Idleyld Park, OR — It’s here that you’ll find the proverbial secluded cabin in the woods.
Albeit one with history, famous guests, a fabulous wine list, and homemade pies that truly tempt.
The Steamboat Inn sits perched on a bluff above the North Umpqua River in the middle of the Umpqua National Forest. It is a true mecca for fly-fishing, especially for steelhead.
Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn stayed here to do just that, as did Jack Hemingway. Just look for the framed black and white photos of them hanging in the lobby.
Step inside the bar-lounge-library to find a map of the world with pins affixed to indicate where guests have hailed from. Indeed, they’ve come from every state in the United States, as well as every continent, even Antarctica, when a group of scientists stayed here seeking some R&R.
From Roseberg, it’s a 38-mile drive to get here, a road flanked by majestic towering trees that take your breath away.
Ashland, OR. — Stanford grads Kathy and Tim O’Leary were looking for a second home that would allow them to take a break from their hectic lives in Palo Alto where she was an engineer and he was an attorney.
They started scouting around in a circumference of a 2-hour’s drive away in California before ultimately settling on a spot nearly 8 hours away in Oregon.
That’s why their Ashland winery was dubbed Long Walk Vineyard. Or so the story goes. You can understand why they extended their search so far north, though, once you gaze upon this this 50-acre historic orchard on a hill that they purchased in 2000.
That’s what I found when I visited the beautiful property a couple weeks ago, where unlike most wineries in this region, Pinot Noir is not king, but Rhone varietals are.
The best seats, of course, are at the chef’s counter, where I dined earlier this month as a guest of Travel Oregon. It’s where you can watch Chef Josh Dorcak and his small staff prepare each course with precision.
It’s rather astonishing to realize that the galley kitchen behind the counter, about the size of one in a modest home, is all they use, too. There’s all of one or two induction burners, a combi oven that can cook with steam or hot air, and a fish aging refrigerator off to the side. That’s pretty much it.
Ashland, OR. — Its moniker may be inspired by San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House because of its expansion in fits and starts over the years, but unlike its namesake the Winchester Inn is as far from kitschy and haphazard as it gets.
Instead, this stately Victorian inn boasts not only real history, but beautifully appointed rooms and suites, as well as a critically acclaimed restaurant on site, Alchemy, that has been honored with a Wine Spectator “Best of Award of Excellence.”
Two weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be invited to stay and dine there as a guest of Travel Oregon.
Comprised of a series of historic homes, the inn’s main house was actually the first hospital in Southern Oregon. Back then, it was located on Main Street. But in 1910, it was moved up the hill to its current S. Second Street location.
For the longest time, I have wondered what happened to the glorious Maui Gold pineapples that I used to snag so easily at Bay Area Costcos and local grocery stores.
A recent trip to Maui turned up an explanation for why they are MIA here — along with an unexpected gift of wonderfully aromatic Maui-grown vanilla beans.
It all started one morning just after I finished breakfast at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa. Guests like myself staying in the newly revamped Hokupaâ€™a Tower rooms enjoy breakfast bites on the lanai included in their reservations. To make the lanai more festive, the resort often has featured performers, chef demos or other entertainment.
That morning, I spied Michael Schenk at a counter, cutting up samples of Maui Gold pineapples to give out to guests. Or rather, my nose first caught wind of the unmistakable sweet, tangy, tropical scent of the fruit and I followed it to its source.