Eating

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Good Monday to you, dear reader. Welcome to the Rogue River and the final installment of our Oregon road trip! I’m happily typing to Jack White – the obsession continues. Thank goodness the hubster likes his music as much as I do.

Mill Creek Falls

Barr Creek Falls

The Natural Bridge

This was once lava!

A living stump, how about that?

Mount Thielsen

Our final stay was at Crescent Lake. Our lodgings were super shabby, but we made up for it, and how, by gliding kayaks over crystal clear waters (under the watchful eye of a Bald Eagle), reading, watching trout leap, eating sweet cherries, and sipping Stein on the screen porch. Life is what you make it.

Diamond Peak

Hey Eugene! How about breakfast at the Morning Glory? Yummy.

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Have you ever seen the movie, Throw Momma From the Train? Well, if you haven’t, add it to the queue, and pronto! It’s a gem of an 80s fil-um. Anyhow, there’s this scene where Billy Crystal is working on a line from a novel he’s writing. “The night was…moist? wet? humid?” He cannot find the right word. Then, curmudgeonly Momma (spectacularly played by Anne Ramsey), says, “The night was sultry.” BOOM! There’s no beating that.

In similar fashion, I was struggling with the title to this post. It’s kind of a hodge podge, four towns plus two mountains. Do I name the towns, skip the mountains? Do I redundantly say Southern Oregon? Call it Part IV? Welcome to the slightly nutty brain of a writer. Then the hubster, a la Anne Ramsey, says, “Southern Locales.” BOOM! There’s no beating that, either.

And here we are, southern locales, the first of which is Mount Thielsen, followed by what I originally thought was Mount McLoughlin but now wonder if it is Mount Bailey. Good grief! I do know that the photos were taken in the Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, and I find them quite beautiful. Give me a shout if you know what is what.

Lunch break in Klamath Falls:

Another sweet town filled with friendly people and terrific architecture.

For me, Woolworth’s will always be my Grandma Frances. She absolutely loved them, and positively rued the day they disappeared, though she always called them the “Five and Ten,” which, as an often very literal child, made no sense. They were called Woolworth’s and had nothing available at those prices! If ever I was with her and needed something, her go to answer was, “They’ll have it at the Five and Ten.” In addition, and what is also solidly my grandmother, was the case of roasted nuts, or that contraption that spun around under hot lights. We always bought a small bag, usually cashews for me and the red pistachios for her, a near perfect match of her lipstick.

Medford:

The hubster chillaxin’ (Oh yes I did!) at our very nice Southern Locale home base. Funny what makes a person choose a place to stay. I’d always wanted to sit in Corbusier style furniture. So there you go, and it was actually quite comfortable.

Ashland:

It had been fourteen years since we last visited Ashland, which seems crazy, really. It was as lovely as ever, though super hot (107 degrees, ugh) and the Shakespeare did not disappoint. We saw Richard III, which was splendid and marvelously acted. Dan Donohue was pitch perfect as Richard; clever and wickedly funny, had we been wearing socks, he would have knocked them clean off.

And all of that cardboard, etc? That is an assemblage by Dale Muir, on display at the super cool Ashland Art Center. We had a great time wandering around, watching artists hard at work, painting, sculpting, drawing, throwing pots. Pretty neat!

And to Jasksonville, quite possibly one of the sweetest small towns ever!

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Baker City:

What a gem of a town, with an abundance of fine architecture under baby blue skies. We breakfasted at the Lone Pine. It felt like it was plucked out of Portland, with finely executed, yet simple fare, and impeccable service with a dazzling smile. A hush of Stevie Wonder singing on the hi-fi and lights dimmed to ward off the impending heat made for perfection.

The Strawberry Mountain Range and the hubster yukking it up for my amusement. I could not ask for a finer companion! Which reminds me, TODAY is his birthday. Send him happy thoughts, won’t ya?

Pelican and White Faced Ibis at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. So VERY many birds! I’ll update this later with all that we saw. Updated!

American Coot . American White Pelican . Barn Swallow . Black-Billed Magpie . Bullock’s Oriole . California Quail . Cormorant . Dusky Flycatcher . Eastern Kingbird . Golden Eagle . Great Blue Heron . Great Egret (or maybe Snowy) . Killdeer . Mallard . Mourning Dove . Northern Harrier . Red-Winged Blackbird . Sandhill Crane . Turkey Vulture . Western Grebe . Wilson’s Phalarope . Yellow-Headed Blackbird

Diamond, Oregon, population five. What a truly special place. A friend waxed poetic about the Hotel Diamond probably thirteen years ago, beautiful and remote, with one of the best meals of his life. We did not forget. Run by a father and daughter, with a mere nine rooms, it is quaint and comfortable with beautiful paintings and historical photographs lining the walls, an old timey screen porch to stave off hungry flies and wicked mosquitoes, and fine and hearty fare (this is ranch country, after all), served family style, every evening at 6:30. Book early and come hungry! And forget about television, phone, and internet, this is truly the back of beyond. A good book, the company of a dear friend (or new ones – Hello Diane, Manfred, and Paulina!), and the sublime scenery will be enough and more.

lupine

Our picnic in a grove of aspen trees at Lily Lake. There is something magical about being alone among wildlife. Everything humming and acutely alive, the pulse of the earth seen and felt and heard, I feel how small I am, how fleeting this moment, this breath, this life IS, and inhale ever more deeply to take it all in.

yellow indian paintbrush

desert buckwheat

 a tiny alpine penstemon, I think

indian paintbrush

desert buckwheat

wild onion

Steens Mountain and the Alvord Desert down and beyond. It’s a study in contrasts, with lush green, cool, crisp air, and a myriad of wildflowers flanking a desert that receives a scant six inches of moisture a year.  The wildflowers were magical, and I was positively giddy at the abundance and variety. Heavenly! If you know them, please help me identify what I do not know and correct me where I am wrong. I’d be most grateful!

We took the Steens Mountain loop road, the highest in the state of Oregon, which is 66 miles of, at the moment, very nicely graded gravel. We heard horrible tales of it in previous incarnations and were most grateful that it was Mini Cooper navigable, though the desert side is N O T for the faint of heart. A single narrow lane, with nary a guard rail and hundred-plus foot drop offs, the hubster and I white-knuckled it much of the way.

I don’t believe there could have been a finer end to the day and this leg of our journey.

Stay tuned for Summer Lake!

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And so it begins…

Breakfast in Pendleton:

Home of the Round-Up

Cabbage Hill View Point

Wallowa

Kombucha break in Lostine

Gazing upon the Wallowas

Toward Hell’s Canyon

Zumwalt Prairie:

Some fourteen miles of winding gravel wound us in and around one of the largest intact bunch grass prairies in the world. Vast, my friends, with us and the animals the only life for miles upon miles. I watched the hawk, a red-tail, I think, swoop down to seize it’s prey and carry it to the utility pole, the snake writhing and coiling some thirty feet from the ground. My heart quickened at the wonder and privilege of it all.

Filthy prairie feet

Wallowa Lake:

Our wee cabin was called the Fawn, and we loved it!

The baby robin was terribly sweet and let us get quite close before her unsteady wings carried her off.

I bought two books and some deliciously scented soaps at this gem of a shop!

Enterprise:

A sweet town full of kindly and hospitable strangers.

Arrowhead Chocolates

They gave us spoons dipped in chocolate while we waited for our treats. The hubster was in heaven!

Joseph:

Named for Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce (that last sculpture is his likeness), Joseph is a prince of a town. With a world famous foundry, beautiful landscape, friendly people, and Stein’s top notch distillery, it’s easy to find a reason to stay.

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Hey there! Just in case you were wondering what happened to me, this is it! We redecorated the office and guest room, and it occupied much of our waking (and my sleeping) hours for the last month. We’d been meaning to do it for ages, but you know how it goes: time; money better spent on food, shoes, an evening out; no real desire to spend weekends attached to paint brushes and rollers. Yadda, yadda, yadda, a few years go by.

A fire was finally lit under our arses and here we are, pretty snazzy! I should also mention that we cleaned out the house, top to bottom, in the process. Furniture, books, knick-knacks, clothes, the random and sundry, all in neat piles in the basement waiting for a sale and trips to the thrift store and Powell’s.  My pocketbook is also happy to report that the only new items in the office are the desk lamps (from IKEA) and the curtains, which I made because no one had the color I wanted. I shopped the house for the rest. Hoot and holler!

And then there’s the color! We’d had a peachy-orange before and really liked it for a time. As soon as we started rolling this on, we decided it was kind of psycho and felt an enormous sense of relief and calm at the new color, winter wheat by Benjamin Moore, if that’s your thing. Cream fleece is the trim color, just a shade darker.

We spent a bit more in the guest room, and mostly at IKEA (that place!), chest, organizers, tray, picture frames (filled with my photos!), curtain, lamp, bedding. Though that toss pillow is from Target, and the bedside table was $1 at a yard sale eons ago. We couldn’t be more pleased with how it all turned out!

And now, a break for fine art: The big painting above my desk and the small square on top of the bookshelf are by our super talented friend Jamee Linton. The three mountain paintings in the assemblage are by Tim Deibler. The wide landscape and the center painting are by Ann Hutchinson. The cicada was purchased on vacation, somewhere in the south of France, artist unknown.

But wait, there’s more! Imma break it down…

Which I got from this fab song of my youth. Bub, are you reading? You know you are the reason for my love of Eazy-E!

The salad: farro, shaved fennel, green onion, dried tart cherries, toasted walnuts, feta cheese, orange & sherry vinaigrette.

The cocktail: Ransom’s Old Tom Gin and Galliano. Heavy on the gin…

The sound: Jack White. That voice, guitar, look, the man captivates me. Turn it up.

The love: two of my favorite people are getting married! Congratulations Matt & Kelly!

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