Friday, August 31, 2012

What to do at Rockaway Beach

Rockaway Beach is a beach town sandwiched between two bays - Nehalem & Tillamook, which sometimes can make the area cloudy when just north or south a few minutes on HWY 101, the sky clears and the sun is out. With a strange railroad track separating the highway from the beach area and very little charm to the town itself, Rockaway can easily be missed. But we found the low-key beach area and great proximity to other beach towns (in case you needed to buy some party decorations, get fresh seafood or find a large capacity laundrymat) to be a great location to spend a full week on the Oregon Coast with family.

Windy Rockaway Beach

The beach at Rockaway Beach

The beach wasn't ever really crowded, but there was always people around.

Rockaway Beach

Sunny Rockaway Beach

The Rocks at Rockaway Beach

Having dogs definitely made it a priority to go to the beach daily, but we also went to the beach to play bocce ball.

Bocce Ball!

And roast marshmallows on a beach fire.

Roasting Marshmallows

Our family really likes to play tennis and we managed to squeeze three trips to the tennis court in cute-as-can-be Manzanita.

Tennis in Manzanita

We spent a majority of our time together, leisurely gathering to play dominoes, ping pong and games found in the beach house.It really was exactly how we wanted to spend this special time together.


Epic game of dominoes

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Daytripping: Crabbing on the Oregon Coast

Crab boat flag

We didn't plan many activities during our beach birthday vacation, but one thing we did plan to do was go crabbing. Fresh crabs is a real treat and catching/eating them within a few hours is not to be missed. We arrived early at the Marina Jetty early in the morning when it was foggy and eerie.

Crabbing Dock

Crabbing Boats

After getting all our equipment and a quick run down of the boat, areas to stay away from and how to get unstuck if you end up on a sand bar, this motley crew was ready to catch some crabs!

The Crabbing Crew

On the crabbing boat

Crab Ring

Happy to be driving the boat

If you've never gone boat crabbing, it is so much fun. It is mellow and leisurely due the sandy bottom jetties/bays where crabs live. We would toss out a crab ring and then tool around the jetty for bay-level-views of the sandbar in the calm waters.

Heading out to catch some crabs

Landscape around the jetty

One of our crab rings

Then came the real action, time to pull up those rings, filled with crabs, some may say it was like shooting crabs in a ring!

Reeling it in

After 2 hours we were ready to return to the dock and cook up the crabs we caught. A boat returning when we arrive was overflowing with crabs, but we only manage to catch 1 crab per person (males only!) but that yielded so much crab meat we're kind of glad we didn't catch any more.

Now with as many crabs as we caught, it could have easily taken the same amount of time it took to catch these suckers to pick out all the meat, but we had professionals and this was done in record amount of time.

Happy to be picking crab meat

mmm - crab legs

Actually I think it took longer to make post-crabbing Bloody Marys. Ours had homemade dilly beans, fresh picked crab meat and smoked oysters.

Making Bloody Marys

Bloody Marys all around

Here's to boat crabbing on the Oregon Coast, the most rewarding leisure activity out there!

Bloody Mary Cheers

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dogs and the Beach

Saffy & Barley

We don't have dogs, but everyone else in our family does and it was so fun to see these little fur babies go bonkers over a little salt, sand and sea.

Tri & Saffy in the water

Tri & Saffy on the beach

Doggies on the beach

Strolling on a sunny beach

The only female, or bitch of the group, was the only one well-behaved enough to go off leash, which meant hours of fetch with anything, especially smooth round rocks, ocean be damned!

Tri & Saffy at the beach

Saffy & Tri

Saffy walking through a sand castle

The Le-Byrnes Clan

Barley so happy to be on the beach

We had to leave all the doggies at home when we planned on playing games on the beach, such as frisbe or bocce ball, because it was all a game to them.

Saffy Collage

They were adorable off the beach too, crashing where ever due to exhaustion, especially if a free dog bed was in sight.

Crashed out in someone's bed

Or where ever it was warm and comfortable.

Barley Keeping Warm

Turn on the fireplace please

Boo on the couch

Tuan & Boo

But by far their favorite place was the beach, even if they had just gotten back from a long walk, and it wasn't uncommon to be faced with this look right after a trip to beach begging for more.

Saffy's Mind Tricks

It was so much fun to see them run around all crazy, chomping at the waves, chasing other dogs and trying to chase people. If you have a dog definitely take them to the beach, and often. Best. Therapy. Ever.

Heading down to the beach

The boys on the beach

I have no idea what's going here and Barley doesn't seemed phased by it at all. Must be the ocean air.

Being Silly

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mid-Vacation Break

We decided to take one day where everyone could do whatever they wanted. For the most part we didn't go/do very much when we were together besides going to play a lot of tennis and crabbing. And the only meal eaten out was for Dad's birthday, so this was our chance to do all the things we love to do on the Oregon Coast. We chased the sun and headed out of the bay to Oswald West State Park for a hike to Cape Falcon. Needless to say, the beach was packed.

Oswald West Beach Area

Crowded Oswald West Beach

Oregon hiking is hard to beat with old growth forests, canopy of lush scenery and views to die for.

Fallen tree along the path

Hiking to Cape Falcon

View of Cape Falcon

Mike at Cape Falcon

The rocks at Cape Falcon

Oswald West

Oswald West Coved Beach

Surfers at Oswald West

My favorite stretch of Oregon beaches is south of Cannon Beach and beyond, with cute beaches such as Hug Point, Manzanita and everything inbetween, so we decided to stop off at cute little Neahkahnie Beach for some lounge time after our hike.

Neahkania Beach

Path to Neahkania Beach

Enjoying the sunshine at Neahkania Beach

Us on Neahkania Beach

At Neahkania Beach

We had the best of intentions to eat the small lunch we packed, but it was way pass lunchtime and we were ready for dinner, so we jumped in the car and headed to cute Cannon Beach for something to eat. Technology is simply amazing, instead of wandering up and down Cannon Beach's main street (which isn't a bad way to spend an afternoon), we simply consulted the TripAdvisor app on our phones and quickly found out there was a sushi and Japanese cuisine restaurant newly opened in town. Owned by the same chef who has a successful upscale French/Italian Seafood restaurant in town, we decided to give it a try. Fishes looked very uninviting like we were stepping into a conference center at first, but the interiors were very cute, especially the sushi tiki-styled bar.

Fishes Sushi & Japanese Cuisine Restaurant

Fishes Sushi Bar Cover

Rogue Brewery's Morimoto Black Obi Soba Ale

So how was the food? Well sometimes you can't separate the food from the service, especially when it comes to sushi and if you end up sitting at the sushi bar. And all we can say is Fishes seemed to be ran by a bunch of high school kids who wanted to hang out and make some extra summer cash. The whole operation was amateur to say the least, but one thing we can say for Fishes is it is damn lucky they are so close to the ocean, the quality of the ingredients made up for the lack of proper sushi rolling technique and poorly executed/timed service. The menu is very limited to just the basics, so we didn't expect too much. However, how often is it you can get dungeness crab california roll and a chirashi bowl that actually had locally caught tuna and not imported/unsustainable bluefin? The sushi rice was also really good.

Dungeness Crab California Roll

Tempura Veggie Roll

Chirashi Bowl

We had ordered the teriyaki beef medium rare, which came scorched to beyond well done, so we sent it back and waited for a re-fire, like we said a bunch of highschool kids running the place. But our sweet waitress felt extremely bad and offered up two complimentary desserts. We had been eyeing the desserts since we haven't had many sweets since Dad's ice cream cake a couple of days ago, so we opted for the ginger creme brulee and the sake sorbet. The creme brulee was custardy and exactly what we were expecting. The sake sorbet on the other hand was stellar. When it arrived we thought it was nicely shaved iced with sake poured over, but no, it was creamy like ice cream with a definite punch of sake. Delish!

Ginger Creme Brulee

Sake Sorbet

It was such a lovely day. We had a great time and a well appreciated vacation break from our vacation.