by Florence, South Jetty area

If you are looking for more beachside walking with some dunes thrown in, you might want to consider the South Jetty, as you only have to clamber over the dune by the parking lot to get to the beach and there are many parking lots. If you want to see more rolling hills but still reach beach, the Umpqua Dunes may be what you’re looking for. If you want parking lot to sandscape to forest (a beach is possible too but it’s several miles further) then try the John Dellenback Dunes Trail.

These areas do require a National Park day use pass (you can get one when you enter by putting $5 in an envelope at any of the locations and tearing the other part to display in your car) or alternatively a National Park recreation pass. Exceptions include special free days, including the upcoming National Trails Day – June 6, 2015 or National Get Outdoors Day – June 13, 2015.

The other kind of experience is fast – riding in ATVs or buggies. You can rent an ATV and drive yourself, with rental vehicles that can fit 1, 2 or 4 depending on your choice/party, they have mini individual ones for the kids to drive (must be aged 12-15). Alternately, you can be driven and go on tours with experienced drivers in buggies who can be a lot more daring speeding up/down the dunes and drifting down the side of hundreds of feet than you probably will be. That’s what we rationalized.

Definitely have a hair tie if you have long hair. And even though you’re having fun, make sure you keep smiling with your mouth closed. Haha. No really. There was also a surprising amount of sand in our hair, ears, and down our shirts.
Taking a ride on a Dune Buggy for an Oregon Dunes tour with Sand Dunes Frontier just a little south of Florence, Oregon Taking a ride on a Dune Buggy for an Oregon Dunes tour with Sand Dunes Frontier just a little south of Florence, Oregon

Seriously though, it is not as fast as a roller coaster and you just don’t know where to look- ahead of you as you accelerate down a dune (especially fun as you are pausing at the top and you cannot see any of the dune ground below you at all it’s so steep…), or gaze sideways at the dune wall as you traverse down, or behind you… You can watch other RV riders ranging from other buggies to bikes or people with their trucks and jeeps… And then there’s the beauty of the dunes around you also.
Taking a ride on a Dune Buggy for an Oregon Dunes tour with Sand Dunes Frontier just a little south of Florence, Oregon Taking a ride on a Dune Buggy for an Oregon Dunes tour with Sand Dunes Frontier just a little south of Florence, Oregon Taking a ride on a Dune Buggy for an Oregon Dunes tour with Sand Dunes Frontier just a little south of Florence, Oregon Taking a ride on a Dune Buggy for an Oregon Dunes tour with Sand Dunes Frontier just a little south of Florence, Oregon

Two major operators, Sand Dunes Frontier (who we used) and SandLand Adventures. They both end up touring the same Sand Dunes recreational area. SandLand Adventures has more ways to earn your money with go carts and bumper boats and train rides, while Sand Dunes Frontier if you are craving more you can then rent your own ATV (at another business, but at the same location- Torex ATV Rentals) to try out now that the SandLand tour has helped you scope out the lay of the lands and who is out there and what you might want to do.

For an alternate “fast” way to see the dunes, consider visiting Sand Master Park and trying to sandboard (similar to snowboarding but with sand), or use surfboards and boogie boards (like with water… but with sand). Who knew?

One last bit of trivia – if you’ve ever read Frank Herbert’s Dune book science fiction/space series, or watched the movies (old 1984 movie or the new Sci Fi channel series), it was the Oregon Dunes that helped inspire him!

And, if you are looking for some additional motivation to visit the area, there’s also this… the Great Florence Duck Race with lots of rubber duckies which benefits the community of Florence.
Great Florence Duck Race

Also just a dozen miles north of Florence is the Sea Lion Caves, America’s largest sea cave at two acres and 12 stories.
The Sea Lion Caves, the World's Largest Sea Cave located 11 miles north of Florence, Oregon The Sea Lion Caves, the World's Largest Sea Cave located 11 miles north of Florence, Oregon The Sea Lion Caves, the World's Largest Sea Cave located 11 miles north of Florence, Oregon The Sea Lion Caves, the World's Largest Sea Cave located 11 miles north of Florence, Oregon The Sea Lion Caves, the World's Largest Sea Cave located 11 miles north of Florence, Oregon The Sea Lion Caves, the World's Largest Sea Cave located 11 miles north of Florence, Oregon

When we visited the sea lions were soaking up the sun outside and only two were inside the caves – but that meant the caves area smelled better than it normally would, and we still enjoyed marveling at the caverns. One of the informational panels talks about various formations you look for in the walk wall like a Native American Princess and Brave, or Goddess of Liberty, or Abraham Lincoln’s profile and decide for yourself how much of a stretch it is. It’s probably just a 45 minute stop, but can still be fun. If you want to really make sure there are sea lions present, the Sea Lion Caves has 3 webcams you can check on your tentative visit day.
The Sea Lion Caves, the World's Largest Sea Cave located 11 miles north of Florence, Oregon The Sea Lion Caves, the World's Largest Sea Cave located 11 miles north of Florence, Oregon The Sea Lion Caves, the World's Largest Sea Cave located 11 miles north of Florence, Oregon The Sea Lion Caves, the World's Largest Sea Cave located 11 miles north of Florence, Oregon The Sea Lion Caves, the World's Largest Sea Cave located 11 miles north of Florence, Oregon The Sea Lion Caves, the World's Largest Sea Cave located 11 miles north of Florence, Oregon

Another mile or so north of the Sea Lion Caves is Heceta Head Lighthouse. The Cape Creek Bridge is only a dozen or so yards from the parking lot and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It uses a design that is similar to Roman stone aqueduct design (notice the two levels of arches and columns), but using modern materials. Combined with the tunnel that US 101, which runs on the bridge and then through a tunnel that goes through Hecate Head, was a huge headache for engineers to construct and is part of the “million-dollar mile” part of this highway.
At Heceta Head Lighthous Viewpoint, the view of Cape Creek Bridge. It uses a design that is similar to Roman stone aqueduct design (notice the two levels of arches and columns), but using modern materials. At Heceta Head Lighthous Viewpoint, the view of Cape Creek Bridge. It uses a design that is similar to Roman stone aqueduct design (notice the two levels of arches and columns), but using modern materials.

You can walk up to the lighthouse in a 1/2 mile walk on gravel to admire the view of Cape Creek Cove and Cape Creek Bridge below among the cliffs. Here are photos taken while heading up to the lighthouse.
At Heceta Head Lighthous Viewpoint, the view of Cape Creek Cove At Heceta Head Lighthous Viewpoint, the view of Cape Creek Cove At Heceta Head Lighthous Viewpoint, the view of Cape Creek Cove At Heceta Head Lighthous Viewpoint, the view of Cape Creek Cove At Heceta Head Lighthous Viewpoint, the view of Cape Creek Cove At Heceta Head Lighthous Viewpoint, the view of Cape Creek Cove At Heceta Head Lighthous Viewpoint, the view of Cape Creek Cove At Heceta Head Lighthous Viewpoint, the view of Cape Creek Cove At Heceta Head Lighthous Viewpoint, the view of Cape Creek Cove and Cape Creek Bridge At Heceta Head Lighthous Viewpoint, the view of Cape Creek Cove and Cape Creek Bridge At Heceta Head Lighthous Viewpoint, the view of Cape Creek Cove At Heceta Head Lighthous Viewpoint, the view of Cape Creek Cove Heceta Head Lighthouse

This cove is lovely to watch the sunset and even on cloudy days like when we visited (the sun and clouds kept taking turns) too for the play of shadows here. This is why Pacific Northwest beaches are the best – even when it’s cool and windy and cloudy the beaches are never boring, just beautiful in a different way.
At Heceta Head Lighthous Viewpoint, the view of Cape Creek Cove At Heceta Head Lighthous Viewpoint, the view of Cape Creek Cove At Heceta Head Lighthous Viewpoint, the view of Cape Creek Cove At Heceta Head Lighthous Viewpoint, the view of Cape Creek Cove

If you are looking for really unique experiences and places to stay, Hecata Head’s Lighthouse Keeper’s cottage is a Bed and Breakfast, and they encourage you to use flashlights to go up and visit the lighthouse at night. You can see the cottage just to the right of the lighthouse below from this photo I took at a scenic viewpoint between the lighthouse and Sea Lion Caves.
A look at Heceta Head Lighthous from a Scenic Viewpoint further south on 101 between the lighthouse and Sea Lion Caves A look at Heceta Head Lighthous from a Scenic Viewpoint further south on 101 between the lighthouse and Sea Lion Caves

Also nearby is Darlingtonia State Natural Site and you can see an interesting plant at this little garden: cobra lilies, a native carnivorous pitcher plant that are 1.5 – 2 feet tall! Don’t worry – they only eat insects, not humans. Sand, swimming, sea lions, carnivorous plants – this seems to be a fun place to take the whole family.

Did you know about the Oregon Sand Dunes? Have you ever been? How would you like to visit the dunes – walking or driving – or will you both like we did (which would you do first)? Have you ever been to this area by Florence, Oregon – and if not, do any of these attractions make you want to visit?

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Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting at Feast 2014

Do you not have tickets to the Saturday Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting at Pioneer Courthouse Square from 12-5? It’s not too late to buy your all inclusive tickets, for which benefits important charities like Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon and Share Our Strength.

The Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting at Feast 2014 is a great value in that so many amazing local vendors are all gathered in one place, ALL are offering samples so you can try everything and know what you are buying!

Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting

Why you should go, in pictures, is because you can eat/drink all this and more while doing good, based on what I saw today visiting on the Friday version of this event:

Don’t miss grabbing a tote bag from Whole Foods at the top by the umbrella man statue! That is also where you should stop by to browse the wine pavilion and see who is manning the Willamette Valley Visitors Association Chef Station. On Friday it was the Les Caves Bier & Kitchen offering a Lamb BLT with Anderon Valley Lamb Belly, Taylor Farms Spring Mix, Denison Farms Tomatoes and Block 15 Bakery’s Ridgeback Red Ale Bread (beer bread!). While you are up there, have a few sips of wine to help wash down the food. I tried the Hawks View Syrah, or any of the Elizabeth Chambers.

Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting

Back to the Main Tent! In Main Tent 3, I discovered Sahale Snacks are addictive, just try it, and they were generously offering some of their bags for you to bring back home to get your family addicted too.

Eliot’s Adult Nut Butters were a revelation to me, don’t miss out on being able to try the flight of peanut butters.

Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting

If you look towards the end facing the stage of Main Tent 2, you should hurry before they run out to grab wooden food and wine glass holder trays. Those trays that hold food samples and a wine glass were such a godsend, thank you Rewards Network!

Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting

The trays are also next to one of the healthiest bites at the Grand Tasting, fresh spring rolls from Bambuza and healthy snacks from Nature’s Path Organic.

Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting

As always, the chef demos on the Kitchenaid Stage are fun – I watched charming Jenn Louis advocating not fearing the raw and demonstrating 3 kinds of tartare
Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting

Afterwards, climb up those steps towards the Whole Foods Market tent and Bon Appetit tents and have some Cacao and iced cold brewed Stumptown to refuel before heading back for wine and more exploration in the Main Tent 2 and Main Tent 1. Don’t forget to gaze at the adorable goofiness of Hugh Acheson. Salt and Straw is also up there by Cacao, but I think you should save Salt and Straw to be your last bite before you leave Pioneer Courthouse Square. Cacao was serving one of the best tastes of the day, their drinking chocolate over Salt and Straw olive oil ice cream I think with Cocanu Candied Cacao Nibs Craque. Crack indeed.

You should also know there are two photo booths- one on each side of the big tent. I liked the Travel Oregon one as they printed out the photos or you can email or text them to yourself. The one by Portland Monthly though does have giant food items to pretend to eat!

Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting

The Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission is presenting multiple unique ways to have berries. Burgerville, besides their refreshing beverage and salad, also has coupons there to get a free milkshake so don’t forget to grab one.

Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting

The cupcakes at the Travel Oregon side in Main Tent 1 are Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes with Ninkasi Vanilla Otis and Jameson cupcake with Irish cream frosting. At that same table I admired the Wheatberry “fried rice” with grilled ribeye and broccolini in a baby takeout container (featuring Hill’s Meat, Joe Daughterty foraged mushrooms and Barhyte Specialty Foods, all prepared by Wildhouse Casino on behalf of Travel Oregon).

Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting

Back towards the far end of Main Tent 2 is a pop-up for USA Pears that has seatings every 15 minutes in order to try 3 different uses of pears from a guest chef. Also next to this is the booth for Dave’s Killer Bread, who is also featuring a new recipe on Dave’s Killer Bread (naturally) for you to try. On Friday, the recipe was from Jenn Louis of Lincoln.

Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting

It’s not too late to buy your tickets, and it is 21+ over only, but all inclusive and is 5 hours that is extremely worthwhile and for an important cause.

UPDATE: SATURDAY PHOTOS

On Saturday, the new Dave’s Killer Bread featured Recipe was from BJ Smith of Smokehouse 21.
Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting

I can just eat spoonfuls of Red Duck ketchup, and you can try probably the first world pumpkin ketchup!
Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting

I stopped by the USA Pears booth where Ethan Stowell from Seattle and his amazing Ethan Stowell restaurants (including Staple & Fancy and another half dozen others) was presenting

  • Sparkling Pear Cocktail with Poached Bosc Pear garnish
  • Anjou Pear salad with frisee, walnuts, and champagne vinaigrette
  • Foie gras mousse with Bosc Pear mostarda
  • BBQ smoked pork cheek slider with Bosc Pear bbq sauce and Comice Pear slaw

That foie gras mousse was my favorite bite for my second visit!
Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting

Second place goes to Batch PDX chocolates, can you tell? They are right next to the Valrhona booth, which is next to the tasty Red Wagon Creamery booth.
Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting

At the Travel Oregon area in the Main Tent 1, Timberline Lodge was offering goose galantine with yogurt olive oil snow, chanterelles, cherries and oats. Meanwhile, a new take on blackberry appeared by Pazzo Ristorante with black raspberry leather, edible chrysanthemum and raw matsutake salad. Blackbird had a smokey beef carpaccio on brioche wafer with blue cheese mousse, huckleberries, and arugula. Getting fancy in here!
Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting  Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Feast Portland 2014, Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting

Disclosure: I was granted a Blogger Pass for Feast Portland 2014 for blog post and social media coverage but I am not otherwise being compensated. Even before I was given the Blogger Pass I already had tickets for some Feast events – so it just means I will have more to recap for you now! The listings above are ones I am just gathering in one place for convenience for both you and me!

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