So sorry I mistakenly sent out a link to a depression blog on this site – I hit the wrong button when meaning to share another’s post via Tweet – wound up on my site – I deleted it but not before email notifications were sent out – my apologies!
Finally, getting to Chapter 2 of our summer trip out West…we left Washington DC before dawn, heading to Portland, Oregon, to meet up with an old grammar and high school classmate, Bob Burgan. Bob and Mary extended an invitation to stay with them a couple of nights at their beach house in Manzanita. I haven’t seen Bob since high school but have reconnected through FaceBook and have been intrigued by his photos of Manzanita, which is just south of Cannon Beach. It’s a 90 minute drive from Bob and Mary’s lovely house in downtown Portland, west to the coast. When you reach the westernmost point and head south to Manzanita, the view of the ocean is phenomenal…it most definitely qualifies as a “Holy shit!” moment.
The stroll from the Burgan/McArthur house to the beach is a short one and stepping out from the grassy path onto the shore is a shock to the senses. This is a much different view than our east coast shoreline. The Pacific is not as forgiving and the rocky cliffs in the distance make for treacherous waves. I just had to dip my toes to check out the temperature when a rogue wave caught me up to my knees. And, yes, it was cold!
Bob and Mary’s pup, Nola, loves the beach and was in constant motion. The next day Bob took us on a short hike from the Oregon Coast Highway to Oswald West State Park, another beach with magnificent views, this time with surfers taking to the waves. Unlike Florida beaches, the water is so cold the surfers have to be covered head to toe before making their way into the frigid water. Tsunami warnings and evacuation route signs dot the roadway. An issue we, on the east coast, don’t think twice about.
We spent the rest of the day being shown Bob’s old haunts…he’s been living in Oregon since the ‘70’s and knows EVERYBODY in Manzanita. This was proven over and over again on our journey. Bob is a story in itself and his most recent escapades can be found in the Habitat for Humanity Disaster Corps newsletter. Years ago, he fell off a mountain and lived to talk about it but was left with a crooked leg which can be seen in some of the photos. It doesn’t hold him back, however. I don’t think anything’s going to kill Bob Burgan. (Well, I take that back, maybe Mary will!)
Back in Portland, we were dropped off at a boutique hotel on the Willamette River, the River’s Edge Hotel & Spa, which is just a couple of blocks from a Portland Streetcar stop. (Got a really good deal through Priceline) The mass transportation opportunities are abundant and provide an inexpensive way to tour the city. Before we said goodbye to the Burgans, however, they took us for an early evening walk around the International Rose Test Gardens which, as the name implies, serves as a testing facility for new rose varieties. The park covers 4.5 acres with over 7,000 plants. It’s a sensory overload of color and fragrance…a truly amazing place.
Later, we dined at Meriwether’s, sharing a generous portion of Paella with local craft beers. Our time with Bob and Mary will never be forgotten. The bond that is forged in childhood never seems to break and our respective spouses added to the enjoyment of reconnecting at a stage of our lives where we appreciate the value of friendship.
The next day we were on our own to explore the city and we fell in love. Portland is a progressive town that felt, to us, like home. I have a feeling we will be spending a lot more time there in the future. Divided by the Willamette River, we took the streetcar over the bridge to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) where we toured the USS Blueback, a Naval submarine which was assigned to Pearl Harbor, among other places, and is currently a permanent fixture at the OMSI.
We then headed back over the bridge to the Pearl District, which houses the famous Powell’s City of Books, taking up a full block, chock full of tomes for the taking. Just walk in with a bag of books to trade and you can walk out with a new collection. It’s a busy place. The city is also home to Portland State University, which is bisected by the streetcars giving riders a mini tour of the campus. For the most part the weather in Portland, and Manzanita, was pleasant and cool for the middle of summer, except for our day in the city when the temps reached 97 degrees…an anomaly for the mercury to reach that level. It was manageable, however, as the humidity level was so low, and we all know “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity!”
After our night at the River’s Edge, we were driven (complimentary) to Union Station where we were to start the next leg of our journey on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight, overnight, to San Francisco. More on that in the next chapter.
Last month’s trip was full of “holy shit!” moments. From beginning to end, the two weeks was chock full of eye-opening events and scenery. Our first leg took us to the 38th Annual National Society of Newspaper Columnists Conference in Washington, DC. It was my fifth year of attending and I wasn’t disappointed.
Arriving a day early, we were picked up at the airport by a friend I’ve known since we were in the fourth grade. Margie and Bob reside in Falls Church, VA, and were gracious enough to put us up on our first night in their lovely home. Decades ago, Margie’s mom managed the Home and Hobby store on chic Park Avenue in Winter Park, which was the go-to place for crystal, china and anything shiny and breakable. Margie’s welcoming home reflects her mother’s taste and charm.
But first, Margie took us to the Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens which includes the Georgian-style mansion of Marjorie Merriweather Post (of the Post cereal empire). Some of you, as old as I, might recognize Ms. Post’s daughter, Dina Merrill, the actress and philanthropist, who carries on her mother’s legacy. One of my favorite stories on the tour was about an incident which occurred during the depression of the twenties. Ms. Merriweather Post gathered up her collection of jewelry, placed it in a safe deposit box, then used the savings from the insurance on said jewelry to open several soup kitchens for women and children. She served up food and drink for the poor with linens and china, respecting the dignity of those who were not as fortunate.
The mansion/museum is full of art, china, and original furnishings; and the magnificent gardens are resplendent with color. This jewel of an estate is tucked away in the residential Forest Hills neighborhood of DC and provides an enlightening and quiet side trip from the tourist areas of the city.
While Charlie hung out with an old school friend of his own, the rest of the weekend put me into star-struck nerd writer overload. The roster of speakers at the NSNC conference was incredible. Beginning with Connie Schultz, I was thrilled to meet this prolific writer, of whose FaceBook page I am a stalker. Connie used to write for the Cleveland Plain-Dealer but left the paper when her husband, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, campaigned. She now is nationally syndicated through Creators Syndicate and writes for Parade Magazine. This Pulitzer Prize winner gave me a “holy shit” moment when I realized she was following me on Twitter.
Other speakers kept us enthralled and in stitches, such as Craig Wilson, retired USA Today columnist; John Avlon of The Daily Beast; Gene Weingarten, Dana Milbank, Marguerite Kelly and Alexandra Petri, all of the Washington Post; and Llewellyn King, who currently is host and executive producer of “White House Chronicle” on PBS, and whose background is too lengthy to list here. These are but a few of the journalists who graced us with their presence over the weekend and were so inspirational to a “wanna-be” writer.
Again, I was thinking, “holy shit!” while having dinner in the bowels of the Capitol building after a short tour of the rotunda, with nary a soul around but our small group of writers. Having toured the Capitol before with hordes of tourists, it was an eerie feeling to be there without the crowds. Our footsteps echoed in the pristine rooms which have held so much of this country’s history. It was an awesome experience and one I will not soon forget.
The next chapter takes us to Portland, Oregon…to be continued.
Getting ready for a big trip in a few weeks, been trying to get into shape. Since moving back to downtown Orlando we have no excuse to lazily while away the summer. Charlie can’t run because of a torn Achilles tendon but our local Y provides a ton of other opportunities to get in a workout. My latest HypeOrlando blog is an homage to our area YMCA’s and why they should not be taken for granted.
My new passion is the Zumba class which is the best aerobic experience I’ve had in a long time…and I’m not the oldest one there. Has it really been 20 years since I took that dance class and had to learn intricate moves? Those 20 years have wreaked havoc with my brain-foot coordination but fun is had by all and the sweat is proof it’s a great workout. Move over 30 year old hard bodies, make room for grammy!
A little over a year ago our friends and neighbors, the Smiths, opened a bed and breakfast in New Smyrna Beach overlooking the Indian River. The opening was the result of a multi-year production involving the renovation of a beautiful old home, retaining the ambience and historical importance of the residence. We were blown away by the design and the end result but figured we were biased as these are super friends and we knew how hard they worked.
A bit of background…the Smiths have been involved in the hospitality industry for decades. Brett and his twin brother, Scott, started working together in their college days; Brett met Sheila while working an island property; and Sheila’s brother, Joe, is the Chaine des Rotisseurs educated Chef of the Inn. When not in New Smyrna Beach, Scott runs the Chateau Inns & Suites in Spring Lake, New Jersey.
Their experience speaks for itself so it is no surprise that they have started racking up so many awards they can’t keep up with the press releases. Soon after they opened the doors, kudos were received from The Guardian as one of the Ten B&Bs and Guesthouses in Florida and, most recently, huge accolades from AAA, TripAdvisor, and Select Registry, among others.
Here’s the list of awards so far in 2014:
AAA – The Black Dolphin earned the coveted Four (4) Diamonds – they are one of only 4 B&B’s in Florida earning this designation.
TripAdvisor – Awarded the Black Dolphin Inn the 2014 Traveler’s Choice Award for the Top 25 B&B’s and Inns in the United States.
Select Registry – Being included in this listing of Distinguished Inns of North America means membership in an elite group of under 400 inns which are invited each year.
BedandBreakfast.com – Given the distinction as being one of 20 luxury inns in the state of Florida who have qualified for listing in the Diamond Collection.
iLoveInns.com – If you haven’t heard of this site, it placed the Black Dolphin Inn into the Top 10 Romantic Inns in the United States.
The Inn has also housed a few movie and TV crews while filming in the area. Sharon Lawrence calls herself their unofficial ambassador in Hollywood as the result of her visit with a movie crew.
Last year the Black Dolphin Inn received more accolades from BedandBreakfast.com as one of the Top Ten Beach B&Bs in the world…that’s global! We knew they had a magnificent property and now the rest of the world can appreciate what has been accomplished in such a short time.