Thursday, March 30, 2017


The results are in and you need to make your own final decision on which cup of clam chowder is your favorite! When we joined our friends Jacquie and Grant on the Oregon Coast recently, one of the things that we did was to taste and compare clam chowder from several of the eateries around that coastal area.

Tabulation by the accounting firm of Ernst and Whinney.
Once we had a couple bowls under our belts we made up a judging sheet, on a napkin, that laid out the items we used to make our comparisons. We used five criteria which we judged the chowder on and gave each area a plus (+), zero (0), or minus (-) rating. I changed the rating from the plus-minus system to a number system to make the results easier. The new ratings go as follows: plus (+) = 3 points, zero (0) = 2 points, or minus (-) rating = 0 points. Highest possible rating would be 15 possible points.

Our five areas of judging were:

Creaminess - Was the product creamy the way mom made it.
Taste - Did it have a taste and did it make you notice it's flavor.
Seafood - Did it have chunks of seafood in it and was it enough to make you notice.
Hot - Was it served hot?
A balance of flavor - Did it have a good balance of ingredients with not too much bacon, onion, or too many potatoes.

We rated nine different clam chowders and here are the results in the order in which we consumed the contestants.

Crab Bucket  - North of Westport, Wa - Jacquie and Grant
Total Score = 5

Creaminess - 0
Taste - 2
Seafood - 0
Hot - 3
A balance of flavor - 0

Notes: Jacquie and Grant stopped on one of their first days and had chowder, not knowing that they would be called upon in the future to judge their meal. This was the first taste of chowder and was eaten before the Can-Am Rendezvous actually officially started.

Wet Dog  - Astoria, OR - Dean, Linda, Jacquie and Grant
Total Score = 14

Creaminess - 3
Taste - 3
Seafood - 3
Hot - 2
A balance of flavor - 3

Notes: When the Rendezvous officially started we wandered into this establishment and enjoyed a wonderful bowl. Jacquie and Grant tasted their treat and immediately made a comparison to their bowl at the Crab Bucket. Thus the competition began.

Mo's  - Cannon Beach, OR - Dean, Linda, Jacquie and Grant
Total Score = 9

Creaminess - 2
Taste - 2
Seafood - 3
Hot - 0
A balance of flavor - 2

Notes: We had a wonderful view of Cannon Beach from our table. Mo's and The Horn were equally rated for their views, but that was not part of our challenge criteria.

Rendezvous  - Tillamook, OR - Dean, Linda, Jacquie and Grant
Total Score = 9

The resturant at the Rendezvous.
Creaminess - 0
Taste - 3
Seafood - 3
Hot - 0
A balance of flavor - 3

Notes: It was a bit of an obstacle course to get into this bar and grill, but it had to be done! Screw the huge road construction that caused us to dodge traffic and climb along wooden bridges to reach the entrance to this highly rated establishment. A rendezvous at the Rendezvous was a must! The fact that their foods were rated high on Trip Advisor was a huge plus.

The Horn  - Depoe Bay, OR - Dean, Linda, Jacquie and Grant
Total Score = 14

Creaminess - 3
Taste - 3
Seafood - 2
Hot - 3
A balance of flavor - 3

Notes: We looked out over the highway and watched spouting whales as we ate our chowder. At least we think they were spouting whales. Dean sat and watched the NCAA tournament.

Ocean Bleu Seafood  - Newport, OR - Dean, Linda, Jacquie and Grant
Total Score = 13.5

Creaminess - 2.5
Taste - 3
Seafood - 3
Hot - 2
A balance of flavor - 3

Notes: The service was great and the place was a perfect mix of old home town and waterfront. We exited the door after our meal and were drawn by the barking sea lions down the street to watch a circus of these animals laying on the docks.

The Firehouse  - Florence, OR - Dean, Linda, Jacquie and Grant
Total Score = 15

Creaminess - 3
Taste - 3
Seafood - 3
Hot - 3
A balance of flavor - 3

Note: This stop may not be a fair stop for a clam chowder challenge. The Firehouse is a five-time clam chowder award winner. We never could find out who was judging them for their five awards, but they came in strong with us also.

Tony's Crab Shack  - Bandon, OR - Dean, Linda, Jacquie and Grant
Tony's Crab Shack 
Total Score = 9

Creaminess - 3
Taste - 2
Seafood - 2
Hot - 2
A balance of flavor - 0

Note: Trip Advisor said we had to eat here and to try their crab sandwich. Why we tried the clam chowder is beyond me. It's a crab shack for heaven's sake!

Now that we are home and looking back on the clam chowder challenge, I would recommend that you take a trip down the Oregon Coast and do your own tasting. It was a fun way to eat some very good food!

Where was the best chowder on our trip, you ask?  Caroline made us her clam chowder on the day we arrived at their house. It was by far the best! She served it with breaded Razor Clams and it was a treat beyond belief.  I can't give you the exact location of their house, but if she ever wanted to open a clam chowder shack, it would get our votes!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Can-Am Videos

I will add the rain and wind video soon.

The Last Couple Days

The Rendezvous came to an end quietly. The movie we were watching, The Accountant, ended and we stood up to retire to bed. We all quietly hugged goodbye.  It was a rather appropriate ending to the two weeks together. The six of us had met in Mexico and formed our friendships there and being together at the end of the rendezvous just felt right.

Just give'r!
Let me step back a day or so and bring you up to speed. Grant and Jacquie, Linda and I left our southernmost campground at Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park, drove north, and then stayed one final night at Nehalem Bay State Park.  Our evening there was the typical cards, dinner, and bed. The next morning we caravanned up to Westport and stayed two nights at Don and Caroline Samuelson’s house.

Don and Caroline were in Mexico when they met Grant and Jacquie. They were all staying at the same place, La Paloma, and we were invited to dinner one night. That’s when we all met.  We have all stayed in touch and have tried really hard to get back together. This trip provided us the perfect opportunity to extend our friendship that we had formed down south.

And we were stopped at the highest point! 
Grant and Jacquie and Linda and I spent a bit of Friday, driving around Westport looking the area over. I bought some cool boots (finally) that will keep my feet dry. Of course, we would be leaving the coast that next day and I will probably never again be in the downpours of rain that we had on this trip. The boots will get used back home, and like I said, they are cool!

Caroline fed us too much! We had chips and dips with whole crabs for lunch. Crab for lunch, I have never had crab for lunch before!  Then in the evening, she fixed us clam chowder and breaded razor clams. What a treat! It was wonderful!
We're going to make the Zags game!

Add to all this, we were able to watch the Gonzaga Bulldogs play and win. It was the best end to the Can-Am that we could ask for!

Friday night came too fast, the movie ended and so did our trip. The next morning Linda and I got up and drove home. It was a long and uneventful drive but by traveling non-stop we were able to watch our Zags beat Xavier and enter the NCAA Final Four.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Pisst, You Want Some Candy?

I am getting so confused. With the rain, the new camp sites, and the sightseeing, I don’t know exactly what we have done each day. The best answer is to post what we did and hope to get it in the right time frame.

The days at Carl G. Washburne were filled with more beach explorations, a couple lighthouse visits, and some more clam chowder.  Drove south to Heceta Head Lighthouse and hiked up to the viewpoint.

Heceta Head Lighthouse.
When we arrived one of the volunteers quickly said that we had to climb up to the overlook where we could get the best shot of the light in the house. As we scampered up the steep hillside I could just hear the volunteer talking to the other volunteer saying, “That’s four more for me!” Both of them snickering and shaking their heads.

I got a good shot of the light and then we slipped and slid back down to the lighthouse level. I imagine that volunteers get a bit bored and would be constantly making up games and stories using the visitors as their guinea pigs.

I guess it was worth the climb.
With the hike at the lighthouse behind us, we drove into Florence and looked around the downtown area. We had a good meal at the Firehouse Restaurant and Lounge. We continued the chowder challenge by tasting their five-time award winning chowder. We all agreed it was good!

Back at Washburne we ate dinner and played our usual game of cards. It was raining hard so we all hit the sack at Oregon Coast Midnight, 9:00 PM.

Umpqua River Lighthouse.
Monday we packed up and drove down to our next campground Bullards Beach. There was a break in the weather and this yellow orb filled the sky with light and warmth.  We found a camp spot and then walked the 1½ miles to the beach. It was so nice to be out and about without our heavy rain jackets on.  Once back at the rigs we played more cards laughing at all the stories we shared.
A couple of real comedians.
Bandon by the Sea was our next day’s area of exploration. We started by driving to the Coquille River Lighthouse and looking around there.  Next, we drove to Face Rock scenic viewpoint and looked at the impressive offshore monolith.

Bandon provided us with several hours of exploration. We ate at Tony’s Crab Shack, logging their clam chowder in our competition. I cannot figure out exactly why we ate clam chowder and not the crab and shrimp sandwich that was so highly recommended. It’s a CRAB shack for goodness sake, nothing was said about clams!

Art made from recycling beach junk.
After we ate and laughed, we walked to a store that should be outlawed for the good of all mankind. Cranberry Sweets & More is a nice shop that sells all sorts of candy. The reason it should be outlawed is that they cut up a million different candies, and put them in bowls all over the store, and you can taste any of them you want.  IT WAS A FEEDING FRENZY! I casually notice a couple bowls of different chocolates and popped them in my mouth. Next thing I knew, I had four chunks of candy in my right hand, two in my left and my mouth was stuffed full of several chocolate-covered jelly things. I know I circled the peanut brittle bowl more than for times. I was out of control! I took a breath and looked around; everyone was doing the same as me! By the time we left the store we were so jazzed up on sugar that Grant drove out of town wrong way! We were trying to find a gas station but were so hyped up that we couldn’t see straight. The crash was awful, I still have a headache.
Just another funny event in the Can-Am Rendezvous, and we’ll just keep give’r the rest of the trip.

Coquille River Lighthouse.

Face Rock.

It's Wet, Yet We Continue

Yaquina Head Lighthouse.
When we go to the Oregon Coast, it seems like we always stay a couple nights at Beverly Beach State Park. The park's location is very central to many of the areas we like to look at and it gives us good access to either Lincoln City or Newport.  That’s where we stayed on night 5 and 6 of the Can-Am Rendezvous.

On out trek down from Nehalem Bay State Park to our nights at Beverly Beach, we stopped at Lincoln City for a little Outlet Mall shopping. Linda says it was a most successful trip. I failed to find anything I had to buy.

Then we went on to Depoe Bay where we did some whale watching and ate a scrumptious lunch at a place called The Horn. Which, by the way, got 4 out of 5 pluses on their clam chowder!

Well, well, thinking back I have discovered that I did not tell you about the world famous Can-Am Chowder Challenge.  It all started at lunch when we ate at Mo’s. We had their chowder and in conversation, made a comparison to the chowder the Linda had at the Wet Dog. We set up judging standards which included five areas: creaminess, taste, seafood, a balance of flavor and temperature. Each criteria gets 3 possible points.  At this posting have judged six establishments chowder and will post the results in the final post for the Cam-Am.

Linda and I made pizza for dinner and once we had eaten our fill we played cards, crashing into a cheese and pizza coma at about 9:30 PM.

The morning we loaded into the official Cam-Am touring rig and drove to Yaquina Head where we visited the lighthouse, or we at least walked around it. We were delighted to see eagles, harbor seals, and whales as we dogged the rain and the wind.

The marine aquarium at Newport never fails to be one of our favorite sightseeing stops. The day's weather predictions were bleak for beach hiking but were just right for exploring the indoor reaches of the aquarium facility.  We had a great time exploring all the exhibits.

We drove to the heart of old Newport and had lunch at Ocean Bleu Seafood. I added another bowl of chowder to our list of competitors. As we left the restaurant we could hear sea lions barks bouncing off the walls of the local canneries. We got in the rig and drove in search of the sounds. At the far end of the shopping area, we parked and looked out into the harbor. The barks of the sea lions were louder than ever so we walked to a nearby pier. Below us on six docks was a mass of sea lions. The sounds they were making were amazing.

We looked out across the bay to the breakwater and our jaws dropped. “Those aren’t rocks over there, they are sea lions!” Linda said. The breakwater was a mass of moving animals. Once again we were astounded. None of us had ever seen so many sea lions in one area. We all agreed that we could write the Sea Lion Caves off our tourist list on this trip.

We drove back to Beverley Beach where we climbed into our homes and let the rain pour down.
It was a quick drive from Beverley Beach to our new camp at Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park. As we drove we checked out several campgrounds and took a side hike at Cape Perpetua, where we saw the Spouting Horn and Thor's Well.

At Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park we got two great camp sites and then went to a walk to the beach. 

Crab and Squid.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Rendezvous Jour Deux

The rendezvous packed up and moved south, down the coast to Nehalem Bay State Park.  The park has about 300 campsites, but the rangers closed all the loops except for a couple. One loop is for reservations only and they have a restroom and shower. The one for the drive up campers does not have restrooms and showers. Drop-ins are expected to walk to the facilities in the reservation loop. Oh, and by the way, the men’s restroom that is open has only two toilets and one of those is out of order.

We blame it on our new government.

After getting set up, we loaded into the Can-Am Taxi and we drove to Ecola State Park where we braved the wind and rain to peer out into the misty fog at the Oregon coastline.  We could see about a quarter mile, and this took some doing because the wind was blowing at close to a hurricane force.  We struggled up to look over the edge, only to be blown back by the powerful gusts. It was fun, but we also got drenched.

Next, we drove to Cannon Beach where we took some quick pictures of Haystack Rock. The weather hadn’t changed so we retreated off the beach and found a window seat in Mo’s for lunch.  From this point, we watched the ocean and chowed down on various seafood dishes. Clam chowder has become the dish that all food stops will be judged during the rendezvous, Mo’s was rated very high.

We returned to our camp spot and ate dinner. Later on, we gathered for a couple card games before we turned in for the night.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Can-Am Rendezvous

We left Eugene and drove North on I-5. At Tigard, we veered left through Beaverton and hit Highway 26 which we followed to 101. Our final destination was Fort Stevens State Park where we would meet up with our friends from Canada, Jacquie and Grant. We planned this gathering while we were in Mexico together. Jacquie is still teaching and this would be the beginning of her spring break. They planned to do a tour of the Oregon coast and when we found out, we invited ourselves along.
Grant did most of the planning and we communicated back and forth. After many emails we gave the meeting and trip together the title, Can-Am Rendezvous.

As we got closer to Ft. Stevens, Linda and I started wondering how we would find Grant and Jacquie upon arrival at the park.  No specific rendezvous spot had been designated in planning; we had just said “Meet at Fort Stevens on March 12” and that was it.

We arrived at the fort at about 1:15 PM and parked at the ranger station to check the bulletin board to see if a note had been left.  I went to the bathroom and when I walked out, there was Linda talking to Grant and Jacquie. They had pulled into the ranger station about two minutes after we had arrived!

Let the Can-Am Rendezvous begin!

We found two campsites and since the sun was out, we sat in our chairs and discussed the Rendezvous’ future itinerary. We hiked to the beach and visited the wreck of the Peteiredalertook some photos and returned to camp. When the sun set we gathered for dinner with our Canadian friends and enjoyed the traditional Canadian feast of Smokies on a Bun. The excitement of the day made us very tired and we said our good nights, excited about the days to come.

Monday morning we all piled into Grant and Jacquie’s RV and Grant drove us to Astoria where we spent the morning in the Columbia River Maritime Museum. We really enjoyed everything the museum offered and we would highly recommend it as a “Must See”.

We finished our tour and walked around downtown where we found a place to eat called The Wet Dog Café. We all enjoyed our meals. Grant and I ordered Mako Shark Fish and Chips. Don’t let anyone tell you we don’t live on the edge at this rendezvous.

After our meal and a bit of drying out, we got back on the road and drove to Fort Stevens State Historical Site. We walked around the various Batterys and visited the small museum. Of course, it was raining the entire time, but we have adapted to that already. Once Grant pulled himself away from the museum volunteer, we went back to camp where Linda and I fixed dinner.

With our hunger suppressed, Grant and Jacquie taught us a very complex card game called Skip-Bo. Linda kicked our butts in two strategic battles and then we went to bed, exhausted.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Quick Stop In Eugene

Our visit to the Sollingers was short, but we crammed quite a bit into the stay.  The first night we ate a wonderful dinner prepared by Al Dee. The chef made the recipe his own by replacing the chicken bouillon with beef. The mistake was attributed to a missing label on the beef bouillon, but the meal turned out very good anyway.

After dinner we played Farkel and Chef Al Dee won in a hotly contested game.

The next morning Diane, who doesn’t read my blog, made an outstanding breakfast. We ate our fill and then gathered in the van and went out to fly Al Dee’s drone.  The rain was intermittent and we had to be flexible about the flight. It rained, so we went to a local airport and watched an old B-17 bomber land.

The bomber was on display in a viewing area. We got a few photos and gathered a couple of informational booklets and headed back into the van.

The rain continued so we drove to TJ Maxx and Cabela’s and shopped around. Diane bought some fudge which she used later in the evening as a blind taste competition. I won that contest naming five out of the six flavors.  Finally, in the late afternoon, we got a break and were able to fly the drone.  That was a blast.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Hitting the Road Again

Our sights were set and our plan was laid out. Eugene Oregon was our first destination and the purpose was two-fold. We needed to pick up Kobi and we wanted to see Linda's sister's family.

On Sunday I began the process of de-winterizing the truck and camper. This included taking the truck off the trickle charger and firing it up, uncovering the camper and stowing the cover, and then a complete de-winterization of the camper its self. I completed this after about two full days of work, so we started packing all the necessities back into our little home.

On Wednesday we had finished the packing of all our needed items; clothes, bathroom necessities, and electronic equipment. Our next phase included packing the food and freezer items. This went relatively easy, but as I type this I can assure you that we have a list of things that we forgot and we will be going to a store sometime in the near future.

We were on the road by 12 noon on Thursday and drove without any problems to a riverside camp spot called, Quesna County Park, located just west of Boardman on the Columbia River. To call it a park is giving it a bit more credit than it deserves. It has a boat launch and lots of gravel spots to stop for the night. Access to the river is good and the view was very nice.  I think this stop gets its park designation from the one pit toilet that it there. We didn't use the toilet so we can't report on it, but if it looks like the rest of the area...

On the road by 8:00 AM we drove straight through to Eugene stopping only for fuel. The day was beautiful clear skies and a temperature of about 62 degrees.

Driving right to the Sollinger's house we let ourselves in and found Kobi sitting wagging his tail. It was so good to see him. With hugs all around and a few ear licks, we got set up in the driveway and waited for the family to arrive home.

The rest of the day was spent catching up with the family and enjoying each others company. Kobi did great and it was like we had never left him. All is good in the Bennett family.