HECETA HEAD DESTINATION WEDDING

My brother got married a year ago and it was a destination wedding to a very special place that means a lot to him and my new SIL, Amy. We had family coming in from ALL over the country for both of them and being a Virgo, list maker and compulsive planner I started asking questions early on.  Since we were the closest to the location I felt responsible for helping in ANY way I could – from decorations, the cake, picking people up from the airport, etc…

My first stop was the Heceta Head Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast webpage.  One of the first things that struck me was that they need a better webmaster, but then it was pointed out to me that because they are a lighthouse on the coast, they get the business either way, but I still believe there should be better information and facility pictures for when your are spending an arm and a leg for the weekend. So, one of my goals of this post is to add some decent pictures here as well as Pinterest for those who feel they need more information before spending $315 + tax a night just for a room.

This was a “later in life” (they are both in their 40’s) first wedding for each of them and they were keeping it small so I really wanted it to be perfect for them.  Just trying to pick out a date turned into a HUGE fiasco.  The web page shows dates blacked out so they were trying to work around that to pick dates that would coincide with their available days off from work and coordinating family flights etc…  LONG STORY SHORT the blacked out dates ARE available for weddings and large parties, but have to be booked through the general manager, but since the general manager was SUPER SLOW to return ALL calls and emails, it took FOREVER to start planning this wedding.  The webpage has a link to wedding packages, but they are not clear or thorough.  You have to contact owner to even know what the wedding packages are.

The webpage also does NOT have decent pictures of the facilities. If you have never been there you are left to fill in the blanks with your imagination. And with the pricey dollar amount on the weekend people kinda want to see what they are getting for the money. While we were there for their wedding people were stopping by trying to locate the owner/manager about their own weddings since their calls were not being answered.

The following quote is directly from their webpage: “Having just a few guests at your wedding, let us take care of your wedding plans! You set the date, pick a package and relax.” Which as I can tell you IS NOT the case.

I grew up in an era of customer service and the customer is always right.   While that may not always really be the case I still believe business should be conducted a certain way – COURTEOUSLY.  Even if you are busy and have more business than you need you SHOULD ALWAYS return calls and emails.  The practice is akin to not burning bridges to me.  The customer you turn away today by not answering will not be there tomorrow nor will anyone they tell about their poor experience. Unfortunately, EVERYTHING became last minute in the 5-7 days before the wedding because of this.

To top off the management issues they were having EXTREME water problems.  When we arrived we found this note on the refrigerator. No phone calls before to tell us to bring bottled water, no one there to pave the way with explanations, just this note.

On our first night there we found we had NO water as we went to bed.  This meant NO flushing toilets, taking showers or brushing teeth unless you had a bottle of water laying around. They began trucking water in around 130AM right past our window! So that also meant very little sleep also. No one told us in advance that water was being trucked in to fill the tank periodically. No one told us that the tank had MAJOR leaks in it also and the water would continue to seep out on top of it. Apparently their water source had been cut off by a coast road crew repairing the road.  

I have to tell you though none of that mattered to me when the water abruptly stopped as I was in the shower with a head full of lather the next morning.  NOPE, I was EXTREMELY pissed off.

Amy’s beautiful bouquet.
 Amy and her father walking down the aisle.

 Chris and Amy taking their vows.


 YAY! They did it!

 Casual and western!

Chris and Amy with her family (Allison, Tom, Dink, Amy, Chris, Aiden, Jen and Branen). LOL notice the boys shed their shoes as soon as they could.

Chris and Amy with his family (stepdad Glenn, mom, Chris, Amy, me and hubby)

Jen and Branen having a cute moment.
Branen waiting for dinner.
Aiden waiting for dinner.

Chris and Amy weren’t decided on a cake type so I offered to have my girlfriend, Heather (a gourmet cupcake baker) provide an assortment of their choice and they were a HUGE hit.  Everyone loved being able to try all the different flavors. They even did the ceremonious cutting of the “cupcake”.

Chris and Amy chose a wonderful sit down dinner from a local caterer that tasted fantastic! They also chose the candles and lanterns that I was able to pick up locally and I made the napkin rings.
 Chris & Amy with her parents, Tom & Dink.

 The setting was as peaceful and perfect and idyllic as was possible.

 Uninvited guests form a peanut gallery.
This was the view from our room! 
 Tom enjoying the appetizer spread before dinner.

ALL in ALL we had a great time DESPITE the poor management and water problems which says more about our abilities to roll with the punches than the Inn’s ability to problem solve.  To this date the owner/manager has YET to call me back despite my many calls to him and I’m sure since he has my money he never will. 

 

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THE GREY GHOST, A BIRTHDAY TRIP

Every year hubs and I would schedule small trips for our birthday months since they are 6 months apart.  For the last decade though something always came up when it came time for the trip near my birthday.

Finally, this year, we made it!  We were leaving the area for the last time and decided it was time to visit a southern California ICON, the Queen Mary during it’s 80th anniversary. It was a fantastic trip!  LOL that was almost 6 months ago and I’m just now getting this posted.

  • 1929-1935 Queen Mary became a groundbreaking event.  Cunard was undeterred by the Great Depression and was designing a pair of technologically advanced new ships to replace their 3 current ships; Mauretania, Aquitania and Berengaria.
  • The Queen Mary (named after wife of King George V) was originally launched on September 26, 1934.
  • 1936-1939 It was during the Queen Mary’s glamour years that they raised the bar for luxury travel and that forward thinking technology made the ship popular with British Royalty, Hollywood celebrities and dignitaries to become the grandest ocean liner ever.  Also known as the most haunted ship on earth.
  • 1939-1946 As England and France declared war on Germany, the Queen Mary began her war years.  Passenger travel was suspended, the ship was retrofitted, camouflage painted and dubbed the “Grey Ghost” to serve as a troopship.  The Queen Mary hauled as many as 15,000 men and with her record-breaking speed and size became a pivotal role in guiding our allies to a victory.
  • The Queen Mary became a bi-national family transport in 1946-47.
  • 1947-1960’s It took 10 months to re-retrofit the Queen Mary to it’s original splendor.  After that she returned place as a world class luxury liner.  During the 1960’s air travel was becoming more and more popular and ocean liners were becoming obsolete. The modern world was winning and the Queen Mary was quickly becoming outdated.
  • 1967 The Queen Mary was officially retired but almost didn’t make it to the hotel she is today.  When the decision to sell her came about, most of the bidders were from scrap metal outfits.  Fortunately Long Beach was looking for an attraction to draw in tourism and The Queen Mary was just the ticket. The Queen Mary was moved to sunny Long Beach California to become a living historical landmark, hotel and popular attraction education a new generation to the by gone ways of a grand era.
 The galleys were in perpetual motion and still had trouble keeping up with just basic meals in order to keep the troops fed.
 Troop accommodations were EXTREMELY basic by comparison to any class of of the luxury liner’s normal passengers.
 They did add bedspreads for the time spent toting war brides and families – nice touch. War brides often made the trip both directions as they were refused/returned once they arrived here.

For the 75th anniversary, a contest was held and thousands of letters were submitted with their experiences while aboard the Queen Mary.  Here are just a few that I found interesting.

Next door to the Queen Mary is the dome that used to house Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose.  In 1993 the Spruce Goose was shipped by barge up the west coast to Oregon where it now resides at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon. The dome was purchased by Warner Bros. Studio and used as a sound stage for many years for Batman movies in particular because of the cave like qualities.  I understand the dome was purchased by Carnival Cruises and is now using it as a Customs and luggage facility.
We had a harbor view room which was especially spectacular at night.

Here are a few of the cabin photos to show you just how little has changed in all these years though the large screen TV in the sitting room looks really out of place. Originally the Queen Mary was truly a luxury liner.  One of the things I found the most interesting was that if you didn’t like the color scheme of your room they would change it within 24 hours!  Originally there was no carpeting, sprinkler system or fire detectors.

 1st Class Bedroom and sitting room.

Notice the bakelite knob and keyhole. The Queen Mary was one of the first to use this “plastic” throughout their ship as it was warmer to the touch than metal.  Even the light switches were bakelite.  Below are the water choices on the tub.

Each bathroom has four faucets, two for salt water and two for fresh as well red (male) button and green (female) buttons to call stewards to wash your back or attend you as necessary. By the way the tubs are NOT flat, but rounded to help prevent falls while at sea – something I had a bit of an issue with.

There was no air conditioning as we know if today originally. This fan and vent as well as the functioning portholes (if you were luck enough to have one) served as the only was to get cool.

We took several of the tours (I highly recommend the Behind the Scenes Tour) and we learned sooooooooooooo many things.

Above is the first class pool and then the gate between class levels. During “tea time” third class passengers were allowed to use the 1st class pool for 1 hour.  After that time, the pool was drained, scrubbed and refilled with “fresh” salt water ready again for 1st class passengers. The different classes were afforded different levels of comfort, food and entertainment.  Liberace once gave a concert for the 3rd class passengers that really ticked off the 1st class passengers as they were refused entrance.
The emergency Signals were posted throughout the ship and this is what the lifeboats looked like.  By my count though I think it was a bit like the Titanic in that there would have been more people than lifeboat seats.

Much, if not most of the ship still has the original art work and superior craftsmanship, most of it well ahead of its time and very well preserved despite the time the ship spent as a troop ship.

These pictures above do not do any justice to the murals and artwork or the beauty of the captains doors below the mural. The captain liked to make a “Grand” entrance to the Grand Salon.  All the artwork was covered during the “grey ghost” years.  The fireplaces were electric to avoid fires though ironically they allowed smoking.

This beautiful navigational piece is a functional work of art with crystal ships on a pulley sytem.  It is hard to see, but there are two ships that follow those tracks through the center that would allow the passengers to know not only where they were at any given time, but also where the Queen Mary’s sister ship was in their route.  A little trivia fact: the ship would get 13 feet to a gallon. Also the original linoleum has been replaced everywhere except inside 1 phone booth where the small little holes left from women’s stiletto’s can be seen.

This shot reminds me of the shining for some reason!  It appears to be sloped AND IT IS!  When the ship was built they took into account the pitch, roll and sway and built the ship to absorb as much of the sea movement as possible. The Queen Mary is considered the most haunted ship in the world ever.  I had one of those WTH? moments when there was an ethereal flash in the middle of the night in the dark of our room.  Long story short, it turned out to be my cell phone finishing its charge. LMBO still.

While we were there the Queen Mary was hosting a fabulous Bob Hope exhibit. It is impossible to show all the wonderful displays that were donated for this exhibit. Suffice it to say that Mr. Hope was a one of a kind man that was cherished by the world as an entertainer and great humanitarian.

One of my most favorite places on the entire ship was the Observation Deck Bar.  The bright red enamel art deco look was beautiful with the original wood work and a very inviting area to sit and watch the water and birds.  Plus the drinks and food was excellent.

Across the way is the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific.  We love the beach and aquariums so this was a perfect combo trip for us.  Here are a few of the favorite aquarium pictures.

The Aquarium was a fantastic way to spend a day and we topped it off with a birthday meal at Bubba Gumps.  I just adore their Shrimp Shack Mac & Cheese and it was my birthday after all!  I did find a copy cat recipe that sound worth trying.

The on board restaurants have fantastic menus, but also had fantastic prices to go along with the menus.  So we spent a good deal of time checking out and enjoying the surrounding restaurants at Shoreline Village like:

I have at least 2 dozen more pictures I planned on adding to this post, but as you can see I’m already running quite long and really enjoyed the trip A LOT!  The majority of the ship has been set up as a floating museum and hotel.  They have done a fantastic job at keeping the integrity of the ship while allowing you to tour the engine room, bridge, radio room, captain’s quarters and so much more and keeping the history interesting too.  If you are in the are it is well worth planning as part of your trip.  The Queen Mary has a Halloween Dark Harbor event, a winter ice festival, Sunday Brunch and a 4th of July party that all look fun.  They are also near the Long Beach Grand Prix and rotating historical exhibits like Bob Hope or Princess Diana.

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VAMPIRE SLAYER MAC & CHEESE

I’m a BIG believer in buying local.  I also love when we move to a new area and there are so many new things to try.  My newest favorite is FACE ROCK CREAMERY cheese based out of Bandon, Oregon a quaint little seaside town that we visited not to long ago when our son and DIL were visiting.  I’ll add a few of those pictures after the recipe.  I tried a sample of FACE ROCK CREAMERY Jack cheese at Costco the other day and fell in love with their smooth and creamy cheese.  On a whim I bought their Vampire Slayer Garlic Cheddar and found a new favorite way to make an old comfort food on a cold and cloudy night.

Tonight because it is cold, foggy and miserable, I served it with left over Wagon Wheel Soup for a rib sticking good meal.

VAMPIRE SLAYER MAC & CHEESE
1 1/2 cups dried macaroni (elbows or shells)
3/4 cup heavy cream**
2 tablespoons butter
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
3/4 pound or 2 cups shredded FACE ROCK VAMPIRE SLAYER garlic cheddar cheese

  • Preheat oven to 350˚.
  • Prepare macaroni according to package directions. Drain well.
  • Using the same pan, melt butter and add cream until smooth.
  • Add cheese a few pieces at a time, stirring until well blended.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Fold in pasta.
  • Pour into casserole dish.
  • Sprinkle with crispy onions or Garlic Croutons if desired.
  • Bake 20 minutes or until heated through and golden on top.

**I found I was out of heavy cream, but wait, there is a substitute using what you have on hand.
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon Wondra flour (this can be omitted if using whole milk)

  • In a small saucepan melt butter.
  • Whisk in Wondra until golden.
  • Add milk gradually, whisking until well blended and starts to thicken slightly.

COLD, BUT CLEAR JANUARY TRIP TO THE BANDON, OREGON COAST

CANNING & PRESERVING – A WAY OF LIFE

One thing that many of you don’t know about me is that I love to cook (LOL) AND to preserve. To me there is nothing that says I love you more than preparing those special meals and treats for my family. Canning is easy, but it is time consuming and you do have to follow sterile rules to make it safe. You can be as plain or as inventive as you want.

Hubby pointed out this would be a good time to share my award pictures that I began to scrapbook about before the move and have yet to finish. I always thought it a little ironic that I was ‘preserving’ my preserving ribbons. Here are a few pictures.

How I got started on entering the county fair is actually a cute story. I was still working for a major phone company and I make a Spiced Pear jam that really is awesome. We had a cafeteria in the building I worked in and the engineers would stop by my desk to buy a jar of jam before their coffee break so they could put it on their pancakes and waffles. I loved making it and only charged them enough to actually cover my expenses so I could make more.My boss kept trying to get me to enter it into competition, but I was reluctant as I really didn’t think I had what it took to compete against women who had been doing it all their lives (1 woman had an entire 4×8 foot wall with just her entries and had been winning 1st and 2nd place awards for over 20 years) because I was a self-taught newbie and ‘shy’. Unbeknownst to me, one of the guys entered me in the upcoming county fair. He knew I went every year to drool over the jams and jellies and crafty items in the home building. You have to picture my jaw actually dropping to the floor on this particular year when I see my name, my jam and an actual 3rd place ribbon attached to it! I was literally speechless especially since I hadn’t entered the fair. Long story short I will always be eternally grateful to him for giving me the courage and confidence to enter each and every year after that for 10 years until I moved away. I have also been published in several of their cookbooks for the years I won first place. I hope to start again soon.This year I want to try my hand at some of the local indigenous fruits (cranberries, blackberries, blueberries and apples to start).

DO NOT USE PROUD AMERICAN MOVING!!!!!!!!

Kimberly at Proud American Moving specifically told us that they did not use contractors. She also guaranteed us a specific time window for moving.

When they showed up LATE (by 2 days) the head guy was a fast talking salesman that left us with no alternatives. After our belongings were loaded he began the fast talking again specifically telling us our things could now NOT be unloaded without a cost. He then went on to call the head office liars because he was a contractor and asked for a “cash up front” tip so that he could lower our total cost. Our final cost was double the original quote even with his deal! We felt we had no choice – he had all our belongings and we were 2 days behind schedule, so we paid. 

When our belongings finally arrived (3 weeks later than promised) the brand new boxes we had purchased for the move were all beat up and many broken open, many things broken, 2 tables and a box missing. The delivery driver said we would be contacted about our missing belongings in a few days. NO ONE HAS EVER CONTACTED US! We have tried REPEATEDLY FOR 4 MONTHS to contact them about the insurance and NO ONE EVER CALLS US BACKI’m still waiting for an answer to one of the hundred messages I have left.

We filed a Better Business Bureau complaint that they didn’t respond to either. Since they are NOT BBB accredited, we are now at a complete loss as to what to do next to get our belongings back!  ANY SUGGESTIONS?
DO NOT USE PROUD AMERICAN MOVING!
THEY ARE A COMPLETE SCAM!!

We had contacted the Better Business Bureau in October 2011 (in person) and were told both then, and in a follow up phone call that there were no complaints on file.  Yet, I ran across this article today that says just the opposite!