Cooking Demonstration by Lincoln City, Oregon Chef
Cooking Demonstration by Lincoln City, Oregon Chef

During October 2009, Jim and Elizabeth (seen seated above) attended a cooking demonstration presented by Lincoln City, Oregon. Of course, the reason was to show delicious meals that could be prepared using foods found in the Pacific Northwest.

The meal prepared for us consisted of fish and squash soup. We were given copies of recipes and hope to try our luck at preparation using West Virginia ingredients.

Ecology of the Pacific Northwest Field Trip
Ecology of the Pacific Northwest Field Trip

We stayed at the inn shown above (Inn at Spanish Head) in Lincoln City, Oregon, where we had a room facing the Pacific Ocean. Many of our meals were provided in the restaurant here and several of the presentations were made in their conference room. The inn gave away a beautiful glass fishnet float (made locally) every day--based on random room drawing--and we were disappointed we were not one of the lucky ones.

One of our field trips was a walk on the beach where our leaders discussed ecology and geology of the area including tectonic plate effect on the region. The group leaders were very knowledgeable of their subjects and their lectures were most enjoyable--even fun! Elizabeth is in the blue coat--second person from the right.

Beachcombing was a bust for us. However, we were impressed that huge trees and their rootballs were on the beach one day but washed out to sea on the next. During periods of rough seas or exceptionally high tides the inn installs barriers to keep the driftwood from crashing through plate-glass windows on the lower level. We were glad that we were on a higher floor and we took note of the tsunami evacuation route.

Jim is not shown as he was the one packing the camera in one hand and was assigned the job of carrying the plastic garbage bag for everyone else in the group to see who could load it down with the bottle or can containing the most sand.

Preparing Creme Brulee
Creme Brulee Torch

The chef at our inn--The Inn at Spanish Head--demonstrated how to torch a Creme Brulee.

Jim has never been a big custard fan, however after seeing them made, appreciating the breaking of the crystalline crust, and tasting the custard, he is forever changed. He also knows what color the crust should be--the sugar must be heated just right to obtain the brownish-tan--not black--color. The crust is no small wonder made using real vanilla bean flavored sugar.

The individual containers are called ramekins--never heard of them before.

We received quite an education on mushrooms native to the Pacific Northwest. Many are edible and quite tasty but some are quite toxic.

There is no way, even after such an informative lecture, are we going to pick and eat our mushrooms.

Some species are very expensive and sought after by cultures--especially in Asian countries. There are people in this region who have become self-sufficient living off the land while harvesting and selling these fungi to local buyers for export markets.

As I sat there listing to an obvious expert on the subject of mushrooms, I wondered to myself what brought him to the Northwest looking for these things in the '60s--I didn't ask.

Oregon Coast Aquarium
Oregon Coast Aquarium

Really nice aquariums are hard to find here in West Virginia so we were excited to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Oregon. The image above shows a tunnel beneath part of the aquarium where all sorts of sea creatures swim about you. If you like, you can feel the skin of live sting rays and starfish. It is difficult to photograph swimming fish because of low light conditions, so we took pictures of more stationary life forms as seen below.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse
Yaquina Head Lighthouse

One of our field trips was to visit Yaquina Head Lighthouse near Newport, Oregon on the Pacific Ocean Coast. The area including several trails are preserved and protected by Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The lighthouse became operational in 1873 during a time-period when there was a lot of traffic along the West Coast.

The lighthouse was automated in 1966 relieving its attendant from the chore of carrying oil up the many steps to light his lamp.

Crab Fishing Boat
Crab Fishing Boat

We went on a short cruise on The Discovery which led us out of the harbor and into the ocean. Getting out of the harbor is a bit of a challenge as there are large swells at the mouth of the harbor. On our way out of the harbor, crew members lowered several crab traps and on our return they were retrieved but none of the crabs were of sufficient size or sex to harvest.

The image of a bridge seen at the top of this page was taken as we returned to the harbor.

The image above is a fishing boat tied-up in the harbor alongside The Discovery. One has to wonder if the bilge pump pumps like this when the boat is sitting in calm water what it is doing when the water really gets rough.