Outside in Oregon – Woods, Wine, and Waterfalls
After riding the rails up the edge of the Pacific, starting in Los Angeles, the Coast Starlight dropped me off in the verdant state of Oregon in May for three of my favorite things – hiking, winery visits, and spending time with friends (not necessarily in that order – the first two were greatly enhanced by the third!) Jeanne and Sally, friends I met in La Manzanilla, Mexico, were kind and generous hosts, sharing their homes and hospitality, and showing me some of the best that Oregon has to offer.
If there is one word that describes Oregon, it’s green – many shades of green. It’s known as the Beaver State, but Emerald State might be more apt.
First stop was Talent, near the more famous town of Ashland (think Shakespeare country – Ashland is known for its Shakespeare festival in the summer). Jeanne, accompanied by her friendly canine pals, Luna and Sparky, shared sights such as deep, lush forests, full of thick, soft moss…
…covered bridges over tranquil rivers…
…and the ever-present farmers markets full of colorful flowers and produce, tasty baked goods, food trucks, and creative handicrafts. Scents of apple pie, lavender, and grilled meats mingled together, and the sounds of music, laughter, and children playing filled the air.
In fact, being May, spring was in the air everywhere, the scent of flowers following us through quaint villages and into the countryside.
Our mutual friend Sally drove down to join us for a visit to Ashland, including gallery hopping, window shopping, a peek into a local landmark hotel, plus a walk in the park.
Then Sally whisked me away up to her place in Roseburg, where we were joined by another friend met in Mexico, Diane, to go hit the wine trail. In case you haven’t heard, Oregon is home to some of the best Pinot Noir in the world, not to mention wonderful wine-country scenery. It reminded me of my days working in the Napa Valley in California.
Sally, like me, is an avid hiker, and she was only too happy to show off some of the best waterfall trails the Umpqua River Valley in Oregon has to offer. We opted for several short trails rather than one long one, so as to see the most water dropping. Since it was the beginning of May there was plenty of downward dripping H2O (okay, more like cascading or rushing, but I like the alliteration of the d’s). Waterfalls and pools…
…trails and trees…
…plus wildflowers in abundance gave me plenty to satisfy my photo addiction. We climbed the Watson Falls, Toketee Falls, Fall Creek Falls, and Susan Creek Falls, with a riverside picnic lunch in between, where a bald eagle watched our repast, then did a fly-by. Nature surrounded us, the great and the small, mostly quiet except for rushing water, birdcalls, and the rustling of small woodland creatures.
Over the few days I spent in Roseburg, we took many a meandering hike, including one over rolling hills on an old pastureland turned park for some longer range views. The day started out sunny, with a bright blue sky, but the rain clouds caught up with us, so we got a bit wet. Of course, that’s what makes Oregon so green and the waterfalls so full – all of the rain. But don’t worry, you won’t melt! Just make sure to pack appropriate gear when you hike.
I missed the super-fun city of Portland on this trip, though I’ve been there a couple of times in the past, and it’s a definite must if you visit this incredible state. If you’re hungry, Oregon is not only an award-winning wine state, it’s also a foodie haven. Make sure you look for the food trucks, and if you’re vegetarian or vegan, you’ll think you’ve found veggie heaven!
Oregon is definitely one of the shimmering gems of the Pacific Northwest. Don’t miss it!