Archive for the ‘road trip!’ Category
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.
I towed into Pendleton, Oregon minutes before the Westward Ho! parade and faced nowhere to park; every empty slot and lot teemed with RVs and horse trailers and teepees. Somehow I squeezed into a miracle spot in the WalMart parking lot, stuffed to the curbs with motorhomes, tents, and rednecks camped in the beds of their pickups…like spring break for hillbillies. I followed the crowd and piles of manure on Court Street to the all non-motorized parade which showcased wild west wagons and buggies, all manner of cowboy, Indians, Mexicans, sheriffs, preachers, outlaws, firemen, Oregon Trail pioneers, weird timber equipment, every rodeo princess in the Northwest, longhorns, mules, donkeys, horses, miniature ponies, and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler.
The state fair may be legend, but Minnesota’s podunk summer festivals—Detroit Lakes’ Water Carnival, the Audubon Pet Parade (which took ten minutes, beginning to end), and “Looney Daze” (sic) in Vergas—deliver superior fun with easier parking.
Lakeside communities in northwestern Minnesota—frozen into a block of ice for seven-plus months—have to cram their pent up energy into the short tourist months of summer. In Vergas, where the loon is revered as a deity, you’ll find loon ball, the worlds largest loon, and, in August, Looney Daze. (Actual slogan: “WhAt HaPpEnS In VeRgAs!…StAyS In VeRgAs!”)
I used to be crazy-patriotic. I walked precincts for the party when I was eleven, voted in every election since I’ve been able (wearing pajamas to the dorm polling place to be first in line at age 18), and I know every flag etiquette rule and the harmony part to This Land is Your Land. I grew out of it though, jaded in recent years by my understanding of the bigger world, media massaging, and our electoral system.
But, this Independence Day I had to turn my head so no one would see me choking up over a red white and blue birthday cake.