Saturday, July 22, 2017

6th Year: In Review

Six years? Is that right? 

Well, we've had a pretty fantastic year! We've kept good on our goal to do more international travel. We've also tried to do longer trips to maximize time in our favorite places instead of jumping on flights for just the weekend. We've been really watching airfare deals (i.e. Hong Kong) as well, so not all of this travel was free. Here's our breakdown, month by month.

July: I went to visit my cousins in Portland, OR! We had a great time catching up and exploring here.


August: Quick trip to Austin to visit friends/attend a work conference & weekend in Oklahoma City with friends


September: Road trip to New Orleans with Indy! This was SO fun and I'm glad we got to include our pup.


October: Weekend trip to St. Louis to see my grandpa and family. 


November: Broken Bow for our anniversary trip, Fredericksberg for a Bachelorette Weekend & our 4 day whirlwind in London! November was BUSY!


December: Comfort, TX for a beautiful wedding!


February: Quick trip for me to visit my grandpa in Albuquerque.


March: San Juan Islands & Seattle. SUCH a fun trip. This will definitely be repeated in the future.


April: Austin wedding weekend!


May: Hong Kong trip & Atlanta for a work conference.


June: Austin for a weekend with friends & Portland for a celebration and family reunion.


In the next year, we have plans to:

Roadtrip through England - London, Cotswolds, Cornwall, Dorset and Stonehenge, ending with a few days Innsbruck, Austria
Rent a place in Russian River Valley with our favorite people
Have a long weekend in Barcelona, Spain over Thanksgiving
Return to Tulum for my birthday celebration
Visit my grandpa in Albuquerque, NM
Pop over to New Orleans for a quick weekend
Make an epic return to Japan - Tokyo, Osaka and a road trip through Kyushu

As you can see, we're taking longer trips but less of them. We know our favorite places now and just want to keep returning and exploring them more! Jason's perks from Southwest are definitely still coming into play, but we're using the points he earns (and wins!) to book our travel instead of flying non-rev all the time. We're also playing the credit card game and intentionally organizing our expenses to be able to use points for business class award travel - we've been so spoiled lately!

As always, THANK YOU Southwest!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Portland, Oregon {Willamette Valley & Hood River Wineries}

The day after the celebration, we woke up early and went to grab breakfast at Pine State Biscuits. There was a bit of a line, but it moved pretty fast. We had our food within 20 minutes and devoured it. Both of our sandwiches were delicious - Jason went with the Reggie Deluxe and I got the McIsley. While we were stuffed, we regretted not getting some hash browns on the side.


After, we drove through the Columbia River Gorge to Hood River, Oregon. There were a ton of beautiful wineries, cider joints, farm stands, etc. We made our way along the "Fruit Loop", making stops at Marchesi Vineyards (The tables were set up in between the vines!), Wy'East Winery, and Hood Crest Vineyards (amazing bruschetta and pizza!). It was super hot this day, but we still enjoyed hanging out in the shade on the patios. The views of Mt. Hood were just incredible!



On our way back, we decided to grab Salt 'n Straw - a Portland institution. We did eat it in our car with the A/C at full-blast - it was SO hot! We met up with some friends and grabbed a glass at Rogue Ale House while we were waiting for our table at 10 Barrels Brewing Co. We had a glass here and a really yummy dinner. I loved catching up with them - it always feels like no time has past, even though it had been a year since we had last seen each other!


The next morning, Jason and I stopped by Blue Star donuts. We basically got one of everything so the family could try a bit of each kind. We brought them over to the family and chatted for a bit. After that, some of us drove out to more wineries - this time in the Willamette Valley area.

Our first stop was Sokol-Blosser, where we had a reservation. We had our tastings as well as a few meat/cheese plates to share. Thankfully the weather had returned to normal and we loved soaking up the crisp weather! The wine was delicious. In my personal opinion, I prefer Oregon wine to California wine BUT the price point is typically too high for us. The pinot noirs from this area are just perfect and we had some great rose as well.


Next up was Stoller. Here, we skipped the tastings and just got a few bottles of wine to share. We didn't want to waste our time inside when we could sit outside on the lawn! The guys played disc golf and the ladies caught up with each other - it was so peaceful and relaxing out there.

We were all pretty hungry, so we stopped for lunch in Dundee at Red Hills Market. I had actually eaten there on a prior trip and remembered the delicious pizza/sandwiches/salads they had. 


Our last stop of the day was actually my favorite - Penner-Ash. Jenna and I split the tasting and picked out a bottle of ridiculously good Pinot Noir to enjoy. The tasting room was set up on the top of the hill and we just sipped the wine and enjoyed the view.



After all the wineries, we had accumulated 6 bottles (that all made it home safely) for us to enjoy and remember our wonderful trip.

That evening, back in Portland, we went to dinner at Whiskey Soda Lounge (hint - they have many of the foods you'd find at their sister restaurant, Pok Pok, but with little to no line and amazing cocktails). We had mussels, wings and some buns. Plus an Earl Grey cocktail!


Our last morning, we walked around Forest Park for a few hours - taking deep breathes to absorb as much Oregon air as we could! Working up an appetite, we had lunch at Killer Burger (rec'd by Jason's coworker) - where I had a classic burger and Jason had the PBPB (peanut butter, pickle, bacon). Both were SO GOOD, but the PBPB definitely wins the prize for most unique. Also, the Hollywood District is the most charming and adorable area EVER!

We dropped off our car and hung out in the Alaskan Lounge for a bit (thanks Priority Pass!) before our flight home. I even picked up a souvenir pottery coffee mug at a shop called The Real Mother Goose.


Jason loved Portland (YAY!), so I know we'll be back soon. Can't say I'm surprised by this - anywhere in the Pacific Northwest is our jam. I'd love to explore the coastal region more and do some more hikes in the Portland area. Well - this wraps up our 5 days in Portland!

Also, I wanted to start posting what we paid for airfare/other perks as a part of this blog in the pursuit of full disclosure and to help out those of you who want to start earning those points/perks where you can:

Airfare: $23 (taxes) & 24,000 Rapid Rewards Points (courtesy of Southwest SWAG points)
Lounge Access in PDX: Free (thanks to Chase Sapphire Reserve Priority Pass)

Up Next: We'll be heading to England & Austria soon, but I'll be posting a recap of Jason's 6th Year at Southwest in a week or so!