Happy New Year fellow travelers! Hoping 2021 is a healthy and less chaotic year for all of us. Above all, I hope that we can travel again. Explorer new countries, new adventures, meet new people, and experience great foods and new wines. I missed that most of all.
New Year’s Resolution: A New Year’s resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to continue good practices, change an undesired trait or behavior, accomplish a personal goal, or otherwise improve their life at the start of a new year.
In 2021, I find myself in never before situation; extra vacation hours and an extraordinary number of frequent flyer miles. I’m sure I’m not unique in this situation.
I know it’s only day one of this brand new year. Well aware vaccination for this horrible pandemic has barely started, not only in the United States, but across the world. Yet, here I am, wanting to book a trip. Somewhere, anywhere… Am I alone?
Do you make resolutions? Do you stick to them?
While our travels were limited because of the pandemic, we were still able to enjoy a trip to Oregon’s Willamette Valley this past September. We planned on taking 3 days getting there, from our home in NW Colorado, stay for a week, and then slowly make our way back home. We kind of stuck to our plan, but there were adjustments, many adjustments. We travelled with our travel-trailer, aka hotel on wheels; R-Pod 180. Opted for RV Parks or KOA’s overnight and made reservations at local State Parks for the longer stays.
On our second day, we stopped at a real nice campground just off of Interstate 84 – Anderson Camp RV Park, Eden, Idaho. Would recommend a stop if you are traveling through the Twin Falls area. Nice, clean, grassy and full of mature trees. While it is along the Interstate, the noise wasn’t that bad. Many attractions near by. The Snake River meanders through the area, offering great canyon views at several points. But no better view than at The Shoshone Falls; what a pleasant surprise. There is a $5 fee to get in or free to those that have the American the Beautiful annual pass. Beautiful photo opportunities at the park.
Quick stop overnight in Burns, OR on our way to Silver Falls State Park ( just outside of Salem). Drove through Bend, and followed the Santiam River on Hwy 22. Beautiful country. We had planned on staying four nights at Silver Falls State Park after reading about the park’s beautiful trails and falls. It didn’t hurt either that the park was just 30 minutes or so drive from Pinot Country! On our to do list, we had planned on exploring the Willamette Valley small towns, enjoy the Pinot and make it to the Oregon Coast beaches.
Unfortunately, our plans were changed by Mother Nature. At about 5am the following morning, we woke up with State Patrol driving through the campground and advising all campers to evacuate immediately. Overnight strong winds fanned a small fire, driving it over the ridge, towards the State Park area. The last time I had checked the fire status, it showed 564 acres down by the Santiam River. This fire grew to over 130,000+ acres, devastating the small towns along the river, west of Bend. We packed up and were out within 30 minutes. Drove out towards Newberg, dodging fallen trees and other debris. We were able to find another State Park in the Willamette Valley; just about 30 miles away. We were greeted with blues skies and friendly park rangers.
After our heart beats calmed down a bit, we headed to Dundee for lunch and check out the area. Our 1st choice for lunch was Trellis, but with the limited seating, they were not able to seat us. They did recommend the Dundee Bistro to us. We enjoyed a lovely lunch outside with a great bottle of wine from the owner’s vineyard. After lunch we were able to get reservations at two wineries in the area. We visited Knudsen Vineyards, were we met Page Knudsen Cowles. Ms. Cowles was very gracious and informative. We left knowing a bit more about the history of the area and about their wine production. We will be enjoying the Knudsen wines for years to come, via their wine club.
Just down the road from Knudsen Vineyards, we found another winery that was able to take our reservation for a tasting. Because of COVID, most vineyards were limited with the amount of tastings allowed. We enjoyed the Furioso Vineyards wines in a modern tasting room, with great views of the vineyard. Their Pinot was very good. We also hopped over to Newberg to meet up with a friend and visited two local wine shops. Cute town; we need more time for exploring.
Because of the fires, even if they were not an immediate danger to us, the air quality (500+ US AQI) was so bad that we cut our trip in Willamette Valley short. The next afternoon we left for Hood River. We had planned on that being our next stop anyway, we just went a few days earlier. Once settled at the Cascade Locks-KOA, along the Columbia River, we booked a round of golf and wine tastings at a couple of wineries in town.
We enjoyed a nice round of golf at Indian Creek Golf Course. Early in the morning as we started, we were able to see Mt. Hood from the tee box. Afterwards, enjoyed a nice relaxing lunch at their restaurant’s outside patio. Hopefully we get to return and stop in again. Everyone was very friendly. Enjoyed our morning. We followed golf with great wine tasting at Marchesi Vineyards and Cathedral Ridge Winery.
Marchesi wines are Italian, as is their winemaker and proprietor. It was actually a nice change from the Pinot we had been drinking. The tasting was set outside along the vineyard with beautiful rose bushes at the end of each row. We enjoyed their Barbera and the Nebbiolo. Brought both back with us.
A short ride away, we found Cathedral Ridge Winery overlooking the Columbia River Gorge and its mountain peeks. The winery takes advantage of the microclimates just across the river to duplicate four of the world’s greatest grape-growing regions; Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone and the Rhine. Couldn’t ask for a better setting to end our afternoon; enjoying some good wines and the sunshine. Who says it always rains in Oregon?
As we headed out of Oregon, mostly because of the air quality, we stop in Huntington, OR. The town claims to be the Catfish Capital, hosting annual Catfish Derbies. They are on the south bank of the Snake River and gateway to Hells Canyon. Nearby campground, Farewell Bend State Recreation Area, is a nice, quiet campground to relax for a couple of nights. I would recommend the Catfish Loop; more open and views of the river.
Our next overnight stop was at Craters of the Moon National Park, as we made our way towards Island Park, ID for some fly fishing adventures. First time at the park. The lava fields were very interesting.
Fly fishing the Henry’s Fork is a must for any enthusiast of the sport. This is the 3rd visit to the area. Found a great spot along the Warm River at a small FS campground. A mile away, the Henry’s Fork meets the Warm River, with some great fishing opportunities. Mesa Falls, just a short drive up NF-62, is worth seeing. There are two overlooks that offer amazing views of the falls.
We closed the 3,300-mile trip with a drive through the Grand Teton National Park, followed by a few days at the North Platte River in Wyoming; this section of the river is better known as the Miracle Mile. This area offers great fly fishing and free camping along this great stretch of the river.
Another wonderful trip comes to an end. It offered some challenges, adventures, some new and interesting areas visited, some of which we will revisit in the future.
Looking forward to amazing travels in 2021!! Cheers to the open road.
With cancelled travel plans and stay-at-home mandates, I found myself trying to find a project to keep me busy these past three months; there is so much house cleaning one can do. While digging for a recipe I hadn’t cooked in awhile, inspiration came to me: how about writing a cookbook! Of course, I’m not a writer, so there was that. Right after dinner, I went online and googled “make your own cookbook”. This search returned million of results. Many good ideas and opportunities. In the end, photo sites like shutterfly and snapfish ended up being the most economical and easy for a novice like me; plus I’m familiar with both of these sites. The idea of a cookbook, with all our favorite recipes in one place started taking shape; this was a project that I could tackle. I could do this. I had handwritten notes, clippings of old recipes, new recipes, notes from family members, all in binders, some scanned and saved online, while others were paper clipped between pages of some of the cookbooks in my collection. I had plenty of material to get me started. Having it all in one 57-page book of family recipes was something I had never thought of, but now believe it will be great way to preserve and share some of those older and favorite recipes. Merged two of my great loves; books and food!
The book is a compilation of my Portuguese family recipes and our current favorites.
The recipes are broken into several sections: starters, entree, salads and soups, drinks and desserts. Included throughout, are stories behind the recipes, photos of family, friends, and photos of my small town in the Algarve.
Cannot wait to share the final product with my family and friends, and hear their thoughts.
“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”James Beard
Here is one of my favorite recipes of cataplana, included in the book. This is a simple and delicious seafood starter, or add some pasta and you have dinner! Enjoy.
CATAPLANA is the most recognized dish in the Algarve, the most southern region in Portugal. It gets its name from the copper pot which is used to cook the dish in.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 oz linguica sausage or chorizo, sliced
1 shallot, sliced or small onion, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 lb fresh manila clams or mussels (or both)
1/2 lb large shrimp
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/4 cup white wine
Smoked paprika & bay leaf
Salt and pepper
chopped fresh parsley
1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
COOKING THE CATAPLANA:
2. Add the clams, shrimp, tomatoes, wine, bay leaf and some paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and steam gently over medium to medium-low heat just until the clams open and the shrimp are pink, 5 to 8 minutes.
3. Taste for seasoning. Sprinkle with the remaining oil, chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon.
Serve directly out of the cataplana with baguette or similar bread.
Note: I normally enjoy this dish with a Vinho Verde, well chilled.
I’m not going to lie, while I’m extremely fortunate that my family, friends and I stayed healthy through the initial phase of COVID-19, I was very disappointed on having our Alaska vacation cancelled because of it all; I think for about a week I threw a pity-party for one! We had been planning this trip for over a year. This would had been my husband’s 1st cruise and our 1st time in Vancouver, Canada. I’m sure we will have the opportunity to revisit these plans sometime in the future. For now, the most important thing is to stay healthy so we can continue to travel. So in 2020, we go with Plan B and C.
“Life is a crazy ride. It’s a privilege to go through it with a partner.”Kristen Bell
After 6 weeks in quarantine, we escaped and ran away to the desert. As soon as Colorado Governor announced that it would be “safe” to start going out, we didn’t finish listening to the last part of the press conference, we went! We missed a couple of the recommendations, but…
Our 1st road trip took us back to one of our favorite fishing spot along the Green River in Utah. There were a few other like-minded campers in the area, but we all practiced social-distancing and just enjoyed being outdoors again.
Our go-to spot is a small campground along the river called Indian Crossings. This is a BLM campground with no electric, but it does have nice large camp sites, away from one another, with clean bathrooms, water and river access. This campground has access to a boat ramp which is heavily used by rafters and guides. Browns Park Wildlife Refuge is just a few miles away, making the area ideal for bird watching. Many different species of birds can be seen around the camp and river. Very peaceful area for those wanting to get away from it all. Closest “town” is Dutch John, about 38 miles to the West. There you have a small convenient store, gas station, and fly store. From Dutch John you can also access the Flaming Gorge dam, the lake and the Green River. This area is very popular with rafters and fishermen floating the river.
After a couple of days in Utah, we drove a bit North to a spot along the Platte River, between Seminole and Pathfinder reservoirs, called the Miracle Mile, known for it great fishing. Here you can float these sleepy waters and be rewarded with some beautiful trout. This was my first time visiting the area; my husband had been here some 30+ years ago. According to him, nothing has changed.
This is a remote area with no facilities other than the State Parks within the reservoirs. If you love fishing, this is the spot, but make sure you have all your supplies and gas before leaving. The closest town is Sinclair, right off of I-80. There are many local fishing outfitters available to take you out on a guided trip or you can opt to do it on your own. There are some primitive camp sites along the river with access to restrooms, available on a first-come basis. First time here, but not the last for sure. I see a fall trip in our future.
For the time being, our travels are limited to camping around our western states. Lots to explore and enjoy. We love the June month in Colorado. While we can get the occasional snow storm in the high country, we still have amazing warm days with cool evenings to get out and play. This is also a good time to enjoy our outdoors before we have to share it with visitors. We have been taking advantage of most weekends and gone camping. fishing, and kayaking. Hiking this year has been somewhat limited since on our 1st camp trip, I rolled my ankle fairly bad; still nursing it back to health.
Note to self: don’t cover holes in the ground with your camping rug!!
Stay healthy and travel as much as possible! Where to next?
As we tried to escape the mountain snow in Colorado, a quick dive trip to Florida this past month was in order. A few days in the sunshine state was just what we needed to recharge.
Our newest member received his dive certification in May. This was his first opportunity for an ocean dive; he received his Open Water Certification in Midway, Utah. This was a totally different experience.
We lucked out with the weather. The week before, South Florida had experienced a cold front. We were glad it passed before we arrived. We had several beautiful days of mid to high 70’s. Water temperature was 77 degrees.
We visited a few dive sites; one south of Miami (Emerald) and a couple off of Hallandale Beach (PL1 – PL7). On the 1st day, we stayed south of Miami Beach. The first stop was Emerald, which was just by Biscayne Bay. Lots of fish, octopus, lobster and even a giant crab. Visibility was good also. On the second day, we stop at buoys PL 1 and 7; not really sure of the actual site names. The visibility was not as good as at Emerald, but still decent; some interesting coral formations. A bit of a current too.
Our last day was spent at the beach, just relaxing and sunbathing on the sandy beaches around Hollywood, Florida. It had been some time since I last visited the area. Much more going on now. Lots of shops, bars, and interesting & diverse food. Great spot to “people watch”.
Well, it was fun. Off to the snow we go. Where are you diving this year?