And Now I Leave You with My Top 20

I’m terrible at goodbyes.

So I’m not even going to say one, because I have a feeling that sometime, somewhere in the not-too-distant future we might just meet again.

Instead, I decided to wrap up my blog with a “best of” rundown, highlighting my top 20 favorites of the trip.

1) Best Guerilla Art: The Tree Bomb

A group of stealthy knitters “bombed” a tree with colorful yarn in Ashland, Oregon in preparation for Worldwide Knit in Public Day (June 14th). I came across it during my time at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

2) Best Beer: Shakparo (Gluten Free) by Sprecher Brewing Company

I visited the Kreuzberg Book Bar & Coffee Lounge in San Luis Obispo, where they serve this beer, while with my gluten-intolerant friend Rachel. So she ordered this, and I took a sip expecting to hate it, but it was so delicious I ordered one, too.

3) Best Hotel Reading Material: The Phoenix Hotel Fun Book

Everything about this hotel is quirky, including its info book, illustrated by Lloyd Dangle and complete with mazes, puzzles, and an illustrated history of the hotel that you can color-in. I spent a good hour reading it by the pool.

4) Best Little Shop: Old Bozeman Beads

They have every variation of bead under the sun as well as a random assortment of other gift items. I got my dad the Just-Add-Beer Sourdough Pancake Mix in a Bottle and the wild huckleberry syrup to try to make up for being gone on Father’s Day.

5) Best Beach: Bolinas Beach

The weather was perfect when I visited Bolinas Beach, which might have influenced my decision on this one. But it’s hard to beat the location, just north of San Francisco at the southern edge of Point Reyes National Sea Shore with Mt. Tamalpais on the horizon. There are also two surf breaks with consistent waves. What more could a beach offer?

6) Best Dinner: Breaded portabello steaks (with grilled fennel, purple smashed potatoes, roasted capers, and grape sauce)

I would go back to Seattle just to eat at the Plum Bistro again. With its trio of sweet, salty, and spicy flavors, this dish was, hands down, the best meal I had the entire trip.

7) Best Nighttime Entertainment: Trivia Night with Bella Da Ball

Bella Da Ball leads this night of fun with her signature sassy attitude and comedic talent in the Lobby Bar at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, CA. The place was packed and she worked the room, making sure everyone was having a good time.

8) Best Landscape: Crater Lake

I didn’t get to do much more than hop out of the car and stand in awe overlooking America’s deepest lake. It plummets to a depth of 2,100 feet, and its deep blue water is transfixing.

9) Best Hotel Bed: The Alpine House

I don’t know if it’s because I was recuperating from a 48-hour bug when I arrived at this beautiful lodge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but when I melted into the down comforters and pillows, I had a hard time pulling myself away from them.

10) Best Window Mannequins: Renaissance Rose

They’ve got everything you need to play dress up in this vintage store in Ashland, Oregon, including endless costumes and wigs, but what drew me in were the funny faces in the window.

11) Best View: Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

This rotating air tram takes visitors from the desert floor in Palm Springs up 8,500 feet to the San Jacinto State Park Wilderness Area. Though I found it a little claustrophobic, I still enjoyed the expansive view of Coachella Valley as we ascended and descended.

12) Best Cocktail: Penicillin #2 (Tres Agaves Reposado tequila, ginger, lemon, and agave nectar)

I knew it was gonna be good, because it was listed under “House Remedies” and “Aphrodisiacs” at Restaurant 1833 in Monterey. This isn’t a pansy-sauce sugary drink. This one has a bite, and is garnished with candied ginger to boot.

13) Best Hotel Room: Chief Sitting Bull Tipi

Complete with a bison-hide blanket, this “room” at the Tipi Village Retreat in Marcola, Oregon is an experience. You fall asleep to the sound of a stream and chorus of creatures in the forest.

14) Best Architecture: Friends of The Dunes Nature Center

Talk about blending into the surrounding environment, this creative structure is built right into the sand dunes themselves.

15) Best Hot Springs: Jackson Wellsprings

This 30 acre eco-resort and hot springs on the outskirts of Ashland, Oregon is a must-see. The Olympic-sized swimming pool receives 80,000 gallons of naturally alkaline mineral water daily from the underground spring — the same healing waters used for centuries by First Nations for ceremonial cleansing and birthing. My other favorite part was the “Goddess Temple,” a beautiful tent used for meditation and prayer.

16) Best Car: The “Chewbaru” 

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I’m not sure if this is a “best of” or “worst of”, or should just get the “strangest” award, but I spotted this Subaru covered in used dentures the owner purchased on E-bay parked along the main street in Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho. I saw it again the next day while driving to Missoula, Montana.

17) Best Outdoor Activity: Cattle wrangling

Getting to live out my cowgirl dream at Barron Ranch in Absarokee, Montana, herding and branding cattle was heaven. 

18) Best Neighborhood: Outer Sunset

When I visited friends who live in this lesser-known part of San Francisco, I immediately added it to my list of places to move. They live two blocks from the Pacific, have a big backyard complete with honeybees and a chicken coop, and plentiful street parking. Plus new eco-minded shops and restaurants are popping up daily along the main drag, Judah Street. It’s a perfect balance of relaxed surf town and exciting city life.

19) Best Wood Carving: Old Man Driftwood Bench

I saw a plethora of woodcarvings going through the redwood trees in northern California as well as the forests of Oregon and Washington, but this unique bench I saw on the side of the road in Crescent City, California caught my eye. I love it for its style and function. 

20) Best Fountain: Swifty Fountain

It’s in the center of the new Fifth Street Market outdoor mall in Eugene, Oregon and dedicated to Charles “Swifty” Swift, the chicken. The plaque explains that Swifty “represents thousands of his ancestors that visited Swift Company Poultry Plant” watches over those who toss pennies in the fountain. It also claims that it’s Swifty’s wish to be re-united with Henny Penny “who has returned and is nested in the tower on High Street.” That’s good stuff.

And that’s a wrap!  Happy travels until we meet again!

Follow Shannon’s adventures on Twitter @CuriousTraveler and on Instagram @ShannonSwitzer

Shannon is photographing with an Olympus PEN E-PM1 and an Olympus Tough TG-820.

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