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February 18-20, 2022
This was our first time experiencing the Florence Wine and Chowder Trail. Many of the people we met and chatted with had been many times and I can see why! Even though there was an occasional rain, everyone was in good spirits, having a great time.
I hadn’t heard of this event, but luckily our favorite traveling buddy Kim Boals did. We got our tickets online at the Florence Chamber of Commerce website. The process was quick and easy. Well, at least as easy as any event coming out of the worst part of the global Covid pandemic. The mask mandate had been lifted, but many merchants and restaurants were still requiring them indoors. Most events, including this one, were requiring proof of Covid vaccination or proof of a negative test, as well as masks indoors.
We always love to stay at the Port of Siuslaw Campground and Marina when we go to Florence. There are RV hookups, cable TV and Wi-Fi in some spots, and it is walking or bicycling distance from anywhere we like to go. We do have to get the shuttle or a cab to the Three Rivers Casino, but it is a quick drive.
Norman and I arrived Friday evening. The weather was lovely and mild, so we rode our bicycles up to International C Food Market for dinner. The restaurant was unusually quiet, you would never guess the town was going to be overrun with fellow adventurers in just a few hours. We had fish and chips for dinner and I tried Calamari for the first time. Everything was delicious and the Calamari wasn’t tough and chewy and ultra-fishy like I always thought it would be! Everyone should know that ICM puts raisins on their coleslaw, in case you are someone that thinks raisins belong in the trash. *cough cough Kim cough cough*
The event began Saturday with the Wine Trail. We didn’t want to start the wine tasting without Aaron and Kim, so we had a light snack at Restobar while we waited for them to arrive. Afterwards, we checked in at Gazebo Park for our commemorative glasses and maps of participating shops, but instructions for the Glass Float Hunt were basically non existent. Since I was most excited about the possibility of winning a float, this meant we had to double back on many of our early stops once we found out what we were supposed to do. Next year, we will know that we are supposed to locate the hidden float at each location in exchange for a raffle ticket. Once we have collected a raffle ticket at each location, we can turn in the tickets.
Once we connected with Aaron and Kim, the real fun began! There were so many wines to taste, Norman even enjoyed a few. The tastings weren’t limited to only wines, Stillwagon Distillery was doing tastings with pirate flair and our own local Thinking Tree Spirits was sampling their bottled cocktails at Homegrown Public House and Brewery. We even tasted olives and oils at All About Olives. They have managed to put my two favorites into one with the gherkin stuffed olive! Now where is the gin…
The Chowder Trail and continuation of the Glass Float Hunt began Sunday. There were not as many participants in the chowder trail, so we were done earlier in the day. Each of us had our own favorite, but we all agreed the chowder at Firehouse Restaurant and Lounge was delicious, so that is where we decided to eat while we waited for the votes to be tallied and the glass float raffle to be set up. We also agreed that all the samples were delicious, and the only bad thing was that they were so small! I couldn’t decide between Lovejoy’s Restaurant and Tearoom and Homegrown Public House for my absolute favorite, Norman preferred the Firehouse chowder, and Aaron and Kim preferred Novelli’s Crab Chowder.
Once the votes were tallied, Novelli’s Crab and Seafood were announced as the winners of the chowder competition and the raffle drawing began. As the rain began in earnest we listened intently for our names to be called as winners of one of the many glass floats. As the numbers of floats dwindled and our hopes began to diminish, we finally heard “Kim Boals!” It was so exciting! She chose this beautiful glass float and captured this great photo of it once the weather improved.