Monday, July 2, 2012

The joys of the Willamette Valley: Part I

June 24-July 1, Harrisburg, Oregon
Willamette River--Riverbend RV Resort

After being gone for ten months, we came full circle in returning back to the Northwest and arrived back in the Willamette Valley a week ago today. We made a choice to stay about twenty miles out of our former hometown, Corvallis, at an RV Park on the Willamette River called Riverbend as we didn't really like the two other options for a long-term stay: the Benton County Fairgrounds or a KOA about ten miles out town near I-5. We chose Riverbend mainly because of its serene location on the river and the drive into town on Peoria Road has long been one of our favorites. The price for a month was also a good deal at $600, and, in addition to the scenic view, there is a pool and spa.

As we approached the valley from our stay at Bandon, we both admitted to feeling a little anxious about our return as we no longer have a home here and that feels a bit strange having lived in Corvallis 28 years and Vic for 34 years. It actually felt good to be a bit out of town and make the trek back into town more of a special treat than a daily routine. Of course, the best part already has been reconnecting with friends for two different barbecues in honor of our return. I definitely felt teary-eyed in both reunions as I was reminded of how good it felt to be with those who know us so well--our families, our histories, our fun memories together--the richness of life for sure. (And I was too caught up in having fun to remember to take photos. . . . )

The park itself was a bit of a disappointment at first--no fire rings or picnic tables on each site and rather narrow spaces.  We managed to talk our way into a bigger pull-through site for the first four days and then scoped out a site we preferred for the duration of our stay as it had more space for an outdoor patio.  After being here a week, I have grown to like the place rather well, especially sitting down by the river.  I even discovered a wonderful firepit by the river which it seems no one uses. The pool is also lovely, although not heated, but the spa is of course and makes the pool feel much more temperate. Overall, it is a peaceful place to call home for a month. 

The park holds weddings on this lawn along the river.

I discovered a stone firepit for anyone's use just to the right of the picnic table.  Yay!

The last week has been rather rainy here.  We wondered whether we might have returned too early as there is an old adage that summer begins on July 5 in Oregon.  The temperatures have been pretty mild with lows in the 60s and highs in the low 70s, but we have had grey skies and a little rain each day in the past week.  However, we feel grateful to be here vs. in many other places in the country now with such high temps across the nation and tropical storms in Florida.

We had high hopes of kayaking the Willamette but the water is high and rather fast, not to mention cold. I read about an older couple (like us!) who got caught in a log jam in a tandem kayak on the river and had to be rescued.  The water is more treacherous than it looks.  We also have to admit we are more eager to be out on the water in warmer weather. But we have had plenty to keep us busy the past week, including scheduling all kinds of appointments for the month of July with our regular doctors, my favorite hair stylist, our masseuses, the dog's vet, etc.

Another important connection for us is to do some of the things we always loved to do while living here in the summer like go to Starbucks with the dogs and sit outside almost every Saturday morning before walking to the downtown farmer's market. Another routine we used to have (when we had more money) was to go to Big River, one of our favorite restaurants, and have small plates and a drink(s?) at the bar on Friday night. We also are still looking forward to taking the dogs on our favorite walks around town--down sheep barn road (where Vic asked me to marry him!), the long path along the waterfront to Avery Park and back through campus, and the great hiking trail through MacDonald Forest on the Vineyard Mountain Loop.
One of our long time favorite restaurants in Corvallis
Wine tasting booth at the Corvallis farmer's market

These blackberries tasted as good as they looked.

The market is also a dog show--the dogs just can't go in the booths.
Another wine tasting opportunity along the riverfront. 
You see it all at the market--meet Peaches! Her owner rescues Pitbulls and tries to eradicate stereotypes about this breed.
Wild mushrooms are another delight--there are even morels on the left.
All kinds of music fills the market; this is a group we know personally.

Even though the temps were only in the high 60s, these kids were having fun in the riverfront park fountain.
The flowers --and my sweet husband and pooches--never fail to put a smile on my face. 

We have also been curious to see the small changes that have taken place in Corvallis since we have been gone. Nothing major seems to stand out except a few new restaurants which always seems good.  Not sure how the addition of a Panera Bakery went over as Corvallis prides itself on supporting mostly local businesses rather than chains.

A new delight has been taking advantage of stopping along the way to our park at some of the local stands offering everything from u-pick strawberries to homemade maple bars. I love little farm stands--most be a throwback to my youth in northern Illinois, and there are at least five on our Peoria Road drive.  One is called the Country Bakery and is only open Friday and Saturday. For all the years I lived here, I have wanted to stop and check it out and can happily now report that we have been there twice.  The bakery is  part of a Mennonite woman's home way out in the country.  The story goes that she gets up at 1:00 a.m. to bake homemade breads, cookies, cinnamon rolls, pies, and homemade donuts.  The kitchen may be the most immaculate I have ever seen and the outdoor area greets with you a gazebo, rose garden, and benches on a stone path where you can sit and enjoy your indulgences.

There are also two u-pick strawberry farms along the way on our route back and forth into town. I stopped and bought some already picked berries at each place to compare the varieties and all I can say is that no berries in the country compare. They were so sweet and juicy that they had to be eaten within a day or two.  Another treat was the discovery of three different farms along the road that sold grass feed beef, free-range eggs, and homemade sausage.  These are delights that really stand out as part of the quality of life we value so much in this area.

Yes, it's true that Oregon is known for its rain but the lushness of the valley and the profusion of flowers always seem worth it to me. I am such a hopeless romantic. The pastoral settings with sheep grazing in the rolling hills always evokes for me visions described by the ninteteenth century British poets such as Keats, Shelley, and Worsdworth.

 I shall leave you with an excerpt from Wordsworth's "Lines Composed  a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey":

Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur. Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view
These plots of cottage ground, these orchard tufts,
Which at this season, with their unripe fruits,
Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves
'Mid groves and copses. Once again I see
These hedgerows, hardly hedgerows, little lines
Of sportive wood run wild; these pastoral farms,
Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke
Sent up, in silence, from among the trees!


Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear -both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being

1 comment:

  1. I had a little trouble finding your blog, but I finally got it through HeyDuke's blog! I love that area, but temps in the high 60's mean sweatshirts and jeans :) I guess I've been in Florida too long. The picture of Vic in shorts and a t-shirt made me smile.


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