In the last two weeks we have made two quick trips to Oregon. The first was a journey to Cannon Beach to complete our celebration of Robin’s mother’s 90th birthday. We rented a nice house right on the beach that accommodated the whole gang. Unfortunately, the weather was chilly and rainy, as it often is on the Oregon Coast. But we had we had a nice spot from which to watch the weather pass by.
On Friday night we went down to Sweet Basil’s Cafe, where we dined well and heard a great local band called Maggie and the Kats. They played a wide variety of music, from jazz to rock and rock, and helped us celebrate with a jazzed-up version of “Happy Birthday.” Robin’s ex-sister-in-law Bonnie, who made arrangements with the restaurant, sat in with the band for a couple of numbers. They closed with a rousing version of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.”
Robin had gathered a lot of old and new photos, which we put into a book for her mother, who really seemed to like it.
For the second trip we went to Gresham, just outside Portland, for a memorial service for Robin’s Aunt Corrine. But first we made a one-night stop in my old stomping grounds, Hood River. The drive down was long and tiring, with a typhoon out in the Pacific threatening the Northwest. But all was well after we checked into our motel, with a close-up view of the Columbia.
We had a delicious dinner with our friends Lyle and Ruthie at a downtown restaurant called Celilo. The restaurant would not be out of place in Seattle or Portland or D.C. and is representative of how things have changed since the wind-surfing boom hit the old home town. When I was growing up, Hood River had only a handful of restaurants, and they all served plain American fare. Now it has more than 40. There’s a sushi place down the block from Cello and a bagel shop across the street. Back in the day we didn’t know what a bagel was, much less sushi.
The next day we headed out to Lyle and Ruth’s farm, Mountain View Orchards, in Parkdale, and Lyle gave us an exclusive tour. There’s a lot more to the farm than pears and apples, though it has plenty of those. They have tried to make visiting their farm stand entertaining for families, with hay rides and a small menagerie that includes chickens, alpacas, Wilbur the pig (yes, from Charlotte’s Web), Billy the pigmy goat, and Carlos, probably the only Texas longhorn in a Hood River orchard. Acquired by Ruth some years ago in trade for a bin of apples, Carlos really likes his fruit.
The farm is now actually owned by their daughter Trina, who has her own blog and has brought a lot of new ideas to the enterprise, including cider making, an all-fruit CSA (community-supported agriculture), and, most adventuresome, a wedding venue. The farm is quite close to Mount Hood, with an incredible view — hence the name — and the wedding venue takes advantage of that. They’re already half-booked for next year. Bottom line: It takes more than just farming to make a living on a farm these days.
After the tour, we headed for Gresham, where we went to a gathering of Robin’s cousins at a very nice house on Fairview Lake. The memorial service was the following day, with many wonderful remembrances of Robin’s Aunt Corrine.
After the service, the cousins lined up for a photo in order of age, which is a family tradition that they last fulfilled a year ago at another memorial service. This time there was an added feature: In going through old photographs for the book for her mother, Robin found a cousins photo from 1955, and we brought copies for everyone. And in the latest photo, Robin is holding the old one.
The following day we headed home, this time without having to fight any horrible traffic.
No more travels planned until we head east next month for the holidays.