April 16, 2018

A Road Trip to Ashland

What do chocolate, the theater and 3 generations of women together have in common? A Road trip to Ashland, Oregon. In the early part of spring, just as the cherry blossoms began to burst onto the scene, I took a road trip down to Ashland with my daughter, Lana, daughter-in-law, Amy and my granddaughter, Alex.

We spent a lovely weekend in Ashland enjoying the 2nd Annual Chocolate & Wine festival, an amazing evening of cabaret theater, and the charming ambiance of Ashland. It was a wonderful girls-weekend getaway, and one worth repeating. Check out the photos from our trip, and get inspired for your own trip to this jewel of Oregon.

This first photo is just an example of one of the most intriguing natural sights to see as you drive south along I-5, into the southern part of the state. If you've ever driven that way perhaps you wondered what all the 'bushels' or 'nests' in the trees alongside the roadway really are. Wonder no more, they are mistletoe, which grows upon the branches of sturdy trees such as oaks. This was the first new thing I discovered on our way down. My daughter Lana has a passion for nature, and as we drove by them one after another, after another, she let us know, that these were indeed mistletoe, which is a hemiperisitic plant, it takes what it needs from the oak, never planting its own roots in the ground... a strange and wonderful sight to see.

Once in Ashland, we settled in comfortably at our hotel, the Ashland Springs Hotel, a landmark of it's own right, and in the heart of downtown Ashland. This made getting around town quite easy, be it a walk to the great tastes of Hiro Raman just a couple blocks away, or for a quick drive up the hill from downtown where the chocolate fest was held at the Ashland Hills Hotel....
The Lobby is truly beautiful and timeless; and yet gives a sense of the creative past of Ashland itself with the art and furnishings as much as the architecture itself.

The chocolate festival consisted of a Friday night social hour with chocolate fountain, wine tastings and even a chocolate martini for those who dare; along with an afternoon to chocolate and wine tastings from some of the finest chocolatiers and wineries around the region. Yum!

Some nice surprises include face painting- why not? Mint chocolate soap (divine to smell), and perhaps the sweetest treat of local infused honey.... you must try these! 

There was plenty of down time to relax and enjoy the simple things in life such as a walk around the beautiful, historic town of Ashland.....

My granddaughter Alex took a turn at some close-ups....within  Bluebird Park, a bit of green with Ashland Creek running through it...

Our Saturday evening was spent enjoying an incedible dinner and entertaining cabaret style show. The Million Dollar Quarter- featuring the songs of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis during a one-night-only jam session at Sun Record in Memphis- took me back to my younger days and saw all of us tapping our toes in delight and fun. Even the youngest generation, Alex, got a kick out of seeing her Nanna have such a great time with all the music!

And a final photo to share; our girls' weekend getaway to Ashland was a lot of fun full of memories... and right during the start of Oregon's Spring blossom run- such lovely blossoms everywhere... Spring in Ashland, before the Oregon Shakespearean Festival gets underway, is an excellent time to enjoy this charming and historic jewel of Southern Oregon....

March 8, 2018

Discover the Magic of Ireland

It’s March and for many of us, that means St. Patrick’s Day. We in America celebrate this Luck o’ the Irish Day almost as much as those in Ireland do. We have a strong, Irish heritage here; even if you don’t have any Irish in your background, on March 17th, it doesn’t matter. In Ireland, it also doesn’t matter; when you are there you’re treated like one of the family.  I can say this with confidence as I experienced in on my own Irish adventure I took with my husband and daughter several years ago. Ireland, the Emerald Isle, is truly a magical place worth exploring and getting to know.

Often you hear about how friendly people are when someone talks about their travels. Well, when it comes to the Irish, this is no exaggeration. Everywhere we went, which was all around the Republic of Ireland and the Aran Islands, everyone we met was not only nice, but genuinely kind and welcoming. Local residents were happy to meet us and help us along the way, whether we got lost on a country road or were looking for a good pub suggestion.  I will admit when ever I did mention my father was Irish, there was an even deeper sense of that warm-fuzzy feeling when you get reunited with a long lost loved one. It was as though we were being welcomed back home by the extended family and this truly touched the heart.

So what else makes Ireland so amazing? There’s one thing which may surprise many. Often when we think of Ireland, we think of Scotland and England too, and our thoughts can easily turn to the well-known, traditional foods to be found in the British Isles. Even though food choices are international in flavor and variety, it’s easy to picture bangers and mash, fried food of all kinds and even haggis being everywhere in this part of the world. These foods don’t always appeal to everyone, and that’s fine, but if you are concerned that Ireland’s food will be much the same, let me put you at ease. Many of the dishes we think of as the finest in American dining, such as steak or salmon, and organic leafy garden greens or seasonal vegetables, have long been a part of Ireland’s culinary culture.

From the moment we arrived, it didn’t matter if we ate lunch or dinner at a road-side pub, a family owned restaurant in a small town, or took the ultimate splurge and dined gourmet-style in a castle, the food was extraordinary. Everywhere we ate, food was supplied by the local farms, often within  There’s also quite a few distinctly Irish flavors to enjoy such as Brennan cheese, Ireland’s answer brie, and coastal towns have incredible recipes for seafood. Tasting your way around Ireland would be a food-lover’s delight.
walking distance, or straight from their own garden. Sustainable farming practices and animal husbandry have long been in place here, and you can taste the difference.

We can’t talk about Ireland without talking about two major products which also help identify Irish Character: Irish Stout (Guinness) and Irish Whiskey (Jameson/Bushnell’s). When you experience Ireland, you’ll experience the taste of these two long-loved beverages like never before. Drinking the real deal in a genuine Irish Pub with the green hills nearby, simply can’t be beat.

History buffs should have Ireland on their Top 10 places to visit. History is truly alive on the Emerald Island. As a culture, the Irish still hold their ancestral history in high regard. The rest of world may consider the 5 Waves of Invasion as myth, but don’t say that too loud. These ancient stories are deeply ingrained in the Irish character and respect for the connection to the past they bring. You can get in touch with Ireland’s past at locations such as the Hill of Tara, New Grange, The Blarney Castle (Home of the world-famous Blarney Stone) and the Rock of Chashel where the great Irish hero-king Brian Boru ruled.

A stop in Dublin will provide you with some of the most incredible literary influences ever to come from Ireland, and the world. Examples includeUNESCO’s City of Literature. Experience living history with a stop in Waterford, the town where perhaps the world’s best crystal glassware and dishes are made. See for yourself as a new vase is made by an artisan glass -blower, and of course, you can get your own bit of Waterford Crystal before you leave.
The Book of Kells on display at Trinity College, and the works of W.B Yates, Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw, just to name a few. Dublin is such a literary town it’s been named

Ireland is also a place where you can easily step off the beaten road and take your own path. If you are willing to take a chance for adventure, you will be thrilled and cherish the results. While we were in Ireland there were many moments which could have only happened because we forged away from the crowds. This is not a difficult thing to do in Ireland, which also adds to the magic of this place. While there were bustling city centers and yes, tourist attractions with all the trappings such gift shops and photo-ops, it never took long to get out on our own and spend some quality time with the spirit of Ireland itself. 

My daughter’s adventure of following the “Little Yellow Man” markers for a walking trails led her through pasture fields alive with the song of bird calls and an occasional lowing cow, to an ancient Dolmen, a stone cairn. The one she found was said to been one of the places Diarmuid and Grainne slept as they fled from Fin in a legend similar to Lancelet and Guinevere. As Lana puts it, “When I stopped at the Dolmen, I had an overwhelming sense of anticipation. I walk around the cairn, which was like a small shelter one would seek to get out of the rain. I closed my eyes, touched the stone and it felt as though I could step back in time at any moment. Then I saw a large granite slab nearby and sat upon it for a rest. It was then that I took in the magnificent sight of the valley and river which spread out away from the field. I was awestruck by the beauty of this place.”

You can step off the path in Ireland too, and C.P. Trips can help make it happen, worry free. We have a wonderful travel partner in Ireland, Turas Adventures, which specializes in small group (4-8 people) tours with an expert guide to show you the hidden gems of Ireland. You can also create your own Irish adventure with the folks at Turas Adventures leading the way, so you can relax and enjoy your explorations with ease. 2018 Summer tours in Ireland are available to reserve now but will fill up fast. C.P. Trips Agent partner, Judy Arndt of Journeys by Judy will also be joining a Turas Adventure this summer, contact us today and we can reserve your space before it goes to someone else.  Judy Arndt: 503- 666-8828 or journeysbyjudy.oregon@yahoo.com; Cindy Passannante: 503-658-5646 or cptrips@aol.com. Be sure to visit our website where you can learn more about Turas Adventures Ireland travel ideas.

February 12, 2018

Get Romantic Around Oregon

Valentines Day is this week!  If you are behind and think you can’t pull of something romantic for that special someone, it’s not too late! One of the most romantic things any couple can do is travel; a special getaway is one way to create a wonderful memory of intimate moments together. There’s some incredible places to go close to home for a mid-week retreat, or to plan as a gift to give on Valentine’s Day, and then embark on a later date. Listed below are some Oregon romantic destinations ideas to get you inspired. 

The Oregon Coast- We all know it, we all love it. What else says romance like watching the waves along the beach at sunset, or from a cozy fireside? Not sure which beach or coastal town is the right one? Check out our upcoming Hidden Gems of Oregon small group hosted trips we have planned. Give the gift of the trip on Valentine’s Day, then extend our romance with a trip in the spring, summer or fall.

River Cruises- There’s still some room left on one of the Portland Spirit River Cruises Valentine’s Dinner Cruise. Travel along the Willamette River with live music and a romantic meal for two. The Portland Spirit Cruises aren’t limited to our River City. Cruises along the Columbia River Gorge encompass the coast in Astoria along the river into Cascade Locks. One of our Hidden Gems of Oregon includes a day cruise on the Sternwheeler in Astoria, taking you along the sites that were seen by Lewis and Clark.

Bed & Breakfasts. Take it from personal experience, one of the most romantic places to stay in Portland is the White House Bed & Breakfast in the historic Irvington neighborhood. One night or a long weekend together in a beautiful and romantic garden and a charming and luxury appointed room, and you can’t go wrong. This is the perfect place to celebrate a special anniversary too- such as I did with my Husband for our 50th anniversary not long ago.

Other romantic destinations close to home include Mt Hood, where you can stay at the historic Timberline Lodge, and the Sunriver Resort just outside of Bend. If you and your special someone love the theater and chocolate, how about a slightly belated Valentine’s Day celebration in Ashland with the Oregon Chocolate Festival? Wine lovers will enjoy a long weekend drive along the Willamette Valley where you can choose among over 500 wineries to stop by for a tasting, lunch or dinner, and even a romantic overnight stay.

If you are ready for a romantic getaway, for Valentine's Day or any time of the year, let us take care of the details while you relax and enjoy time with that special someone. Visit our Website to learn about different trip ideas, the latest deals, exciting offers and our service fees. Don’t forget, Cruise Wave Season is still going strong, this is the best time of year to book your next romantic cruise for two!

January 19, 2018

Fall in Love with the Oregon Coast, Again- (Part One)

When was the last time you were at the Coast? If you're like many Oregonians, chances are, not that long ago; or perhaps it has been a while after all. The Oregon Coast, and its 300+ miles of accessible beach along the Pacific Ocean is an ideal place for us to get away for a quick trip out of town. There's something for everyone, whether you're visiting Astoria in the north, Port Orford in the south, or somewhere in between, there are explorations and adventures to be had all throughout the year.

Anyone whose spent time at the Coast is sure to have stories of fun memories complimenting the breathtaking views and spectacular natural wonders which can be found in this lush region of the state. Many of us have our favorite haunts, small towns and parks which we love to return to time and again. But how well do you REALLY know the Coast? If it's been awhile since you've visited a town on the Oregon Coast for the first time, or you've never been to a particular beach before, make 2018 the year you get off the well-loved path to the Coast which you know so well, and discover something new.

When it comes to the Central Oregon Coast, first thoughts turn towards Newport and Lincoln City, and the Chinook Winds Casino. The region itself runs from Lincoln City, south down to Yachats. Known as the "Heart of the Coast", this area has some incredible gems worth visiting.

One such place is Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City.  You can visit Cape Kiwanda Natural Area day-use park year round, where it's said some of the most spectacular waves can be seen. You've probably seen Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, but Cape Kiwanda has it's own Haystack Rock too, another monolith still standing against the power of the sea.  The park is a favorite stop for fishing and picnic afternoons.

The beaches around Lincoln City often have a treasure of their own waiting for the lucky person to find it. From October through May, over 3,000 hand-crafted glass floats are "hidden" along the beaches. These aren't from old fishing nets on the other side of the Pacific. These are made by local glass artists, and strewn about the 7-mile stretch of beach 6 months out of the year. These vibrant and unique pieces of art are there for the taking, "Finders Keepers" they say, it's all about spreading a bit of joy in an already beautiful place.

Many know of Devils Punch Bowl, an incredible, natural bowl of carved rock exposed to the Pacific Ocean. But have you heard of Thor's Well?  This is a sight which needs to be seen in person to truly appreciate what it is. Located along Cape Perpetua near Yachats, this natural phenomenon is best observed at high tide. This gaping rock hole along the Coast appears to be draining the ocean, as waves rush in water drains away. It can be a risky place to visit, staying back at a safe distance is imperative, but the sight to see is one to remember.

If you are ready to explore the Central Oregon Coast, you can do so with ease and comfort on our upcoming NW Small Group trip with Agent Host, Steven Kay, April 20-23, 2018. Let us take care of the details while you relax and enjoy an Oregon Coast getaway. This trip to the Central Coast is not the only one we have planned, Visit our Website to learn more, including about the latest deals, exciting offers and our service fees. Be sure check back here soon for part two of our series about the Hidden Gems of the Coast, you'll fall in love with the Coast all over again.

*Photo Attributions:
MiddleLeft: Kape Kiwanda: By Thomas Shahan (Kiwanda Tide Pool  Uploaded by Jacopo Werther) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 

Bottom RIght: Thor's Well: By John Fowler from Placitas, NM, USA (Thor's -- Well???) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 

January 12, 2018

Cruise Wave Season- What is it?

Cruise travel is popular for a reason, well many reasons actually. There’s a wide range of cruise ships available, varying by size, destination focus, on-board amenities, off-board excursions and even budgets, making this type of travel suitable for just about anyone. One of the biggest allures of cruise travel are the conveniences available. On a cruise, you need only unpack once, while you visit several different locations, sometimes even different countries, in one trip. Many cruise lines offer activities and explorations designed for different ages, ideal for a family vacation to ensure everyone has a great time. Another draw to cruise travel are the special deals which passengers can take advantage of. 

The start of a new year means one thing in the world of cruising, Cruise Wave Season.  As soon as January 1st arrives, and sometimes before then, it seems that every cruise line has an incredible offer, or two or three, available.  Cruises are typically booked well in advance of a departure date, and the sooner you reserve your stateroom, the sooner you’ll be assured to get what you want from your cruise, such as the ideal stateroom for your needs and budget, and access to pre-booking popular excursions and on-board amenities. 

Chances are, if you’re ready to plan a cruise now, you’ll be traveling later this year, or perhaps even the next. This is where Cruise Wave Season comes in. A new year is a new start, and what better way to start planning a new vacation than with some excellent deals? To encourage guests to reserve their cruise sooner rather than later, cruise lines offer some of their best deals of the year during Cruise Wave Season. For anyone given the gift of travel over the holiday season, yet still needing to decide on where and how to go, these sales come at the perfect time.

Each cruise line offers their own special promotions, some of these sales have brief booking windows, where travelers need to act fast to take advantage of them. Others last longer, from 1-4 months, allowing a bit more time to research your options and discuss your ideal cruise itinerary with your Travel Professional. The variety of Cruise Wave Deals makes it easier to find the best options at the best prices, now

Here’s a peek at just a few Cruise Wave Season Deals that are now available:

Princess Cruise Line- Anniversary Sale- Up to $600 On Board Spending! Offer Expires 2/14/18

Holland America Line- View & Veranda Upgrades & up to $500 On Board Spending! Offer Expires 3/15/18

Azamara Club Cruises- 50% Off 2nd Guest Passenger & Free Wi-Fi! Offer Expires 2/28/18

MSC Cruises- 2 for 1 Cruises! & Up to  $150 On Board Spending! Offer Expires 3/31/18

The agents at C.P. Trips Inc are putting together information on Cruise Wave Season deals to add to our website Cruises Page. The ones listed above are just the beginning. Discover more helpful information such as our service fees policy and other travel promotions, at our Website, which is under a New Name: www.cptripsinc.com