Oregon is beautiful

We returned home safely yesterday (Wednesday) evening from our trip to Oregon.  We drove 1,596.3 miles on this one-week trip – wow!

When I was 15, my parents and my brothers and I did a one-month car trip through the western half of the United States.  I know we drove through Oregon, but I don’t remember anything about it.  However, I will definitely remember this trip.

Oregon is beautiful – there’s simply no other way to describe it.  When we drove through the Columbia River Gorge in the Willamette Valley (pronounced will-A-met, with an “a” sound like “apple”), all I could think about was what the pioneers on the Oregon Trail must have thought when the finally arrived in that valley.  It’s just stunning.

In some ways, Oregon reminded me a bit of Wisconsin.  Lots of green trees and rolling hills.  Yet, it’s quite different.  There are a lot few farms and fields, and the valleys and the hills surrounding them are quite pronounced.  The trees are different, and there’s simply more of them.  Wisconsin has more gently rolling hills; Oregon has hills that are either mountains or the foothills of mountains.  And, in much of Oregon, especially whenver you’re up on the top of a high point, you can see snow-capped mountains in the distance.  I liked that.

On the Fourth of July, our friends took us to an All-You-Can-Eat and $1.25 a pound for All-You-Can-Pick berry farm.  I confess; we went hog-wild in the raspberries.  The bushes were as tall as me if not taller, and they were just loaded with berries.  This farm also had loganberries, blueberries, and other kinds of berries as well.  So good!  We also learned that blackberry bushes are essentially weeds in Oregon, because they grow everywhere.  Our friends gave us a tour of their “backyard,” and it was loaded, just loaded with blackberry bushes.  The blackberries weren’t ready yet; the bushes were still in bloom, but if you looked carefully, you could just see where some berries were starting to form.  Our friends also had a huge (40+ feet high) sour cherry tree in their backyard.  The kids all had fun picking cherries and eating them right off the tree.  Jujubee had fun with that too, although I brought it to a halt for her when I realized she wasn’t spitting out the pits!!  I feared her gastro-intestinal system would give her trouble over the next 24 hours, but she was none the worse for wear. 🙂

The area east of Portland along the Columbia River was beautiful, but perhaps my most favorite part of the state was in the south around Medford.  We stayed one night at a Bed & Breakfast in Jacksonville, and we had supper in downtown Jacksonville.  The whole downtown area has been restored to what it would have (sort of) looked like in the gold rush days, and it is incredibly quaint.  And crunchy!  I saw a lot of organic, fair trade kind of shops.  I wished we could have spent time shopping there, but it was probably just as well that we didn’t.  😉

Although, a shopping excursion in Oregon would not cost as much as a shopping trip in California, because Oregon has no sales tax!  Score for us Californians!  Before we drove back to CA, JJ asked me at least three times, “Is there anything you can think of that we need before we cross back into CA?”  It is also illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon; a gas station attendant must, by law, pump your gas for you.  That threw JJ and me at our first Oregon fill-up.

The other part of our trip that was truly beautiful was the Mount Shasta area.  Mount Shasta is the highest mountain in CA, and it is still very covered by snow.  We got to observe it for much of our drive on I-5.  It truly is beautiful.  Equally beautiful is the Shasta Lake area.  We stayed there one night, and JJ and I decided that we would like to try to spend an entire week in the Shasta Lake area next summer.  There is so much to do, and it’s just beautiful.

Crater Lake was also stunningly beautiful.  There is a rim drive that goes around the crater, and, to our surprise, one-fourth of it was still closed due to snow!  On July 6!  We also found plenty of snow along the drive, and we took some time to let the girls play in it and throw a few snowballs.  Jujubee was a little trepidatious about the snow, but Lyd had a great time.  Our girls, in the short, summery skirts and short-sleeved shirts and sandals, played in the snow while we also swatted at the copious mosquitoes that were rather thick.  We all have a number of bites that, two days later, we’re still itching.

It was a lovely vacation away, and now we’re back home.  We don’t travel again until the first week of August when we go back to Wisconsin for our annual summer trip.  I have to now get some kind of “summer vacation groove” going here at home.  We’ve been staying up late on the trip, and not getting up until 9 or 9:30 in the mornings.  I’m going to see if we can turn that around a bit and get us all on a better schedule.

Today, my task, besides lots of laundry, is to deal with all the raspberries we brought back before they go bad.  We also bought a half-flat of peaches and a smaller half-flat of apricots from a roadside vendor just off I-505 in Winters on the way home.  They are SO delicious, and I’ve got to do something with them soon so they don’t go to waste.

What a great trip!  We had no car troubles, no big health issues while we were away, and a great time on our own and with friends.  What a blessing!