Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Truman Show: Seaside, FL or Seabrook, WA?

Idyllic Town Fit for The Truman Show

When planning our trip to the Northwest US, we used the Internet to find this quaint coastal town called Seabrook.   From the pictures, it looked like a hip, upscale town, and it felt oddly familiar.  Many of my readers know we live in Florida but may not know exactly where.  We live on scenic 30-a, a beautiful coastal highway that runs along the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico, in a town called Seacrest.  Seacrest is nestled right between the trendy towns of Rosemary Beach and Alys Beach.

Only a few miles down 30-a is a town called Seaside, Florida.  This is where they filmed the 1998 movie “The Truman Show” (starring Jim Carrey).  In the movie, they called the town Seahaven, but most of the iconic houses, interior roads and shops were shot in Seaside. I think they chose Seaside as the location for this film because of the small beach homes with tin roofs and white picket fences.  Here are some pictures of Seaside (not all of these pictures are my originals).

If you wish to see a slide show, click here: http://www.webetripping.com/Gallery_USA_WA_Seabrook.asp

When we arrived in Seabrook, we talked to several of the locals and they all talked about how Seabrook was modeled after The Truman Show and Seaside, Florida.  We then knew why this felt so oddly familiar.  Since we stayed here a week, we formed our own opinions about how similar yet different the two communities are.

First, the houses in Seabrook are little more in the “New England Nantucket style”, with gray shingles and standard roofs.  We certainly have houses on 30-a in this style (think Watersound).  I think I actually prefer the look of these Seabrook homes over Seaside:

Score one for Seabrook.  

Seaside has lots of little shops and plenty of eateries.  If you haven’t been to Great Southern for the best cheese grits around, you’re missing out!  Seabrook has one eatery (Mill 109).  It has good food but it is small and limiting.  Seaside has lots of food choices.

Score one for Seaside.

Seabrook has some cool hiking trails that lead you around the community and it is set in a beautiful mountain setting.  Huge alpine trees and wonderful vistas.

Score one for Seabrook.  

We brought our bikes and found that Seabrook is not very bike friendly.  You can ride around the community, but you get about 10 minutes of biking time and you run out of places to go.  As anyone that has visited Seaside and anywhere on 30-a knows, we have over 28 miles of paved bike trails on 30-a.  And most of the way, it has beach views.  Simply awesome!

I took this picture from scenic 30-a while biking

I took this picture from scenic 30-a while biking

Score one for Seaside.

Seabrook is flanked by a small fishing town, Pacific Beach. This town is really small, has no movie theater, and has no endearing restaurants.  If you want to drive about 25 minutes, you can drive to Ocean Shores.  Ocean Shores does have a small theater that offers 3 different movie titles.  It offers a few touristy things to do (a casino, go carts, golf, and bowling).

But when contrasted with Seaside, it pales in comparison. In Seaside, you can take a quick trip to Pier Park with tons of restaurants, bars, fishing piers, shopping, and a proper movie theater.  Or you can jump in the car and visit Destin, who has a Bass Pro Shop, lots of restaurants, water parks, golf, mini golf and more than you can imagine to do.

Score one for Seaside.

The biggest difference between the two communities is the beach.  Seaside wins hands down.  In Seabrook, the beach has dark, mud-like sand while Seaside offers white, powdery, sugar-like sands.   In Seaside, you will see tons of people on the beach, building sand castles, swimming, surfing, snorkeling, and lounging under umbrellas.   In Seabrook, you may encounter 10 people on the beach, some flying kites and a few kids making mud pies.   With Seaside summer temperatures in the upper 80’s and low 90’s as compared to Seabrook’s mid 60’s, you can understand why.

Seaside, Florida

Seaside, Florida

Seaside, Florida

Seaside, Florida

Score one for Seaside.

The final contrast I’ll draw is the people.  People are friendly in both locations but you won’t hear that infamous southern drawl in Washington. For me, that is a good thing, I get tired of hearing my own southern drawl.   Now you know why these blogs are written and not in video form.  🙂

Score one for Seabrook.

Seabrook, Washington

Seabrook, Washington

With all that said, we think they are both great beach communities and we really enjoyed our stay. We highly recommend you visit if you travel to the Northwest US.  And of course, if you want stunning beaches, you gotta go to scenic 30-a.

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Rediscovering Cannon Beach and the Oregon Coast

Cannon Beach is a Great Getaway

In April 1998, we were living in Seattle Washington and vacationed for a week in Cannon Beach — an Oregon coastal town.  Our boys were 3 and 5 years old and they have no memory of that trip.  I was surprised at how much we had forgotten about the trip.  We remembered the iconic Haystack Rock but had forgotten how the city looked.

Haystack Rock

Below are pictures of Haystack Rock, the one taken this week and the one I took back in 1998.  I have a better camera now and hopefully my photography skills have improved over time.

Note: See a slideshow of our trip here: http://www.webetripping.com/Gallery_USA_OR_OregonCoast.asp

Haystack Rock -- Taken in 2013

Haystack Rock — Taken in 2013

Haystack Rock - Taken in 1998

Haystack Rock – Taken in 1998

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach is a cool little coastal town.  It has a few micro-breweries, kite and surf shops, and good restaurants.  The weather was about 65 – 70 degrees, a little too cool to take a dip in the ocean without a wetsuit, but it has miles of hikes and beachfront walking area that we took full advantage of.

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach – This guy tried for 30 minutes to get airborne.

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach

We rented a cool little house called “The Farmhouse“.  It was an old home that had been totally renovated.  It reminded me of my grandmothers home but it had a beautiful deck, great decor and a cool vibe.  We really loved it.

The Farmhouse

The Farmhouse

The Farmhouse

The Farmhouse

The Farmhouse

The Farmhouse

The Scenic Oregon Coast

We drove the Oregon Coast, from Cannon Beach to Newport, to visit the Newport Aquarium.  We snapped some nice pictures of the coast along the way.

IMG_004

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast - My favorite picture

Oregon Coast – My favorite picture

Oregon Coast - The Octopus tree

Oregon Coast – The Octopus tree

Oregon Light Houses

We also visited several lighthouses along the way.

Oregon Aquarium

The aquarium reminded me a bit of the one we visited in Baltimore many years ago.  It was well organized and had lots to view. We sat in on a feeding of Oregon sea otters, it was fun to learn more about their habitat.

Aquarium in Newport Oregon

Aquarium in Newport Oregon

Aquarium in Newport Oregon

Aquarium in Newport Oregon

Aquarium in Newport Oregon

Aquarium in Newport Oregon

Aquarium in Newport Oregon

Aquarium in Newport Oregon

Aquarium in Newport Oregon

Aquarium in Newport Oregon

Muscle and Chrome Show

On Saturday, we caught a car show called the “Muscle and Chrome show“.  It featured some really cool vintage cars and a lot of my oldest son’s favorite car, the Ford Mustang.

By the way, did you know it is against the law to pump your own gas in Oregon?  No kidding.  We drove up to our first gas station in Oregon, I jumped out to start the pump and got a tongue lashing from the attendant who told me about the law.   I got used to the full service gas stations after a week or so but I still find it very inconvenient.  It is so much faster to do it yourself and most times they don’t wash your windshield of which I always do.

Take a Ride with an Iguana

I will leave you with one final picture. We saw this taxi parked down the road from where we were staying. It is hilarious! Would you pay a cab fare to ride in the chair upon the roof? The hood ornament is also a nice touch.

Tricked out Cabby

Tricked out Cabby

Central Oregon: Mountains, Cool Towns, and Wine

Cruising Around Oregon

Cruising around Central Oregon for over a week has been a blast.  It offers a bit of everything. Cool towns, awesome landscapes, the most beautiful lake in the universe, incredible sand dunes, and a respectable wine country.

For a slide show of this trip, click here: http://www.webetripping.com/Gallery_USA_OR_CentralOregon.asp.

Bend, Oregon

We started our week in Bend, Oregon.  Bend is a hip town where bicycles are as common as cars, people are friendly, and the landscape is rich.  On Sunday, the Old Mill area had live bands playing and lots of people kayaking on the river and enjoying the day.

Bend Oregon

Bend Oregon

Bend Oregon

Bend Oregon

This area has a volcanic history.  There are lots of buttes caused by ancient volcanic eruptions.  We zipped up to the top of Lava Butte, just one of their buttes created by lava.  From here, we had a spectacular view of the surrounding area.

IMG_036 IMG_037

Have you ever experienced a Lava Tube? We first learned about them on our trip to Ecuador. Lava tubes are formed when lava travels beneath the surface of the ground, expelled by a volcano during an eruption.  As the hot lava leaves, it creates an underground tunnel, similar to a cave.  Below is an example of a lava tube we saw in Bend. It is actually a mile long. There were no lights inside, so we took our flashlights and stumbled our way through.

Bend Oregon

Bend Oregon

Crater Lake

Upon leaving Bend, we journeyed to Crater Lake — the most beautiful lake in the universe.  When I sat on the edge of the cliff that surrounds the lake, it almost felt like a spiritual experience.  I felt one with nature and the serenity of the lake.  It is hard to explain unless you experience it for yourself.  As you can see below, I took tons of pictures, but all fell short of doing it justice.

IMG_001

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon

We wanted to take a boat to Wizard Island, the small island inside the lake. However, it is still not considered Summer so there was too much snow to get down to the launch point.

Not yet Summer in Crater Lake

Not yet Summer in Crater Lake

Oregon Caves National Monument

We trekked on to Oregon Caves National Monument and had a great tour of the cave.  It was discovered in the early 1900’s by a hunter whose dog chased a bear into the cave.  Following after his dog, he discovered the cave and brought national attention to it until it was later dubbed a National Monument.

Oregon Caves

Oregon Caves

Oregon Caves

Oregon Caves

Riding the Oregon Dunes

One of the funnest things we’ve done so far is to take a dune buggy ride on the massive Oregon Dunes.  The dunes span over 40 miles of the Oregon coast.   For a nominal fee, you can get a hands-on tour of the dunes by dune buggy.  These things go fast.  They accelerate to 50 or 60 miles an hour in a few seconds.  The driver would go straight up a high dune and turn in on a dime and zoom back down the hill.  Exhilarating and just great fun.  Lynn loved it too.   At the end of the ride, you had sand in places you never knew you could get sand in.  Enough said :).

On the Dune Buggy

On the Dune Buggy

So much fun!

So much fun!

Running down the dunes

Running down the dunes

Dune and lake views

Dune and lake views

Massive dunes

Massive dunes

Oregon Wine Country

Willamette Valley Oregon is home to some of the best Pinot Noir wines in the country.  We took a day and toured several wineries just outside of Salem, Oregon.  The Pinot’s were the star but we also stumbled onto some pretty good Riesling.  The cost of the tastings were reasonable – only $5.  Compare that to Napa Valley whose price is normally $20 per tasting.

On our way to the wineries, we stopped by and saw the University of Oregon (go Ducks!) and Oregon State (how ’bout them Beavers!).

Cubanismo - Cuban wine maker

Cubanismo – Cuban winemaker

RedHawk - great Pinot Noir

RedHawk – great Pinot Noir

St. Innocence - a larger wine maker

St. Innocence – a larger winery

St. Innocence - a larger wine maker

St. Innocence – a larger winery

Oregon Wineries

Oregon Wineries

The Left Coast Winery

The Left Coast Winery

The Left Coast Winery

The Left Coast Winery

Oregon Wineries

Oregon Wineries

Oregon Wineries

Oregon Wineries

Portland Oregon

Our final stop before heading to the Oregon coast was Portland.  It is a bit more of an industrial city than I expected.  It is a town of hipsters and free thinkers.  If you have not heard of hipsters, they are a group of younger adults that like alternative music, prefer organic vegetarian or vegan food, and have a fashion sense that is not considered mainstream (normally wear plaid shirts, retro glasses and hats).   Portland is haven for hipsters.  There is a TV show called Portlandia that spoofs hipsters.  I find them cool and groovy :).

We happened to be in Portland when a parade was going on, so we got to see a little of it.  They also had a naked bike ride that took place on the last night we were there.   Imagine the saddle sores you could get doing that (sorry for that visual).  Not my thing, but to each his own :).

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Powell’s Books is supposed to be the biggest bookstore in the country. Who knew?

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Beautiful Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

I can’t believe this was our first visit to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.  It has a lot to offer.  Geysers, waterfalls, hot springs, mudpots, fumaroles (steam vents), wildlife, and mammoth hot spring terraces are everywhere.

To see a slideshow, click here: http://www.webetripping.com/Gallery_USA_WY_Yellowstone.asp.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Geysers

Old Faithful lives up to its name.  We arrived at the visitor center around 5:00 and it was only 10 minutes from erupting.    We came back the next day and saw it erupt again.  Very cool.  It seems like we saw a hundred geysers, they were everywhere.

Old Faithful

Old Faithful

Castle Geyser

Castle Geyser

Hot Springs

One of my favorite attractions was the hot springs.  The water is incredibly clear and shows hues of many colors.   We saw a lot of hot springs, here are just a few.  The water is really hot (most over 160 degrees), so you might be tempted to jump into the spa, but that is highly ill advised!

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Mudpots

Mudpots are an interesting phenomena.  They are acidic features with a limited water supply. Some microorganisms use hydrogen sulfide, which rises from deep within the earth, as an energy source. They help convert the gas to sulfuric acid, which breaks down rock into clay. Various gases escape through the wet clay mud, causing it to bubble.

Mudpots

Mudpots

Mudpots

Mudpots

Mudpots

Mudpots

Wildlife

We encountered a lot of wildlife during our time here.  We had buffalo come right up to our car, saw black bears, eagles, coyotes, and elk.

This buffalo was right outside our car window

This buffalo was right outside our car window

Mom feeding her calf

Mom feeding her calf

Huge Elk - Was not afraid of us!

Huge Elk – Was not afraid of us!

More Nature

We visited Lower Falls and ended both of our days at Yellowstone around 10 p.m.  We got all we could out of the park in our 2 days!

Lower falls

Lower falls

Lower Falls

Lower Falls

Sunset at Lewis Lake

Lewis Lake

Grand Time in the Tetons

Grand Tetons

We spent 3 days in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.  The national park sports a beautiful mountain range, incredible lakes, and great hikes.  It is just miles away from Yellowstone National Park, so if you are visiting Yellowstone, you should plan a few days in Grand Teton.

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

If you would like to see a slide show of pictures from this trip, click here: http://www.webetripping.com/Gallery_USA_WY_GrandTeton.asp

Jackson Wyoming

A logical place to stay is in Jackson, Wyoming, just a few miles from the park entry.  This is not far from a famous ski resort – Jackson Hole.  We stayed at the Cowboy Cabins, a cool set of cabins that have flat screen TVs, kitchen, and a comfortable bed.  We also made use of the pool and hot tub.

Cowboy Cabins

Cowboy Cabins

Cowboy Cabins

Cowboy Cabins

Jackson is a cool little town, very western looking.  Reminds me a bit of Golden, Colorado.  They have an incredible breakfast place called The Bunnery — this is the best breakfast I’ve ever eaten.

Jackson Wyoming

Jackson Wyoming

Jackson Wyoming

Jackson Wyoming

It also has a micro-brewery called “The Snake River Brewery“.    We really liked the Snake River Lager, many of the restaurants also carried this beer.

Snake River Brewery

Snake River Brewery

Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Once you leave Jackson and enter the National Park, the view of the Teton mountain range appear.  Unfortunately, the first 2 days were cloudy, so much of the view was hidden by clouds.  But on the third day, boy did the Tetons show their splendor.  Only a few miles into the park is Mormon Row.  This is a small dirt road where a Mormon family lived in the late 1800’s.

Old Barns on Morman Row

Old Barns on Mormon Row

Old Barn on Morman Row

Old Barn on Mormon Row

Old House on Morman Row

Old House on Mormon Row

Old Barn on Morman Row

Old Barn on Mormon Row

Grand Teton Mountains

Grand Teton Mountains

Grand Teton Mountains

Grand Teton Mountains

Old Run Down Home

Old Run Down Home

The Cunningham Cabin was owned by John Pierce Cunningham, who arrived in Jackson Hole in 1885 and worked as a trapper until he established a small ranch in 1888. Once his ranch was completed, he used this cabin as a barn.

The cabin was the scene of a shootout in 1899 between a Montana posse and two horse thieves, who were killed at the scene. The dead men, who had worked for Cunningham the previous season, were buried in unmarked graves nearby.

Cunningham Cabin

Cunningham Cabin

Jackson Lake is the larger lake in the park. It sports incredible views of the Teton range.

Jackson Lake

Jackson Lake

John D. Rockerfeller, Jr. built the Jackson Lake lodge in the 1950’s. To stay here, you must have a reservation about a year in advance. It has a funky grill that has bar seating only. We loved this, it kinda forces you to talk to people around you and has a small town feel.

Jackson Lake Lodge grill

Jackson Lake Lodge grill

Jenny Lake is a beautiful but small lake that backs up to Grand Teton mountain. We took a boat tour of the lake from a guy that has lived there as a guide, ski instructor, and boat captain. He was probably 30ish and had a zest for life. He said if we come back 10 or 15 years from now, he would still be doing what he is doing.   In his time off, he skis, mountain climbs, and hikes.  Now that’s how to live life — enjoying everything about where you’re at and not longing for something different.

Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake

We ran across this little Cowboy from Florida when visiting Mormon Row. He had 2 other brothers, all dressed up in Cowboy attire — it was great.

Little Cowboy from Florida

Little Cowboy from Florida

On the last day, we saw a lot of people taking pictures. We stopped the car and found that it was a black bear. We snapped the pictures and got out of there!

Bear roaming the park

Bear roaming the park