Archive for the ‘Northwest’ Category
After five years of ‘streaming with the DWR we traveled again to Timberlake Campground (aka “Leroy’s Place”) in the green Gorge. The reason: party with the local Wally Club at the first rally of the Oregon Airstream season.
It was dark, dank, and bitter cold. Driving up to I-84 from Bend we could see the spring cloud pattern laid out before us like a weatherman’s graphic: blue on the right, socked in on the left.
How do you tell the quality of a diner? By its chicken fried steak, of course.
Maybe it was just the mid 80’s, when everything was better, but the finest I ever tasted was at Boz Scaggs’ Blue Light Cafe on Union Street in San Francisco. I’ve been chasing that high for three decades. (The Blue Light today, minimized and lost to new management, serves greasy, monotonous bar food paired with Jello shots.)
The award for Second Best Chicken Fried Steak went to a diner outside Grand Coulee Dam. Actual steak, with a bone, real and delicious. The coating, crispycrunchy. The gravy, oh god, the gravy: not too salty, and lumpy with pork sausage.
For five years I’ve been towing alone, passing myself off as some kind of RV studette. Repeatedly on the road I hear, “oh my, a woman all alone with your Airstream, crossing the country, how do you do it?” “Nothing to it,” I brag, with a smug wave of my hand.
I’m a fraud.
I’ve been cheating. For five years I’ve been using the trailer as a glorified tent, essentially car camping. I’ve never showered in it, washed dishes in the sink, or used the commode for its intended purpose. I’ve never replaced the propane tanks myself, put up the awning, or, god forbid, visited a dump station. (Sexist alert: I have my man for that.)
It was chilly and rainy at the final Oregon WBCCI Airstream rally of the season at Champoeg State Park (shocking), but the hosts made it warm and fall-tastic in the clubhouse, and during the Saturday tasting excursion the hilltop views from the vineyards in Dayton and Dundee were lit by advantageously-timed sunbreaks. (“Sunbreak”. That’s a west-of the-Cascades weather word you don’t hear growing up in California.)
At the “epicenter of Oregon Pinot Noir” thirty miles southwest of Portland, foodies can spend a delightful afternoon (or week) sampling wine, cheese, olive oil and filberts at the dozens of wineries and other manufacturers of artisanal treats.
Ralliers at wonderful, warm, windy Ana Reservoir RV Park enjoyed what the Oregon Outback had to offer: a tour of the state wildlife refuge, wildflower viewing at Fremont Park, the Paisley Mosquito Festival, splashing in the lake, collecting cattails, and evening kite flying followed by a knock-your-socks-off sunset reflected in aluminum.
An expedition to the Cowboy Dinner Tree in Silver Lake was organized, and mass quantities of meat were consumed—obscene portions served family style with sides.
Like Madison County in Iowa, Linn County and Lane County in Oregon are lousy with covered bridges.
Nearly 30 Airstreams and their Oregon “Wally Club” owners convened at green and spacious Sunnyside County Park on Foster Reservoir for the Covered Bridge Rally.
Many of the Airstreamers brought bikes in hopes of riding the Covered Bridge Bicycle Tour, but only the hardest-core cyclists ventured forth to try legs on the “68, 85 and 100-mile routes” (even the “short” tour was 40 miles; fughettaboutit).
Maupin, Oregon is a two-horse town perched above a pleasing bend in the Deschutes that exists solely for the enjoyment of fly fishermen and as a place for river rafters to put in.
We joined the Oregon Unit of the WBCCI “Deschutes and Ladders Rally” at Maupin City Park, which isn’t a city park at all but a shady, grassy RV campground. As always, we were late to sign up for the sold-out rally and were relegated to the cheap seats in the adjacent overflow dry camping lot. Not a problem.
“This is a lot different from our Airstream trips last year, on the west side,” said Ralph. He’s right: gone is the pouring rain, incessant windshield wiper noise, smell of soggy dog. Welcome to late winter camping in Central Oregon: 64 degrees, blue sky, the night sparkling with stars. (Before I sound too giddy, it was a mild winter across the state; even wet, miserable Portland got a break.)
Our destination: the town of Summer Lake, only 100 miles from our snow-covered driveway in Bend.
What happened to Frenchglen? I recall passing through fifteen years ago to find an oasis in the desert: enchantingly upscale accommodations; a country store tastefully merchandised with fine handmade gifts and locally grown produce and cheeses; espresso. Now, the Mercantile, once beamed directly from Marin County, squats forlornly behind the Iron Curtain with its half-empty shelves of dirty gourds and stale-looking cracker boxes. And the hotel? No longer on my short list of places to honeymoon.
What goggles did I have on?
The first day of fall in Bend. Ahh. Most of the tourist trade has vanished (I’m told), and the hipsters have slunk back to Portland and their PBRs. Locals are relaxing, the sky is blue, and the craft beer is flowing.
When I moved to Portland twenty years ago I had not yet heard of hefeweizen and immediately contracted OBD (Oregon Butt Disease), which manifests as fifteen sudden pounds in the posterior caused by too many 200-calorie pints. I’ve since switched to red wine and martinis but now that I’m #inbend, I’m rediscovering beer.
First stop: Oktoberfest, downtown.