Part Three, Willamette Valley

Many years ago, after unintentionally grounding my white-water raft on the Middle Fork of the Salmon river, I wanted to buy the person who helped me get unstuck a nice bottle of wine, so I asked him what his favorite was. He said Pinot Noir, but to please not get him any as he was a bit particular about that wine. I did anyway, and am now so embarrassed. I had to start checking that wine out to find out why he thought it was the best of all wines, which eventually, after years of painstaking research, made it my favorite as well. Luckily, it turned out that the Willamette Valley is one of the best places in the world to grow Pinot Noir, with some amazing winemakers. I made pilgrimages there for at least a decade around Thanksgiving time for their wine-tasting festival.

A few years ago, friends sent us a bottle of an interesting olive oil, very rich and as flavorful as anything we had in Italy, or tasted in olive oil stores. Surprise, it was from Durant Farms in the Willamette Valley! We decided if we ever got the chance, we’d stop in and check it out; it turned out to be an easy drive from the coast to Portland, our next stop. And when we looked them up, they also have a winery that specializes in Pinot Noir (rubs hands together gleefully).

Olive Oils and Balsamic Vinegar’s galore to choose from!

The olive oil shop is in a cute, rustic building; there was a large tent/canopy outside the entrance where the tasting station was located (we still appreciate, and prefer, being outdoors for activities like this). We had a hard time deciding, but finally selected our two favorites, and moved inside to pay … that’s when Terri became entranced by the multitudes of desirable items. Some time later, we left with our olive oil and six new, handmade water glasses, plus a few bottles of their oil for our friends who had introduced us to this great place.

Right next door was the winery. Their website said that reservations were required for tasting, but my motto is always “Don’t ask, don’t get,” so I asked, and we got! They had an even larger event tent set up, with comfortable seating and fire pits and heaters on posts. Did I mention it had been raining, and was a bit cool? Well, it was perfect under the shelter. So, we ordered a tasting flight, then checked out their small bites offerings. We ordered a small baguette, sliced, with olive oil, maybe some herbs, and black salt. Oh. My. Goodness. It was sooo good, we ordered a bottle of the wine we liked the best, and another serving of the bread, sat in our chairs overlooking hills and valleys, farms, fields and vineyards in the Willamette Valley, and reveled in our decadence.

On to Portland! Had a nice visit with our twin grandsons and son-in-law, Frank. He has been doing pottery on and off for many years, and we have been the lucky recipients of some of his work that we use constantly. He recently built a shed/workshop to fashion and store his creations, and has a good-sized kiln in the garage. Once again, we left with several treasures we love and use. Interested? Please check out the link to his shop, Smalltimestonewear on Etsy.

Full Disclosure: Due to our obsessive diligence dealing with COVID, Terri and I are Very High Maintenance. We are incredibly fortunate to have friends like John and Jeannie, who went to extreme lengths to set up Cafe’ D in their garage for us. It was super cool and so much fun, complete with tablecloths and candles. So great to be able to reconnect with fabulous friends!

Okay, next up a great visit with daughter Kalise. Normally not a subject for the blog, but here’s what was really cool. We met up at the Portlandia Sculpture, then headed down to the walk along the Willamette waterfront, south to the Tillicum Crossing Bridge. Embarrassingly, I had never really noticed this bridge before. Heading north on I-5 where a view might be possible I’m navigating the Twilliger Curves, notorious for being accident alley, and requiring merging, lane changes, and crazy drivers, requiring two hands and both eyes to get on to the Marquam Bridge.

Anyhow, this bridge is pretty unique, as the only traffic it carries is pedestrians, bicyclists, buses and light rail. Crossing it provides great views both up and down the river. Once over the bridge is an excellent pedestrian walkway, which we took past the Oregon Museum of Science and History (a great place to visit, especially with kids), up and over the Hawthorne Bridge (the oldest operating vertical lift bridge in the USA), back along the waterfront and then up to Portland State University and the famous Portland Park Blocks. A tree-studded green oasis in the middle of the city, it is home to an incredible Farmers Market on Saturday’s, live music, playgrounds, and a quiet, restful place to meet with friends. Lots of memories for both of us there, from my childhood, to both of us spending some time in the halls and classrooms of PSU. Back to Portlandia, and a sad see-you-later to my daughter.

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