Oregon Highlights (Long!)

Dec 16th, 2012, 07:59 PM
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Oregon Highlights (Long!)

HIghlights of a recent (early December) weekend in Oregon:

COTTAGE GROVE

Picturesque town with historic center, south of Eugene. Visited several covered bridges in the area, including the only remaining covered railroad bridge in the western US (reconstructed using salvaged original materials following a 2010 storm). I was surprised that it and another bridge we visited smelled like freshly sawn wood - really neat effect.

Tons of blackberry vines in the area. If you are there when they are ripe (August, I think) you can pick all you want. Amazingly, we found a vine that actually had a couple of good berries left on it (they had not had a freeze yet). Also lots of apple trees, many planted by the pioneers and lots of them with apples still on them. From what I was told, you can pick the apples, too, if they are by the roadside and obviously not part of someone's yard.

EUGENE

Brunch at Glenwood (1340 Alder Street; http://glenwoodrestaurants.com). A favorite of one of my friends, and obviously an Oregon place: every table has a squeeze bottle of blackberry jam on it. Jam was great, my home fries and eggs were very good, biscuit and "Oregon beef patty" were just OK.

Smith Family Bookstore (768 East 13th, around the corner from Glenwood; http://www.smithfamilybookstore.com/welcome.html): Fun local bookstore with a nice selection of new and used books. Worth a browse.

University of Oregon (https://www.uoregon.edu): Attractive campus with lots of red brick buildings, roses still blooming in places, interesting student union building, famous track stadium. One of my friends is an alum, and his time there overlapped that of Steve Prefontaine, so he was a good guide. The Eugene Pioneer Cemetery (http://eugenepioneercemetery.org) is surrounded by the campus. My friend said pioneers crossed the Cascades in covered wagons as late as the 1920s! The tidy campus of Northwest Christian University (828 East 11th; http://www.nwcu.edu) also borders the U of Oregon.

The Duck Store (895 East 13th Avenue; http://uoduckstore.com): Fun U of Oregon merchandise, loads of "duck junk" (as my friend called it), and a nice selection of art supplies on the bottom level. They were having a 20% off sale on almost everything when we were there, which was a great bonus.

Saturday Market (http://www.eugenesaturdaymarket.org), which operates as the Holiday Market (Lane County Fairgrounds, 13th & Jefferson; http://www.holidaymarket.org) from mid-November to Christmas. Everything sold is supposed to be hand-made by the seller. Very eclectic (art, crafts, clothing, jewelry) and lots of "hippy" stuff (tie dye & such). Also a food court, and live music. Also, the Farmers' Market (http://lanecountyfarmersmarket.org) was in the same building while we were there. Attractive displays of produce (including nuts and cheeses and jams), much less crowded than the Holiday Market, and free samples from some vendors.

Skinner Butte (248 Cheshire Avenue; http://www.eugene-or.gov/facilities....55&Page=detail) Park, almost 100 years old, includes land homesteaded by city founder Eugene Skinner. View from the top is nice but not jaw-dropping. We were there at twilight so seeing all the lights (including Christmas decorations) was pretty.

Papa's Pizza (original location at 1700 West 11th; http://www.papaspizza.net): College employer of my friend, so it had nostalgia value. Pizza was tasty and filling (we ordered a half Mama's / half Pineapple Surprise) but not super spectacular.
Cranachin is offline  
Dec 16th, 2012, 08:59 PM
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LONG day trip to the coast. We we thankful that it was sunny!

Drove down I-5 (the Cascades and Coast Range were beautiful in the morning mist) to US-199 to US-101 to OR-42 and back up I-5.

WOLF CREEK

Wolf Creek Inn (100 Front Street; http://www.historicwolfcreekinn.com): Built in 1883; "oldest continuous use hotel in the state of Oregon." Now a state historic site but still an operating hotel. Rooms are furnished in period and attractive. One of them, in which Jack London stayed and wrote, can be viewed by not rented. The inn as nicely decorated for Christmas inside and out, and there were fires in the fireplaces in the Ladies' Parlor and the restaurant.

We stopped there for breakfast, and the only people in the restaurant were the waitress and a very talkative local guy who was there for his morning meal. It was interesting listening to his tales. I ordered a half breakfast and a marionberry crumble. The breakfast was OK (and, oddly, served without toast or any other bread), but the crumble (served hot, with ice cream) was HUGE and delicious. Definitely worth it!

No one seemed to be staying as a hotel guest, as all the rooms that I saw had their doors open so you could see in (but with ropes across the doorways to bar access). There are displays about the inn's history on the walls, and the London Room and a room displaying artifacts like the old hand-crank telephone are upstairs. There's also an electric car charging station on the property.

JEDIDIAH SMITH REDWOOD STATE PARK (http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=413)

Beautiful drive as US-199 descends from the mountains in Oregon to the California coast at Crescent City (we did not actually go into CC). We didn't visit Stout Grove but did go to (or at least near) the Simpson-Walker Grove (off Walker Road, but not signposted very well!). I suspect we were not actually at the Simpson-Walker Grove, as there were no interpretive signs. There was a trail, but it was not a paved or graded one. There were only a couple of other people there, and most of the time we spent there we were the only ones, which was nice.

Redwood National and State Parks website http://www.nps.gov/redw/index.htm

Visitor guide http://www.nps.gov/redw/parknews/upl...W_6-4-2012.pdf

There is a decent map as part of both sites.


GOLD BEACH

Because it was getting well along into the afternoon by this point, we headed up US-101 along the coast. Unfortunately, we did not have time to stop at any of the vista points, as one of my friends really needed to find a place to eat (which we seemed to have a hard time with). Perhaps if we had gone to the harbor at Brookings we might have found somewhere, but we didn't have any luck at the places we tried along 101. So we just viewed the sea stacks and cliffs from the highway.

NOTE - What we attempted is better done as a 2-day trip, or at least in summer when the sun does not go down at 4:30!

Anyway, we finally stopped in Gold Beach, about a half-hour from Brookings, and ate at the Port Hole Cafe on the harbor (29975 Harbor Way; http://www.portholecafe.com). Nice views of the water and the bridge across the Rogue River. Clam chowder was good, fish was nicely prepared but not very flavorful (rockfish - maybe it is just a very mild whitefish?). Blackberry pie for dessert was delicious.

After dinner the sun was setting so we went over to the jetty to watch it. One of my friends and I scrambled down the boulders to the narrow beach there to hunt for rocks. I actually found an agate geode, much to his surprise.

We got back 101 and continued north in the fading light (we could still see sea stacks for a while) through Port Orford (the westernmost town in the lower 48) to Bandon, where we stopped to get snacks at Tiffany's Drug (44 Michigan Avenue) and Ray's Food Place (66 Michigan Avenue) to get snacks and post cards. Major disappointment to my friends: discovering that the Bandon creamery is no more. It was bought out by Tillamook and then closed.

From Bandon we took OR-42S to Coquille and then OR-42 back to I-5. Evidently 42s and 42 are scenic, too, but as it was dark I can't say. But the Coquille River must be quite wide along 42S, as I could see lights from the shore reflected in it (although I could not see the river itself).

We ended the day by stopping at a grocery to buy some Umpqua Ice Cream to eat at home (Chocolate Brownie Thunder, very yummy). The night before we had finished up the equally yummy Tillamook Marionberry Pie ice cream.
Cranachin is offline  
Dec 16th, 2012, 09:36 PM
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Said goodbye to my friends and headed to Portland.

SALEM

Stopped to visit the state capitol (900 Court Street; http://www.leg.state.or.us/capinfo/). Several school buses were parked out front, which seemed to be a bad sign (I was not looking forward to hordes of touring schoolchildren). Turned out they were musical groups from various schools, there to perform in the rotunda. I heard three very good groups while I was there, two choirs and a string ensemble.

There WAS bad news, though: evidently they don't give guided tours during December. That fact was curiously missing from their website and from all the tour books I consulted, however. When the lady at the info desk asked if I could come back in January, and I told her I was visiting from Massachusetts and was on my way back there, she took pity on me and offered to give me a brief tour. It turns out she loves the Statehouse in Boston (she called it the nation's loveliest)! She took me to the Senate and House galleries and the governor's reception office, gave me an informative overview of the building and its decorative elements, and then said I was free to roam about. She also allowed as how the current building is not as attractive as the one it replaced (destroyed in a 1935 fire), a sentiment with which I concur.

There are some interesting exhibits inside, including one on unusual Oregon laws (physician-assisted suicide: legal; self-service gasoline: illegal) and a state seal made out of items retrieved form the sewer. And it was very festively decorated with lots of Oregon Christmas trees, which smelled wonderful.

After a walk around the grounds and a peak at Willamette University across the street (the oldest institution of higher education west of the Mississippi), I headed out to find lunch. I ended up at Gerry Frank's Konditorei (310 Kearney SE; http://gerryfrankskonditorei.com). The cakes there looked incredible. They also had a nice selection of pastries (they serve breakfast and lunch/dinner, too). I ended up trying to choose between the apple pie bar and the peppermint brownie. The apple pie bar won (at an employee's suggestion), but it was a disappointment. The crust was not very flavorful and had an odd texture. I'm glad I asked for a middle piece rather than an edge. And I wonder what that brownie was like - it looked great.

PORTLAND

I was supposed to meet another friend in Portland at 4:00. I got there just in time. Coming upon the city from the south reveals just what a dramatic setting it has. I was entranced.

We met at the Lloyd Center (2201 Lloyd Center) to visit the Made in Oregon store (some nice gift items, although perhaps a little overpriced; but hey, it was convenient—they also have a location at the airport). I definitely CAN recommend the PHF (Pacific Hazelnut Farms) Sour Red Cherries in Extra Dark Chocolate (61% Cacao). Dried fruit in chocolate is often disappointing to me, but this was outstanding.

We drove over the Columbia River, just so I could see it (and thus traverse the length or breadth, whichever it was, of Oregon, from CA to WA) and then crossed back to Portland.

Then we went to Powell's City of Books (1005 West Burnside; http://www.powells.com), a must-visit for any bibliophile. It is indeed huge, and we only scratched the surface, but did find a treasure in their collection of antique maps. (Note: You can get one hour of free parking in their garage if you buy something and have your ticket validated. Additional hours are $1.60 each.)

From there we walked over to Thai Peacock (219 SW 9th Avenue; http://www.thaipeacockrestaurant.com), which got the best reviews of any of the places near Powell's my friend pulled up on his smartphone. Plus, the cashier in Powell's agreed it was good.

It was. I had Pad Ga Prau ("Sweet basil leaves") with chicken and my friend had Mango Curry with chicken, both very tasty. The Thai Salad Roll appetizer was a pleasant surprise, with a delightful peanut sauce.

After we said goodbye, I drove along the Willamette River to see the lights of downtown and then headed to the airport for a red-eye flight back east. I had a great time, and I already want to go back (although in the summer next time!)
Cranachin is offline  
Dec 16th, 2012, 11:45 PM
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My wife loves picking the Blackberries in Oregon/Northern Cal in the summer, as did my mother.

Good trip report - and you covered a lot of ground. Where do you think you will go next trip out?
Tomsd is offline  
Dec 17th, 2012, 05:05 AM
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Tomsd - I'd like to see the Columbia River Valley and the northern coast, for starters. Crater Lake would be nice, too, and so would the Desert of Oregon.
Cranachin is offline  
Dec 17th, 2012, 05:30 AM
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Sounds good. There is a lot to see in Oregon - and also in Washington and Northern Cal - to be fair.
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Dec 17th, 2012, 07:00 AM
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mms
 
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Glad you enjoyed your time here. Did you try anything Marionberry from the Made in Oregon store? They beat the heck out of regular blackberries Just an FYI for when you return. All stores at PDX are required to keep the same prices as their other locations. So you can wait to buy if you need to, without paying the higher prices that you typically do at other airports.
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Dec 17th, 2012, 07:18 AM
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Glad you enjoyed your time here. Did you try anything Marionberry from the Made in Oregon store? They beat the heck out of regular blackberries Just an FYI for when you return. All stores at PDX are required to keep the same prices as their other locations. So you can wait to buy if you need to, without paying the higher prices that you typically do at other airports.
mms is offline  
Dec 17th, 2012, 02:28 PM
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I'm sure there will be a next time. Unless you like skiing or snowshoeing try summertime. When you fly to PDX next time, head east on I-84 to see some great waterfalls. From the top of Multnomah Falls you get a broad view of the Columbia Gorge.
From Hood River head up Rt. 35 on the east side of Mt. Hood.
When you get to US 26 head east through the Warm Springs Reservation to Madras and then south on US 97 to Bend.
There are many recreational activities in and around Bend.
Crater Lake is an easy days drive from Bend. When you leave Crater Lake you can go west along the Umpqua River (Rt. 138) to Roseburg and I-5.
Let us know when you are coming back.
tomfuller is offline  
Dec 17th, 2012, 04:45 PM
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mms - Didn't have any marionberries except what was in the crumble at Wolf Creek and the Tillamook ice cream. Next time!

tomfuller - It would be nice to return next summer, as the friends who live near Eugene will be moving a little over a year from now. The friend who lives outside Portland probably will be there longer, but one never knows!
Cranachin is offline  
Dec 17th, 2012, 06:36 PM
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Another option for getting from I-5 over to US 97 is Rt. 58 over the Willamette Pass. Just east of the Salt Creek tunnel is the short road over to Salt Creek Falls which is the second highest waterfall in the state.
The tunnel will have some more construction next summer.
Rt. 58 turns off I-5 a few miles south of Eugene.
tomfuller is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 03:54 AM
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If you get near Mt. Hood - our favorite resort is Timberline Lodge - where you can look up the hill at the glacier - and see the young skiers training in the summer, and also go hiking, or visit the pristine lake on the other side of the hiway. http://www.timberlinelodge.com/

There is also a great view of the mountain from the pool/hot tubs and the hidden Paul Bunyan Bar - the Blue Ox Room - is also a treat.
Tomsd is offline  
Jan 19th, 2013, 06:01 AM
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I suggest that your trip to Oregon be during the summer months also (the days are much longer). But, I would add a few things to Tom’s list of must see. My suggestion would be to take I-5 from Portland to Washington take the interstate to Longview and cross over into Oregon. Take Hwy 30 to Astoria, there you can visit depending on what your tastes and interests are the Astoria Column, the Columbia River Maritime Museum, ride on the Astoria Riverfront Trolley, visit Fort Clatsop National Memorial or Fort Stevens State Park, or the “Goonies House”. From there continue on Hwy 30 until it turns into Hwy 101 and stop in Seaside and walk the promenade which is the end of the Lewis and Clark trial and browse through a few of the local shops. Then, continue on your trek to Cannon Beach and have lunch or dinner at Mo’s Restaurant it’s located right on the beach and has amazing views. Than continue down Hwy 101 to Tillamook and visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory and sample an assortment of different cheeses and ice creams. Last but not least continue on Hwy 101 to Hwy 22 to Hwy 18 to McMinnville and visit the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum where you can see the first airplane entirely made of wood the “Spruce Goose”, from there if you take 99W it’ll return you to Portland.
SNukuto1 is offline  
Feb 12th, 2013, 10:40 PM
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As an alternative, if you go to Astoria you also can take Hwy 30 directly from Northwest Portland. No need to route through Washington really; that section is not particularly scenic.
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