Archive for May, 2011

Journey on Highway 99

May 23, 2011

On a picture taking expedition along Highway 99 in Southern Oregon, we drove the freeway to Grants Pass before we turned on to the old 99 (Sixth Street.)
A stop at the visitor center let us take a shot of the restored Caveman sculpture as well at of the Beacon Bar and Grill. At one time that buildig was a plush Richfield Gas Station, complete with tower and beacon, located on the city airfield. Leaving Grants Pass we moved onto the freeway again to drive to the Valley of the Rogue State Park, our home base for the trip. Most of the park was still closed for the season but we found a comfortable place and settled in.
The first two days were cloudy with scattered showers but still let us photograph the sights we were interested in.  A morning drive on the freeway as far as Phoenix let us turn off to head north again on Highway 99 (Pacific Highway.)  We stopped at the Harley Davidson Motorcycle Store ( used to be Walker The Weeper’s lot) so we could walk back and take the photo of the wonderful neon Royal Oaks Mobile Manor sign.  Continuing north we passed the Harry and David buildings and others involved in the fruit packing business.  The SOS sign and building drew our attention as we sat in the deserted parking lot of Kim” Chinese Restaurand and bar.  For more than thirty years, Kim’s was a mainstay of Medford life.  Birthday parties and family events happened there, late night dates and ordinary meals on the “exotic” side.  Sad to see it  closed and neglected. 

Past Kim’s, Hwy 99 northbecomes Riverside as it passes into down town.  A few of the old buildings are still there, a tavern and a bar.  The old Hubbard building is there but the Western Auto is being demolished.  Farther north, many of the old motels are still viable and maintained but others are used in different ways or gone.  The TIKI looked to be in good shape but the name, popular in the 1940s, seems strange now.   The newer mall on the right side of the road draws a lot of traffic.

Moving north of Medford, the highway may be the same but the businesses and connections have changed over the years as it approaches Central Point.  In Central Point,  Highway 99 becomes Front street.  Small businesses, motels, and some vacant buildings line the road.  The huge  building of the Grange Co Op  is the dominent symbol of the town.  Still headed north, the cheese factory that helped the dairy farmers during the depression and the armed services during World War II,  is open and a tourist draw with it’s prize winning blue cheese.  

 Driving on past small and larger farms, the highway becomes Blackwell Road that winds through low hills  past the Cross Creek Trading Company headquarters, scattered homes, undeveloped land and crosses the Rogue River to enter Gold Hill.   The road runs past the stores, taverns, the pharmacy, and  the school.  On the north end of town, just past the turn off to the Oregon Vortex, another river crossing on one of Oregon’s early concrete bridges, took us,  still on Hwy 99, (the scenic Rogue River Rd.) towrd Grants Pass. 

The down town and main part of Rogue River is basically bypassed by the highway but the road is lined with motels, RV resorts, river view homes, and an occasional large farm or small  business.  Close to Grants Pass, the historic WEASKU INN RESORT has been refurbished and now offers many of the features their movie star guests of the past would still love.  Crossing the beautiful bridge that once featured a free camp at it’s base, we’ve completed our circle for this trip but it will be one of several.

We had time to enjoy our temporary home  in the park.  We took a long walk along the bank of the Rogue River which was very high, full, and rushing toward the coast. 

Sitting in the sunshine gave us a peacful rest and the opportunity to savor our surroundings.  The Oak Trees scattered among the evergreens were just leafing out so the huge clumps of mistletoe on the branches almost  made the trees appear unnatural in structure.  Tiny, red headed Western Tanagers darted in and out of nearby shrubs and trees.