Vacation Highlights Part 2: Date Days

As I said on my Wednesday post (see Vacation Highlights Part 1) Monday, Thursday, and Friday of last week’s vacation we took time to explore Oregon on our own.

Outdoor Day

Monday May 6th we drove to the science museum in Portland only to find an empty  parking lot and a sign reading: “Museum closed on Mondays”. So recalculating our day, we took a scenic drive to Multnomah falls.  On the drive I had flash backs to my last visit: on my way to meet Luke’s parents for the first time. Fortunately this time absent from all nervousness we decided to hike to the top. A little uncertain how far we would go (considering neither of us were dressed for a hike) we made it to the top along with the early summer tourists. Here’s some proof:



After our hike we drove into Hood River arriving just in time for the last daily tour for the Full Sail Brewery .


Receiving free beer glasses at the end of our tour we headed to the taproom where Luke enjoyed some beer samples (myself a rootbeer) as we watched a few weekday windsurfers on the river.


Then I drove us to get something we dearly miss living on the East Coast, my home state comfort food: authentic Mexican. And boy were we happy to get some great grub!


Walking off our delicious dinner, we stopped in a hobby store and picked up a new board game (which I wondered how we were going to get it into our carry-on baggage). We finally ended the day with a long scenic drive back to Luke’s parent’s home.

Portland Day

Thursday May 9th double checking the museum’s hours, we headed to the Portland Science Museum OMSI. After getting tickets we bought some coffee,  tried out a few brain teasers (which I realized I was not caffeinated enough to solve), then headed to the OMNIMAX theatre. Now I have been to IMAX theaters before but none like this. Your theatre chair naturally swings back so you can comfortably stare at a screen which wraps around the dome ceiling!!  We watched a film called Deep Sea narrated by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet with music by Danny Elfman (this was no boring Jr. high science video).


Afterwards we played connect four with robotic arms ( I won!) and other fun hands-on mechanics until it was time for our submarine tour. There were only four of us on the tour of this sub used to film scenes from Hunt for Red October. Luke’s grandfather served on sub for more than 14 years-this was my first glimpse of what those years might have been like.



We then explored the permanent interactive exhibits-this place was so hands on I don’t know how anyone could consider it boring! When the closing announcement came we hungrily found our way to the car.

Fortunately we knew just what we wanted for dinner: Deschutes Brewery’s Public House. They have a great gluten-friendly menu and micro-brewed gluten-free beer. I went with what I knew to be good: their gluten-free grilled cheese sandwich. Made with four types of cheese they  lather the bread in a garlic parmesan butter before grilling it (talk about melt in your mouth amazing!)



After our delicious meal, we walked the warm streets of Portland to Mcmenamin’s Mission Theatre. This movie theatre is not your standard bubble gum stained multi-move multi screened venue.  We walked in and up a few carpeted stairs into the one screened pub and theatre house. We sat in balcony on cushioned chairs ready to watch Silver Lining Playbook. As we laughed along the bar tender brought up ordered burgers and drinks for the movie watchers. Greatly satisfied with our choice of entertainment we walked back to our car watching restaurants close and uptown bars fill with couples and friends for late night drinks.


Friday Friend Day

Friday morning May 10th we visited with Luke’s grandmother, catching up on life, sharing our vacation, and listening to the retelling of old stories. After our visit we got some Dutch Bros. Kickers and drove to Salem to meet up with Tom and Fawnia.


Tom’s (Luke’s best friend since High School and the best man in our wedding) hobby is beer making. So the boys took over the kitchen so Luke could learn from his best friend what he was getting himself into with this new hobby.


Meanwhile Fawnia and I caught up and buy groceries for our BBQ dinner. Sitting outdoors enjoying the summer sun, we had BBQed pork ribs and homemade pasta salad along with sampleings of Tom’s hard cider and home-brewed beers. Once the last morsels of the sweet tangy ribs were devoured we started a fire and sat down to a game of Ticket to Ride.


As the sun set the board got hard to read by only fire light so we moved on to smore’s making. Then Tom brought out another of his creations: homemade wine made with tons and tons of fresh blueberries. After our sugar fix of chocolate, gooey marshmallows, and blueberry wine was over it was time to clean things up and say goodnight.


Next day we played a strategic game to pack up original belongings as well as new clothes, games, and books into carry on luggage. We drove to Luke’s grandmother’s house to return the truck she had graciously let us borrow for the week and to have a last homemade dinner with family before being driven to the airport.

As you can see, we had a full and adventurous vacation. We loved every moment with our family and friends in the northwest. Although we are back to our routine  we are looking forward to a wonderful summer full of new changes, challenges, and even more celebrations.

Wait-barley free means no beer . . . Right? aka A Chemistry lesson for a Birthday present

So let me first answer the question:

Wait-barley free means no beer . . . Right?      


 This is the first thing people ask me when they find out about my allergy. It was hard news for my ex-bartender boyfriend (now husband) from the micro-brewing region of Oregon. Suddenly I could no longer enjoy a dark cold brew with him at a local pub.

When we go out to pubs now I am lucky if they serve hard cider. (My favorite by the way is Woodchuck) because sometimes wine just doesn’t pair as well with pub food.  Fortunately the gluten-free fad has grown like a wildfire.

Unfortunately many gluten-free beers taste like the cheap light stuff you might encounter at a college party.

One of the only gluten-free beers I have liked was at the Deschutes Brewery and Public House in Portland. We went there on our honeymoon and they have an amazing gluten-free menu (trust me and check it out!)


Inside the Portland Public House
Inside the Portland Public House

But getting that beer across the country is a little tough. The only other options widely available are Redbridge (Budwieser and I don’t like there regular beer so . ..  yea) or Omission.

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On our honeymoon we also went to the Windmer Bros. Gasthaus Pub  because they listed two gluten-free beers (called Omission) and a gluten-free menu (the buffalo wings were pretty good). When they brought my beer to the table I read the label-it had barley in it! See they played with the chemicals and came up  a low gluten beer so it will not upset the stomach of someone with celliac’s disease.

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So now what? Well I do have some half decent gluten-free beers at our local grocery store (all ambers) or  . . . someone can start a new hobby (now I’m getting to the birthday part)

My allergy is actually a good excuse for Luke to start a hobby one of his best friends had been doing for years: home brewing. So two Christmas’ ago Luke got a beer-making kit with plans to make homemade barley-free porters and stouts. But with a wedding, new job, and moving Luke hasn’t started up home brewing. . . yet.

Here we are: A chemistry lesson for a Birthday present:

So I took Luke for his birthday to Rohrbachs brewery and taproom in Rochester NY hoping it might help jumpstart his creativity.  We started our tour watching a video explaning the history of the brewery meanwhile Luke enjoying a few samples on tap (5 bucks for tour and 6 samples 🙂 ).

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The taproom
The taproom

Then we were taken back to the brewery.  The tour was a full on chemistry lesson! I followed along as they explained the steps for making different beers the best I could, after the 5th step my mind began to drift-but not Luke. He was fully engaged-raising his hand as if back in chemistry class to ask specific questions. It was informal, informative, and best of all Luke loved it.

The tour
The tour

We then took some time to drive (I drove) around finding where the science museum,  parks, auditoriums, observatory etc. were since it was our first time downtown.

After we went to Rohrbach’s brewpub across town for dinner.

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We ordered off their traditional German Menu : Luke ate the sample plate of juicy sausages and sauerkraut while I had crispy potato pancakes with applesauce (can you say yum!). To drink I ordered their homemade root-beer. It was dark delicious dessert in a cup and amazingly I could taste the sasporilla!

And Luke, well he got another sampler of beer, this time of their speciality dark brews only on tap at their microbrewery.

And boy was he one happy birthday boy can you tell?
And boy was he one happy birthday boy can you tell?

Hopefully now that Luke has been inspired, the home-brewing will start soon . Don’t worry I’ll fill you as we go along.