Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Original Taco House – Portland, Oregon

In my last post, I wrote about eating before we hit Voodoo Doughnuts, and said I would tell about it in a later post. So here it is.

Taco House OutsideYes, there are probably more “authentic” Mexican food restaurants, but the Original Taco House was the first Mexican restaurant in Portland that was open year round, so how can it really be beat?


David really loves The Original Taco House so when we recently had an opportunity to be in the area, he followed his nose and took us right to it. Actually, he ate there about 30 years ago when he was living in Portland. At that time it was cafeteria style, where you got your tray and went down the line picking out what you wanted.  You can see from the pictures that it is still set up like that, but now it is regular sit-and-serve style.


It opened in 1960, owned by Gene and Natha Waddle. They also owned and ran Waddle’s restaurant located in Jantzen Beach just off I-5. Waddle’s restaurant is now gone, but the Taco House is now ran by the Waddle’s grandsons.

On my first visit I was apprehensive. There are so many foods/textures/spices I don’t like. So when I asked the waitress what was in the burrito meat, she brought me a sample so I could see and taste. I really appreciated that because other places when I have asked that they said nothing else was in it and when I got it it was filled with peppers and onions. Note to restaurants – peppers and onions ARE something besides beef. So I ordered and devoured a beef and bean burrito and David thoroughly enjoyed his Mini Grande Tostada. Josh was in heaven with the huge enchilada and taco combo.


The restaurant is decorated in typical Mexican restaurant fashion, although the fireplace at the end of the room is a little out of place for the décor. But, hey, in the Pacific Northwest, not many of us are going to complain about a fireplace.


The staff is very friendly and helpful. The portions are HUGE and delicious. You can get as bland as you want, the way I eat, or as spicy as you like. There’s quite a variety of foods, even gluten-free if you need it. Of course I added a Strawberry Daiquiri to my meal, a drink so cold the outside of the glass was frosty. Yum!


(Photo by Brandy Kirkendall)

While it may have to compete with tons of other Mexican restaurants in the Portland area now, it says a lot about a restaurant if it still sticks in your mind 30 years later. The only problem now is that David wants to eat there every time we go to Portland!

The Original Taco House has three locations, two in Portland and one in Vancouver. This one is located at 3005 SE Powell Blvd. Portland, Oregon. It’s open every day from 11am-10pm. (503) 234-6401

Categories: Food, Wine, Cider, Keatons Out and About, Oregon | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

That Voodoo That You Do So Well – Voodoo Doughnuts, Portland, Oregon

1-IMG_25521-IMG_2565Who doesn’t love a good donut? Who can’t love a GREAT donut? Then if you are ever in Portland, Oregon you have to go to Voodoo Doughnuts! There are two locations, one at 22 SW 3rd Street and one at 1501 NE Davis Street. The one on 3rd is very small. I didn’t even see inside. There were two very long lines outside of it. We were around the corner waiting for my daughter who had an appointment in a photography studio. We kept seeing people walk by with big pink boxes. Josh, who can smell a donut a mile away, kept shouting, “Voodoo donuts!” We thought he was nuts (well, he is), but then David walked around the corner and it was right there. We walked over there and yep, there it was, and a lot of people were coming out of this little bitty storefront with boxes of donuts. People were lined up two different ways to get in – I never could quite figure out how the two lines looked. But I had heard of this place and that the lines were long and that’s why many people go to the other location. Since we weren’t ready for donuts yet (we needed to eat a solid lunch first) we just looked at the crowd and left.

In case you have never heard of Voodoo Doughnuts, you need to watch an episode of “Man vs. Food” on the Travel Channel. Adam Rich made a visit to the one that we intended to go to, and he thoroughly enjoyed his visit and the donuts. It truly is TV worthy!

1-IMG_25491-IMG_2554After a delicious lunch at a Portland-location-to-be-discussed-in-a-later-post, this was our first visit during daytime hours. When we have visited later in the evening there was not a big line. There was a bit of a line today but it moved quickly since there were three staff helping out. You actually keep pretty entertained looking at all the voodoo themed artwork, clothing, and decorations.1-IMG_2568

When it’s finally your turn, it’s almost overwhelming – you want them all! Beautiful fluffy donuts with thick frosting, smelling amazing! All shapes and colors. Old fashioned donuts, fritters, maple bars, bacon maple bars, donuts covered in Cocoa Puffs or sporting a piece of bubble gum. Pretty much if you can imagine it, it’s there. Of course, they have the voodoo-shaped donuts, filled with blood (OK it’s really a cream) but kids love this one.


One thing to be aware of if you avoid gluten, eggs, nuts, soy, etc. there are no special anything-free donuts available. We typically avoid wheat and sugar in our daily diets but since we only get to Portland a couple of times a year, we allow ourselves to indulge in Voodoo Doughnuts while we are there. They are so worth it and put all other donut shops to shame.


Daughter, Brandy and her boyfriend, Jason. It was his first visit. He was drooling…

For more information on Voodoo Doughnuts, see their website at


Categories: Food, Wine, Cider, Keatons Out and About, Oregon | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Observation Loop Trail, Yellowstone National Park


Josh watching Old Faithful erupt for the first time


Old Faithful

There are several fun hikes to take in Yellowstone National Park. A short one is the Observation Loop Trail. This one starts behind Old Faithful and is a 1.1 mile round trip hike. It takes you up 160 feet so it is rather steep. But the reward is worth it.

On our first visit to Yellowstone National Park as a family, we had reservations at the Old Faithful Inn for dinner. We first stopped to watch Old Faithful erupt. It was so much fun watching Josh see it for the first time – he was very excited and impressed!

Then we had some time to kill so David said we needed to take this hike because he had been on it before and wanted us to see the view. So off we headed crossing a footbridge over the Firehole River which is where the trailhead begins. First of all it is a beautiful walk through trees and flowers, watching for birds and the little critters. I would recommend hiking shoes. Sandals do not work as well and aren’t very comfortable as Josh discovered. You can see from the pictures that trail is dry and a bit bumpy and steep. It’s considered a “moderate” hike in terms of difficulty, but Josh was seven-years-old at the time and did just fine, so families can easily do it. There were only a few other people on the trail, so we had it mostly to ourselves. It was a great place to be away from the crowds that were around the geyser.


Nancy and Josh hiking up the Observation Loop Trail


View from Observation Loop

Once at the top, the view is gorgeous! The Old Faithful Inn actually looks quite small from that viewpoint. We stood there marveling at the expansive view of the basin until we realized we had about 20 minutes until our dinner reservation. So unfortunately we worried we wouldn’t have time complete the trail and David took off running back down the trail and Josh and I followed a little more slowly. We took what we hoped was a shorter route to get there and it actually was – we were just minutes behind David as he was making sure we wouldn’t lose our reservation. We arrived sweaty and breathless, but we made it in time.


David and Josh relaxing after the hike and a great meal

After a delicious and elegant dinner in the Old Faithful Inn we headed back out to enjoy the evening and look up at where we were earlier and think of the different view of the area that we had. We know from the lack of crowds up there that many people miss this experience on their trip to the Old Faithful area. So next time you are there, take the opportunity to take that hike and see the view from a different vantage point and away from the masses. It’s a sight not to be missed.

Categories: Keatons Out and About, Outdoors, Parks | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The McKinley Stump – Chehalis, WA

In politics, have you heard it said that politicians go “stumping” or make “stump speeches”? This phrase came from the 1800’s when politicians would go around from town to town making speeches. They literally stood on huge tree stumps so that they could be easily seen and heard. In Chehalis, Washington we have our own replica of one of those stumps. It’s called the McKinley Stump.


The McKinley Stump

Now, you’re probably thinking, “How the heck do you have a “replica” of a stump?” Well, the original tree was from the Pe Ell area (pronounced just like the letters – P. L.). It was cut down in 1901 and the stump was transported by railroad to Chehalis because President McKinley was supposed to come through the area and give a speech. The stump was 28 feet around and 8 feet tall cut from a tree that was 350 years old. Unfortunately, the appearance was cancelled because McKinley’s wife got sick, then shortly after that he was assassinated so never actually got to appear on the stump named for him.

A president did actually get to “stump” on the stump though. In 1903 President Teddy Roosevelt gave a speech from the stump. A president-to-be also spoke from the stump. In 1907, while Secretary of War and before he was elected president, William Taft stood on the stump and gave a speech.

The original stump along with a gazebo was located at the intersection of West Street and Market Blvd. in Chehalis. At one point someone attempted to burn it so concrete was poured into it to try to preserve it, and it was moved to Recreation Park in the hopes it would be better protected.

Then in 2007, while making plans to move the stump to the Lewis County Museum located at the old railroad depot, it was discovered that the tree was so rotted through with ant damage that it could not be saved. Weyerhauser, a lumber company, donated a new stump from an old growth tree to stand as a replica for this time in history.

You can now see the “McKinley Stump” under a covered structure, outside the Lewis County Museum located at 599 NW Front Way, Chehalis, Washington. Picture the President of the United States standing on the stump, speaking without any electronic equipment such as a microphone, in all kinds of weather, to huge crowds of people. It must have been a very exciting event to look forward to. Imagine the disappointment of hoping to see President McKinley, then the excitement again when President Roosevelt actually came to town.

Understandably it is also a bit strange to have a “replica” of a stump that was named for a man who never spoke from it. But it was an exciting time for the area and most small towns like to be able to show that they are important in history and worthy of prominent politicians’ attention. The McKinley Stump stands today as that icon for Chehalis, Washington.

Categories: Historical, Roadside Attraction, Washington | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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