Monday, May 30, 2016

Wonders of Oregon!

Mount Hood

By Jane Feehan 

I’ve had the good fortune to spend more than three months in this beautiful state. I’ve seen many of its sights and more remain on my list …

Some observations, tips and recommendations:

It rains here. A lot. Flowers and blooming trees command attention during the spring, and the landscape is the greenest you’ll see anywhere. When the sun shines, Oregonians get out and about. They’re impatient drivers through the narrow winding roads to the ocean and through the farm lands. Not a good thing for those taking in the view and suddenly find a tailgater at the bumper. Beware … even if you’re driving the speed limits.

A deer sighting from my hotel window in Salem
The rainy season abates in late spring. Some say summer really begins on July 5 when the rain stops. If you don’t mind the often-gentle rains, I suggest to get out and explore during the wet days. The roads and sights are less crowded. People hike on trails everywhere here, rain or shine. The landscape turns brown in some areas in the summer; I recommend a spring visit when flowers and trees burst with color.

Some farms grow flowers for markets and enthusiastic visitors willing to pick their own bouquets of iris, tulips and more. Oregon is also home to the grass seed capital of the world--Linn County, near Eugene.

The best strawberries you will ever taste come from Oregon. That can probably be said of many fruits and vegetables grown here.

Flower farms, stark and luscious scenery and easy-to-spot wildlife require you to be camera ready ...

What to see:

Mount Hood – Stop at Government Camp (1936-38 Works Project Administration construction) and its Timberline Lodge (the exterior was filmed for the movie, The Shining.) See the mountain up close and beautiful. It’s something to see or ski when draped in snow.

Cooper Spur Mountain Resort
About four miles from Government Camp lies the quiet Cooper Spur Mountain Resort. Great for weddings, reunions and just relaxing, Cooper Spur offers dining in a rustic setting and cabins for rent for a stay. See

Columbia River Gorge – Stunning. See it from the Vista House (built in 1917) on Historic Route 30 – off busy Route 84 (speed limit a dismaying 65 mph there along the Gorge).
Columbia River Gorge

Multnomah Falls – Off Route 84 in the Gorge area. Beautiful, I hear, but difficult to get into with its lines of cars at peak hours on good weather days. I enjoyed Silver Falls, about 30 minutes out of Salem.

Vista House at the Gorge
Nearby is the town of Cascade Locks with lodging, gas stations, a few restaurants and a beautiful view of the Gorge. The Sternwheeler Columbia Gorge & Marine Park river cruise leaves from Portage Road. Food at the restaurant is terrible. The cruise, I’m sure, is much better.  

Town of Sisters on the way to Bend, the east Cascades. Loads of tourists in this village of fewer than 3,000. Most of the buildings look like new replicas of Wild West architecture. A little schmaltzy, a lot touristy, but fun.

Bend – a winter ski mecca at the edge of the high desert. Sophisticated and sunny, its downtown area offers a few good restaurants. Residents and visitors have a view of snow covered moutains. I highly recommend Drake—excellent food in this restaurant/pub and yes, you can dine with your dog outside. Two-hour free parking on the street behind Drake.

Smith Rock – About 20 miles from Bend. Do not miss. Amazing rocks and landscape and the 
Smith Rock
backdrop for a western movie or two. It's also a draw for hikers and rock climbers. Parking at this site is tough on holidays.

Lake Detroit and dam. On the western side of the Cascades along Route 22, on the way to and from Bend. Vacation housing, some lodging, lots of camping and fishing. A restaurant or two. Dazzling.
Lake Detroit

Canon Beach
North to central coast – Cannon Beach, Lincoln City and … a hiking trail with plenty of parking just north of Cannon Beach provides a spectacular vista of the ocean and coastal terrain. The Weather Channel liked a photo I took here and asked to use it. The jaw-dropping view, not this photographer, should be credited. The coast is chilly and windy most of the year. No highway to the sea but beautiful roads through farmlands and wine country.
Dunes near Florence and the Siuslaw River

Wineries – Oregon is home to Pinot Noir. Hundreds of wineries (more than 600 in the north) dot the landscape and welcome visitors (try Cherry Hill) for tastings. I don’t know how one manages tastings and drives home without a designated driver. Roads and Oregon police are tough.

View from path at Adobe Resort
Florence and surrounds  – Two hours and 10 minutes south of  Salem, Florence offers a slightly different landscape than points north. It’s near the 40-mle long Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Sand dunes, not rocks claim the landscape. About 8,000 reside in Florence, a town popular with retirees and tourists who come for its Rhody or Rhododendron Festival in May. Rhodys—wild and cultivated—are ubiquitous here. Don’t miss its downtown and harbor, which reminds this writer of a New England seaside town. Friends-locals-took me to Adobe Resort in nearby Wachats where we sighted a whale and its calf from the dinning room. The patrons dashed to the window to watch the two frolicking there for quite a while. After dining, take a scenic walk on the hotel's short path along the ocean.

Heceta Head Lighthouse, 13 miles from Florence. This picturesque lighthouse is among the most photographed in the U.S. Visit and you’ll see why …
Heceta Head Lighthouse

Portland – Almost an afterthought. Traffic is miserable, parking is bad. And homeless youth are more than annoying; they’re aggressive and nasty. I feel safer in New York City. Visit Powell Books, in the Pearl District, a city landmark and among the world’s best book stores. (Portland is second in the U.S. for reading; Seattle ranks first, based on books sold in those cities.) They offer a parking garage (not free) adjacent to the store; it fills up early.

There's much more to see in Oregon ... stay tuned.

Lewis and Clark Expedition ...


Tags: Oregon sights, Oregon tourism, where to go in Oregon, Florence, whales, Smith Rock, OR, Lake Detroit, Bend, OR, travel writer, Columbia River Gorge

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