28 July 2018

Seattle Area Breweries

First of all, it is not humanly possible to visit every brewery in the greater Seattle area.  Don't get me wrong, we've made a valiant effort over the years, but we accept that we will die someday never having experienced every Seattle brewery.

For the purposes of this blog, the only breweries that count are the ones we hit on this trip.  This time, that was:  (1) Airways; (2) Odin; and (3) North Fork.

1.  Airways Brewing, Kent WA

Two ESBs, an IPA, and a bucket of potato salad!

This is from a previous visit to Airways, but that head is just so
damned impressive it deserves to be shared again!

Airways conveniently allows you to bring in your own food, which facilitates the Norvell Family tradition of feasting on Caveman BBQ.  They have two locations in Kent - one is the production facility with a taproom, and the other is a bistro with a full menu. We've been to both, but on this trip, it was taproom.  The beer is decent, and there's no doubt we'll go again the next time someone has a craving for Caveman.     

2. Odin Brewing, Tukwila, WA

Odin has been around Seattle for a long time, too, but their tap room is relatively new.  It would be a convenient stop on the way to/from the airport, or if you feel the need to patronize the ginormous shopping mall at Southcenter.  The beer was good enough to buy a six pack of the IPA for home.   The food -- a Cuban and a Brat -- wasn't anything to celebrate, but it wasn't terrible.  There are a lot of breweries in Seattle, and I'm not sure I'd revisit Odin instead trying something new next time.  But if we're nearby, I could easily be talked into stopping for a beer.  😏

3.  North Fork Brewing, Deming, WA

Will you just look at the beauty of that nitro ESB cascading down the glass?

A "beer shrine" is a thing?  I fully support that.

First of all, I'm sure I'm committing some crime by calling this the "Seattle Area" (is North Conway the "Boston Area"??).  But if you're anywhere near Mt. Baker you absolutely have to stop at North Fork.  In fact, its so good that its worth a trip from Bellingham/Arlington just for the beer.  Doug had an ESB on nitro, which he said was as good as any he'd had in England.  I, of course, went for the IPA and it was really good.  Their menu is limited to pizza and grinders, and we had a slice of pepperoni pizza.  It was SO good!!  New York style sweet red sauce and thin crispy foldable crust with air pockets.  This is a "go again" for sure.

Seattle Adventures

Even though Mookie didn't meet her #kittygoals in the tall pines of Lake Easton, we headed to Seattle last Monday.

Seattle certainly isn't a new adventure for us - I was stationed at Ft. Lewis for a year and Doug's family all lives in the greater Seattle area, so we've spent some time there.

Priorities in order, we immediately made a pilgrimage to Caveman Kitchen.  Caveman is a little outdoor BBQ pit surrounded by industrial parks that, unless you knew somebody who knew somebody who went there once, you'd never discover.  Doug lived literally next door when he was attending UW, and the when-in-Seattle-must-eat-Caveman tradition has been going strong for the Norvell family for 40+ years.

James & Doug at Caveman
James is the only Norvell who inherited the ability to make the special family recipe potato salad (he claims to have given me the exact recipe, but since I fail miserably every time I try, I'm skeptical).  Whenever there's a trip to Caveman scheduled, James makes a batch of potato salad, gets the Caveman to go, and we bring it all over to Airways brewing, where proper beverages can accompany the feast.

Beer, BBQ and potato salad = Happy Doug

There were no active adventures in Seattle because it was just too damned hot.  Yes, that's right, I said Seattle was too hot ... global warming is real, people!

Seattle wasn't all BBQ and beer.  The night we arrived, Doug discovered a giant piece of metal embedded in one of the RV tires, and later found out one of the truck tires had been shredded by a metal bolt.  So, after 5 trips to 2 different Discount Tire locations over 3 days, we are back up and running (but $800 in the hole).

Done with Seattle, we continued our trek north toward Canada yesterday.  We are using Lynden, WA (where you can see Canada from your living room!) as a base until after our Canada adventures are finished.  It is much cooler here, which is a very good thing because the RV Park we reserved accidentally double-booked our site so we are temporarily parked on the lawn next to the owner's house, running electricity from his house to the RV via a standard (15 amp) extension cord.  Which means no AC and only one fan!! 😰 

Today we took the motorcycle to Mt. Baker, which was still snowpacked and beautiful!  I occupied the Princess Seat and let Doug do all the work. 

Of course we had to stop at the "beer shrine" ... wouldn't you?

That's it for us for the next two weeks or so.  I leave Monday for a yoga festival in Whistler, British Columbia with the girls, and a few days later, Doug goes on a motorcycle trip up to Whistler with the boys.  We'll all meet up in Whistler and then head down to Squamish, BC together for more adventures.  

24 July 2018

Bend Area Breweries

*Updated September 2018 to include new breweries visited August 2018*

August 2018

1.  Iron Horse Brewery, Ellensburg WA

Yeah, I know, this isn't in Bend.  But it doesn't fit with the "Seattle Area" breweries and it's not worth its own entry, so it goes here.  Ellensburg is a cute little town north of Yakima, WA.  There isn't much there, but its a great place to rest up between the Canadian border and Bend, Oregon.  There was a nice little in-town patio with picnic tables.  The beer was decent.  The staff was friendly.  Bottom line:  don't go to Ellensburg just for this, but if you're in Ellensburg, definitely go to Iron Horse.  

2.  Smith Rock Brewing Co., Redmond, OR

The best thing about Smith Rock is the sign, which, if you spend any time in National Forests, it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling.  The garden patio was nice, especially since this was right in town and it was hot.  The beer was OK, but I wasn't feeling all that well, so it may have actually been better than I remember (Doug didn't complain, but that's not a very effective measuring stick when it comes to beer).  The server was rude, so that kinda set a tone for me, and the owner was nasty in response to my mediocre Google Review about the place.  Doug ordered the poutine, and he said it was typical American poutine with gravy from a can.  Personally, I wouldn't go back - there are too many good breweries with fantastic food and friendly service in the area. 

Loved this little place!  Right in the middle of Redmond's downtown, it was just a tiny taproom with about 6 Kobold taps and another 6ish local brewery taps.  There was a cute little in-town patio, from which you could watch the world walk by, that was dog friendly and had both sun and shade options.  There was a (permanent looking) food truck that served tacos that looked amazing.  This was another day that I wasn't feeling well, so I didn't try the tacos and only tried one of the IPAs, which was good.  Doug loved their Kolsch. Would definitely go back here. 

July 2018

We hit five breweries in the Bend area:  (1) Wild Ride; (2) Three Creeks; (3) Good Life; (4) Ochoco; and (5) Cascade Lakes.  They all get "go again" ratings from both of us.

1.  Wild Ride Brewing, Redmond
Great beer, huge pet-friendly patio, and food trucks.  The staff was also pretty awesome, and made the line for beer more tolerable by bringing beer tasters out to the line.  There was a food truck court adjacent to the patio with 4 different trucks there the day we went.  We got a burger and a pizza, and both were (pricey but) awesome.  This is definitely a "go again". 

2.  Three Creeks Brewing, Sisters

Great beer and decent food.  We (uncharacteristically) sat inside in the (air-conditioned) pub area, although we heard people talking about an outdoor patio.  The only drawback to this place is that you have to navigate through the tourist crowds of Sister to get there.  It's definitely a go-again, though ... in the off-season.

3.  Good Life Brewing, Bend

Some of the best beer ever.  Seriously.  The IPA was just the right amount of hop, and Doug said the Kolsch was as good as anything he ever had in Germany.  And what's not to love about a huge grassy beer garden with plenty of shade, its own beer bar, and Adirondack chairs with cup holders?  (Yes, you read that right ... the plastic Adirondack chairs had CUP HOLDERS!!!).  This is off the beaten-path in Bend, but only a mile from the dog beach.  Although we didn't partake, there was also an indoor pub that served food, a distillery, and a food truck dishing out pierogies.  Definitely a go-again. 

This dog knows a good beer garden when she sees it!


4.  Ochoco Brewing Company, Prineville

I can't imagine going to Prineville as a destination, or even driving any distance just to visit this brewery, but if you're staying in Bend and venturing over to the Ochoco National Forest, then this is worth a stop on your way home.  From the picnic tables out front, we watched small-town Oregon life pass by while we shared a basket of cooked-to-order tortilla chips and fresh tomato salsa.  The beer was good, and if the chips & salsa are anything like the rest of the menu, the food is fresh and creative.  Overall, this brewery makes the "go again" list if we are passing through Prineville again. 

This location was a little too touristy for us, but we had to stop by because the last time we were in Bend (2007) we had lunch here after hiking in the Three Sisters Wilderness.  The beer was good, but they are a huge production brewery, so they have plenty of chances to get it right.  Personally, I'd rather go to a dog-friendly beer garden, or a small independent tap room, then an established place like this.  Next time, we'll try their Redmond location.

2007 - yeah, we haven't aged at all.

Adventures in Bend

For the record, I love the area around Bend.  Like really really love it.  I could totally spend several (spring/summer/fall) months there.

We stayed about 20 minutes north of Bend at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds in Redmond -- just far enough away from all the tourist-trappings of Bend to be totally and completely relaxing.

I didn't have the energy for any hikes, which was seriously disappointing because there are millions of trails.  But we did get out for three beautiful motorcycle rides and did our best to tap into the local brewery scene.  (See what I did there?)

The first motorcycle adventure was to the west - out through the "North Conway of Oregon", Sisters, and deep into the Willamette National Forest.   Since we were riding the gnarly (well beyond my riding ability) McKenzie Pass, I occupied the Princess Seat on Doug's bike and served as the family videographer.

I captured some awesome video of all the twists and turns, but haven't had a good enough internet connection to upload any of it.  In the meantime, here are some photos.

Oregon's Mount Washington (with lava flow in the foreground!)

Two of the three Sisters.

Of course, no MC adventure would be complete without a stop at a local brewery.  This one was Three Creeks Brewing in Sisters.

You know what's awesome about the Princess Seat:  I get to drink beer!!!

A few days later, we headed east to the Ochoco National Forest.  This time, I proudly occupied my own bike for what is my longest ride so far.  Since I was driving, there is neither video nor pictures, which is a shame because we went from high desert to lush forest, through mountain gaps and along a gorgeous lake.  Guess I need to get myself one of those helmet-cams.  😆

(As a side note - you know what's awesome about wearing the Garmin while on a mc?  It thinks you actually pedaled the whole way .... like on a real bicycle.  After uploading this track, I "earned" the "Century Ride" badge in my Garmin account!)

We stopped at Ochoco Brewing on the way back to town, where the lightweight among us (me) enjoyed just 3 sips of their IPA before passing it over to the heartier, more experienced rider among us (Doug). 

You know what's not awesome about riding my own bike?  No beer for me!
By the third day, I was ready to tackle some mountain roads myself, so I convinced Doug to ride to Mt. Bachelor with me.  There was some yucky traffic in Bend, but once we got out of the city, it was all big sweeping mountain curves with plenty of passing lanes.  As if I needed another reason to be hooked on MC adventures, this was the final straw.  Again, no great video or pictures because I was busy driving. 

If you click on that Garmin map and scroll to the bottom, you'll see my heart rate over time.  I can only assume that all the spikes represent the times some asshole driver tried to kill me.  (Mom, don't look at that .... in fact, forget you even read it, driving a motorcycle is completely safe!!)

This ride also incorporated a stop at a brewery.  This time it was Cascade Lakes Brewing in Bend, where we had to re-create the photo we took on their patio in September 2007.  Again, I enjoyed just 3 sips of my IPA before handing it over to Doug (at least we don't let it go to waste!!). 

You didn't really think I was going to put the 2007 photo next to
the 2018 photo, so you could all comment about how we've both aged, did you? 
For those of you who have known me a long time, you know how obsessed I used to be with mountain biking. Nothing put a smile on my face like some swoopy singletrack.  Alas, since my oncologist tried to kill me with chemo, I just don't have enough energy to get out here on a mountain bike.  The motorcycle adventures are helping to fill that void, though.  Hopefully I'll be back on the (non-motorized) mountain bike soon, but until then, I'll just be exploring all the swoopy highways. 

While in Bend, we also made sure the pups had adequate adventure time, including swimming in the Deschutes River and getting petted by the locals at Good Life Brewing and Wild Ride Brewing.

Dog Park on the Deschutes River

Good Life Brewing

Begging for food truck snacks at Wild Ride Brewing

So, all in all, Oregon was good to us and we are looking forward to going back when we head south again.  Next up - Washington State.

12 July 2018

Klamath Basin Brewing

First things first.  Klamath Basin Brewing used to be a "dairy" (otherwise known as an "ice cream shop" for us East Coast folks).

That explains the sign on the building:

Alas, now it is a brewery.  And a damn fine one, too.

Our first visit - just a pint each.  Amber for Doug and Vanilla Porter for me.

The second visit, I decided to do the tasters of 4 IPAs and Doug stuck with a big ol' mug of Pale

Beautiful deck .... but no dogs allowed.  Grrrrrrr.

The second time, we ate lunch.  Doug said his burger was "not so great".  I got the house-made spicy veggie burger and, although mushy, had great flavor.  But the beer --  super good!  Which makes me wonder, why can't it be both a "dairy" and a brewery??  I'd eat ice cream with beer.  Anyone else??


Our last day in Reno, it was 97 degrees.  Since our mission is "chasing 70-degree weather", it was time to head north.

First, a quick overnight in Likely, California, where we stayed in a remote RV park with almost 600 acres of trails.  The pups had fun chasing bunnies, meeting cows, and running around like maniacs in the high desert hills.

Likely Place RV Resort (click to open the full pano view)

Not bad when this is the view to which you wake up.

Sunday meets the local cows.  Finn then herded them along the fenceline

After one night in California, we ventured up to Klamath Falls, Oregon.  Doug and his family lived here for a brief time in 1989 when he was an ROTC instructor at Oregon Institute of Technology.  Of course, first things first - we had to revisit the pizza place they all love so much (the one that puts thinly shaved linguisa on their pizza). 

The next day, Doug planned a relaxing walk part way around Lake of the Woods in the Winema National Forest.

Sunday doing her duty of ridding Oregon of moles
Mole hunting is a dirty dirty job

No walk is complete without a competitive swim at the end.

Today, we went to Crater Lake National Park on the motorcycle and rode the rim road all the way around.  Very awesome. 

Crater Lake

No photo filter here - the water is really that blue

Guess I need to work on my selfie-smile.  Its not easy in a helmet!

Crater Lake and "Wizard Island"

Crater Lake from a different angle

On the motorcycle, all you can smell is pine.  It's like being on a giant Christmas Tree Farm!!!!

Sheer dropoff.  Wonder how many stupid tourists the NPS has to rescue every summer?

Just south of Crater Lake.  This crevasse was formed by the lava flow & steam.

On the way to Rocky Point on Klamath Lake

Rocky Point

Oregon's version of a loon??  All I know is it ate a fish as long as its neck right before this picture.

Breathing in all that high desert dry air and pine smells made us really thirsty.  So we went to a brewery (can you believe it??????)


We were planning on leaving this morning for Redmond/Bend.  But, one of the slides in the RV is busted and needs to be repaired before we can go anywhere.  Luckily found a great family-owned repair shop who took us right in and essentially did a drug deal to get us parts in a hurry.  Hopefully we'll be all patched up and moving north again on Saturday, but I won't be upset if we have to stay here longer.  So many trails and swimmin' holes to explore!!!