Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Terra Incognita

When Madame Le Chef and I decided that this was not the right year for a trip to France, we planned a car trip to visit friends in Oregon. Instead of reading up on Oregon like we do on France, we decided to wing it. Normally I’m a strong advocate of the supremacy of knowledge over ignorance but in this case we had a series of delightful surprises.

It turns out that the unknown land (to us) started just north of Sacramento, a flat, sun-baked area with temperatures in the hundreds (this was not delightful). It dropped down into the 90s as we climbed into the mountains and soon we had our first pleasant surprise---Mt. Shasta. It’s not only very tall but relatively isolated, so it is visible on and off, from Interstate 5, for what seemed about 100 miles.
We broke our journey in Ashland, OR and the next day drove up to Portland to enjoy the hospitality of our friends. It turned out that the next pleasant surprise was only a 35 minute drive outside of Portland---the gorge of the Colombia River. The gorge itself is beautiful but the waterfalls along it’s banks are truly spectacular. Multnomah Falls, the tallest, has been a tourist attraction since the turn of the last century.
We made a two day side trip to the Oregon sea coast where the weather was unfortunately similar to San Francisco summer weather (foggy, cold and windy) but the landscape was magnificent. On our way back to Portland we stopped at Cannon Beach which has a big rock, appropriately named The Haystack, rising out of the surf.
The final wonder was a crab sandwich from the South Beach Fish Market which is on RT. 101 just south of Newport Or. They put a quarter pound of steamed, picked crab on sliced sourdough with just mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato---sublime simplicity.

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