I spotted this sign from I-5 a few years ago, on our travels. I was intrigued.
Arrowhead sign! Chinook Room? Gigantic letters spelling RESTAURANT!
Last summer, Don and I made a stop on our drive from Portland to Washington.
This time when we pulled in, I notice a few palms in front. That seemed odd for the state of Washington. But Kalama is named for a native Hawaiian, who settled here in the 19th century. Palms fit the theme.
We could see a little more of the building, when we approached from the parking lot.
It seemed to be sandwiched right in between the freeway and the mountainside. The Columbia River was just on the other side of the freeway Such a pretty area.
Elvis and Jack
The faces of Elvis and Jack Benny, were hanging out behind the roses.
I couldn't wait to hear the stories about when these two "famous visitors" came to Columbia Inn.
There was lots to see as we headed towards the door.
Neon signs and an American flag. A totem pole along near a retro "cocktails" sign.
At 1:30, the cafe was empty of diners. Don and I peeked around quickly at the available dining areas. Love those octagonal windows!
And rounded walls! This place had a bit of a mid-century look, although I think there was a fire at some point that prompted some updates.
You have to love a menu with a slogan. "Bringing families together one meal at a time since 1955" You also have to love a menu with special prices for diners 55 and up!
I ordered a half sandwich with a cup of beef noodle soup for $10.95. That wasn't actually too tasty and not much of a bargain. Don's omelet was a little better. But this little dining adventure was not really about food.
You can see the OYO Hotel behind Don, through the window. There was a fun story behind that.
Columbia Inn in 1962
The Oyo Hotel looked pretty dull today, but I found an internet story about the motel in 1962, when it was called Columbia Inn. It was evidently in the middle of the night when Elvis arrived at the Columbia Motel. They were on their way to Seattle to film "It Happened at the the World's Fair".
Elvis and his gang rented rooms. In the morning he ordered a feast of breakfast foods from the cafe, to be delivered to the motel. It was the biggest dining bill that the restaurant ever had. (Biggest phone bill as well!)
Grandpa Spot Elvis
I asked our waitress and she had more scoop for us. She was too young to know much about Elvis, but her ex-boyfriend's grandfather did.
He happened to be on his bike delivering papers, early on that morning in 1962. He spotted activity in the motel parking lot and quickly alerted friends. She said the fans flocked and Elvis was actually gracious, greeting and signing autographs.
The Other Guy
The other "famous person on the sign, didn't have quite as big a story.
Jack Benny was traveling back in the day, when he stopped to use the phone. Oh those pre-cell-phone-days! He ended up sticking around for a slice of pie and a cup of coffee. He didn't have cash, so he wrote a check and teased that he knew the pie was free. "I know you'll never cash this check!" Cute!
After eating I had to get a peek at the Chinook Room. I know there's a lot of history in this lounge. There's also a lot of history with the Chinook Native American people in this region.
But no history was revealed. The area mostly just looked like a bar. There were no signs of the old Chinook Lounge, that might have had some interesting decor, back in the fifties.
Instead of Northwestern Native art, or even some kind of tropical Hawaiian theme, there was just a little sports decor. Oddly, the decor was upward, located in clear windows, in the ceiling.
Columbia Inn Memories
Our little dining adventure was not about the food, or even the inside decor. I'll always remember the retro exterior and our sweet conversation with our young server. When I asked about how hard it had been with the pandemic, she tried to be positive. She luckily got married in March 2020, right before they had to shut down the restaurant. She talked about the support of the town, especially when they were able to open for carryouts.
Pandemic talk led to school closings... which led to her own high school memories. "You know the movie Twilight?" She asked. Then we heard how her local high school was transformed for a whole semester, to be the school in the movie. What a hoot to hear about her memories of the stars, in her very school. I didn't even think to ask if they ended up with any Twilight dining guests, during that period!
So off we went, thinking about this small town with it's small cafe. So many interesting happenings for a little community. Glad we got to hear a few stories!
Portland in 2018
Don and I had our first Tin Shed adventure in October 2018.
We were visiting our daughter and son in law. They were eager to take us to their favorite brunch place. There was a long wait and that was typical.
I don't remember what we ate, but I remember that everyone was happy. You can tell, from this 3-year-old photo.
What a different visit we had this past July.
We were a party of 5 on this visit. We had a Baby Charlie with us on this visit. The 4 adults were craving a delicious and safe dining adventure. Tin Shed was the perfect place, with outdoor dining.
We arrived on a pleasant Saturday morning, with reservations at 9:15.
There was a garden patio with tables and umbrellas. It didn't look crowded but there was still a wait. Pandemic patience always helps.
Covered or Not
There was a covered open air space that looked inviting.
But that seemed to be sort of reserved for people with pets. That cracked me up. There were definitely more folks with dogs than children, at Tin Shed.
We got a table on the gravel patio after a while.
The sun actually felt good. Oregon in July, is very different than Texas in July!
Coffee and Cream
I was thrilled that Don and I each got our own container of cream.
Some days you crave a mimosa at brunch, I felt pampered with lots of cream on this Saturday morning.
I ordered the breakfast with the silly name. It was indeed sinfully good.
Homemade biscuits with Rosemary-mushroom gravy and a potato pancake with sour cream and chives... 2 crispy slices of bacon and a simple and delicious scrambled egg.
Don's cheesy scramble with tomato and bacon, was served on top of potato pancakes.
You can see his biscuit is picture perfect. I'd say we both ate exactly half of our orders. Yummy leftovers!
This was not an adventure in exotic dining. This wasn't some odd and curious dive cafe experience...
This was mostly a successful dining adventure, with our happy grand baby. Charlie was born in Portland, in the middle of February's ice storm. The Covid pandemic added an extra layer of worry, back when none of us were vaccinated. We dreamed of the day when it would be warm enough and safe enough, to enjoy a little restaurant outing.
So cheers to our Portland Dining Adventure. We had good food, on a pleasant patio, on a sunny day.
After lunch, we strolled and enjoyed the area. How far things have come since February. What a sweet treat!
In July, Don and I had a fun-homey meal at Dean's.
We had heard about the family owned cafe, from my sister. Jennifer sent a text last February, "Kate and I just ate at a place that you and Don would love!" She raved about the food and the folks running the place. Dean's went on my list!
Palms & Roses
Don and I were back in Portland in July and checked the place out, on our very last day. It was an easy stop, right off the highway on the way to the airport.
We parked and headed towards the sweet looking bungalow. What a palm! It made me feel like we were back in Texas. Those roses were mighty sweet, too! Bonus points!
Picnic Tables and Porch
Bonus points for picnic tables, too. Don and I are cautious travelers and diners, during these pandemic times. We appreciate outside options.
And oh how I love a porch, I guess we could have eaten out there too. But we were curious to see the inside of this cute place. We headed for the door. Luckily we had cash, since the sign told us they didn't take credit cards.
Eating in the House
We were greeted by a young bearded man, named Tyler. He was carrying on with a group of coffee drinking men, near the fireplace. Tyler invited us to sit anywhere. We peeked in the second room, which looked cozy with lots of old woodwork.
I was curious about the window that connected both rooms. Was that original? I could see through to the fireplace.
The front room had the fun fireplace, that would have been nice on a cold day. I was sort of amused by how the mantel was being used on a day in July. It had become a shelf, for holding napkins and carry-out containers.
I was more amused listening to Tyler, with the locals who were sitting near the fireplace. Tyler was across the room, but he conversed with the older gentlemen, as he moved from here to there. Don and I felt somehow included in some of the humor, that flew back and forth. The coffee drinkers seemed to egg Tyler on. At one point an old fellow stood and headed to the counter, with his cane. Tyler teased, "No running on the pool deck now!" There were some chuckles.
Sitting in the Front Room
Don and I were seated at a comfy table in the front room, with a view of the dining counter, below a display of old tools.
Next to the old saw and drill, there was a sassy little sign. "I'll have a cafe mocha, vodka, Xanax, Latte to go please."
I read a few more snappy sentences above the window. "Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy!"
"Bacon makes everything better!" "Public Drunkenness Prohibited!"
As we sat and absorbed the atmosphere around us, I began to see how these signs set the tone for the place.
On the wall past the man at the counter, I spotted another sign, with yummy (and reasonably priced) food options.
The sign was surrounded by shelves of personalized mugs. Clearly, Dean's was a place where lots of locals enjoy breakfast. If it hadn't been so close to lunchtime, I'm sure more mugs would have been missing.
Chicken Noodle Soup
When Tyler came to take our order, I was able to compliment him on his t-shirt, with an amusing photo from the movie, "Step Brothers". He looked down to remind himself, then laughed. He seemed pleased that someone appreciated his goofy Will Farrell shirt.
I ordered Soup & BLT. My chicken noodle soup came so packed with noodles and chicken, I could have used a fork and knife. Moments later I heard a man nearby complain that his soup didn't have enough chicken. Tyler responded, by pointing to me. "Well, I gave all the chicken to her. It's her first time here!"
Don was pleased to have breakfast options for lunch. He was then perplexed about how to begin, with the massive serving on his plate.
Actually he was excited about his ham & cheese omelet and hash browns. There were no signs demanding that we clean our plates, so he was safe. I even helped him a bit and it was a yummy feast.
My delicious BLT arrived on sour dough. When I placed my order, Tyler suggested English muffin for my BLT. I hadn't caught on to his humor yet, so I said "Sure, BLT on and English muffin." Tyler shook his head and scolded that idea as if he hadn't given it to me. "What? You'll never fit 5 slices of bacon on that!" I scratched my head and ordered sourdough, which I loved. The sandwich was delish! And I wasn't a bit annoyed by Tyler's dry humor.
After lunch I explored on the way to the bathroom. I loved the old stairs and wondered about the family that once lived in this wonderful house.
Tyler saw me snapping photos and invited me to look at the framed photos of the Haberlach family.
How wonderful that these photos were preserved when the home was bought.
I did some internet searching later and couldn't find much info. But it looks like this family had some history with Tillamook Cheese!
Chatting with Tyler
Tyler checked us out and didn't reprimand us for not finishing our meal. He did ask where we were from though and said he might just have to charge us tax, since we were from Texas. His silly sarcasm reminded me of some of the old timer characters we've run across on our travels. But his quick and sassy remarks were somehow refreshing and kind.
I thanked Tyler for the great food and his fun humor. He seemed to genuinely appreciate that.
On our way out, we were stopped by a couple on the porch. They had overheard our conversation and seemed so pleased that we enjoyed the place. They told us, "We came all the way from Vancouver to eat today!" They agreed that Tyler was a fun and funny addition to the place. They also mentioned that Tyler's parents owned the place. "We've been coming to eat here, since Tyler was about 7 years old."
I loved ending our homey visit, with this extra little prize at the end. We drove off knowing that Dean's Cafe had been serving food for years in a couple other locations and in this cute house for about 10 years. I loved it that this couple knew Tyler as a little kid and had fun watching him grow up on their visits.
I tried to find more information on the internet, but found very little. Dean's is obviously a happy, homey business with lots of pleased customers. They evidently don't need lots of write ups and ads to lure people their way. Word of mouth got us there! The best kind of advertisement!
Mount Hood, Oregon
On a gorgeous day in mid June, Don and I joined our daughter's family on a food and drink adventure.
Less than an hour from their Portland area home, we found ourselves at Grateful Vineyard, with a view of Mount Hood!
The air was warm, so many of the tables in the sunshine were empty. No reservations needed for those.
We spotted children having their own little picnic in the shade. This wonderful place encourages families and pets.
Table Under the Tent
Heidi had luckily made reservations and we had a table under the tent.
I loved the words on the menu, "Weaving together farming fermentation and nourishment"
Grateful Vineyard opened as a Winery/Cidery/Brewery, in 2019 by Katrina McAlexander. Her grape-farming roots go back to her great-great grandparents vineyards, in Switzerland.
For that reason, Heidi and I chose to sample wine!
Don and Jamie enjoyed some beer flights.
Baby Charlie didn't do any cider samples, but she enjoyed her pacifier.
On weekends they offer a small menu.
The fresh ingredients on the salad and pizzas, matched the atmosphere perfectly.
Maybe it was the perfect weather that made every sip and bite, taste just right.
Even this little girl was in perfect spirits.
It was so heavenly just sitting and enjoying...
But it was impossible to stay seated. I had to get up and wander. The scenery was amazing.
Charlie doesn't look too crazy about the sunflowers, but they were pretty.
You could pick them for a dollar a piece, I believe.
There were some great spots for family photos. Mount Hood tried to photo bomb this one.
Until Next Time
This was the perfect easy getaway on a Sunday at lunch. As we got ready to leave, it looked like they were setting up for some live music.
I can only imagine how lovely these tables would be in the evening, as the sun lowers... with a glass of wine and little guitar. Sigh!
2 Years Ago
I love a Drive-In Adventure! So why didn't I write this one up, 2 years ago?
I don't know, but I'll see what I remember about this little place from the summer of 2019.
Now and Then
This is how the building looked, when I spotted it at the intersection.
I found this second photo on the internet. Different, but still sort of a cluttered collection. Building, parking cover, signs, cars...
I spotted the name "Foxy" while doing an internet search for quick lunches in Clovis. I read the title aloud to Don (who drove every mile of our 3,000 mile road trip.
We both laughed and agreed, that we needed to experience the Foxy Drive In!
Drive Up or Walk In?
The drive-in seemed like a fun option. Besides, Sonic, there are so few options for drive-in ordering these days.
But, we needed to get out of the car. We headed for the entrance and that's when I spotted the rounded exterior. I love a round restaurant.
We had to decide again. Counter dining or table?
I love a good swivel stool at the counter, but we headed into the side room.
I had a fun time spotting all the foxes. There was a pretty fun retro menu with cartoon foxes and exciting prices! Foxy Steak Fingers for 75 cents!
There were some foxy figures on display, too.
There was only one table left in the back room.
We took the little table for two and checked out our food options.
Don studied the menu, while I studied the diners. There was a group with Lion's Club t-shirts. There was a dad with tattoos and ear gages, helping his kids order.
A middle aged couple at one table, reached for each others' hands and bowed heads for grace. It was an interesting bunch.
Call in Order?
I was pretty excited about the phone above our table.
There were instructions for calling in our order, but our server arrived before we had a chance.
Taquitos and Chili Dog
I asked about the taquitos. I was told that was a good choice, so I ordered 2, for 2 dollars.
I also ordered the chili dog and was warned, "That comes on a round bun. Is that okay?" I was fine with that, but it was sort of an odd looking thing. The chili, cheese and dog, were layered in an odd order. But it was yummy.
Burger for Hon
Our server called Don "Hon", which amused me. She seemed concerned that he wasn't ordering the "Ranch Size Burger" or fries.
I've given up trying to explain that we don't eat a huge amount when on the road. This lunch was actually pretty huge for us.
Using That Phone!
We were done dining, but I was dying to try out that phone.
I picked it up and asked if they sold t-shirts. Our sweet server answered and she was sad to say, they were out. "But, Mr. Chris should be in soon. He might know where some are."
We didn't linger for Mr. Chris. We headed to the counter to check out. I learned that Mr. Chris was the son of A.C. Bryant, who opened Foxy's over 60 years ago. He died in 2014 at age 99.
Chris has been running the biz for many years and now with the help of his own son Freddie. I regret that we didn't stick around to meet Mr. Chris.
I love family businesses with lots of history. There were lots of old photos near a curious looking door.
The history of Foxy's was a little confusing. Alfred ( A.C.) Bryant opened Foxy's in 1956, then moved to the current location in 1959.
The Name Foxy?
This photo of "Al's Drive In" made me think that Foxy's was once named for A.C. But this photo was taken during the 1940's before the Bryant family owned it.
It turns out, there's a pretty cute reason for the name Foxy's. In 1938, A.C was working at Fox Drug when he spotted his future wife Eva. They were married in less than a year.
We left happy. The food was decent and the people were friendly.
And oh how I love this winking fox! I caught sight of him on our way to the car!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.