Where The Sky Is Blue – Southern Oregon: Part 2

and the vacation continued…..

Day 3

The day started with smoky conditions from the Trail-Cleveland Ridge wildfire burning nearby. The smell of faint burning timber could be smelled throughout the day. The fire was burning in remote public timber and privet timber land up along the west fork of Trail Creek road. Fortunately no homes were destroyed in the surrounding area, and the whole community is grateful for it. It did make for some smoky conditions throughout the day, but not enough to hamper being outside.

barely see the mountain
Image result for cleveland fire oregon
Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

After a small culinary trip in Medford Oregon on day two, we decided to continue on our culinary adventure by picking some apples early in the morning for the local food bank who desperately needed some for apple sauce and healthy lunches for kids going back to school. A total of 20lbs of apples were donated along with plastic bags (Ashland has a plastic bag ban) to the Ashland Emergency Food Bank.

mmm…apples

After unloading our apples, we all headed for the Ashland Weekday Farmer’s Market for fresh produce. There was endless stands of fresh produces, fruits, baked goods, and dairy products to sample. Reasonable prices compare to some farmer’s markets I have been to, and all farms local to the area. All four of us hauled home peaches (49ers and Princess), more cheese curds, flowers, and fresh baked rustic bread for later.

Once filled on lunch, us girls went into Ashland to do some shopping. Our favorite store in Ashland is Paddington Station on main street. Here you can find anything fun, cute, chic, and unique. The best part is of this store now is it has two other stores on the same street each with different things. In the store Made in Oregon I bought a shirt to display my “Oregon state of mind”while walking down the street in Washington. Let’s see how funny this will get once I start wearing the tee. In Paddington Jewelry Box there was all these cute 50s dresses I would see myself wear, but I could not justify the purchase of one.

I did find myself in a local shoe store with this cat….

One friendly kitty I met

He just climbed into my lap while I was waiting for Mom as she tried on some shoes. This ginger boy is the same breed as Maddie-a Maine Coon. He was such a happy camper on my lap!

Day 4

Since Dad and I could not go fishing as planned because of all the wildfires burning around the area, and not wanting to be caught in remote place during a wildfire, we all decided to play it safe and go to Lithia Park. This park is vast, and has lots of nature trails to explore. Both of us made it all the way to the reservoir and back before noon. Along the way there were sightings of city deer (aka: Bambi Monster), wild turkeys, and ducks hanging out in the ponds.

Bridge across Lithia Spring

For lunch Caldera Brewery and Restaurant was calling my name. I loves this brewery, and every time I am down here I stop by for a craft brew. Everything on the menu and tap is a great choice, you cannot go wrong. I ordered the Tap House Burger with Lemon Caesar Salad and an Ashland Amber beer. OMG!! Best burger in a long time! Better than In-N-Out Burger! As for the Ashland Amber is one of my favorites by this brewery. Caldera is one of the few breweries I favor in Oregon. I seem to prefer the Oregon brews over Washington ones. I think it has to do with the flavor of the hops.

Later that night I found myself sitting out on the back porch listening to crickets chirping in the background under starry night sky. I have been missing this slice of heaven for quite some time, and some how wish I could take it with me when I go back to Seattle.

Day 5

On our last day we all headed up to Valley View Orchards to pick peaches. Driving up the country roads towards the orchard brought back memories of running through fields full of cows. Once we had our picking buckets, we split into two groups and started filling our buckets. After 30 minutes of picking we had 44lbs (20lbs of each) of two types of peaches (Elberta and Sweet Sue). Now what in the world am I going to do with 44lbs of peaches? Haul them back to Washington to make peach jam, diced peaches freeze for homemade yogurt cups, fruit cups and whatever I need peaches for. Truth is I only hauled ~20lbs.

10 + 10 = 20lbs of Peaches

Later in the evening we attended a play put on by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The play in question was Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and boy was it a long play! Three hours long of old Victorian era speak, and about 80% in I started to want it to end soon. Just seemed towards the end to drag on just as the book did, but overall the play was great. The way it was staged was interesting with the narrators on the stage like old Victorian carolers as part of the scene and made it easier to follow what was happening on stage.

Great Expectations
(C) Oregon Shakespeare Festival

More Info:
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Valley View Orchards

Caldera Brewery
Paddington Station
Lithia Park

….blue forever.- MØ

 

 

 

 

 

Where The Sky Is Blue -Southern Oregon: Part 1

After a jam-packed summer this year, I wanted to end the summer with a trip down to Southern Oregon. On the last week of August I head down with family to have one last vacation before college started up again, and a much needed break after working hard all summer. On a Saturday morning I headed straight down I-5 towards the California-Oregon border and didn’t look back at the heat wave coming towards Seattle.

{On the trip down to Rogue Valley Oregon I went from 90°F (~70% humidity) sweating buckets in Seattle to stepping into an oven of 104°F of dry heat within eight hours. And this heat lasted all week with upper 90s and lower 100°! If the people of Seattle thought they were dying, I was shriveling up every-time I walked out the door from the moisture being sucked out of every pour on my body!}

Day 1

Since the weather called for 101°F sunny day, I headed out as early as possible to beat the heat. First stop was to the Eagle Point National Cemetery to visit both my Grandad and Grandpa who are buried there. While there I was treated to beautiful bells playing out the hour over the cemetery. In the last two years since I have been here, the place has been filling up quite fast.

On my way to Trail, I stopped by where the old Butte Creek Mill was in Eagle Point. Last Christmas the mill burned down in early hours of Christmas morning, and now all that remains of this historical landmark is a burned out shell of a historical structure. The signs say the mill will be rebuilt again, but who knows when this will happen. Sad for this small town since this was their only tourist attraction and no more pancake mix.

After a quick stop at the Mill, I headed up to Trail to the old pioneer cemetery with the family where my grandma and a few of my family are buried. The “town” is really a ghost town with a post office (strange!) outside of Shady Cove. The cemetery is down a dirt road up in the pine brush. Dad wanted to leave an old fishing pole at my grandma’s grave site since she loved fishing. As we were all leaving, I noticed how very dry it was up in these parts. Seemed there was so much dry kindling to start a fire. Well this happened a day later when a wildfire broke out in the remote part of the forest around Trail and Shady Cove. I was glad we all did this adventure before, or we would not be able to later.

Day 2

The morning was spent picking blackberries up on the irrigation ditch. Blackberries are one of those crops that is never easy to pick! I think at one point I ended up in the irrigation ditch just trying to get to the really good branches of berries. After two hours of picking, and having scratches all over myself, I decide to call it a day to have lunch.

In-N-Out Burger…..does it need anymore explanation? Apparently it does. I didn’t have to go all the way to California to have an In-N-Out burger because there is one in Medford Oregon and I was stoked to finally try it after hearing how wonderful the burgers are. So I tried it out, and was……a complete disappointed. Yep you read that correctly. The burger (regular hamburger) was good just like Dick’s in Seattle, but the fries were stale, under cooked, too starchy, and wimpy as heck. Mc. Donald’s has better fries than In-N-Out fries we had. I just hope this was just a one off, because if not, the fries are not worth it.

When in the area I always want to stop at the Harry and David Country store to stock up on all the yummy goodies. In the past I have taken the tour around the facility that makes all the mail order stuff you see in their catalog. A major must have is Moose Munch in any form. Another favorite is the BBQ sauce, the truffles in many flavors, pears from the orchard, and just about anything chocolate.

Just down the street is the Rogue Creamery where the famous Caveman Blue and Echo Mountain Blue cheese is made. When it is cheese making day you can watch how they make their cheese through a viewing window in the store. The one cheese I was not particularly fond of was the Lavender cheese (LaDiDa Lavender). I just cannot wrap my brain around the flavor in anything dairy, especially in ice cream. My favorite cheese by them is the Mt. Mazama Cheddar, and it is one of the best cheddar I have eaten. I did pick up some cheese curds while there along with a homemade grilled cheese sandwich that is very much like the ones at Beecher’s in Seattle.

What is great with cheese? Chocolate! Just a few feet from Rogue Creamery is the  Lillie Bell Farms Chocolates. Here I found chocolate covered fortune cookies and those fancy chocolate covered roasted almonds. Bought one of each for those moments when….aw heck I had them before I left Oregon. I could not save them for a rainy day…OH WELL.

After a culinary tour, we all headed back to Ashland to sit in the backyard and digest all this yummy-ness. Later in the evening I “waddled” back up the hill to the irrigation ditch to pick more blackberries.

Part 2 ( Day 3-5) in the next few days!

More Info:
Rogue CreameryLillie Bell Farms Chocolates
Harry and David Country Store
Butte Creek Mill (*NOTE: Does not sell product at this time)
Shady Cove & Trail

Where the sky is…..

….And She Keeps Moving Onward

Life moves onward at lightning fast pace. She keeps moving onward with many new adventures and many new discoveries along the way. My Nana this month turned eighty and to be honest, she doesn’t even look eighty! Also this month had me moving to a whole new apartment in the Edmonds area instead of Seattle.

Mom and I started our little road trip at 6:15am to beat the Seattle weekday traffic. It ended up being for nothing since there was a lot of traffic by that time. Even when we hit Portland, we were stuck in Portland’s traffic trying to get into to the city and getting out. I think Portland has just as crazy traffic as Seattle, but a very confusing road system with bridges, exits and splits in the middle of freeway. It took a whole lot of contraction to get into the correct lane for south bound I5. After Portland it was nothing but farms, fields, little towns, and a whole lot of mountain driving with trees.

Before going to Nana’s house, Mom and I took a detour to Eagle Point to get some pancake mix at the old Butte Creek Mill. I have grown up on their stone ground pancake mix and have compared all pancake mix to it. I decided to pick up some mix since Michael has heard me rave about this mix and wanted to try for himself why I love it so much (keep you posted on this).  The mill is one of five working water powered grist mills still operating in the US. I remember as a kid going to the general store they have in the mill and buying candy and other treats from the nice old ladies who run the shop. To this day I still make a pilgrim to this place for the all the goodies. After the mill stop, Mom and I drove up to the VA Cemetery to visit Grandad and Grandpa. Oh boy, what a disappointment. As the one of the grounds keepers said, the contractor who was doing major construction work on the grounds walked off the job and left half of the cemetery in a shamble. Poor Grandad’s resting place was a complete mess with all of the grass gone and chips in the stone marker. The grounds keeper did say they hired a new contractor to finish up the work and should have all of it done by the end of July. I just hope so.

Butte Creek Mill
Butte Creek Mill

Next day was Nana’s eightieth birthday.

For Nana’s birthday dinner we all went up to Mount Ashland to Callahan’s Mountain Lodge. The view and the place was gorgeous as can be. These places hold dear memories for the family because this is where my parents got engaged. The sad part is, the Callahan’s my parents knew sadly burned to the ground in 1996 and was rebuilt to what it looks like today. We had our dinner of the outdoor deck in the cool mountain breeze and the wonderful sunshine with a view of Cascade Mountain range in the background. I ended up going with the Prime Rib Stroganoff for dinner. A very rich dish with having all the extra butter dollop on the top of the mount of noodles. I don’t think I made a real dent into the mount of noodles and rib, as I would have liked (guilty with the bread basket!). This is the only place I have ever been that I can see me affording duck or veal menu item. In Seattle just an ounce of meat would start you at $50.00. Going back to Ashland later that night, we took the old route 99 road. This road goes from Northern California to BC Canada. There was lots of hairpin turns with straight drops over sides of the road without any guard rails. Just imagine driving this road before the interstate was built.

Then the big day came and it was full of surprises. First the cake that was ordered was huge, bigger than the Costco cakes you can order. The whole cake took up the backseat of Nana’s car and the icing was starting to slide off the cake in some areas from how heavy the cake was. The look on both my Aunts’ faces were priceless when they realized that the cake was the size of four sheet cakes put together and two sheet cakes thick! By the time we served all the guests at the party there was still sixty percent of the cake left, and after cleaning up the room we rented at the Holiday Inn, we gave a whole bunch of cake slices to the hotel staff to enjoy. Later Mom and I saved a piece of cake each for Dad and Michael. Fifty near and dear to Nana showed up to celebrate her special day, and I captured every one of them with Nana. Overall the day turned out to be a great day, and we all sigh of relief when it was all done. Next day it was back into the car for another eight hours of driving back to Seattle.

Few weeks later I moved into a new apartment in Edmonds. For a while now I have been very unhappy with the place I was at. When I first moved in it seem a decent place to live, but by the end of October of last year, things started going down hill in a way that would make the most sane person feel like they are going insane. I know apartment life can be stressful at times, but there was a constant stress about living there that was not normal situation. By the time I moved out of the apartment complex there as a whole new management company starting to set things right. Too bad, I already gave my notice. The move when smoother then I expected with getting all my stuff packed into U- Haul and unpacked into the new placed with in three hours. I will chalk it up to packing all my stuff in boxes long before the day of the move. The new place is a little bit older than the apartment I came from. The appliances in the kitchen are older (the stove does not even have a timer!), and the place is smaller but more cozy and well laid out. Also it is much more quiet then the other place in Seattle. I am hoping to stay more than just a year if possible. I’m done moving for now.

 

 

Coming Back To Where I Was Me

Coming back to where I was me is a good thing. I missed the place, and I talked about it a lot. I kept saying I wanted to come back to see the place again. Been way to long since I was last down there. Who can blame me for not wanting to get a way from all the pollution of other nasty events in my life. I was not running away, was getting away to clear my though patterns. I need the valley’s reminder of my strength again.

 Day 1:

The drive from Seattle to Ashland Oregon is an eight-hour drive down the interstate 5 freeway. Out the windows the car passed forests full of thick trees, flat valleys, farmland, and old pioneer homesteads. It seems like every time I come back to this place its like the past staring back at me. The modern city turns to quiet country towns out in middle of nowhere. The thing is, it all looks like a scene out of the Little House On The Prairie books. You expect to see Laura herself. The Rouge Valley is where my Father was raised, it is where both my parents met and married. Also this is where I spent my summers of childhood here with both sets of grandparents. This is where my family settled during the Western Expansion on the Oregon Trail. This is where I go when I want to escape to clear my head from all the madness of the city. And now this is where I went for a week to clear my head and heart from a breakup three months ago. I needed to go back to my roots, a place where I was the happiest and carefree. Oregon has been a safe haven for me. A place where I can keep some of my best kept secrets. As I drove along, I’m reminded of how carefree life seems to be around here. A place unlike Washington’s hurried and fast paced life. This time I’m coming back to bury my Grandma, but to bury the pain and the hurt that has built up for so long now.

Day 2:

Death in the family is supposed to be a somber time, but to me it’s like a peacefulness has crept upon me. I believe this has to do with the two most recent events that has happened in my life. I seem to know that through it all, Grandma is with Jesus now. No more pain and suffering from Alzheimer’s anymore. As my parents and I went to the funeral home to pick out the last of the last-minute details, it occurred to me how little my Grandma wanted for her burial. Grandma was a simple pioneer girl who liked everything to be just country simple. How expensive all of this is to bury a love one. The good news is, at least Grandpa’s will have most of the arrangements done through the Veterans Administration. While out I saw my Aunt Jan who looks like she too is going down hill fast. At least Grandma did not have to see her suffer too from the effects of Polio. Seems death is hanging in the air of recent. Death of a horrible job, death of a two years relationship, death of two love ones, and the death of the old me. Seems to be new growth, new beginnings are coming around the corner. Like all things under heaven, everything has a time, a place and an ending. Maybe God has done this for a reason. Maybe I needed to come back here again to remind myself who I really am.

Day 3 Morning:

As I sit here looking out the window at the clouds rolling off the mountain hills, the sight strikes me by how even here after a rainstorm things renew. I’m an outdoor girl, even in the city. I long for the wilderness and the quiet  tranquil of the sounds of nature.

Being here again is strange due to all of my childhood memories come spill through the unseen veil of my childhood. Last time I was here I was twenty, now I am twenty-five, grown up, seen the world, know hardships, know all toys must be put away, and all the joys are to be held on to. I come back with new eyes. Eyes as an adult, eyes of a person who is trying to forget the painful memories of a person who I thought loved me, eyes of a person who needs a few days with her old self again. Have to start healing the my heart all the way now.

Day 3 Afternoon:

The day was spent in much relaxation and waiting for Nana to come back from Wallowa Oregon. Through out the day there was nothing but the weather I left back in Seattle. Sun was out one minute, then the next the clouds with wind all of sudden come across the valley. Later walked the irrigation ditch after dinner up the hillside. From here the valley spreads out in a panoramic view from below. Just a peaceful day with nowhere to be.

Day 4:

Military surplus store here I come and there I went. I bought a metal ammo container to store my valuables in. They are the best thing since most people who want to steal would not want to touch one of these things to begin with. I was tempted to buy an Army digital camo jacket, but through against it. Up in Seattle people will mistake you for a real army person with or without the patches. Being the old girl in the store was a plus. I had so many guys asking me if they could help me find something. I love it!

Afternoon was spent at Lithia Park in Ashland walking the trails. Been awhile since I have been there. The duck ponds now look better and now the person can see the bottom of the pond. We all had a late lunch at Sesame, a pan Asian cuisine off the park. The food was good and I would recommend it to anyone who is in town. Late in the evening we all went out for an ice cream at the local bakery.

Day 5:

Today was the day Grandma was laid to rest with her family in the pioneer cemetery at Trail Oregon. The funny thing about this, all the occupants are all dead. The town is a ghost town now with its own postal code. The funeral was done grave side, with some of the chairs sitting on resting places of our family previously buried there. The service was small and intimate with an all the family that were very close to Grandma. The minister who did the service did not know Grandma personally but he made the service something Grandma would want to have and all of us left would remember her by. He did play a few songs by guitar for her, a real western like feel to it. Very heart warming for all of us. I did see some of my cousins I had not seen since they were babies or very small. Now looking at them, I feel very old. A few were cousins my Dad had not seen for over thirty years and more or a few that some how had dropped off the face of the earth until today. The drive up was not as bad as we all thought. The one time Nana, Mom and Grandma went up, it seemed like a long drive through many back roads. We did not see the old homestead up the road this time. There is nothing left of it anymore due to Verizon taking over it for the hill access for the cell towers.

After the ceremony Nana, Mom, Dad and I went to Standing Stone Brewery in Ashland Oregon for an early dinner after the service. I had my first real beer since three months ago. Wonderful end to a day filled with remembrance for a special person that the world will greatly miss.

Day 6:

On the road again to Seattle. Rain from Grants Pass to home this time. I wished for some sun at least when I came home, but like weather in the Northwest, you have to live with what you get. Coming home renewed a fresh was great. Seeing Maddie kitty welcoming us home was a wonderful end to a nice vacation. Now off to do come cleaning and laundry from the trip.

Books I read: The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin and The Well Traveled Casket, Oregon Folklore by Tom Nash, Twilo Scofield and Don Adkins

Music listened to while typing: Somewhere, Memories by Within Temptation; He Wont Go, Rumor Has It by Adel; Nothing Last Forever by Natalia Kills; She Country by Jason Aldean.

Gallery of Photos taken while there: