Week One Picks & Pans

It’s time to do a little review. We’re over half way, with the odometer shaping up to be close to my guess of 7500km for the whole trip. Roseburg was our furthest point from home, but we didn’t really consider it to be the halfway point because we had only just reached the first area where we plan to tootle around.
My pick for best hotel is easy: once again it has to be the BW Ponderosa Lodge in Sisters. Their home page is kind of tacky – try the photo gallery tab to get an idea of what the place is like. The rooms are huge. They seem spacious even after we’ve dragged in all our stuff and deployed it. Plus the rooms have doors to the outside, making the dragging easier.
Worst hotel: Probably the Rustic Inn in Jackson. I would never deliberately stay in a hotel called the rustic anything. We got moved there because the Best Western didn’t finish their spring renovations in time. Indeed, they were doing the roof when we drove by. The Rustic Inn does have charm. They have little cabins to stay in, and a creek. But although the cabins have high ceilings and a fancy bathroom, they don’t have a lot of floor space. The fridge was awkwardly squeezed into a cupboard where it was a struggle to get open, and there was barely room for a small table. Had we been at the BW as planned, we would have had a desk and a couch. In fairness, the staff were very friendly and helpful, and tried their hardest for us. The view was lovely, and their breakfast one of the best of the trip. It wasn’t their fault that their hotel played to strengths that didn’t matter to us.
My pick for best restaurant, now, that’s tougher to call. I’m going to take the easy way out and say last night’s SubTerra. It really did make a good impression. Original wine list, original menu, tasty food, and excellent service from wait staff that worked as a team.
Caroline’s choice for best restaurant: the Rancho Viejo in Sisters. Fabulous fish tacos, and they made her a lime daiquiri, which is not on the menu. The food was all good, and authentically Mexican, and they still found little ways to stand out, such as an original variation on pico de gallo. She talked about her meal there for days.

Honourable mention for the Happy Family – great Chinese food in nice surroundings, crazy cheap prices (per person, we paid for the whole Canton Special about what we would pay for one dish at home) and good service.
Worst restaurant, we agree, was the Blackbird in Roseburg. Offhand treatment by the host, and I suspect he was the owner. Not enough servers, so we were waited on by a bartender. He tried, but a lot of little things went wrong. It took a long time to get our meals, and Caroline found her duck breast to be undercooked and didn’t eat it. We’re used to pretty rare duck breast, by the way.
Tim’s favourite winery: River’s Edge in Elkhorn. So small the winemaking equipment is right behind the tasting counter, which is attended by either Mike, the winemaker, or Vonnie, his wife.
Caroline’s favourite winery: Witness Tree, somewhere between Amity and Salem. Their cottage sized tasting room is surrounded by their grape vines. Nice wine at reasonable prices.
Tim’s least favourite winery: WillaKenzie. Crowded tasting room with little personal connection with the several hosts, strong emphasis on joining their club, high tasting fees to go with their high prices. Fifteen dollars gets you seven tastes. We had five or six pours between us, but they called it two tastings. Nice wine, but if I won’t visit them again.
Caroline’s least favourite winery: The Carlton Winemaker’s Studio, where they charged us a ten dollar tasting fee even though we bought two bottles of wine. I sympathize that half a dozen pours of an ounce each adds up to a substantial glass of wine, but the wineries that seem the most anxious to offset this cost are always the ones with extravagant chateaus and tasting rooms where no expense was spared. We taste only the wines that we think we might buy – for us, it’s about the wine. I wish more wineries felt the same.

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