I love a cafe in the woods.
I especially love a cafe with a friendly name. Who was Beckie?
Minutes from Crater Lake
Don and I passed Beckie's when we left Crater Lake Lodge, last June.
We didn't have time to stop, but I took a photo and hoped we could someday return.
A Week Later
We did! A week later! We had our granddaughter and her parents with us.
We were headed on a road trip from Portland to Austin, Texas. Breakfast at Beckie's was the perfect stop at the beginning of our 10-day trip.
Beckie's is on the Register of National Historic Places.
It sits right on the road, across from Union Creek Resort.
Union Creek Resort
Union Creek Lodge was built in 1922, but it had to be rebuilt after a fire in the 1930's.
You can still stay in the lodge, where famous guests like Herbert Hoover and Jack London once spent a night.
Waiting for a Table
Beckie's probably served some famous guests, back in the day. We weren't famous enough to jump the line. We had to wait a while for table. While we waited, I entertained Charlie with some sticks.
Charlie entertained some other waiting guests, with her jumping skills.
Lots of Wood
When our table was ready, we stepped into the cozy interior and admired the shiny wood walls and ceiling.
I loved the wooden stools. They didn't look exactly comfy, but they amused me! Like giant wooden checkers, balancing on carved poles!
We were shown to a table in a larger room, but I begged (politely) to be seated in one of the little nooks in the front room. The curvy table legs looked like horns!
The red curtains and cushions made the space cozy, like Grandma's Cottage. Or was it Aunt Beckie's house? Who was Beckie?
The name Beckie was actually the nickname of Ed Becklehimer, who ran the restaurant and gas station, until the late 1960's. I'm guessing that's him, standing on the porch.
After Mr. Beckie died, his wife Cecil took over. She evidently had fiery red hair and a glass eye. It's a little hard to tell, but that could be her, next to Ed. When she took over the biz, guests began calling her Beckie. She was known for her huckleberry pies.
Time to Eat
We were hungry by the time we sat in our cozy booth.
We studied the menu and enjoyed coffee in cute mugs.
While waiting on our orders, I chatted with Charlie and tried to understand her pacifier language. She and her Paci have been best buds for 2.5 years!
We chatted a bit about pancakes (her order) and maybe even about pacifiers. I told her we had a "Paci Bed" waiting for her in Texas. (I had a good-by paci plan)
When Beckie's Hotcakes arrived, Charlie promptly removed the paci.
Suddenly Charlie let out a squeal and announced clearly in non-paci-launguage, "OH PANCAKES! THANK YOU!!"
Don's expression is not as over the top as his granddaughter's.
But he was happy with his ham and cheese omelet. He had extra good words for the thick, sweet ham.
My soft, moist biscuit was served in a sea of sausage gravy! Pretty epic! If only we'd had room for some huckleberry pie!
Sadly we didn't all finish our plates. We had no cooler for taking leftovers with us.
We headed for the cars, full and happy. I glanced across the street at the old stone water fountain and the cabins under the tall pines. I don't know when we'll be out this way again, but we'll have to stay at night at Union Creek Resort! Then we can try the dinner menu and even enjoy a beverage besides coffee! And of course, some pie!
Last April, Don and I dined in a cozy cave.
Well, sort of. It was a memorable, cave-like, dining adventure.
Osteria Rottezzia Birreria?
I photographed this sign, to help me remember the name of our wonderful restaurant. I was confused by the name. What was that letter with the bird figure? That's an R!
Osteria means tavern. Birreria means brewery. I'm not sure what Rottezzia means. Maybe it means cave or tunnel, since our tavern/brewery/restaurant had a few!
Soriano ne Cimino
Don and I found the curious restaurant in the charming Italian town of Soriano nel Cimino. About an hour north of Rome.
In my photo you can see a large blocky church, rising up on the right. The church seems determined to be as tall as the castle on the hill. Our little restaurant is out of view, but the arrow sort of points near the entrance.
Near the San Nicola
What's so important about explaining where we found our cozy restaurant? I guess the location was a part of the dining adventure. Plus, there was a curious connection between the church and the cave-like restaurant.
The first morning of our stay in Soriano, we wandered over to see San Nicola, the community's main church. Then we headed down a staircase, between the church and more buildings.
We passed beneath a sign for Rottezzia and found the entrance halfway down. Looking up from below, the church building created a massive wall, on the left.
To the right, the restaurant seemed to be, part building and part rocky hillside. I headed for the door under the canopy, to inquire about reservations later.
Tavern in a Cavern
A very kind young man was setting up for the day and gave me a quick tour.
I followed him from the little bar, through a maze of passages.
Tunnels and Stairs
I only know a few words of Italian, so I wasn't able to get the full story. But the little caves and tunnels evidently had something to do with excavation.
This is where the stone was removed in the late 17th century, to build San Nicola! I suddenly pictured that massive blocky church we'd seen up close and from a distance. That's a lot of stone!
The Red Carpet
I followed my young guide down the red carpet. It felt like a mining cave... in Hollywood!
The passage was much darker than my photos, but my eyes adjusted.
Storage and Shelter
I was excited to peek into some spaces that appeared to be old wine cellars. I learned later that these areas were used for storage, but also as bomb shelters, in WWII.
I've been in quite a few caves in my time. I've even slept in a couple. So these cave-like spaces didn't fool me. There were no stalactites or stalagmites... no bats.
But these hollow areas were in some ways more fascinating than any of the natural caves I've explored. I wish I knew more about how the rock was removed, hundreds of years ago. And who were the people who hid here, when planes bombed the city in 1944? It's sobering to think about.
I have no idea when this carved out space became a restaurant.
I hurried through, wondering what the restaurant would look like the next evening, when we came to dine.
Dining with a View
We could have requested a table with this lovely view.
But I was excited about the cozy cave experience.
The young man took our reservation and we returned the next evening.
Our server Nilo, greeted us when we arrived at 8. He took us to a rocky space with 4 tables.
I should have asked Nilo what our room was named. I'll bet the staff has their own nicknames for each of the areas. I will name it the B-L Room. Our space was between levels.
I've loved levels since I was a kid and split-level homes were in vogue. Luckily Don and I don't have issues with all the ups and downs, within Rottezzia. Our wooden table gave us a view of an upper sitting area.
Behind us there was an opening with more stairs, leading down to more passages.
Food and Drink!
In no time, Nilo had our white cloth covered in good things.
We ordered a carafe of wine and the Flan di Funghi... appetizer.
The mushroom flan with black cabbage and local cheese cream, was so odd and delicious!
We each ordered very similar pasta dishes. Mine was Fettucini con Crema di Funghi. (I enjoyed my second mushroom themed dish!) The fresh noodles and salty bacon were quite flavorful.
Don's Tonnarello all Carbonara had similar ingredients, but was made with thick, round noodles. I think I actually preferred his. Hmmm? Closer inspection of photos and I see flat noodles in both.
Info for Later
We finished up and thanked Nilo. He had been gracious and attentive.
I was eager to ask him what was written on this framed wall display. But I let him attend to some other guests who had finally joined our room. I took a photo and will eventually translate it.
It was a pleasant walk home to our hotel Palazzo Catalani. We met up with one of the kitties, we'd seen on our walk over
One of the pair accompanied us to our hotel. What a pleasant way to end a pleasant dining adventure.
Road Trip Lunch
This is where Don "took me to lunch" last June. It was the first day of our Texas-Oregon-Texas Road Trip.
Don knows I love a drive-in and he knows I love a small town. On that day, he happened to know there was a drive-in, in Post, Texas.
C.W. Post's Small Texas Town
Post is a curious little town. It was founded in 1907, by the man who brought us Post Cereal.
The history is definitely worth Googling. The more I read about Mr. Post's Utopian dream town, the more I want to know. I was glad Don picked this small town to support for our lunch stop.
It was after 1 pm, when Don pulled off of US 84. Yay! A drive-in, with actual curb service!
And who was Holly anyway? I was eager to find out.
It was actually too hot to eat in the car, so we headed inside. I had a feeling the interior hadn't changed much in 50 years.
The walls in the dining space were covered with framed photos and articles. I was drawn to the table near the family portraits. Was Holly the woman in the large frame, posing with her husband and children?
While we waited for our food, I studied the popcorn ceiling and painted paneling and the brick-ish walls. This space probably looked pretty much the same when Holly's opened in 1971.
I studied the images on the wall and read the captions... "Matt Holly" and "Coach Holly" I realized quickly, Holly was a last name.
Burger and Tots!
Before long we were devouring our tasty burger and dog! Much better than fast food lunch!
Don was very excited about his cheeseburger and tots, as you can tell. I had a taste and it reminded me of my favorite Steak-N-Shake burgers.
I was equally excited about my chili cheese dog! I was actually pretty glad I wasn't eating my sloppy lunch in the car!
After dining beneath the Holly Family, I had some questions when we headed to the counter after our meal.
A very pleasant young woman told us that the Holly Family still owned the drive-in. She pointed to the woman in the portrait and said "Mary is here today!" She went to get her from a small office area.
Mary was a bit baffled at first, wondering why some diners wanted to meet her. But we ended up having a great chat about the family photos. First she laughed and noted how much younger she looked in the family portrait. Then she frowned and pointed to the empty space between the 2 lower photos.
There were a few minutes of worry about the missing photo of Matt. Mary explained that Matt was the child she was pregnant with, when the family portrait was taken. A photo of Little Matt holding a trophy had been added to the display later. It was placed between the 2 photos of his parents. But where was the portrait of the family's baby?
Moments later, Mary's daughter-in-law came to the rescue, holding Matt's smiling face in a broken frame. She said it had fallen recently. Mary fiddled with the frame a bit and fretted over how faded the image was.
She told us that Matt was holding a trophy that he'd gotten while participating in the the annual Mr. Post Contest. (Some kind of "cute kid" contest, I believe) I'm guessing Matt collected quite a few trophies over the years. His mother pointed to the walls and said those were all photos of Matt, when he was a young football player and later a coach.
Good Stop Good Folks
The lunch rush was over, so Mary was able to fill us in on all the kids and what they were now doing. She was clearly a proud mom and grandmother. Her granddaughter now helps out at Holly's.
Mrs. Holly seemed genuinely pleased that we'd stopped in, at the beginning of our road trip. We told her we would be headed back to Texas in a couple weeks, traveling with our daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter. She seemed delighted that we might stop in again. She shook our hands and wished us safe travels.
Unfortunately, we took a different route. It would have been fun to have introduced some of our family to some of Mary's. Maybe another time!
The recent news of devastating fires in Maui have stirred up emotions for all.
You don't need to have any connection to Hawaii, to feel the heaviness of loss. I found myself digging through old photos and recalled a family trip that included a visit to Lahaina. I remember this sweet old boat.
Luau in Lahaina
In 2005, Don and I visited Maui during our kids' high school spring break.
One of our best memories was of an evening filled with food and dance in Lahaina... when we attended a luau.
The Banyan Tree
Before going to the dinner and show, we stopped to see the giant Banyan Tree we'd heard about.
This tree is symbol of hope for the destroyed community. Evidently the charred tree is showing signs of life.
I have no notes of specifics about our oceanfront, Polynesian Luau experience.
But as I look at old photos, I remember the evening felt heavenly. When I Google for Lahaina images now, I see that the multi-storied building on the right, is still standing. The lower building, behind the dining tables is gone.
"Feast at LeLe"
Below is a slideshow of photos I found from our dining adventure that evening. The name LeLe is the ancient name for Lahaina. The dancers performed above the beach, where the royal family of Maui once gathered for feasts and entertainment.
It's nice to be reminded of the fun evening we shared. A five course meal with dance performances, reflecting the foods and culture from the Pacific Nations... all with a backdrop of the sun, setting over the ocean.
I know there was a Luau performance the night before the fires. I wonder what we'll learn about the guests and performers and staff...
Mama's Fish House
I searched for more memorable dining spots and found a few photos from Mama's Fish House, in Paia.
I have fond memories of our dinner at this restaurant on the North Shore, about 30 miles from Lahaina. I believe it has been spared.
I remember the incredible view, when we arrived.
We did a little posing before heading inside. Was this Ku'au Bay? I wish I remembered more.
When the Christenson Family opened Mama's, in 1973, tourists rarely stopped by the North Shore. It seemed fairly quiet except for surfers, 30+ years later. in 2005.
I remember the festive decor and the tropical dress of our servers. I wish I had photos.
But back then I didn't blog. I took photos of the kids mostly. No one was in the habit of taking pictures of their food back then!
Obviously, there were some tropical drinks, at least for the parents. And a beautiful view from the table.
Food & View
I don't recall what we ate as we enjoyed our view that evening. I'm sure there was fish on our table!
I'm not sure that our family could afford a meal at Mama's today. I look at the menu and see "Tristan Island Lobster Tails" for $95.00. Then again, I would be happy to be there right now and support Mama's, or any Maui business that is open. I'm sure shops and restaurants that were spared will not be supported by tourists for a while.
I remember finishing our meal and walking out on the sand, lit with torches.
I told Scott to have a seat and pose on the boat. My camera flash kind of blasted the scene as he began to sit.
I don't recall if Scott was being funny in this pose. But he looks sad... kind of like we all feel, thinking about what Maui has dealt with in the past weeks.
Sunrise in Maui
It's been troubling to see the news and to imagine the horrors that so many experienced.
But, just like signs of hope with The Banyan Tree surviving... a sunrise in Maui is also a sign of hope and a new day. I'll end with that.
On the Road in 2019
A few years ago, Don and I stopped for lunch at an old train station. I love a good building!
It was in October, 2019. We were on a trip from Portland to Sacramento.
We usually go for Mom and Pop places when we travel.
We avoid chain restaurants, but we're always up for a McMenamins owned hotel or restaurant experience. They rescue old properties!
Southern Pacific Depot
This is how the town of Roseburg and its train station looked, about 100 years ago. The original was built in 1872. The current building was completed in 1912.
These photos were displayed on the wall, inside the restaurant. That's another reason I like McMenamins owned businesses. They spotlight history.
I like being reminded of the day, when train travel was popular!
I always have lots of questions, when we dine in old restaurants/buildings. It's often hard to get answers from young staff. In McMenamins owned properties, you can count on lots of shared history on the walls.
You can also count on lots of curious light fixtures. We've experienced 9 of these festive properties, in Oregon and Washington.
There's always a fun mix of interesting architecture, whimsical art and refurbished antiques.
Walls and Ceiling
In this photo, you can sort of see the original 16-foot vaulted ceiling. The tongue-and-groove fir wainscoting, is also original.
Besides old photographs, I spotted lots of intriguing, train themed artwork on the walls.
Love a Good Bathroom
I love a decorated bathroom. Thumbs up to this painted designs.
I appreciated the preserved (I assume) stalls and tile. I hate it when historic features are removed. It helped me picture the traveling ladies from a century ago, stopping in to powder their noses!
Some of those traveling ladies, kept an eye on Don while he ate his lunch.
The menu was just basic pub food, but we were both satisfied. Don was happy with the curry flavor, in his tuna sandwich. I was happy he shared his fries!
My Aztec Salad had crispy greens and bright-fresh avocado and corn chips. Just the right amount!
It's been over 3.5 years since Don and I enjoyed our sandwich and salad, in the depot. Back in the October of 2019, we didn't know a pandemic was coming in 2020. We didn't know we'd have a grandchild born in Oregon, in 2021.
One More Stop at the Depot!
Little did we know that we would stop on another road trip in 2023.
This time we were traveling with our daughter and son-in-law and their 2 year old Charlie! She approved of the crayons!
We had a great little lunch, tucked into a cozy corner, near the old wood-burning stove. Charlie and Don toasted, like they did at pretty much every meal on our drive to Texas! Now this sweet girl and her parents live 2.5 hours from us! Not sure if we'll ever pass through Roseburg again. I'm glad we made this recent stop!
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.