Our next vista is Mt. Shasta off in the distance…..or is it just a cloud? Darn! All I see ahead are clouds. Near Red Bluff a herd of about 30 buffalo (or are they bison?) is grazing out in a field
. Tried to get a picture of them through the car window, but Iris had the pedal to the metal and, of course, I didn’t have the camera ready. As we zoom by Redding, we begin to climb into the mountains where the landscape changes from agriculture and grazing land to rugged hills, covered with pine trees and other various evergreen trees and bushes, some blooming purple and some white. As the road rises into the Siskiyou Mountains, below us we can see the giant reservoir lake of Lake Shasta. We stopped at a Rest Stop for a picture and way down below us you can see one of the many arms of the lake. Here and there a few little raindrops plop onto the windshield…..warning us that we are nearing Oregon, where a Pacific storm was expected to drop over 2 inches of rain. The mountains are rugged with steep cliffs of gray stone, but contrasted with the multiple shades of green in the dense underbrush and soaring evergreen trees. Beautiful!
WELCOME TO OREGON says the road sign. At least we think that’s what it says. It is raining like crazy. There are so many big rig freight trucks on the road and they throw off a deluge of water off their wheels. We are seemingly driving in our own weather system of water in every form swirling about us. Are we still on the road?
Ashland, home of the Shakespearean Festival, appears before us as we descend from the mountain pass
. The verdant green of the valley is stunning! The homes and buildings of Ashland, clustered on the western side of the valley, sparkle fresh & clean from the rain. If it were not for the mountains, we might think we are in northern England or in Ireland. It is SO green. For the next 3 hours we climb over mountain passes and descend into stunning valleys of green. The windshield wipers are keeping time to the music on the radio! Starting about Medford we begin watching for Rice Hill. Linda & her husband used to always stop at a little drive-in café, famous for its hamburgers, but most of all, for the approximately 35 flavors of Umpqua ice cream. Umpqua is the name of the river that runs through the area, hence the brand name. Linda couldn’t remember exactly where it was, so we were looking for it over every hill on the freeway! We had our "tasters" up for a wild blackberry milkshake. North of Roseburg we finally saw the sign, Rice Hill 1 mile, and lo, and behold, the rain lessened almost to a stop as we pulled off the freeway and wound our way over to the K&R (I think) drive in café. Our “tasters” were rewarded richly. We split a delicious wild blackberry shake. Hunter had a dog biscuit.
At about 4:00 pm we entered the Willamette Valley just south of Eugene. Now we drive through the long, straight freeway up the valley, through intermittent showers and under patches of blue sky
. We had promised to bring some California sunshine with us and were happy to see that at least a little of our blue skies had made it to Oregon with us just north of Eugene. Off to the west you can see the foothills of the Coast Mountain Range and to the east, although we can’t see them from here, are the Cascade Mountains.
At 6:00 pm we arrived at our BBDD in West Linn, OR, which is just south of Portland, OR at the confluence of the Tualatin and Willamette rivers. Linda’s daughter, Alexis, and Jason greet us with hugs and delicious aromas wafting from the kitchen. And a glass of wine, of course. They live in a picturesque little house along the Tualatin River. Soon Linda’s son, RJ, his wife, Vicki (with son, Judah, in the oven), and Vicki’s mom, Sue, (who just arrived from Florida) came to share the bounty of wild Morel mushrooms and BBQ’d Spring Chinook Salmon, which Jason had caught here in the Willamette River. Wow! What a delicious feast!
6/2, Wednesday - On the road again at 6 AM travelling over the San Francisco Bay on the San Mateo-Hayward bridge to catch the freeways leading back to I-5 and northern California. Stopped at Granzella's Deli in Williams to get a sandwich to eat on the road. We drive by miles of rice paddies, then nut trees and olive trees. At Corning there is a famous store called the Olive Pit, where everyone stops to buy olives stuffed with almonds, garlic, pimento, blue cheese, or just about anything else you can think of. We zoomed by not daring to shop there if we wanted to get to Lexi’s in time for dinner in West Linn, OR. She sent us a message that she had picked 3 dozen wild Morel mushrooms. Yum!