Western Oregon

June 19th, 2010 4 Comments »

Welcome to Oregon! I have never actually lived here, but I did work one year in Milton-Freewater, Oregon teaching high school science. I lived across the border in Walla Walla, Washington. I loved the valley of the Blue Mountains because of the locally grown fruits and vegetables; I remember buying a box of Fuji apples for six dollars. At that time I had no idea about the varieties of apples, much less the difference between a Fuji or Braeburn apple. Did I ever learn! One year in Eastern Oregon and at least I can now differentiate among several varieties.

At the moment we have passed through Cave Junction and are now in Medford. You can always tell a lot about a town by the quality of its library and the Medford Library is superb! Additionally the wireless is super fast and we are here uploading video and I’m relieved that it won’t take me hours.

This video was taken yesterday and just by chance we stopped for lunch at a place called The River Valley Restaurant. None of my interviews or videos thus far have been planned. Rather they have spontaneously occurred in the moment, popping up like mushroom patches along the way.

A Souper Moment

We’ve been to Medford, Ashland and are now in Corvallis. I do have video to upload of these places, but tonight— the Solstice we chanced upon a place called the Fireworks Restaurant. It was next to the First Alternative Co-op which we filmed earlier in the day with an all access pass! We passed The Fireworks and noticed this place served gluten-free pizza and I felt Astra deserved this treat. The real treat wasn’t just the pizza. It was the place! They had cob structures just like the ones at the Solar Living Institute and they sourced all their food. I like Corvallis. It’s like Austin only about a 1/20 of the size.
The Fireworks Restaurant

Medford was nice & I had contemplating moving there. Here is my clip from Bad Ass Coffee:

The local scene at Bad Ass Coffee


Once we arrived in Corvallis Astra and I filmed our two week update. Here’s how we were feeling prior to visiting Corvallis. I should point out we had just woken from deep slumbers and then shot these two clips:

Astra & Sher Two Week Update from Corvallis

Corvallis: So my favorite place. There are several videos of Corvallis below, but the largest and most detailed and the one I had cut down because of the YouTube size restrictions was First Alternative Co-op.
I appreciate the flexibility of the staff in allowing me video any place I wanted to visit.

First Alternative Coop in Corvallis— a stellar example of sustainability

Some nice young women at First Alternative recommended I visit a bike shop and this turned into an exploration of biking in Corvallis. I had planned on interviewing only one store, but I could not resist going to as many as I could in the downtown area. Mike at Cyclotopia summed up what I think quality of life is all about— doing what you like and not being driven to make loads of money. Take a look at this video– it’s quite different and a departure from what I normally do even though I also like to ride my bike. These folks showed a side of Corvallis I never might have encountered.

Biketropolis~ Corvallis Bike Shops

While filming bike shops around Corvallis I bumped into Analise (spelling may be off on her name) and she gave me the flip side of life in the Willamete Valley as compared to Austin:

An Austinite Speaks Out

Portland was restful & fun because I got to spend time with friends. I have been kind of lonely for people my own size and Astra got to see her friend Niko and she and I spent two days with few exchanges which was a good thing as we were getting tired of each other.

Mt Hood (thank you Michael) was breathtaking and I was tickled to see people snowboarding in June. I also got to hit downtown Portland and drink some yummy beers. During our reunion dinner I videoed the story (retold nearly 5 years later) of our evacuation from Hurricane Katrina. It was all fun and laughter over a nice dinner, but it was very hard on all of us and left lasting scars. Life goes and we have all started over. Watch us recall those few fateful days:

Recalling the Hurricane Katrina Evacuation


My final visit in Oregon was Astoria. I’ve always wanted to see this place ever since I saw Goonies when I was a kid. I also have read several books and novels about Lewis & Clark and Astoria features strongly in these. Natural features, big, bold, unusual and unpredictable intrigue me and so it was when I saw the Columbia River. I had seen it before of course in more diminutive form as it passed through Oregon and Washington creating their natural border, but the confluence of the Pacific and the Columbia were chilling. What a waterway!

We visited the Maritime Museum and I learned just how dangerous the sands of the Columbia are to ships and have been since the town’s inception. We dropped by the Flavel House for some town history and of course the beach (where Goonies was filmed) and the magnificent waves of the Pacific. We also stopped at Fort George Brewery in downtown Astoria where I was able to video the process of beer making and learn more about the microbrew industry, and yes drink some beer— wait drink some fabulous beer I should say. I leave Oregon with a heavy heart, since I liked lots of places here, especially Corvallis and Astoria and could happily down in either place.

Fort George Brewery

I struggled through this interview and luckily Spencer was an easy going presenter because after I tasted all of the beers— some of which had an alcohol content of upwards near 8% my face felt like play-dough. I went to the restroom complete with really cool murals that I could not fit into the clip and splashed cold water on my face and told myself I was a professional. I took a deep breath and headed out to the interview. Once I was moving I felt more coherent. What a wild ride. Astra stayed behind to enjoy what can only be described as an unusual cheesecake recipe: bacon maple cheesecake. She allowed me a small taste and it was delicious, so if you ever stop in for the beer, save some room for the cheesecake, too.
The Fort George Brewery