After Tuesday's lengthy road trip, we enjoyed some relaxing time with dear friends.

The purpose of our trip to Bend was to see a lovely couple who had been friends with my late mother-in-law since their grammar school and high school days together. While our friends live in Redmond, we stayed in Bend because of the availability of accommodations. This gave us the opportunity to explore a bit of Bend's downtown, and to see some of Oregon's high desert while driving to Redmond.

After a lovely day spent catching up and enjoying each other's company followed by a second night in Bend, we headed for the Willamette Valley and wine tasting, then on to the Pacific Coast.

Driving through central Oregon in the spring is beautiful and offers more pleasant driving conditions than winter (as most of the snow is gone) or summer (as most of the crowds have not yet arrived).

Wine tasting is equally pleasant for the same reasons: more favorable weather and smaller crowds. The downside is that many smaller wineries don't open their tasting rooms until Memorial Day, meaning more advance planning is necessary. Nonetheless, we visited three wineries on the way and added six bottles to our collection. Room in the trunk of the Camry is becoming increasingly scarce.

Arriving on the coast, we opted for the Inn at Spanish Bay. Both my wife and I have looked longingly at this establishment for years, but never actually stayed here. This time, it's different. It's lovely, and is making for an excellent base from which to explore the Oregon coast.

On Friday morning, we visited the Tillamook Creamery (home of Tillamook cheese) and ran into an old family friend from Seattle in the gift shop. It's a small world indeed.

Friday evening, while we were enjoying a glass of wine in the hotel bar, the waitress spotted Orca whales breaching about 100 yards offshore and let all the patrons know; what a treat to see these magnificent creatures so close to shore.

Only a foretaste of things to come, I'm sure.

Tomorrow, it's on to Portland for more family time. Please stay tuned; more commentary and photos will follow.

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