Monday, May 21, 2012

Oh! Oregon!

Cascade BywayWe’ve entered the last leg of our journey to our summer home by traveling up I-5 over the mountains from California and into the Southern edge of the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  From the desert earth tones of Arizona and Nevada, we were suddenly surrounded by every shade of green imaginable.  The vibrant spring greens were everywhere - meadows, rolling hills, forests, distant mountains…..what a beautiful area!  We checked into Timber Valley, an Escapees Park for a month of relaxing, sightseeing, and stocking up for our summer on the coast.  Prices in Oregon are higher than we’re used to in Texas and other areas, with fuel costs being the highest we’ve seen ($4.39/gal for diesel, $4.19 for regular unleaded), and food costs in particular are higher on the coast due to the limited access and transportation costs.  By the time we leave here we hope to have every nook and cranny filled with enough groceries to give us a good start for the summer.
The day was sunny, temperatures were in the 80s, and it was time for a road trip, so we headed south to the Umpqua River and followed it east up into the Cascade Range.  Our first stop, near the town of Glide, was the Colliding Rivers viewpoint, reportedly the only place of it’s kind in the world, where two rivers, the Umpqua and Little, meet head on.  This time of year the snowmelt in the mountains had both rivers roaring and it was an amazing sight.Colliding Rivers  As we continued climbing, the road curved along with the river, and each turn brought another beautiful vista of the roaring river, forest, and cloud-covered mountains.  North Umpqua River
As the miles progressed, the elevation signs also appeared and the numbers started going up.  First 3500, then 4500… 5500 we knew we were getting high by the huge temperature drop, and finally up came the windows and on came the heat (but the top was still down!).  We passed the northern entrance to Crater Lake NP, closed with about eight feet of snow covering the road, and stopped at Diamond Lake to stretch our legs.  The lake was frozen solid all of the way across, and all of the peaks were snow covered – a world removed from the 80+ temperatures in the valley.  Diamond Lake
Diamond Lake2
Top-down and snow – what a great combination!  Who knew how important heated seats could be?
Top Down & Snow
In the distance, Mount Thielson,  or “Cow Horn” dominates the skyline with it’s sharply-pointed peak.  The peak attracts an inordinate amount of lightning strikes, and as a result, hollow glass tubes called fulgurites or “petrified lightning” is formed.   Unfortunately, Brenda refused to hike up and obtain a sample so that I could photograph it and show it to you.  You’ll have to be satisfied with this.Mt Thielson
Everything is blooming in this area, as my allergies will tell you.  Rhododendrons, both wild and cultivated are the dominant flower and are blooming everywhere. Oregon Rhododendron
Chocolate PhosphateSutherlin is pretty much a fast food and basic diner-type town, but up the road a bit in “Historic Downtown Oakland”, we found Tolly’s, one of those special places with a unique menu and an old-fashioned soda bar.  I’ve always wanted to try a Chocolate Egg Cream, thinking that anything chocolate and fizzy had to be good.Tolly's Interior2  My first impression was watery chocolate milk with a fizz.  There was something missing….like taste!  But falling back on my motto that everything is better with ice cream, I had two scoops of vanilla ice cream added and…..ah!  Delicious!

We thought a Saturday trip to Eugene, home of the University of Oregon, would be a good opportunity to explore the town and visit the Saturday Market.  Oregon has become one of our favorite college football teams; after all, it’s easy to root for a team named the “Tigers”, “Trojans”, or “Wolverines” but it takes a special person to root for a team named the “Ducks”.  One can only imagine the fear of opposing teams when they’re faced with the Ducks powerful offense known as the “quack attack”.  We drove around the university area, took a look at the stadium (the duck pond?), and headed downtown for the market.  Wow – what a pleasant surprise!  Over four blocks of vendors, with a city requirement that everything sold at the market be made or Eugene Market Musicproduced by the seller or seller’s family member.  This time of year the limited amount of vegetables (all organic) took up only one block with the rest being crafts, jewelry, and other trinkets.  It was a festival-like atmosphere, with a music stage, large area of food vendors, and open grassy spots to enjoy the food.  We loaded up on root vegetables and local wildflower honey, along with a loaf of homemade bread.  We wish a venue like this was closer to where we’ll be staying this summer; it’s the type of place we’d like to visit often.Eugene Saturday Market
Eugene Saturday Market2
Food Court Dining Room
Judging by the upbeat attitude and smiles of everyone we met, we’ve started to believe the saying on this T-shirt:
Eugene T-shirt
We’ve had a great time here, but it’s time to pack up and head west to the coast for the summer.  Come with us as we explore one of America’s most beautiful areas!


  1. Thanks for telling us about the farmer's market. We will be visiting Eugene in about 3 weeks. We will try to plan to be there on a Saturday.

    The t-shirt should be sold here in Garberville, CA. This is hippie haven! They smoke dope right on the streets. Such a throw back to the 70's.

    We had hoped to celebrate our 30th anniversary on May 29 at Crater Lake but not to be. Weather forecast is for snow everyday and only a mile of the road is open to cars. A disappointment for sure but we will live.

    Anxious to see where you are headed. We are going to travel up the Oregon coast to Washington.

  2. Fun car - you must love it! Isn't it amazing to come into Oregon's lush green spaces after winter in the arid southwest??

    We visit Eugene frequently, and ALWAYS plan to stay over on Friday night so we can hit the farmers market on Saturday - one of the great ones. The produce/food section is always just one block (with great variety and quality), plus a block of crafts, and a block of live music, prepared food, and crafts around the edge. Great atmosphere and people-watching.

    Safe travels!

  3. Come back in late August and you can enjoy the Eugene Celebration - complete with the crowning of a "Slug Queen." The Saturday market is one of the best as are some of the local farms that sell direct.

    Thanks for mentioning our Beloved DUCKS!! That Quack Attack is something else alright.