Jumping over the lazy dog

or, taking the bull by the horns.

Ahoy, matey, thar be seafood aboard.

Ok, so I’m not really a pirate. But wandering down the West Coast has made me a real seafood aficionado (which I kind of was before, but now even more so).

First, the prize-winner for the best fish’n’chips I’ve ever eaten.  Not that it’s saying much, and it’s game to be contested after my trip to London later this month, but here we go.  Drum roll, please…Mo’s Chowder! For the most part, we tried to stay away from chain restaurants during our trip, to get a real flavor for the localities we were ambling through, but we actually ate at the original Mo’s Chowder on the old harbor in Newport, Oregon.  The restaurant appears to be located in a garage: the 10′ door rolls up to open the space to the street front, letting the scent of batter dipped fish and local beer drift enticingly out to pedestrians. The fish’n’chips are fantastic, and they have quite a few choices (in terms of which fruit of the sea you want dipped in batter).  I did, however, get ‘brownied’ as it came to be called: they skimped out when it came to serving me this amazing bread.  How did I know it was amazing, well, the rest of the table got their share and their eyes rolled back into their heads upon consumption.  Interestingly, I didn’t have any of Mo’s chowder…

It's not my picture, but that's the place.

It's not my picture, but that's the place.

Then there’s the prize for the best milkshakes ever. This award goes to….The Crazy Norwegian’s in Port Orford! Not sure how they did it, but it was smooth and frothy, tasty and not too filling, so I could still enjoy my fish’n’chips.  Speaking of, this place gets second place for awesome fish’n’chips: their batter was tempura based, I believe, which put a nice spin on the classic. As an Interior Designer, I, of course, noticed the interior: it’s really cozy, and I’d attribute that to the pine boards that wrap the walls and ceiling.  It’s almost like being on a boat, or in a Scandinavian log cabin…go figure.

Again, not my pic, but you get the idea.

Again, not my pic, but you get the idea.

We stayed on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, which is where we found the last restaurant on the ‘West Coast must eats’ list: the Franciscan Crab Restaurant.  The first two dining venues in this post were delicious and cheap.  The Franciscan? Not so much.  Very tasty, but with a price to match.  The four of us dropped a cool $100 on a platter of their ‘World Famous’ Whole Roasted Dungeness Crabs, which were prepared in a ‘Secret Garlic Sauce.’ The crabs were good, don’t get me wrong, and I think the method of preparation was exquisite: savory without obscuring the flavor of the sea, and it allowed the crab meat to be pulled in large chunks (as opposed to the slivers you normally spend 3 hours procuring from one measly limb).  The desserts were also quite delicious – we each ordered one and had a tasting feast. You’re also paying for ambiance in this place – it’s got an art deco twist, with some funky lighting, and on a nice day (which we didn’t have) you would’ve been able to see across the bay.  Oh, and their menu was beautifully designed.

I was apparently incapable of taking photos of restaurants.  But them's the crabs.

I was apparently incapable of taking photos of restaurants. But them's the crabs.

So there you have it, three divine dining experiences on the West Coast portion of our trip.  Next up: Vegas, baby!

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Gorgeous Gorges and the Great Outdoors.

One last apology before I vow to never apologize for delays in posting again: I’m sorry!! Now on to the much anticipated Road Trip 2009 recounting.

Day one of RT09 had us checking out the waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge.  Tip #1: Do not begin a road trip with a visit to a popular tourist destination on a Saturday afternoon if you expect to find parking for not one, but two cars.

Once we resolved the parking dilemma, we got to see some really beautiful waterfalls! The first one was lovely, the second quite nice, the third took too long to get to, and if Saarinen had made us go to one more waterfall, she wouldn’t have lasted the rest of the trip. And I know you can only see so many waterfall pictures before they get old and start looking like the same thing, but here’s a handful to satisfy your curiosity.  Our visit to the Gorge ended with a stop at Vista House, whose incredibly scenic ‘vista’ was marred only by the dense cloud cover.

The first of the waterfalls, decidedly the most impressive.

The first of the waterfalls, decidedly the most impressive.

Apparently, that rock did some damage at a wedding party.

Apparently, that rock did some damage at a wedding party.

The view from Vista House.

The view from Vista House.

That night we stayed in Coos Bay, Oregon.  The Oregon Coast was by far the best part of the trip as far as I’m concerned.  On our drive from the gorge to Coos Bay we had glimpses of waves smashing against large rocks and sandy shores.  When night fell, we stopped for a moment by the road side to listen to the soft splash of the waves below, a bit afraid to climb down because it was so dark! I think we interrupted a couple in their car…doing what couples in cars do, but it was worth it!

The following morning began with a trip to Shore Acres Park. We finally had a chance to walk around the rocky shore, hike down to a beach and tentatively explore a cave.  Since Dino, Jr. and I didn’t get to see the sea lions at the Sea Lion Cave, we insisted on stopping by a view point that promised the largest group of sea lions on the Oregon Coast.  It was amazing! They were incredibly loud.  And we even got a humpback whale sighting!

Here are some images from the park, I highly recommend a visit to anyone on the West coast!

Beautiful sun, gorgeous water, just divine.

Beautiful sun, gorgeous water, just divine.

The beach where I first dipped my toes into the Pacific.

The beach where I first dipped my toes into the Pacific.

Herman the snail.

Herman the snail.

____ the crab.

____ the crab.

The Cave.

The Cave.

The very loud Sea Lions.  And why I was glad I brought my 70-300mm zoom lens.

The very loud Sea Lions. And why I was glad I brought my 70-300mm zoom lens.

Next time on RT09: Redwoods and San Francisco.  Still to come: West Coast dining!

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