Monday, July 6, 2015

Chapter 21 - Portland to Corvallis, Oregon

Friday, July 3rd:
Today the employers in Portland gave their employees the day off.  This must be the case for I-5 through Portland had fewer cars and we sailed down the highway and into the Willamette Valley with no difficulty. For the first time in almost a week our drive was without stress.  Our destination today is to reach Corvallis, Oregon which is only two hours south of Portland, and then check in at the Benton Oaks RV Park which we understand is very close to my sister Joan's home. Visiting my sister has always been the main goal of our whole adventure so today is kind of like the culmination of our entire trip.

Benton Oaks RV is actually part of the Benton County Fair Grounds so we are not sure what to expect as it is not a typical RV Park, that is, no swimming pool, no laundry, no registration office, etc. Despite the unusual nature of the park and its attachment to the fairgrounds where rodeos are held, and sheep, cow, and goat judging takes place, we were issued a very nice shaded location to park our trailer. Our space was on the exterior of the property and next door to a scenic field where grass is grown and seeds are harvested. In fact shortly after our arrival huge harvesting machines worked through the grass fields causing a dust storm of gigantic proportions. Fortunately we were warned of this pending activity and we closed our windows and vents before we headed off to begin our visit with Joan and Terri.

We spent the afternoon and early evening with Joan and Terri at their lovely home before returning to our travel trailer about 7:30 pm.  While their address is listed as Corvallis their home is located just to the west of main part of the city in the foothills of the Coastal Range of mountains that lie between the Willamette Valley and the Pacific Ocean. The home is designed such that windows cross the entire front of the house which faces the mountains. This design allows a wall to wall view of the mountains from within the home. My sister takes credit for the design of their home and she desires a standing ovation for the delightful end result.

Saturday, June 4th:
Today being the 4th of July our plan was obviously to attend the 4th of July parade in downtown Corvallis. Also part of Terri's and Joan's plan was to take us to a Farmer's Market held every Saturday followed by a walk through the historic downtown area of Corvallis.  It was very easy to fall in love with Corvallis.  Most of the homes particularly near the downtown area were beautifully landscaped. Many of the front yards were completely covered with trees and plantings allowing no room for grass. Such an approach in design seems like a lot of hard work especially to maintain but the end result is perfectly charming. We also noticed while walking through the downtown shopping area that the streets were lined with trees on both sides.  The end result of the trees while obviously adding beauty, also meant that the sidewalks were all under the shade of the trees. One other final observation was that almost all of the shoppes appeared to be owned and operated by locals as there were virtually no national chain stores at least within the main downtown area. We had been told that the 4th of July parade was opened to anyone who wanted to march in the parade.  This turned out to be the case, and before I knew it both Joan and Kathy were marching with the hundreds of other folks down the parade route. Kathy who is never shy about getting involved, then started marching along with The Statue of Liberty. Oh the joys of living in a small town.

After walking along the Willamette River and then through downtown Corvallis, we walked through the local Farmer's Market where Joan and Terri purchased all kinds of berries.  The market was really a special place for shopping with all kinds of fruits, vegetables, and meats, as well as plantings for sale, and here and there even groups of entertainers were playing music for donations.

We enjoyed the rest of the afternoon at Joan's and Terri's culminating with a few glasses of wine and a great steak dinner.  We returned to our travel trailer and had a great nights sleep as the outside temperatures slowly dropped.

Sunday, July 5th:

This morning before we headed out to again spend the day with Joan and Terri, I decided to experience a few minutes attending the goat show at the Benton County Fairgrounds. The goat show, which they were calling the ABGA Goat Show (the American Boar Goat Association) was a contest where judges reviewed different categories of goats (young and old) and awarded ribbons for best in show.  I was surprised to see how many goats were being judged, there must have been at least one hundred or more, and the wide range of ages of the owners presenting their goats, from preteens to adults.  Most of the goats seemed to cooperate fairly well although the owners were constantly adjusting the goats legs and their positions. A few of the goats did not appear to like being pushed around and they protested with load BAAs. I spent only around 15 or 20 minutes watching the goats and their owners but I totally enjoyed watching the goings on.  It was probably only a once in a life time experience for this elderly Florida resident. When I returned to our trailer I spent a few minutes cleaning off the bottoms of my new sneakers that were covered with fresh goat poop.

Our plan with Joan and Terri today was to do some shopping this morning and then head out to one of the local Willamette Valley wineries, the Tyee Wine Cellar, that opened their business at noon.  The winery was one of the older wineries in the area with the first vineyard planted back in 1974.  The farm itself according to the owners had been in their family for five generations.  The tasting room was small but with only Joan and I actually sampling the wine, the size of the room was not distracting and the atmosphere was delightful as we enjoyed sampling five different wines.  At noon even five small samples of wine can loosing up my otherwise tight wallet, and I ended up purchasing four bottles of their wine. I am sure that this coming week, Joan and I are going to enjoy the wine and fondly remember our visit to the Tyee Winery.

One of the interesting things that we discovered on the grounds of the winery was an old apple tree that according to the winery's literature was planted by one of the Oregon Trail settlers back in the 1850s. The tree was in rather bad shape but it still was bearing fruit and despite my urging none of the girls was willing to eat one of its apples.  I guess old guys are just not appreciated.

On our return trip back to Joan's and Terri's home we drove through one of Benton County's parks that was named the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge. According to what Joan had read, there is an old farmhouse in the park that was apparently owned by the original owner of the land.  After driving about two miles into the 5,325 acre park we finally came across an old farm house that was in some need of repair but otherwise was an interesting and obviously an historical old home.  I told Joan that we were enjoying our visit to Oregon so much that Kathy and I were going to make an offer to purchase this old fixer upper farmhouse. Joan told us quite seriously that the house was not for sale.  We were quite despondent during our return drive to Corvallis.

Tomorrow we all head for South Beach on the Pacific coastline where we plan to spend the next three days and four nights.  Until then.

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