Sunday, March 18, 2012

Babymoon #2

Just when it starts to be possible to take romantic weekends away, we decide to double-down and have another baby.  Ah well.  At least we got to take one last indulgent trip by ourselves, also known as a Babymoon.  We also took one in August of 2009 before Sidney was born and enjoyed it but I was very pregnant.  This time we went when when I was only 19 weeks so walking wasn't so much of an issue and my energy level was better.

Because I am a sucker for a inclusive deals and we needed some place within reasonable striking distance of our designated Sidney-sitters (Mom and Cindy in Portland), we chose the Oregon Garden Resort in Silverton, Oregon.  But we didn't know anything else about this place.  The deal included the room, one night's dinner, breakfast buffet, spa credit and admission to the Gardens.  The spa, the accommodations and the Garden were great, however the food was surprisingly terrible.  Surprising since this is a resort after all, they cater/host lots of weddings in the high season and their dining room looks the part of a nice destination.

I initially had high hopes for dinner because my green salad was delicious and signaled a good start but to no avail.   We have never considered ourselves "foodies" and Ken will just about eat anything, but despite that we both couldn't believe how bad it was.  My salmon was severely overcooked, flavorless and adorned with blueberries (???).  It sat atop a plate full of cheesy orzo that had way too strong a smell/taste so I extracted the salmon and deposited it on my bread plate.  Ken's seafood pasta dish was regrettably not much better:  rubbery, tasteless scallops with uninspired and overcooked vegetables.  We held out hope that the apple crumble dessert would redeem the meal but instead they took a "more is better" approach and piled over-sweetened, tasteless apples over even sweeter crumble with ice-cream and a half shaker's worth of cinnamon.  So much cinnamon.

Did we complain right then?  No, because surrounding us was a restaurant full of patrons who seemed to enjoy their food so much that our neighbors in the next booth were taking pictures of their entrees.  (Seriously.)  Perhaps that was just one isolated meal, we thought; an off night for the kitchen.  But as we talked about it on our way back to the room, we both supposed maybe a) that's why we got such a generous credit and b) perhaps this reflects a lack of discerning taste of the recurrent patrons.  An informal poll taken by the talkative musical entertainer in the lounge later that night revealed that most people in the lounge at that moment were from towns quite close to Silverton.  So it was plausable.

Next morning's breakfast buffet (also complimentary with our package) confirmed that the kitchen still didn't have its act together and settled for food service of  a budget 3-star European hotel.   Upon the first sip of Ken's orange juice, he remarked, "Is this Sunny Delight?"  Indeed it was.  We quickly finished our cardboard-like waffles and reconstituted eggs, deciding that no more meals would be eaten at the resort.


 For two people who don't have much interest in gardening or plants, we tend to visit them on vacation a lot (see trips to Canada & Ohio).   This time of year, the Oregon Garden was not the most impressive but from walking the grounds one can see that in June, it will be spectacular.

Even now, many birds and wildlife make their home in the garden and they are fearless so you can get pretty close to them.


There is also a delightful area called the Children's Garden with amusing topiary plants, a large sandbox with buried "dinosaur bones", an outdoor train set (runs in the summer), flower pot people and a delightful in-ground Hobbit house.  I even tried it out.

Other favorite parts were the sensory garden, trees encased in water filled planters, the fields of daffodils and a resident Loch Ness Monster.  While this garden is not as historic as Butchart, it definitely has much to offer and the variety of plants/garden themes was stunning.  Definitely worth a visit and only 50 minutes south of Portland.

We drove to a recommended Thai place for lunch in downtown Silverton about 2 miles away from the garden and strolled about the main street looking at some of the cute shops.  It was then time to head back to the resort for our spa massages which were so needed and so awesome.

We then headed to Mt. Angel which is the home of a giant Glockenspiel.  This Glockenspiel only had 4 times daily that it "played" so we enjoyed some delicious food their restaurant then at 4pm stepped out to enjoy the show.  The town of Mt. Angel has a long German tradition and evidently Oktoberfest is a major big deal.  This is definitely worth seeing--very unique.

Cindy told us about Silver Falls State Park which is located 15 miles south of Silverton and it was definitely worth our time to go check it out.   On our way there, we crossed the 45th parallel (equidistant between the North Pole and Equator), witnessed two horn-less bulls headbutting in a field next to the road (cow fight!) and could not contain our amazement as we passed fields and fields and rows and rows of Christmas trees.  Literally, millions of Christmas trees were out there and while it shouldn't be so surprising given the climate, it makes you wonder who buys ALL of these trees?   Oh, these people evidently.


We saw Snoqualmie Falls on our last babymoon and so it seemed only fitting to see another waterfall for this one.  South Falls was within easy walking distance of the parking lot and it was nothing less than spectacular.
Didn't quite make it into the timed shot.


It seems to me, waterfalls are a fitting metaphor for pending parenthood.  The inertia of natural forces and free-fall that one experiences in new parenthood can be overwhelming but once you settle into the pool below life begins to flow and calm down.

We ended our adventure with dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Silverton and I checked in with my mom to see if Sidney even realized we were gone.  (She did, but was having a ball with the grandmas.)  The rest of the evening we spent relaxing in front of our computers.  Just the way we like it.

Great weekend but eventually reality must return.  We returned to Portland late Sunday morning to fetch our spawn and return to Seattle.   Of course, a little time away lets everyone appreciate each other and Sidney was very happy to see us (the feeling was mutual).  Special thanks to the grandmas and the supporting cast of adults/relations who made this weekend getaway possible.


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