OREGON COASTLINE

October 19, 2019


The Oregon Coast Trail winds through smooth sandy shore, seaside cliffs, and Sitka spruce forests for almost four hundred (400) miles. From the mouth of the Columbia River to the California state line, this work in progress samples state parks, national forests, public beaches, and small coastal towns. Half the time there’s no trail at all, as the route traverses open sand shoreline. Get to know the lay of the land and the ways of the locals on this unconventional Oregon trek. 

Officially, the Oregon Coast Trail is three hundred and eighty-two (382) miles long, but the actual distance varies depending on how you choose to hike it. If you ferry across major bays and rivers, you can shave off about fifty (50) miles, mostly along road shoulders.

Several very interesting facts about the coast are as follows:

• Oregon offers shoppers the benefit of NO SALES TAX

 • Seventy-nine (79) State Parks – Ranging in size from large parks with camping, hiking trails, and beaches to small waysides with picnic tables and great views

 • Eleven (11) Lighthouses – Nine (9) are Historic Lighthouses, seven (7) of which are open to the public. The two (2) remaining lighthouses are private aids to navigation

• Eleven (11) Conde B. McCullough-designed Bridges – recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places

 • Cranberries – a major agricultural crop in the Bandon and Port Orford areas.  (Thought this was fascinating.)

OK, let’s now take the very brief pictorial trip my wife and I took several days ago.

You will get an idea as to the very rugged coast line from the picture below.  Steep cliffs, rugged shore line and driftwood-laden beaches.

In some areas along the coast the beaches are very wide and welcoming.  This is ideal for surfers and the occasional swimmer.

The hills to the east of the beaches are rarely higher than one thousand (1000) feet but due to the cliffs along the beach they appear to be much higher.

Notice the trees and foliage growing from the edge of the sandy beach to the top of the hills.  The trees are for the most part spruce or fir trees.

The digital below is taken from one of the seventy-nine (79) state parks along the way from north to south.  We are early risers so we got to the part about 0830 in the morning just as the fog was beginning to dissipate.

As mentioned earlier, there are eleven (11) lighthouses along the coast line.  Most are not operational but their beauty is obvious, especially against an October sky.

Do you like fish—really fresh caught this morning fish?  The coast of Oregon is the place to visit.  There are many, many boat docks along the coast.  We arrived at the dock shown below approximately noon one day to discover they had been to sea early in the morning, returned, disposed of their catch and were done for the day.  We also discovered the fish we were eating at lunch had been caught that very same morning. 

If you are looking for a place to visit with your family, I can definitely recommend the coast of Oregon.  Marvelous trip.  Think about it.

OH, THE PLACES WE WILL GO

October 17, 2019


If you have been reading my posts you know my wife and I recently traveled to Oregon.  Beautiful state!  One of the cities we visited was at the most northern end of the Willamette Valley, McMinnville. 

The map above will give you some idea as to where McMinnville is located.  If you look closely, you can see it is just southeast of Portland.  (I know this is difficult to see so just trust me on this one.)  You never know what you will find when you travel to a place you have never been before but this little city was a great and pleasant surprise. 

Their “official” web site indicates the following:

“McMinnville, Oregon is a warmhearted city of about 33,000 residents located in the heart of Oregon wine country, not too close — or too far– from the bustle of Oregon’s largest cities, Portland and Salem. Our Willamette Valley town is the seat of Yamhill County and officially became a city in 1882. Fast forward to today, McMinnville is a hub for those who appreciate the laid-back style of a small town with great taste. With over 220 wineries to sip at and an overwhelming amount of farm-to-table and artisan dining experiences to be had, you’ll find yourself having little time left to discover the rest of McMinnville’s attractions and charm.  The historic downtown area is the heart of the city and is “Oregon’s Favorite Main Street,” also known as Third Street. Downtown McMinnville is a stroll worthy stop with its tree-lined streets anchored by quaint boutiques, cool coffeehouses, and kitschy antiquaries punctuated with wine tasting rooms, craft breweries and bars, and a tasty mix of award-winning restaurants. Voted among the best main streets in America, the downtown core hosts a variety of events and community celebrations from the annual UFO Festival and Turkey Rama to weekly farmer’s markets. “

I have left the hyperlinks in their web site so you may gain additional information.  Given below is what we first saw when we entered the hamlet.

A little overcast when we got there, nevertheless, a beautiful little town.  Since McMinnville is somewhat of a tourist town, there were many really good restaurants waiting to be explored.  One such was La Rambla.  It was great and so great we ate there twice during our three-day visit.  Let’s take a look.

La Rambla:

I would invite you to take a look at their menu.  Hyperlink:  https://laramblaonthird.com/menu/. I won’t print out the entire menu but trust me, it’s worth taking a look.

The first thing you see when you walk in is the bar.

Well stocked with most of the wine produced in the Valley as well as the “hard stuff”.  The entire restaurant was furnished with oak, teak, and mahogany with craftsmanship you would find in historic residences.  It took time to look at the furnishings and wall hangings so we were there about thirty minutes after our meal was served and consumed.  The picture below shows a dining room that accommodates small parties. 

We had the paella and it was simply MARVELOUS.  The dish is shown below.  Our order served two people but a larger order, three or four. 

The following note is given on the menu so you will know you have a slight wait before you can sample the wonderful flavors.

It did take every bit of forty-five minutes but the wait was definitely worth it.  For those of you who need to be refreshed as to the origins of paella:

Paella (Valencian pronunciation: [paˈeʎa]; Spanish: [paˈeʎa]) is a Valencian rice dish that has ancient roots, but its modern form traces origins in the mid-19th century in the area around the Albufera lagoon on the east coast of Spain adjacent to the city of Valencia.  It originated in the fields of a region called Valencia on the eastern coast of Spain. Today paella is made in every region of Spain; using just about any ingredient that goes well with rice.

The dish Paella is said to be a perfect union between two cultures from Spain, the Romans, for the pan and the Arab, that brought rice.

There is an old story of how the Moorish kings’ servants created rice dishes by mixing the left-overs from royal banquets in large pots to take home. It is said by some that that word paella originates from the Arab word “baqiyah” meaning left-overs. The term Paella actually refers to the pan that it is cooked in. All the way back to the ancient Sanskrit language the term Pa means …to drink, and the Roman culture from the Latin made words like Patera, Patina, Patella which could mean a container to drink, or perform other culinary functions.

It would seem that paella might be a natural dish, since rice is grown in Spain, and all meats, and seafood in some regions are plentiful.  Since there are many workers in the fields, cooking it over an open fire also would be the most practical. Spain is not known for forests and lots of timber, so the small available twigs and branches from pruning that are green gave a quick hot fire instead of a slow burning one from logs.


So, the size of the pan grew instead of the depth, so you could get a hot fire a maximum evaporation.

The pan, shown above, is characterized by being round with a flat bottom.
The pan can be anywhere from a LP record 12 inches in diameter to several feet. The one thing that doesn’t change is the height. It is about first joint in the thumb deep as the Spanish would say, so that the rice has maximum contact with the bottom of the pan.  It evolved, starting with a rounded bottom, designed to hang over a fire. It is thought that as soon as some sort of grill or flat top burner was invented that the pans started to become flatter at the bottom.

Our paella was served in the pan it was cooked in and it was HOT with a capital “H”.  I mean we cooled each bit when we started to keep from visiting the local ER.  Our entire meal took well over an hour to eat but that was just fine.  Paella, wine, great bread, great atmosphere, what else could  you want on a vacation?

Willamette Damn It

October 12, 2019


This past week my wife and I visited the Willamette Valley in the state of Oregon.  (By the way, it’s Will-am-met or as the locals say—Willamette Damn It.)  We had never been to Oregon but by the end of the very first day we knew we had selected one of the most beautiful states in the U.S for our visit.  The time of year was excellent also.  Weather was beautiful; mid-sixties, clear blue skies, fluffy white clouds.  You get the picture.

 Let’s do some homework first then we will take a pictorial trip into the Willamette Valley wine country.  The map you see below is courtesy of the Willamette Valley Wine Association and indicates the length and width of the wine-growing area within the valley itself.

MAP OF VALLEY AND GEOGRAPHY

The Willamette Valley is a one hundred and fifty (150) -mile long valley in Oregon. A state, as you know, located in the Pacific Northwest. The Willamette River flows the entire length of the valley, and is surrounded by mountains on three sides – the Cascade Range to the east, the Oregon Coast Range to the west, and the Calapooya Mountains to the south.  The geography; i.e. mountains protecting the valley below, etc. is the main reason wine-growing is possible and plentiful.  We were told the winds blowing west to east from the coast provide much-needed moisture during dryer seasons. 

The valley is synonymous with the cultural and political heart of Oregon, and is home to approximately seventy (70%) percent of its populationincluding the six largest cities in the state: Portland, Eugene, Salem, Gresham, Hillsboro and Beaverton.   Eight of Oregon’s top ten most populated cities, and sixteen (16) of its top twenty (20) – are located in the Willamette Valley.

The valley’s numerous waterways, particularly the Willamette River, are vital to the economy of Oregon, as they continuously deposit highly fertile alluvial soils across its broad, flat plain. From observation, we noticed the soil being as black as pitch indicating a very desirable condition for growing just about anything.   A massively productive agricultural area, the valley was widely publicized in the 1820s as a “promised land of flowing milk and honey”. Throughout the 19th century it was the destination of choice for the oxen-drawn wagon-trains of emigrants who made the perilous journey along the Oregon Trail.

Today the valley is often considered synonymous with “Oregon Wine Country”, as it contains more than nineteen thousand (19,000) acres of vineyards and over five hundred wineries.  The climate of the Willamette Valley is Mediterranean with oceanic features. This climate is characterized by very dry and mostly cloudless summers, ranging from warm to occasionally very hot, followed by cool, rainy, and consistently cloudy winters. The precipitation pattern is distinctly Mediterranean, with little to no rainfall occurring during the summer months and over half of annual precipitation falling between November and February.  In other words, ideal for agriculture including wine-growing.  We also noticed the acre after acre of hazelnut trees. 

PICTORIAL TOUR:

Now that we know a little bit about the geography and location, let’s take a digital tour of the valley, the vineyards, and a few of the wineries.  As mentioned, there are over five hundred so obviously we only toured those being more prominent and having wine-tasting facilities.  Apparently, there is a considerable difference between the grapes, consequently the wine, grown in the valley as opposed to the hills surrounding the valley.  You will notice the rolling countryside and the acres of vines planted.  In the higher elevations, it was harvest time.  In the valley, the harvest had already been completed. When I talk about hills, the elevations are generally under one thousand feet but that certainly does make a difference in the quality and type of grapes grown. 

 One issue this year was the number of pickers available for harvest.  They are paid by the bucket which I thought was very interesting although I do not know how else that could be done.  In every case, the harvesting was accomplished by hand and no automatic equipment was used.  The picking is contracted using companies responsible for hiring temporary workers—mostly Hispanic.  When the harvest is completed, they move on to other areas of our country. 

The most beautiful vineyards were at elevation and not on the valley floor.  For this reason, most of the pictures I took are in the hills.  Let’s take a look.  You will notice the rolling countryside and neatly planted rows of vineyards.

COUNTRYSIDE:

There were some non-paved roads in the higher elevations requiring four-wheel drive.  This really surprised me but that’s just the way it is.  Notice the gently sloping elevation changes.  All of the vines are accessible even though the elevation changes.

The picture below is one of the most beautiful landscapes we came across.  I have no idea as to what flowers these were. 

As mentioned earlier, the harvest in the valley was complete but not in the hills.  You can see the grapes ready for picking and just hanging on the vines.

As you can see, the grapes are very accessible so a picker could move very quickly and fill a bucket in quick time.

WINERIES:

The wineries were absolutely striking in design and size.  I have no idea as to how much investment was necessary to bring about the overall facilities.  One thing that did surprise us was the recent construction of the largest wineries.  These facilities were not decades old but fairly new.  We are now going to look at three wineries that we thought were absolutely beautiful inside and out.  In each case, of course, we were introduced to the wine produced by these facilities.  Great tasting and fabulous.  On one case, the wine was so good we joined their wine club.  Let’s take a look.

One thing that was striking—the landscaping leading up to all of the facilities. Immaculate, well-planned and well-maintained.

The digital above shows the “wine store”. Please note, not only wine but “T” shirts and other clothing as well as cork-screws, wine containers, etc. 

The next three photos show a grotto area used for parties, dinners and wine tasting.  The construction was fascinating.  Notice the very careful placement of the individual stones lining the room.  All walls and ceiling were lined with these flat stones.

The second winery we visited was quite different in design from the first but spacious—very spacious.  The staff was planning a wedding reception during our brief visit so the place was buzzing with anticipation of the event.

Third and last winery I will show you is below.  This winery was started some years ago by immigrants from Iran.  When the Shaw was disposed they traveled to the United States to start a new life.  We met one of the owners and discussed with him the  history of their travels and how they found Oregon to settle.  Fascinating story. 

This is the tasting room below

The wall hanging shown below is an actual Persian carpet brought from Iran during their exit from that country.

PRODUCTION:

The object below is, believe it or not, a wine press from years ago.  This is how they used to do it.   How long would it take to press the grapes using that device?  The picture following the hand-cranked wine press shows the storage units and associated plumbing now used in modern-day wine making.  Big difference.

You can see wine making is big business in today’s world and it takes a huge investment in equipment and manpower to maintain the industry.

CONCLUSION:

I can definitely recommend to you a visit to Oregon and the Willamette Valley.  Marvelous time but be sure to check the weather and go during the proper season.

%d bloggers like this: