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Airstreaming through Paisley, Oregon in the Oregon Outback; Mosquito Festival


Why would one visit an area infested with so many mosquitos that the town holds an annual Mosquito Festival


Because heading south, Paisley—a modest oasis of civilization in the Oregon Outback—is on the way to California liquor stores in Alturas, and beyond that, Reno. And beyond that, during that magical time of year, Burning Man


It’s basically an agreeable bend in Highway 31; a nice quiet place with wide streets to pull your Airstream over and use the public restroom, restock at the little mercantile, beer up in the friendly cowboy bar, or recaffeinate at the coffee stand in the middle of the street where you make the left to Reno. (The little Man sticker in the window lets Burners know they are a welcome—though small—contributor to the town’s economy.) Sit a spell—Paisley gets outstanding AT&T cell reception.


Why all the mosquitos? “We’re surrounded by marshland,” happily explained the checker at the mercantile, and the town celebrates that fact during their Mosquito Festival, held the last weekend in July. It’s what passes for fun in a tiny town: a few card tables vending cowboy accessories, a snow cone machine, a string band. Garage sales. A melancholy little concours d’elegance. 


The precious Methodist church quilt show displays quilts and fabric art draped over the backs of the pews. A Saturday night dance within a ringed wall of hay bales. Horseshoe pits. All good clean fun.


When I visited, the community center was hopping with an “art” show and a history exhibit with more photos and artifacts from the Paisley of yesteryear than I would have thought possible.


My first experience with Paisley, years ago, was the site of one of my most bitter arguments with Ralph who was melting down about how slowly I was towing the martini wagon to Tuff Campground at Mammoth Lakes. In his defense, I was driving about 40 mph, all 300-plus miles from Portland. 


Ralph has since been back to Paisley with the Airstream and his fishing buddy Chuck in tow, when they attempted to fly fish the River Chewaucan—pronounced “she-waugh-can” but which Ralph calls the “chew-a-con”, or, when he and Chuck are together, the “chewbacca”.


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