Week 2 & 3 Picks & Pans

Yeah, I know, it’s a week overdue. Things got busy with computer problems at home and catching up at work. The original plan was to do this after fourteen days and then write an overall conclusion when we got home. Instead, I’ll do Picks & Pans for everything after week one together, and then a quick wrap-up.

So. Restaurants: 
Tim’s favourite for the second part of the trip, Red Bird in Missoula, because of the divine scallops. Honorable mentions to Pearl Cafe, Thyme, and CR Gibbs. Least favourite, well certainly Jen’s Garden. I feel bad about this, because these resterateurs are sincere about offering excellent fare. I just didn’t like any of it. Dishonorable mention to the Twenty-nine Palms Inn for rushing us through three courses in about half an hour.

Caroline’s favourites, Crab Cakes and Pearl. Her least favourite, Madeline’s in Cambria. Although this place got good reviews on Trip Advisor, her Cannelloni was so oily she couldn’t eat it. Our server didn’t merely offer to take it off the bill, she insisted. Our other dinner in Cambria was merely okay, too. It’s only fair to mention that Cambria, CA is pretty small, but Sisters, OR is smaller, (under 2000 compared to 6000, according to Wikipedia) and has excellent restaurant choices.

Hotels: my favourite, Moonstone Bay. They gave us a wonderful room – we loved the little patio just a stones throw from the sea. Pity it was rainy. Honorable mention, the Inn at Abeja. Least favourite, hmm. Well, there were some rather blurry murals in the hotel at Oakhurst, near Yosemite, and the room needed updated decor, but I would happily stay there again.

Caroline’s favourite: Ponderosa in Sisters. Fabulous suite, outdoor pool, llamas. 

Favourite drive: the Canyon at Sedona, especially in the quiet of the morning. Honorable mention to the old Columbia Highway in Washington – two lanes of fresh blacktop that gently rises and falls as it follows the river. Traffic is light because there’s a freeway on the Oregon side of the river. Least favourite drive, any small highway in California. The speed limits are way lower than anywhere else except Ontario, and almost all drivers disregard them. Also, they have these designated daylight headlight zones, but then they remind you to turn your headlights off again. Why? . I think Canada got it right when they wired the daytime running lights to the parking brake. (We got this the same year that the US adopted motorized shoulder belts) I once rode in a grey pickup on a rainy day with a driver that couldn’t see the need for headlights. He could not understand why all oncoming cars flashed their lights at him as he loomed out of the fog just seconds before meeting them.

Favourite winery, Abeja. One of the owners came and did a tasting for just the two of us, and he told us all kinds of neat stuff about their little operation as we tasted. This place produces merely three or four thousand cases of wine per year. They do not do the whole tour and pour scene, but staying at their Bed & Breakfast was an enriching experience. Too far to taxi to town, though, so it was either cook or fetch take-out for us. Least favourite? We’ve learned that we don’t have the stamina to do very many in one day, so none really rubbed us the wrong way this time out. 

Favourite town, Sisters. The Ponderosa pines are impressive. Bronco Billy’s plays up the folk history to draw in tourists, but the food is good! The guy at the Espresso hut was very friendly (or perhaps bored out of his mind) and the guy that pumped my gas was nice, too. This town of under 2000 people has at least three worthy restaurants, and if you can’t find something you need here, I believe Bend is less than an hour away.

Least favourite town, Twenty-nine Palms. Not a bad place at all, but it exists mainly to support a military base. The town is rather new, and everything is either strung out along the highway, or on the cross-street that leads to the base. The many chain hotels are there to house visiting family members. The many fast-food franchises are there to feed young Marines. One benefit of this is that the town is blessed with a good number of taxis, and our driver was punctual and charming. Still, it’s more of a stopover than a destination. 

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