Oregon – Bend, Portland, Willamette Valley

We arrived in the magnificent Pacific Northwest at last in August! After sweating it out in the high desert of Idaho, the woods of LaPine, Oregon welcomed us with much needed shade and cooler temperatures.

Settled in the campground underneath the shade of pine trees (thus the name of the campground), on the banks of Deschutes River, we looked forward to exploring the area. One of our first ventures was into Bend, in search of a WiFi connection. The small town was beautiful and quaint, the coffee was strong, as was the internet connection. We did a little planning for our trip and a little work, as the puppies relaxed in the sunshine.

Strolling through the Old Mill District, and along the Deschutes river, we admired the distant views of the Cascade Mountains, the gentle rhythm of the water, the relaxed pace of people walking, biking, kayaking, or savoring food at one of the local cafe outdoor patios. Roxie, our mini weenie, decided to take a break in the lush grass, so we did, too.

In Sisters, Oregon, we found a spot on an outdoor bench just around the corner from Angeline’s Bakery and Cafe, where we devoured savory pesto stromboli, spinach mushroom quiche, and finished with a spicy giant ginger cookie and freshly-brewed coffee.

The road to Salem, Oregon, wound through the Cascade Mountains and the Willamette National Forest, past Detroit Lake and Dam. We stopped so I could take some photos from the dam and I almost lost my sunglasses and my shirt to the vicious gusty wind blowing off the water and shaking the impressive trees on the bank of the North Santiam River. The lake might look pretty, glistening blue-green, but its waters are toxic due to algae.

We visited with relatives in Salem, Oregon for a few days, and explored the local cuisine (Xicha Brewing=yummy Latin fusion) and a few of the Willamette Valley wineries. Our first stop was Domaine de Broglie, Coppola’s recent acquisition. The movie mogul’s interest in extraordinary scientific achievements brought the property its name, in honor of contributions to quantum mechanics by Nobel Prize winner Louis de Broglie. We sipped on pinot noir and admired the quiet elegance of the property.

Our next stop was at the nearby Winter’s Hill, a small family-owned winery (owned by the Gladhart family for two generations), offering beautiful views of the valley. We met the owner briefly, as she was tending to blooms and herbs around the property, a luminous smile resting on her face. The peaceful evening livened up as a group of ladies arrived on horseback, ready to end their equestrian tour of the valley with a few gratifying glasses of wine.

A short drive away, we found Varnum Vintners, which was still open after 5 pm, so we decided to check it out. One of the owners, Taralyn, greeted us in the modern tasting room. Taralyn is a chemistry teacher at the local high school. She and her husband combine their technical knowledge with impressing marketing chops to produce amazingly fresh and cleverly branded beverages. I normally don’t go for Rieslings because I find them too sweet, but I was pleasantly surprised by the freshness and balance of Varnum’s versions. We got a kick out of their youthful and playful sparkling rose Porch Pink – Made to drink. Don’t overthink, and cherished a lovely Pinot Noir Rose.

Visiting another friend brought us to Portland. I had heard many things about the city, mainly about its rich art life and commitment to all things natural/organic. The first impression as we drove in, however, didn’t quite match the expectations. A maze of bridges, some towering high above the water, directed traffic in and over the city, lined with colonies of homeless, reflecting a sad reality.

Inside the city, the landscape changed, offering a mix of old architecture and expressive mural art. We met David’s friend at The Mississippi Pizza Pub, where we shared a table with strangers, while enjoying a live bluegrass performance.

In the daytime, we admired the beauty of the City of Roses, as we walked by Portland State University and Portland Art Museum, among the fragrant and cheerful flowers that inspired the city’s moniker.

Roses are not native to the area, but arrived in the city in 1837, as a wedding gift for Anna Marie Pittman. Clippings from the bush were planted in Champoeg Park, Willamette University and the surrounding area, thriving in Oregon’s climate.

Later on, in 1889, the popularity of the flowers turned into a social affair and the Portland Rose Society was born. In 1905, Portland held the Lewis and Clark Exposition, its only World’s Fair, to boost the economy in the area. To attract visitors, the City of Portland planted around 10,000 bushes of the revered Madame Caroline Testout rose (the most popular breed of hybrid tea rose) along Portland’s streets. But the event that solidified the city’s nickname was WWI, when Portland became a refuge for Europe’s endangered hybrid roses, protecting them from becoming another war casualty. The city now has an annual rose festival, attracting millions of visitors.


Of course, the city’s other moniker, Stumptown, is not as glamorous. It refers to a period in the eighteen hundreds when the city grew so fast that the stumps of trees cut to clear up land were left behind, as it was easier to cut the trees than to uproot them.

We concluded our tour of the city with a hot brew from a coffee house honoring one of the city’s nickname. Stumptown coffee shop in Old Historic Town is a charming brick building, showcasing local artwork.

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