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McMinnville, Oregon

We're in McMinnville this week (wine country Oregon) to celebrate Kevin's birthday. We didn't bring the Airstream this time because I found a really cool place to stay downtown in McMinnville called the 3rd Street Flats. There are four flats in varying sizes and I picked the one called The Retreat for the start of Kevin's birthday week. Look at how cool this place is!


There's a great stocked (pots, pans, dishes, etc.) kitchen, cute dining room complete with wine bar and every kind of wine glass you might need,  a comfy bedroom, a fireplace, original artwork, bamboo floors….. Love the decor, too!

Last night (night one of birthday foodie celebration) I took Kevin to dinner at the Joel Palmer House in nearby Dayton, Oregon. We had the mushroom madness tasting menu and it was fantastic. Every dish was so flavorful. By far the standout (probably because of the decadence factor) was the Painted Hills grass-fed filet of beef, topped with pan-seared fois gras and shaved Oregon white truffles. Yeah, the broccoli there was amazing too, but whatever…would you get a load of all those truffles??? (The chef, Chris Czarnecki, came out to see how we were doing right in the middle of this dish. Could not have been better timing!)


We're doing some work this morning, cooking breakfast in the flat, and then we're going to head over to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, maybe hit a winery or two, and then I have another dinner plan tonight for birthday dinner number 2! 

There's a great little market across the street where we picked up a few things we forgot. Here's a snap taken right out front:


The living room when we got home last night (fireplace is on the left, out of frame, but really sweet):


I highly recommend this place if you're ever in McMinnville without your RV and want a cool place to stay. There are some really good restaurants and wineries withing walking distance, and tons more within driving distance.

(*Side story: During the time I was working on my private pilot's license, the McMinnville airport was the first stop of my first solo cross-country flight. No GPS or big colorful flat screen moving map telling you where you are and what other traffic is around you and how high the terrain is … just the instruments that feel pretty outdated now and a big chart unfolded in my lap, marked up with all my lines and notes and landmarks. I flew the plane and looked between the chart and the ground below to keep myself located. I landed at the airport in McMinnville, taxied over to visitor parking, wiped my brow and collected my nerve before taking off and flying to my next stop in Corvallis. There again I landed, taxied, parked, wiped brow, collected nerve again…then headed back toward Portland.

I remember vividly approaching the range of hills just West of town as I navigated myself back to my home airport. I knew then —  seeing that range of hills — that I could visually find my way home, even if I didn't have the map or my instruments. It gave me a HUGE feeling of relief. At that point, I was able to finally FEEL what I was doing. I was transporting myself through the air at 3500 feet in a vehicle…a vehicle that felt a lot like a 1971 Volkswagen bug, with wings. 

All of a sudden in that moment, I said to myself, outloud in the little Cessna 150: "I'm flying a fucking airplane!"

What a crazy feeling!)