A Weekend with Travel Oregon

You could go to Oregon for the natural beauty—the majestic mountains, the thick woods, the rivers, the flowers, the waterfalls, the streams.

Oregon trees

Penner-Ash Wine Cellars

black-eyed susans


You could go for the history—maybe to see the Timberline Lodge, a towering structure built in the 1930s as a product of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal policies, and to stand under its 98-foot-tall fireplace constructed mostly by Italian immigrants.
timberline lodge
fireplace at Timberline Lodge

You could go, as part of a blogger weekend, to meet new people—to hear about their passions; to be exposed to new stories; and to then come home, after a few days with them, with a whole list of new blogs to read, while you think more about the world of blogging and bloggers and how/when/why you want to continue yourself.

People like:

Kind and friendly Andrew from Eating Rules
andrew from eating rules

Fascinating and inspiring chef/traveler/urban gardener Janelle from Talk of Tomatoes
Janelle from Talk of Tomatoes

The always lovely Danielle from Beyond the Plate (aka, the most beautiful blog ever)
danielle from beyond the plate

Charming Bea from La Tartine Gourmand
beatrice from la tartine gourmand

Paula from bell’alimento (left) and Carolyn Jung from Food Gal (right)
paula and carolyn

The best travel buds you could ask for, Cheryl of 5 Second Rule and Leela of Apartment Therapy

cheryl of 5 second rule
leela cyd of apartment therapy

(And others: Rika of Bella Bonito // Gwen of Bunky Cooks // Nick of Departures // Stefanie of Endless Simmer // Georgia of GeorgiaPellegrini.com // Nicole of Pinch my Salt // Sean of Punk Domestics and Hedonia // Tami of Running with Tweezers // Linda of Salty Seattle // Debra of Smith Bites // Susan of Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy // Helene of Tartelette // Richard of The Passionate Foodie // Liz from The Toronto Star // and Gaby of What’s Gaby Cooking?)

You could go because you’d always wanted to see Portland.

You could go because it’s a break from wedding planning.

You could go, mostly, for the food.

Oh, the food.

This post, you’ve probably gathered, is about the recent long weekend I spent in Portland, Oregon, and the areas surrounding it, on a press trip for Travel Oregon. (Here comes the disclosure: All elements of my trip were hosted and arranged by Travel Oregon. While I was not paid for going on this trip, everything I experienced and participated in was covered for me.) While we did a lot of touring and sightseeing, the predominant theme all weekend was food—lots and lots of food. Food at wineries, food on city rooftops. Food classes, food demonstrations. And every one of the photos I took is from my iPhone because, WouldYouBelieveThis!, my camera is broken. Broken. I found out the first night there.


Thankfully, not even a broken camera could ruin Oregon’s bounty though, especially the way the Travel Oregon people chose to show it off.

Here are some highlights:

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Fennel Nettle Iced Tea

fennel nettle sweet tea

Today is September 2. September 2! Tim and I are getting married in 44 days, as in next month, six weeks from tomorrow. Yesterday, September 1, I went to a dress fitting. I stood in front of a wall of mirrors and looked at myself, standing next to a tall blonde woman with a thick European accent who tried to sell me a $350 veil, and I thought, look at me! I’m wearing a big, white dress! And then I thought, look at me? I’m wearing a big, white dress?

bulb of fennel

Tim comes over most nights and we make dinner together. Wednesday, it was brown rice pasta covered in olive oil, chopped heirloom tomatoes and lime basil (thank you, Angela!), hunks of sheep’s milk feta that melted into a cheesy sauce, salt and pepper. Last night, it was a roast chicken and broccoli, and now I have stock simmering on the stove. After we eat, we sit on the air mattress I have set up in my living room as our makeshift sofa, and we watch TV on the flat-screen my brother gave us (!!) and fall asleep until a show ends and wakes us up, and Tim leaves, and I go to bed.

fresh fennel

A couple times this past week, I’ve been woken up (at 1 AM, at 4 AM) by my late-night upstairs neighbors arguing. The first time, it was so startling, so surreal, I just laid in bed, my heart racing, wondering if what I was hearing was really happening. The second time, I realized it was, and I wished someone else were hearing it, too. Last night, I recognized that someone was crying.

fennel tea

We have a to-do list, me and Tim, a long one. It’s filled with tasks to accomplish before the wedding, and every time one of us says or thinks, man, I wish we were just married already!, I remember the list and think of all the things separating us from then, and I say something very unhelpful to Tim like, Why didn’t we elope?

making tea

And another night goes by, and another day, and I go thrifting with my future sister-in-law and find a $7 chair and a $9 chair and a gorgeous $7 crock for our future umbrellas, and our house becomes more and more of our future home, and Tim and I make another dinner, and we bake another batch of cookies and, we make reservations for our honeymoon.

fennel tea

It’s in this new almost-home that a company asks to send me some fresh fennel and then surprises me with an entire case (!!), so then there Tim and I are, standing side by side, making a big salad and cooking the leaves in a tea, while he’s talking about the health benefits of fennel and how it’s good for your immune system, your colon, women’s health.

And it’s in times like those that it hits me, just like when we’re eating dinner on our hardwood floors or laughing about how we have to jiggle a toilet valve every time we use the bathroom, I don’t want to forget this. Any of it.

Someday far from now, when we have furniture and a garden and a long history of sharing the same last name, when we’ve already done holidays with both families, when these simple beginnings feel faded and almost not real, I don’t want to forget how nice it was to be at the threshold of sharing life together. I don’t want to forget how all the changes—in the pain as much as the bliss—were so new, so unexpected, so constantly surprising. I don’t want to forget they were good.

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