Road Trip Hot Spots – Part II

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  If you are seeing this post through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

In Part I, I talked about the first two days of this five-day road trip which ended up at about 1,200 miles.   We traveled from Portland to Lassen Volcanic National Park and then west through the beautiful Trinity Alps to Eureka and up the coast on Highway 101 through the Redwoods with overnight stays in Arcata, CA and Bandon, OR.

  Of course, we hit a few good breweries and bars along the way.

1,200 miles through beautiful and varied scenery

After the road trip, we spent the final three days at the beach in Lincoln City on the Central Oregon Coast before returning home.   We reveled in the scenery of Northern California and the Oregon Coast while also visiting and revisiting some excellent watering holes.

Although we usually listen to music on road trips except for the fascinating Serial Podcast (“The Case Against Adnan Syed”) on a road trip in the Southwest three years ago, we greatly enjoyed listening to Rachel Held Evans’ audio book – “Searching for Sunday Loving Leaving & Finding the Church”. 

It’s an excellent non-fiction choice recommended by Lisa, our older daughter, which made the New York Times bestseller non-fiction paperback list.  

Evans was an American Christian columnist, blogger and author, who tragically died in 2019 at the age of 39 after an allergic reaction to a medication for an infection.   Her book was thought-provoking and worthwhile.   Her legacy, as stated by a contributor to The Atlantic is:

“…..part of a vanguard of progressive-Christian women who fought to change the way Christianity is taught and perceived in the United States….(based on) her unwillingness to cede ownership of Christianity to its traditional conservative-male stewards’ and that her ‘very public, vulnerable exploration of a faith forged in doubt empowered a ragtag band of writers, pastors, and teachers to claim their rightful place as Christians.”  (Wikipedia)

# (External photo attribution at end of the post  #1 – #2)

From Lassen National Park to Eureka

After a wonderful stay at Highlands Ranch Resort just outside the Park which I relate in Part I, we drove west to Red Bluff, CA and then followed a winding and steep, albeit beautiful, highway (CA-36) through the Trinity Alps to Eureka on the California Coast.

On a future trip we hope to visit this expansive Wilderness – at 525,627-acres, the second largest in California, with over fifty alpine lakes – when the impacts of recent wildfires are not of the same magnitude.  From August to mid-November, 2021, it was one of the California Wildernesses closed to the public because of multiple wildfires.  (#3 – #5)

Driving Up the Coast

In the summer of 2017, we drove down the Oregon Coast to the Redwoods and stayed one night in Arcata, California.   It was a hopping little berg – established in 1860 with a current population of about 20,000. 

We walked around Cal Poly – Humboldt.  It’s a lovely campus.  We vowed to come back and stay at the historic Arcata Hotel – in the center of town right across from the impressive Town Plaza.

Well, the pandemic has evidently and understandably been rough – the same is true of Portland.  And perhaps our memories were a little bit rosy, but Arcata was not really the same.  The Plaza was not very clean and there was a lot of loitering. The shops were non-descript and the downtown area lacked “energy.”

While the Hotel Arcata, (shown below) opened in 1915, was interesting, it did not compare favorably to similar vintage hotels where I stayed in Montana   (#6 – #7)

That said, we returned to the Redwood Curtain Brewery – still a “hot spot” five years later – and Janet and I each had a pint of their wonderful Sticky Fingers IPA.  Later, just walking around town, we discovered a slightly unusual place to have dinner and a beer – but Slice of Humboldt Pie was a marvelous choice.

When Janet suggested it, I shuddered – harkening back to memories of Swanson’s Chicken Pot Pies when we were kids; however, the chicken pot pie  ($7.50) was the best meal on the trip – and a Trinity County Brewing Golden Smash Ale to accompany it was perfect. 

But wait — I haven’t told you about desert.   The apple pie alamode ($10.00) made me beg Janet to return for breakfast or at least argue that “Slice” can be pluralized. Instead, we had breakfast the next morning at the quaint Big Blue Cafe where the staff was friendly and the pancakes to savor. 

Dinner and breakfast made us leave Arcata with better feelings than the afternoon before. (#8 – #9) 

Through the Redwoods

Our time was somewhat limited, but we wanted to take a short hike through at least part of majestic trees, so we stopped at the Visitors’ Center in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and they were very helpful.

As a result, we took a fairly rough seven-mile gravel road where we were glad that we had our Subaru Cross-trek – the destination Fern Canyon.  The Ranger told us that during the summer one has to apply for a permit to make the trip up to eight weeks in advance.

“A level trail of about one mile follows Home Creek as it courses through the forest. This modest stream has over the eons carved a 50 to 80 foot deep canyon through the rich sedimentary soils. The canyon walls sprout an amazing variety of luxuriant ferns and other moisture-loving plants. On a sunny day, thousands of tiny drops of moisture make the canyon walls sparkle.

We definitely got our shoes wet, but it was a stunningly beautiful canyon. 

We followed the experience by leaving 101 for a diversion up the ten-mile Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway.  While a guy named “Newton” may not have been popular with the A-crowd in high school, he had vision and he:

“……was instrumental in the 20th century for securing hundreds of thousands of acres as parklands.”

Fortunately, we did not come across any aggressive elk – either the largest species in the deer family or members of the fraternal order who had been drinking and were rowdy.

Photo Oct 05 2022, 11 39 24 AM

A Bandon Hope…..

On our 2017 Coast trip, we really enjoyed our stay in Bandon (population 3,100) on the Oregon Coast near the California border (90 miles).

We stayed at the Bandon Inn, a classic older motel, but well-maintained, has a great breakfast and where virtually every room overlooks the Coquille River reaching into the Pacific.  We watched whales surfacing from our balcony.  The Inn overlooks Old Town.

On that visit we also discovered a wonderful bar – the Broken Anchor Bar and Grill and had a long conversation with Jessica Neal, the personable and entrepreneurial owner.  We then had a beer at the Bandon Brewing Company, which had opened the day before.  We could walk to both from our room at the Bandon Inn. ( (#10 – #11)

 
jessica-e1510535254794

Hoping to be able to see her again, I told her by phone when we were going to be in town.  She was leaving the next day for a week in Mexico, but she kindly took a break from packing and came in.  It was obvious when catching up with her over drinks that she has used her work ethic and business instincts to adapt and work through the challenges of the pandemic.

Jessica took a risk a little over six years ago, opening the Broken Anchor after the former bar failed.  We found out chatting in 2017 that she is a Minnesotan, who after college and getting her teaching certification, started working in restaurants and bars after moving to Oregon.  (According to the reviews, she knows how to make an outstanding cocktail).

She had worked at two great Portland bars previously reviewed by Thebeerchaser – Crackerjacks Pub and the Dixie Tavern.  We were sorry to hear that shortly after our first visit, she ran into a few strokes of bad luck with both a fire which destroyed her liquor inventory and her walk-in freezer malfunctioning – the latter resulting in a significant loss not covered by insurance.

She has since changed her menu and entertainment options, developed a loyal Bandon clientele and hired and retained good staff.   We were there at a weekday Happy Hour and the place was filled with an energetic crowd. 

And Rylee, pictured above, the Anchor’s “mixologist,” made the best Bloody Mary I’ve had in years.  The social media reviews are overwhelmingly positive as exemplified by these two excerpts:

3/5/22 Yelp“This is apparently THE place to be in Bandon after 8pm (and in reality one of the few places open “late”). We got into town around 6:30 and spent about an hour getting settled at Bandon Inn….We’re in town for 4 more nights so we may just end up back here before heading back home.”

2/7/22 YelpNice clean restaurant with friendly staff.  The food was fantastic and came in good portions.  They have a great drink selection too!  Definitely on my list of places to eat when in town!” 

Cheers to Jessica for her perseverance and a toast to her continued success.

We walked down the block – returning to Bandon Brewing Company and had dinner – we each had a great burger and scrumptious fries accompanied by a pint of their Everything is Awesome Pale Ale” – which although not awesome, was smooth and drinkable.   We had enough food left over from dinner for lunch in the car the next day.

Photo Oct 05 2022, 6 55 17 PM

The Final Day of Travel

We often travel up and down the North and Central Oregon Coast, but hadn’t seen the spectacular southern part since 2017, so were looking forward to breathtaking scenery and a few short walks in the many Oregon State Parks along the remaining three-hour 150 mile route.

Well our views were not awesome either and we drove through pea soup fog all the way to our place in Lincoln City and for two of the three days we were there before returning to Portland. 

That said, we loved this trip!

Cheers!

External Photo Attribution

#1.  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rachel_Held_Evans.jpg) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Author: Dan Evans – circa 2009-10.

#2.  E-bay – Searching for Sunday (https://www.ebay.com/itm/254525497591?chn=ps&_trkparms=ispr%3D1&amdata=enc%3A1Ycw0sflNSourRZmA0JhUPA19&norover=1&mkevt=1&mkrid=711-117182-37290-.

#3.  Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Trinity_Alps_Wilderness_(140359867).jpeg L censed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.  Source: Imported from 500px (archived version) by the Archive Team.  12 August 2011.

#4. Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pinus_balfouriana_Trinity_Alps_01.jpg) L censed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.  Source:  Tom Hilton 4 July 2009.

#5.  Wikimedia Commons: (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pinus_balfouriana_Trinity_Alps.jpg)  L icensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.  Source:  Miguel Vieira from Walnut Creek, CA, 22 August 2010.

#6.  Wikimedia Commons:  (File:ArcataHotel.jpg – Wikimedia Commons) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Author:  Cacophony 24 June 2008

#7. Wikimedia Commons (File:Arcata Plaza.jpg – Wikimedia Commons) Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.  Author: Terrence McNally   6 October 2005.

#8.  Slice of Humboldt Pie Facebook Page (Facebook)

#9.  The Big Blue Cafe | Facebook

#10 – #11. Bandon Inn (1) Facebook

Beerchasing on the S. Oregon and N. California Coasts – Part II

The winter months are a good time to finish narrating (and remembering…) our three and one-half day journey down the southern Oregon coast and through the beautiful Redwoods as far as Eureka in mid-September.  Beautiful scenery in the state parks, some great hikes and twelve breweries, one bar (and a bottle shop) in which we raised a shared-mug (most times) along the way made it a trip to remember.

We left off the last post telling you about the personable and entrepreneurial owner of the Broken Anchor Bar and Grill in Bandon where we stayed our first night.   We enjoyed outstanding food, a good tap list and our conversation with Jessica Neal.

We were sorry to hear that shortly after our trip, she ran into a few strokes of bad luck with both a fire which destroyed her liquor inventory and her walk-in freezer malfunctioning – the latter resulting in a significant loss not covered by insurance.

Jessica – bouncing back from bad luck….

Not surprisingly, in a recent phone call to see how she had recovered, she was upbeat and positive.  Jessica was enthused about  moving forward into the holidays and thankful for her loyal customers.   When you are in Bandon, you should stop at this quality bar, partake of the great food and say hello to Jessica.

Note

This is a long post although it is hard to be concise when visiting so many quality breweries and witnessing the beautiful scenery.  But to see our favorite brewery of the entire trip, you have to either read or move down to the end of this post.   Here’s a picture of their taproom and if you are in Northern California, stop and visit this wonderful brewery.

What Tap Room is this?

Our last bar in Oregon before we hit the California border was in Brookings where we visited the Chetco Brewery – a brewery with a simple philosophy – “Small town brewing – world class beer.”  

The community had been decimated by the Chetco Bar Fire, which was started by lightning in July and burned almost 200,000 acres before it was contained, including severely damaging one of Oregon’s last redwood groves.

Businesses in that area including the brewery, were severely stressed by the haze and distinct possibility of evacuation during the zenith of the tourist season.  Just visiting the brewery’s small taproom with sixteen of their own vegan beers on tap, however, gave an indication how the community rallied.

It was appropriate that we shared a pint of their “Evacuation Ale”:

” With the ash falling around us, still sipping the morning coffee, it clicked. Smoked, Coffee, Porter. Pure delight amongst the panic. Just a little caffeine to settle the nerves. Smooth, complex, and interesting enough to take your mind off of your impending doom.”

Chetco Taproom – not fancy, but a community gathering place.

And it is not surprising to see how this enterprise is thriving.  Their website gives the story entitled, “Much to be Thankful For.”  It relates how they are “revitalizing” a much bigger building down the highway and moving the taproom and brewery in a project that will be incrementally completed next March.

Just over the California border, we made a short stop at Six Rivers Brewery in McKinleyville.  The “Brew with a View” – overlooking the Pacific on Hghway 101, opened in 2008 by Talia and Meredith became the second all-woman-owned brewery in California and has also expanded with success.   The pub has a good menu and eleven of their beers on tap. 

We shared a half-flight of five 4-ounce samples for only $6 after our helpful servers, Erin and Rebecca let us sample a few to narrow our choices and especially enjoyed their Bluff Creek Pale Ale.

The taproom at Six Rivers

 

 

 

Another quick stop in McKinleyville was on the agenda. The taproom is essentially a small square room in a storage shed, but we wanted to see Humboldt Rengeration, because of its innovative and sustainable approach to brewing as evidenced by the three quotes below – the first from their webpage and the second two from Yelp.

“It’s a sustainable Farmhouse Brewery which means we are growing our own grains and hops. The barley and wheat are floor-malted on site.”

“A true heirloom Brewer – using cutting edge technology and methodology with old school craftsmanship…..A recent stop in Humboldt Regeneration had me sampling seven (7) different offerings the day of my visit – the brew master (Jacob) had produced 200+ different styles of brews in the past year.  His unassuming 2 1/2 year old nano brewery has been taking the northwest brewery scene by storm – voted one of the top nano breweries of 2014 in an industry paper.” (Yelp – 1/7/15) 

Humboldt Regeneration – a storage shed, but innovative brewing

“Sure, the atmosphere is a nano brewery (read: storage shed) but what you may lose in surroundings is more than made up for in the beer. Every beer I tried was complex and refreshing. The Faro Red– if you like sours– holy taste explosion.” (Yelp – 8/16/17)

We had a nice chat with Jacob the brewmaster and shared a good Whiskey Barrel Pilsner.

That night we stayed in Trinidad, California at the Turtle Rocks Inn, a picturesque bed and breakfast where we sat on our private deck and enjoyed a beautiful sunset dinner while listening to the sea lions bark on the rocks below. One of the joys of road trips is discovering places off the beaten path – and there are many on the coast.

The Turtle Rocks Inn Bed and Breakfast

 

 

Lest you think this trip was only about beer, the next day was our favorite – a day spent touring and hiking in Redwood National Park.  A hike through the Lady Bird Johnson grove led by a Forest Service ranger, giving the history and interesting facts about the flora and fauna made this a highlight of the trip.

John Steinbeck’s quote on the Redwoods cannot help but ring true when you are standing in this magnificent grove gazing up at these trees which often grow over 300 feet and are hundreds of years old – the oldest purportedly were saplings before the birth of Christ.

Words are not necessary….

““The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable.

From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.”

And fortunately, because of bi-partisan effort  evidenced in that very spot when President Richard Nixon dedicated the park in 1969  and named the grove after Lady Bird Johnson – wife of his predecessor of the other political party – the Redwoods were saved from developers although many of the massive trees were logged before protection through park designation.

Keep this in mind and realize the current “occupant” of the White House on December 4th proudly announced in Salt Lake City that he was drastically scaling back two national monuments (Baby Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante) established in Utah by his Democratic predecessors.  It was the largest reduction of public-lands protection in U.S. history.

I guess when Nixon’s legacy (and demeanor) start appearing to be positive from a relative perspective, it is understandable why even blogs about bars and breweries have to digress (or regress) to political commentary to vent righteous indignation and disgust.

We finished that day with the Trillium Falls trail – a wonderful 3-mile loop through more majestic old-growth timber.

For dinner, we drove down to Eureka where we dined at the Lost Coast Brewery Restaurant, located in a 100-year old building in the heart of the city.  It’s another brewery started by a woman, Barbara Groom, and has grown and expanded to become the largest brewery we visited on our trip.

 

The restaurant was packed and has an expansive menu.  Janet had their flagship beer, the Great White – their original and a Belgian-style white, while I had the Tangerine Wheat. 

The pub at the Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka

We sampled this good beer on a trip a few years back and liked it so well, we stopped at a bottle shop and brought a six-pack home. The Lost Coast logo and artwork is wonderfully creative and distinct.

 

That night we stayed in charming Arcata and hit two last California breweries:

Unimpressive exterior but good tap list

Redwood Curtain Brewing – another unimpressive location – brewery and tasting room in a non-descript strip mall, but an impressive selection of beers on tap (24 of their own beers) in a nice tasting room.

Redwood Curtain brewing and tasting room

It was a Friday night and overflowing with students from nearby Humboldt State College, anticipating the live entertainment. Chris, the friendly bartender, gave us a good recommendation – their flagship Golden Ale.  We were going to stay for dinner, but Chris told us that a semi-truck had recently wiped out their food cart in the parking lot…..!

Mad River Brewery – okay, I told you I saved the best for last.  We tasted a lot of excellent beer and met wonderful people in breweries down the coast into Northern California, but our favorite in either state by far — Mad River.

Was it the charming and well-designed tasting room and patio?  Or was it the great logo and artwork on their bottles?  That was part of it, but we loved their beer – stopped and picked up a half-case to take home – and the staff we met that afternoon, that distinguished them.

Mad River, started in 1989 and has been going strong ever since, brewing with skill and pride:

“Our most prestigious awards include four Gold Medals, four Silver Medals and one Bronze medal from the Great American Beer Festival. Two Bronze awards from the World Beer Cup and 2010 Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year award from the Great American Beer Festival.”

And perhaps we hit the Taproom at just the right time – there were six employees sitting at the bar after they had finished their work day and were enjoying a fringe benefit – an after-shift beer with their personal mug – each one hanging on a prominent display to the side of the bar – a creative and positive gesture by management. 

A look at their website is ample evidence that they are a team-oriented enterprise.  All of the guys we met while sitting at the bar were very friendly and one could tell by their comments that they loved their jobs and appreciated their brewing company.   While we liked all of them – Sean, Nate et.al., our favorite was Zeke Branca(the first guy on the left in the picture) a big guy who is the Cellar Master and who stated on their website:

“I am a seventeen year MRBCo employee, with 35 years brewing experience as an award-winning homebrewer at both national and state competitions. Native Californian, married and father of two. Other interests include; officiating soccer, watching international futbol and Saturday night poker club….CHEERS”

And our half-case was a variety pack because we couldn’t decide on our favorite.  We especially enjoyed the Steelhead Extra Pale Ale, the Mad River IPA and the Jamaica Red Ale was one of the best I’ve tasted and lived up to its 2011 Silver Medal at the Great American Beer Festival

You could also get a delicious burger or sandwich in the taproom.

 

Well, early the next morning, we left and made the long drive to our beach house in Lincoln City, but of course, we made one stop that harkened both of us back to family vacations before we hit our teens.  In fact, with me, it was when our family made a 6,500 three-month camping trip in the summer and fall of 1962.

We lived in Cincinnati, Ohio and after that trip, my dad quit his job and my wonderful parents told us, “We’re moving to Oregon!”

“Nice shoes, Tommy! Where are you from?”

And just like Janet, I remember the Trees of Mystery on 101 although they now don’t have the guy who sat hidden in the bottom of the giant logger and fascinated young kids by talking to each one personally when they came up for a picture.

Janet gets her “bearings”

 

 

 

 

 

And thanks to Duane (FDW) and Frannie Williams for having the pioneer spirit and courage to move their family to a better life on the West Coast

To see Part I of the trip along the coast, click on the following link:

https://thebeerchaser.com/2017/11/13/beerchasing-on-the-south-oregon-coast-and-through-the-redwoods-part-i/