TREASURE HUNTING

June 18, 2011

We live in the area north of Eugene, Oregon, just a house or two off River Road, the original Highway 99 route between Eugene and Junction City.  For me, it’s a wonderful place to live.  I’m close enough to the Willamette River to walk the path along its banks.  

I can sit to watch the water when my soul needs soothing or see the sun shining on the riffles when my spirits need lifting. 

Life along the old highway offers more.  It’s an area where the home you create can be related back to the settlers who took out the original claim with the homestead act.  It still has ties to the people who came before.  Those native Americans who sought the Camas and berries, who fished and hunted  here.

Now, when I drive that old way north to shop for produce at family farms that have been part of the valley culture for generations, I’m reminded of the schools that were along the road and later the small stores that served the little clusters of neighbors.  A few remnants of the early highway development remain– maybe serving a different purpose now but still, with a link to the past.

One of my favorites is the beautiful Normandy style structure, built as a Richfield gas station in the early 1930’s, before the Highway 99 designation was moved to Sixth Street to avoid the occasional flooding of the Willamette.   The gas station was one of a string of luxurious and well- built structures that included a tower with a lighted beacon on top to light the flyway, extending north through California and Oregon.  That part of the Richfield Company  went bankrupt in 1939 so the station on River Road assumed a new life.  First as a speakeasy and then as a private home.  Through time it transitioned again and is now a location for special events.  Weddings in the beautiful gardens are frequent.  The tower and beacon are long gone but the reminder is there in the name of the cross street, Beacon Drive and in the name of the place, Beacon House.

On the River Road drive north, some of the farm land has been turned into subdivisions, individual housing,  a mobile home park, and a golf course but much remains:  in Christmas tree farms, in nursery stock, and produce stands.  It’s a good place to touch base with a slower, earlier time.

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THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD

June 10, 2011

  This year Oregon’s cool, damp spring has our verdant central valley almost bursting with shades of green. As I pass by rivers, between communities, I notice the young hawks practicing their soaring flight above or see a squirrel scamper across the road just ahead. I can’t help wondering about the families that came to Oregon over Highway 99. Those families, like mine, who came north from California after the wartime jobs ended.

  What did they see? They would have been driving on a narrow and curvy mountain road that eventually dropped them into a sea of green. They would pass by and over rivers with rushing water in them, maybe notice an occasional deer mixed in with the cattle or sheep in the fields.  Pass small communities with prideful slogans.     

  Their automobiles  would have been packed with supplies for several days, often children, and whatever they needed to keep the car running: jacks, extra water, wrenches, tube patches, maybe even a partially used spare tire or two.
  Passing by farms and through the small towns along the highway, did they hope for one that offered a promise of home, or maybe just employment? For some there was a friend or relative already in place to offer suggestions, or possibly a place to stay for awhile.
  Then there were the veterans, some returning to their home area, others looking for a place to start over.  Did it look like the place they left behind?
  Did our rural valleys look as grey and depressing as they sometimes can, or did the travelers see how beautiful it really is?

  Was the beauty one reason to stay?  It’s certainly one of the reasons I don’t stray for long.

Traveling With A Rainbow

June 3, 2011

A cool, wet spring has sent me traveling on scenic and historic roads in less than normal weather.  An evening drive from Eugene to Corvallis on Highway 99 W caught us in a fast-moving hail storm as we drove north but didn’t cancel the trip.

After the granddaughter’s concert, our trip home was framed by a complete and bright rainbow crossing above us at a west- east angle for the whole trip.  Very special.

Earlier in that same day, I set out in search of an old air strip located on Highway 99 south of Creswell.  I’ve heard I’ll be getting a story about a romance that began there so I was intrigued.  I found the air strip, complete with windsock and hangars but a downpour kept me from taking the pictures I wanted.  I’ll be going back, there are other interesting sites along that road.

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.

MAY HAPPENINGS

April 4, 2010

Groundwaters, a literary magazine for local writers and artists will be hosing an afternoon of words and felloship on May 16 at the Broadway Event Center in Veneta, Oregon  As a contributor, I will be a presenter reading a short piece I’ve written for a Readers Theater Group.

I will also be at the authors’ table with my new book of short stories, La Femme, during the Chateau Lorane Art and Wine Festival on Memorial Day Weekend.  My times are Sat. May 29 (11:30 AM-2:30 pm. and Monday the 31st. (2:30 -5:30)  This is a beautiful lakeside setting for a fun event with music, food, art, books, wine and more.  Join us bringing friends or make new while you enjoy this special gathering.

WOMEN IN OREGON HISTORY–NANCY RUSSELL–CONSERVATIONIST

March 12, 2010

  Sputtering attempts to protect the Columbia Gorge had begun as early as 1916 but land developers in the 1970s brought the political kettle to a boil.

  Nancy Russell co-founded the non-profit advocacy group Friends of the Columbia Gorge.  Using her own money, she bought more than thirty gorge properties, removed houses and outbuildings, and recontoured the land to its original form.  Then she opened it to the public. 

  Friends of the Columbia Gorge has grown into a preservation group with more than five thousand members.  It answers preservation challenges every year and helps keep the Columbia Gorge one of the beautiful places of Oregon for all the people of Oregon and for the state’s visitors.

On March 11, I’ll be presenting Fireside Stories at Oasis, upstairs at Macy’s in Eugene’s Valley River Center from 1:30 until 3:00. LA FEMME, my new book of short stories is in hand so we may share a story or two. I’m planning on a good discussion about the importance of stories and the affect stories have on the w

February 11, 2010

On March 11th, I’ll be presenting Fireside Stories at Oasis, upstairs at Macy’s in Eugene’s Valley River Center from 1:30 until 3:00 pm.  LA FEMME, my new book of short stories, will be in hand and we may share a story or two from that.  We’ll also look at other stories, written and told from uncommon sources.  I plan on a good discussion of the importance of stories and the  affect stories have on the ways we live our life.

2009 SOUTHERN OREGON BOOK AND AUTHOR FAIR

November 9, 2009

Coming up–Not to be missed!

November 21, The 2009 Southern Oregon Book & Author Fair happens at the Ashland Springs Hotel

ASHLAND, OREGON  10:00 AM — 4:30 PM        FIFTY AREA AUTHORS–HUNDREDS OF GIFT BOOKS.

McKenzie Arts Festival

August 31, 2009

For a special event, make a drive up the beautiful Mc Kenzie Hwy (126) for the 8th Annual Mc Kenzie Arts Festival on Sept 5 and 6, Labor Day weekend.  Several local authors, including me,  will have books featured in the Mc Kenzie Community Center. 

Artists, artisans, handcrafters, gardeners and cooks will be displaying and there will be food and hands on art activities.  Other stops include the Voorhies Metal Studio, Holiday Farm, the Terry Brown Glass Studio, and the Mc Kenzie River Ranger Station.   Watch for more infromation in the Register Guard.

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June 28, 2009

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