August 7, 2008

Thundering Waters

There is an old proverb, “That all good things must come to an end”, maybe truth for some, but not yet for these BlaNics… And so we left Casey’s, the Middle Fork of the Willamette River, the endless National Forest trails and the many wonderful memories shared with our fellow travelers…and took our traveling show to Canyonville and the Umpqua National Forest.

After being parked on the banks of the Willamette for two weeks, you get used to the rhythm and sounds of the river…so we (she!) made sure that our itinerary for our return trip home included a dose of blue waters.

Seven Feathers RV Resort is beautiful, surrounded by layers of healthy forests, but no river, only the intermittent sounds of Highway 5 travelers in the distance. Our fortune though is that the beautiful Wild and Scenic North Umpqua River, renowned for its outstanding fishing environments and exhilarating whitewater challenges, is only a short distance away...just drive east on Highway 138. The road meanders alongside these legendary waters, deep into forests of old growth Douglas-fir. So off we went to explore a few of its hidden treasures…the spectacular rapids and thundering falls, aquamarine pools, the groomed hiking trails and breathtaking viewpoints.

There are 11 waterfalls on the North Umpqua…and although we would have loved to find the time and foot power (all required a hike in for viewing) to see all of them, we did manage to view a couple.

Deadline Falls, is a short but powerful cascade of water, that provided an opportunity to observe sea-run steelhead jumping up the falls, as they journey toward their spawning beds upstream in the tributary waters of the Cascade Mountains. We looked and looked…and looked again, but did not see any jumping fish…may have been too early in the season.
After a nice slog up the mountain side, we were rewarded with an excellent close-up view of Watson Falls. This majestic waterfall is the highest in southwest Oregon, plunging 272 feet over the edge of a basalt lava flow.

We continued our westward drive, following the river for as far as we could, stopping and admiring the flycasters, the rafters...the beauty of the land. We realized that we were a "short" 29 miles from Diamond Lake, so we decided to explore future rv resort opportunities around the lake. As we cruised through Diamond Lake RV Resort...we were again reminded that the world of motorhoming is indeed a small one. Who do we run into? But fellow Casey's RV Park attendees and Lompoc residents, Delores, Chuck, Meriam and Leo. And just in time too! Chuck needed a reason to stop cleaning his coach and nursing cold beers with us proved to be a perfect reason. Could have visited longer with these wonderful folks if a 129 mile trip home was not awaiting us. And since we were up in the general vicinity, we decided to check out and sample a culinary experience recommended by friends Jeff and Janice...the legendary Becky's Restaurant of Prospect, Oregon. And we do agree...great food...awesome pies!

The Umpqua Valley is Oregon's oldest fine wine appellation...home to 18 family owned artisan wineries. We chose HillCrest Vineyard to do some tasting, the state's first commercial vineyard and winery established in 1961. We love the small wineries...the hospitality is warm, you get to meet the owner/winemakers and as you taste their wines you are entertained by them as they discuss their cherised craft. This vineyard produced some very bold and distinctive wines and we did not leave without making sure we took a few "vines" for a future taste.

And a trip to the country would not be complete without a visit to the local produce farm. We have found that the organic vegetables and fruits sold at these rural stands is outstanding when it comes to selection, taste, quality and freshness. We also get to pick our own blackberries...we ate as much as we picked while strolling through all the it was even a better value.

Tomorrow we slide quietly across the border into California...but still the river beckons let it! The Klamath River will be our "front yard" for a day or two...

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