Day 14 – The End is Near (a.k.a. Friday the 13th)

We woke up in Oregon, but we are going to sleep in California.

Emigrant Lake Campground

The change from Oregon to California seemed drastic on I-5. The pine trees turned to oak trees and scrubby bushes, the ground from green to brown, the sky from gray to blue, the temperature from cold and damp to warm and sunny, and the condition of the pavement from smooth to potholes. An hour into California we got great views of Mt. Shasta.

We decided to stay over in Red Bluff instead of driving all the way to Sacramento. We’re staying right off the highway in the Durango RV Resort. It is quite impressive with full amenities: community room, pool and hot tub, bocce ball, tetherball, horseshoes, laundry, curbside garbage pickup, and full hookups. I think the 3 RVs to our right are having a family reunion. It looks like they brought 20 extra folding chairs.

Steve is ready to hit the road and go home

Since the weather was warm, we relaxed outside at our picnic table and played board games. We ventured into downtown Red Bluff and had Mexican food for dinner. One more night in the super short RV bed and then we will be back home to our king size bed. Steve the Dinosaur misses his friend Malcolm.

It has been a fun trip. Oregon is beautiful and I can see us returning for more camping especially on the coast.

Daily Ratings
Los Mariachis in Red Bluff – 3.5 stars
Durango RV Resort – 4 stars
Oregon – 5 stars

Day 13 – Ashland

It was so cold when we woke up this morning. It was raining and the thermometer in the trailer said it was 44 degrees outside. Shawn donned his new rain gear to pack up the trailer and we left Yoncalla in search of drier climes. At some point in the two-hour drive, the trees changed from green pines to brown oaks and there was more fall color to see.

We’re staying at Emigrant Lake County Park outside Ashland. As we rounded a hill expecting to see a beautiful lake, we saw a puddle surrounded by dry shrubs and trees. Shawn said it looked greener on the website. Oh well, more reason to spend time in Ashland proper.

We started at Caldera Brewing to sample their beers. They had quite a selection, and we sampled a Hatch chili, grapefruit IPA, a couple more IPAs and a barrel aged stout. Our waitress was a fan of their IPAs and she said they are one of the few local breweries that make IPAs that are 100 IBU (hecka bitter). The long wooden bar had a live edge and was cut from an Oregon tree. The walls of the restaurant were lined with beer bottles.

In downtown Ashland, we walked around and looked at the shops. Of course we stopped in Sew Creative, the quilt shop. The ladies working in the shop were very friendly and told us they have the largest selection of aboriginal print fabrics from Australia in the US. A couple yards found their way into my shopping bag. I’m getting really used to not paying sales tax.

The next place to catch our eye was a bakery. We left with a couple loaves of bread: whole wheat sourdough (still on our quest for a good sourdough) and cranberry hazelnut. Yesterday we drove past lots of hazelnut orchards. I didn’t realize they grew hazelnuts in Oregon.

We took Steve the Dinosaur for a walk through Lithia Park. It is a large park in the middle of town and it was designed by John McLaren, one of the architects of Golden Gate Park. Ashland Creek runs through the middle of the park. Every town should have a park like this.

After all that walking, it was time for dinner. We went to Standing Stone Brewery and started with their beer sampler. They had a nice red ale, and for the first time, I found a sour that I liked. It reminded me of Fresca without the chemical taste. Aside from the brewery, they also have a farm where they raise beef and lamb using sustainable practices. The lamb burger with chimichurri sauce was very good. We thought we were done after dinner, but our waitress mentioned a couple of Shawn’s favorites for dessert so we had crème brûlée and Marionberry cobbler ala mode.

Walking back to the car it started raining again. Now we are tucked into the trailer for the night…huddled under blankets to keep warm.

Daily Ratings & Stats

Emigrant Lake County Park – 3 stars (I’m sure it’s lovely in the spring)
Caldera Brewing – 4 stars
Standing Stone Brewing & Restaurant – 4.5 stars
Lithia Park – 5 stars

Beers sampled – 14 (they are small samples and we share)
Steps taken – 6,665
Miles traveled – 139

Day 12 – A Change in Plans

Since it didn’t make sense to sit in the RV while it rained for another day, we decided to keep driving south. Our next planned stop is Ashland, but that is a 4 ½ hour drive from Silver Falls, so we broke it up by finding an RV campground south of Eugene. On the drive from Silver Falls, we passed lots of Christmas tree farms. We went through Linn County “World’s Largest Supplier of Grass Seed”. There were huge grass farms (not to be confused with weed farms). We tried to visit 2 Towns Cider house, but there was no RV parking. We had lunch at a truck stop in Coburg. Our waitress was super friendly, but the food was not worthy of a photograph.

One of many Christmas tree farms we passed

After we got the RV set up at Rice Hill RV Park, we went to a nearby winery. MarshAnne Landing is owned by a couple from Maryland. They moved to Oregon 17 years ago to open the winery. The owner is a former chemist, and they grow all their own grapes on about 11 acres and process and bottle the wine themselves. It was pouring rain when we arrived, and by the time we left the sun was shining over the vineyard. We left with bottles of Viognier, Pinot Noir, and Red Planet their signature blend.

MarshAnne Vineyards
Sunny skies over the RV park

We watched the news for the first time in 12 days and saw all the fires in northern California. Hopefully, all the rain we are seeing here will move south.

Day 11 – Trail of Waterfalls

We left Portland early because we wanted to get to Silver Falls State Park. The weather forecast indicated it would start raining at 2:00. We drove through more beautiful countryside. We arrived at the park at 11:30, had a quick lunch and hit the trail for a 3-mile hike.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, the Oregon state parks are wonderful. They are clean and well maintained. The trails are well marked and wide. We meandered down a trail along a creek to the first of many falls. A local was sitting looking up at the waterfall that was dripping down the rocks. He said it was much more impressive in the spring.

The next waterfall was Middle North with a height of 106 feet and it was gushing. The trail went behind the falls and to a shallow cave. It was beautiful!

We saw 6 of the 10 waterfalls along the trail. We were about 100 feet from the trailhead when it started raining. It was exactly 2:00. Weather technology is getting pretty accurate.


Steve the Dinosaur enjoyed the hike

We spent the rest of the day in the RV reading and listening to the rain. A week before our trip, I bought an Instant Pot 10-in-1 pressure cooker. Before the trip, I used it to make some stew and chili to freeze for meals on the road. Shawn suggested I also bring it along on the trip since we would have electricity at most sites. We’ve used it to defrost the frozen meals in 20 minutes and make steel cut oats for breakfast. It’s a handy appliance to have around.

We were planning to stay in the park for two nights, but the forecast of more rain had us changing our mind. This is also the first place that we stayed that didn’t have cellular service, so we were feeling a bit disconnected.

The view of our campsite from within the coziness of our RV

Daily Ratings & Stats

Silver Falls State Park – 5 stars
Steps hiked – 8,381
Photos of food – zero

Day 10 – Fabric, Donuts and Beer

Due to our adventures in gastronomy while traveling, we usually eat a light breakfast of yogurt, berries and granola.  Today was our first breakfast out.  Sean recommended Blue Star Donuts instead of the usual Voodoo Donuts.  At Blue Star, there was a selection of about 15 gourmet donuts.  We tried the Lemon Poppyseed, Meyer Lemon Key Lime Custard, and Blueberry Bourbon Basil.  While we were enjoying our selections, one of the employees pulled out a blow torch and started caramelizing the tops of donuts so we had to try the crème brûlée donut too.  It had a great crunch on top, but our favorite was the blueberry donut.  A hipster walked in and ordered a dozen assorted for a mere $39.50.

I have been shopping online at Fabric Depot for a few years.  It wasn’t until last week when we were planning our trip that I realized they were in Portland.  We arrived at 11 AM on a Monday and the parking lot was packed.  I walked into the converted auto dealership and was immediately overwhelmed by the selection.  The place is so big that they just added a café (they should really add a brewery for the husbands).  There were long lines at the cutting table and ladies had bolts of fabric stacked in shopping carts.  Turns out they were having a 40% off all fabric sale.  I felt compelled to shop quickly and get in line until I realized I could just take pictures of the fabric lines that I liked and order online.  No standing in lines!

We met Sean for lunch at 10 Barrel Brewing in the Pearl District (Portland is so big that they need to name all the trendy neighborhoods).  We enjoyed a sampler of their brews and a plate of steak & Gorgonzola nachos.  I liked the Double Squishy IPA and Shawn had the Nitro Apocalypse.

We woke up this morning and it was 46 degrees in the RV, but it was a clear sunny day with a high of 70.  While driving we were able to see both Mount Hood and Mount St. Helen.  Living in a city with two rivers, I have come to appreciate bridges.  Sacramento is skimpy when it comes to bridges, but Portland boasts 9 bridges over the Willamette in downtown alone.  Kudos Portland!

In the evening, we went to Sean’s house in Sandy on the outskirts of Portland.  It’s amazing what fifty foot pine trees can do to improve the look of a strip mall.  Sean and his wife live in a cute townhouse in a hilly neighborhood.  A nice mix of suburbia and nature.  We went to their local brewery Bunsenbrewer.  The menu is the periodic table of beers and all their beers are named after scientists.  I enjoyed a beaker of Bill Nye Rye PA.

Tomorrow we begin our travels south heading for Silver Falls state park.  Hopefully, we will find a break in the weather for some hiking at the falls.  We could use a little exercise after Portland.

Daily Ratings & Stats

Blue Star Donuts – 5 stars
10 Barrel Brewery – 4.5 stars
Bunsenbrewer – 3.5 stars
Fabric Depot – so huge it cannot be rated by mere stars

Steps taken – not nearly enough
Loads of laundry done – 3

Day 9 – Tasting Our Way Through Portland

We left the beautiful Oregon coastline and headed inland to Portland this morning.  Once again, the scenery along the way was gorgeous. Rolling hills with farms and a backdrop of mountain forests.  We crossed innumerable creeks, streams, and rivers.

We are staying at the Sandy Riverfront RV Resort in Troutdale (“Gateway to the Columbia Gorge”) east of Portland. Not a bad RV park, but the spots are much closer together than the last two state parks we’ve stayed in.  I’m just excited because they have a laundromat (it is day 9 after all).

After setting up camp (also known as plugging in the electricity and hooking up to water and sewer), we drove to the Alberta Arts District.  I was in search of Bolt, a modern fabric shop.  They had some fun patterns by up and coming national and local designers and a large selection of printed canvas.  While I was admiring the fabric, Shawn stood in line at Salt & Straw for ice cream.  It had to be good because the line was down the street.  They had some fun flavors like Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper, Pear & Blue Cheese, and a seasonal Dracula’s Blood Pudding (“a heady combination of warm spice and cream mixed into real blood pudding”).  I had to taste that.  The server felt compelled to warn me that the real blood pudding contained real pig’s blood. It tasted like a quality ice cream with an aftertaste of copper.

We did a little cider tasting at Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider (“The apple’s deepest purpose realized”).  Who knew they could make 12 ciders that are so distinctly different in taste?  In fact, I think only two actually tasted like apple.  There was sour cherry, ginger, pineapple, watermelon (yuck), hopricot, strawberry-lemongrass and something so hideous that I have blocked it from my recent memory.

Shawn’s friend Sean met us for dinner in Gresham.  He recommended a Lebanese restaurant that was fantastic.  They started us off with a 14” pita and a spicy dipping oil.  I had lamb shawarma over hummus and Shawn had spiced lamb over hummus.  I think this is the best meal we’ve had in Oregon.

On a side note, gas in Oregon is cheaper and they pump it for you!  Pumping your own gas is a $125 fine.

Daily Ratings & Stats

Bolt fabric shop – 3.5 stars
Salt & Straw ice cream – 3 stars (Shawn said it was delicious but the wait was entirely too long)
Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider – 3 stars
Nicholas Lebanese restaurant – 5 stars

Miles traveled – 111
Steps taken – not nearly enough for all the tasting today
Number of times I’ve used “beautiful” to describe Oregon – are you keeping track?


Day 8 – Oregon Rain

It rained all night. Boy, was I glad we weren’t tent camping! When the rain stopped this morning, we took the opportunity to walk along the dunes and the beach. The tide was out and the hard packed sand made it perfect for walking, running, biking, chasing kids and dogs, and horseback riding. There were people doing all these things while the weather was good.

Dunes separating the campground and the beach

Not us

After that, it started raining again so we headed into Manzanita for lunch. Manzanita is a ritzy little seaside town similar to Carmel. Lots of expensive realty, restaurants, coffee houses and gift shops. We had lunch at the Big Wave Café. Shawn had fresh halibut fish & chips and I had clam chowder and crab cakes with habanero aioli. We also enjoyed a bottle of Oregon Chardonnay from Westrey in Dundee Hills. We slipped into Bread & Ocean Bakery just as they were putting up the closed sign and grabbed their last loaf of sourdough. We are still on a quest for good sourdough. A final stop at Manzanita Espresso & News for a coffee and then back to camp.

The rest of the afternoon has been spent enjoying the fresh rain-filled air and reading. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

Daily Ratings & Stats
Nehalem Bay State Park – 4 stars
Big Wave Café – 4 stars
Bread & Ocean Bakery – holding out on a rating until dinner
Manzanita Espresso & News – 4 stars
Steps taken – 10,408 so far

Day 7 – Maybe We Should Buy a Farm in Tillamook

On a driving day, we start out by figuring out how far we are driving to our next campsite.  Today it was estimated at about 100 miles and 2 hours.  We left South Beach at 10 AM and arrived at Nehalem Bay State Park at 5 PM.  It turns out there is a lot of good stuff to experience in 100 miles, and we took our darn sweet time doing just that.

Our first stop was Pelican Brewing for lunch and a beer sampling.  After Rogue Brewing, it was hard to compete.  Pelican’s beers weren’t bad, they just weren’t as epic as what we had at Rogue yesterday.  Shawn had an elk burger with goat cheese and I had a smoked salmon Caesar salad.

Next stop was the Latimer Quilt & Textile Center.  They were having a showing of quilts with the theme of green and/or recycling by local quilt artists.  While I was admiring the quilts, Shawn wandered into the weaving room and struck up a conversation with Shirley the resident weaving instructor.  She explained how the looms worked and gave us a demonstration.  We also got a few stories about her mother’s aunt in Sweden who was also a weaver.  Shawn is ready to embark on a new weaving hobby…I’m just waiting for Amazon to deliver the loom.

While planning our trip, we were really excited about seeing the Tillamook Cheese Factory.  Unfortunately, they are in the process of building a new visitors’ center, so we did not get a tour.  The tasting room, gift shop and creamery were open.  As you’ve read, we’ve experienced some pretty awesome cheese, so Tillamook was a bit of a letdown.  We actually left without buying anything…well, we did have a scoop of ice cream.

Steve the Dinosaur likes ice cream too

Our final stop was DeGarde Brewing.  They brew “wild” meaning they do not add laboratory produced yeast for fermentation. The wort is cooled naturally and takes in the Tillamook yeast and microflora from the air.  Then the beer is aged in oak barrels to finish the fermenting.  We tried some interesting brews, most of them being sours.  One actually had an aroma of cow poo (not my fav).  They had a 2-bottle limit on one of their new releases and numerous people approached us asking if we would buy them 2 bottles if we weren’t getting any.  The guy we ended up buying for invited us to his new Vietnamese street food truck opening in Portland next week.  He isn’t fully permitted yet, but he said he would make us a full lunch if we looked him up.

There was some construction on 101, so Google routed us through some beautiful farmland.  Lush green valleys backing up to hills of conifers.  Many of the barns have 8-foot square wooden quilt blocks on them.  This is a tradition started in the Midwest called the Quilt Barn Trail.  I looked up 10+ acre properties for sale on Zillow, and it turns out we will not be retiring in Tillamook County on our government pension.

Nehalem Bay State Park is on the ocean.  The spots are not quite as big as they were in South Beach, so it was a bit challenging parking the RV.  I was busy watching the trees on the side and missed the branch overhanging the space.  A bit of plastic on the top of the RV died today.  After seven days of sunshine, we are experiencing our first rain.  Woohoo, I get to wear my new raincoat tomorrow!

Daily Ratings & Stats

Pelican Brewing – 3 stars
Latimer Quilt & Textile Center – 4 stars
Tillamook Cheese Factory – 3 stars
DeGarde Brewing – 3 stars

Miles driven – 100 (in 7 hours)
Steps taken – 3,510

Day 6 – Oh, the Beaches…

Since we are staying two days at South Beach, we started the day with a long walk.  The trails around the park are very well groomed.  We walked along the interpretive trail learning about the local plants and trees then along the jetty leading into Newport.  We headed back along the grassy dunes to the beach.  The beaches in Oregon are so nice (also known as beautiful) with fine, brown sand.  There was very little wind today and the sun was shining.

We went into Newport for lunch and a bit of beer tasting at Rogue Brewery.  Shawn had the Kobe beef burger with blue cheese and I tempted fate and had the smoked cheddar mac & cheese.  While it was not as good as the world’s best Face Rock Creamery mac & cheese, it was darn tasty and went well with the beer samples.  Our favorite was the 10 Hop IPA.  We even bought a 32-ounce “Crowler” (freshly canned to order) to bring back to camp.

On the way back to camp, Shawn spotted a quilt shop.  He is getting really good at this!  Quilters Cove had a large selection of patterns for local lighthouses, covered bridges and Oregon places of interest.  I left with a Yaquina Lighthouse.  When I retire, I will make a travel quilt of all the items I’ve picked up in quilts shops in Hawaii, Alaska, New Zealand, and now Oregon.

Back at camp, as I sit outside enjoying the weather and writing my blog, Tito the T-Rex guards the camp.  Other people have cute little carved wooden bears holding welcome signs outside their RVs, but we have a dinosaur.  (Shawn tells me Tito is a velociraptor but I’m going to pretend he is a T-Rex.)  People stop and notice a metal dinosaur.  Tito may come on all our future RV travels.

Daily Ratings & Stats

Rogue Brewery – 5 stars
Quilters Cove – 3.5 stars
Vacation Life – 5 stars

Miles driven – very few
Steps taken – 9,182 but the day is not over and there are more trails to explore

Day 5 – The Trifecta – Dinosaurs, Quilt Shops and Ice Cream

I feel so special today.  My husband is awesome.  He started the day by sneaking off from the campsite to shop for my Valentine’s gift.  Sure it’s a bit early, but they don’t charge sales tax in Oregon.  I am now the proud owner of a Stihl 18” chainsaw…but this is a story for another day.  We continued heading up the coast.  I had been told by some of my quilting students that there is a great little quilt shop in Port Orford.  I went to Quilters Corner while Shawn went to take pictures by the ocean and park the RV.  As I wandered around the shop, I overheard a woman talking about how terrible California is and why she had to leave.  It is lovely and all in some places but she lived in Fresno and the politics were just too much.  I got a good laugh, especially when I went to the counter to pay and mentioned I was born and raised in Fresno and all of my family still lives there.  It was a very nice shop, but she is selling it for $189,000 due to health problems.  Shawn didn’t buy me a quilt shop by the ocean, but wait there is more…

Remember yesterday when I said you can’t make sudden decisions and u-turns when pulling a fifth wheel?  Shawn proved me wrong multiple times today.  First, as we were driving through Bandon, he noticed a shop selling large metal dinosaurs.  I’ve been looking for one of these for years.  We looked in Sacramento, but they were over $2,000.  Shawn whipped into a parking lot and we went dinosaur shopping.  A metal T-Rex in Oregon is a fifth the cost of one in California.  Tito the T-Rex was duly purchased and strapped into the RV.  Steve the Dinosaur was a bit intimidated by Tito’s size, but I’m sure they will be friends soon.

Next door to the dinosaur store (really it was the Baja Imports store with more than prehistoric creatures, but it will always be the dinosaur store to me), there was Forget Me Knots quilt shop.  A cute little shop with a nice selection of quilt panels.  I picked up a panel for a counting book of turtles for my granddaughter who is due any week now.

And next door to the quilt shop you ask?  A cheese factory and ice cream shop.  Bandon, Oregon may be the perfect town.  We sampled a few cheeses at Face Rock Creamery including one we purchased called The Slayer.  Garlic and cheese goodness rolled into a single tasty block.  We ordered panini sandwiches which were good, but the hands-down winner was the side of smoked cheddar mac & cheese.  They advertised it as the world’s best, and I must admit it is the best I have ever had…and I’ve tried my share of mac & cheeses.  Somehow we saved a bit of room for the cranberry walnut cheesecake ice cream.   It is days like this I am thankful not to be lactose intolerant.

While driving, we have been listening to the audiobook Sourdough by Robin Sloan.  It is a funny story that takes place in San Francisco and is about a girl and a sourdough starter.  Needless to say, we had sourdough on our mind when Shawn spotted a sign on the highway for Sourdough Bakery 1 mile ahead.  Once again, Shawn whipped the RV into the tiny town of Salmon Harbor and we bought a loaf of sourdough.  All is right in the world today.

After that, it was a long but beautiful drive to South Beach State Park.  The highway alternated between inland views of forest and lakes and coastal views on the edge of the continent.  We crossed a number of historic bridges that are architectural beauties.  We have been so fortunate to have great, sunny weather.  South Beach is a big campground, but the sites are large and clean.  We met our neighbors on each side of our site. Art and Pam are from Idaho and recently retired.  They invited us over to try elk roast and a glass of St. Michelle Cabernet.  Shawn and Art compared RVs, trucks and gas mileage.  Then we went over to sit by the fire and visit with Mike and his wife from Willamette Valley.  They are also recently retired.  Shawn and Mike compared firearms and pig raising techniques.  If this is what people do when they retire, then sign me up!

Daily Ratings & Stats
Quilters Corner quilt shop – 4 stars
Baja Imports – 5 stars
Forget Me Knots quilt shop – 3 stars
Face Rock Creamery – turn it up to 11 stars (out of 5)
Sourdough Bakery – 3 stars (not very sour)
South Beach State Park – 5 stars
Friendly neighbors – 5 stars

Miles driven – 175+
Steps taken – 6,626