8 October, 2014
Road Trip #1 the Oregon Coast
Serendipitously, an old friend of mine from Southern California was taking an autumn road trip with her family up the coast and was scheduled to be in Oregon the same time we were. D +J have a son who is just 5 weeks younger than our Squishy BabyNom and we were excited for them to meet!
We took a trip to the Oregon coast for an overnighter with them near Waldport, Oregon. Though we were just beginning to settle into Portland and check out our new ‘hood we were not going to pass up a chance to check out the coast, even if just for the day.
First let me say nothing is lovelier than watching your baby boy make a new friend. The two kiddos hit it off immediately and were eagerly chatting away in their own language and playing for the length of their time together. As a somewhat isolated family, it was downright luxurious to live for a moment where five pairs of eyes were on the look out for the antics of wee ones. 2.5 adults per child felt significantly more easy than 2 adults per child. Perhaps it was the introduction of differing relationship dynamics and the added entertainment of a peer for Squish, but everyone had a lovely, low-stress experience during the visit.
Minus the car ride.
One big takeaway from the trip is getting a chance to feel out Squish’s upper limit for travel time. When we strap him into his adventure seat, it appears we only have about two hours of awake time to drive before meltdown. This can be somewhat extended if well rested and can also be significantly extended through Sandra Boynton Book apps which I cannot recommend highly enough for parents of small children.
I’m still determining the best way to take the road trip to Denver to cover the most ground quickly without traumatizing the child. This new information changes my initial plans quite a bit and taking my best friend’s advice of pausing every couple of hours to run around a park for a bit with D + J’s experience of only being able to have 5 hours of driving time per day seem likely more grounded in reality than my ambitious itinerary of 5-7 hours of daily driving to get to the next best rest stop.
Back to the drawing board for me!
Our evening in Waldport with D+J was at J’s family’s home, nestled in the woods above the Alsea River on a bird sanctuary with gorgeous apple trees heavy with ripe fruit. The neighborhood is one skilled in giving and bartering – eggs for coffee, fruit skins for animal feed, etc. The neighborhood dogs all appear to be on good terms with one another as well. Our little snapshot was one of quiet, idyllic community; a place both to rest and connect to your neighbors. We enjoyed a delicious local Pork shoulder roast with sour apple compote from the trees in the yard for dinner, served with asparagus and acorn squash. I’ve been thinking about what a local, seasonal meal in the Pacific Northwest would look like this time of year, and the pork, apple, acorn squash combo is right on target!
The following morning, after a delightful breakfast of the neighbor’s eggs and the most smashing coffee made by J’s mom (she roasts, grinds, and brews her own fair-trade beans! Why did we have to leave!??!) we headed to the neighboring town of Newport (not to be confused with Newport Beach of Cali fame) for a stroll and lunch.
Newport is a fun little beach town that appears to be a mix of artist-types who live there year round and summer tourists who don’t question dropping $300 on a raincoat at a boutique when an unexpected rain shows up (this is Oregon, after all). Many of the restaurants boast serving local meats and eggs, and many of these said restaurants are also closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. One shouldn’t be too surprised given it’s a small beach town in the off season….
After letting the boys loose in a nearby park for playtime and woodchip appetizers we settled on Nye Beach Cafe at the end of NW Coast Street’s business area and brought our massive load of strollers, baby schwag and parents into the small cafe. Despite being an obvious ball of chaos, the staff treated us graciously and were well prepared with rags for spills, crayons for eating and kid’s menus for cheese and bread loving toddlers. Should you be in Newport, their clam chowder is quite lovely and the bay shrimp salad does not skimp on the shrimp whatsoever, but piles it on with the confidence and abundance that comes from knowing there is a boatload of the local goods due in the following day. NomPa was busy working at nearby Carl’s Coffee, who appears to be the only coffee shop in the area that serves Stumptown (a favorite PNW roaster), has free wi-fi and caters to the Northwest Tech/Coffee culture. Should you imbibe in the bitter bean, this is most certainly the place to do so (I won’t lie, I came back for seconds to prepare for the trip home).
After lunch we parted ways and bod D+J adieu as their boy had not yet napped and the BabyNom and I picked up NomPa and went down to the beach for a little walk. Like all of the Oregon Coast in Autumn, the sandy beaches have a layer of marine fog that lends a romantic yet ominous tone to the landscape. We strolled along for a bit in the light fog and cool wind, before heading back to the car for the trip home with one more adventure stop: Eats and Treats.
Eats and Treats is a dedicated gluten-free cafe in Philomath, a town so small that you would easily mistake it for Corvallis itslef as you are driving out to the coast. They are super friendly and welcoming and serious about staying gluten-free – so much so that they explicitly discourage the entry of outside food so as not to potentially contaminate the atmosphere. It is a place where someone with celiac can take a breath of air and get their hands dirty and not worry about the consequences.
Eats and Treats is a fun combination of house smoked American BBQ and gluten free bakery. The patrons are Philomath’s locals, who appear to be farmers and other agricultural types nearing retirement. I love how much everything about this place is layers of breaking stereotypes.
NomPa had a crazy huge pile of BBQ Pork nachos (like me, it’s a fusion of Mexican and American in one flavorful package) and I, still content from the pile of bay shrimp on my salad at lunch, had half a grilled cheese and tomato basil soup. The tomato basil soup was not blended smooth, but rather contained some texture and bits of fresh tomato that I hadn’t realized I preferred until the moment I tried it. The grilled cheese was hearty and filling, if not a touch bland. It was begging for a smear of pesto or some fresh basil to give it a little pizzaz. Were Squish in his second year I suspect it would have been perfect for him.
NomPa, however, had a mess of juicy, smoky sweet pork atop crisp tortilla chips, cheddar cheese, olives and scallions. Unable to finish his meal, I picked a bit at it to test it out but saved the last bit of my stomach for the gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake cup in the bakery case.
A touch bigger than bite sized but smaller than a traditional slice, the cheesecake cup is the perfect sweet ending to your meal. Creamy, dense, but not overly sweet or too heavy on the nutmeg it brings the best things of the season to your palate and eradicates anything amiss in your life as inconsequential for those precious moments of enjoyment.
Eats and Treats is a must stop if anyone in your travel party is Gluten-Free. They are just a couple of miles off I-5 on Highway 34 literally just past Corvallis and worth the trip if you are en route to Eugene, in Albany or heading to the coast as we were!