Thursday, August 20, 2015

Places to go and things to do in summertime Cottage Grove

8/12/15 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Locals offer visitor tips.

Last month Oregon’s Senator Ron Wyden sent me (and several thousand others) an email letter about the Seven Wonders of Oregon. In the letter he describes his seven-day trip around the state to meet with local businesses and discuss the state’s growing recreation economy. He also visited Oregon’s natural icons. They are:
1. Crater Lake (Deepest Lake in America)
2. Mt. Hood
3. Columbia River Gorge
4. Oregon Coast
5. Painted Hills
6. Smith Rock
7. The Wallowa Mountains

I surveyed the above list with an eye to my annual August tour guide duties. August is the month when out-of-town family and friends descend upon us. Usually, when they get here, they’re tired. They are happy to plunk themselves down on the deck, read a book, sip some iced tea, enjoy the wildlife or close their eyes and take a nap. They really don’t expect us to take them anywhere.

I’m the one with the expectations. None of which measure up to the places on Senator Wyden’s list. As the month of August winds down so does my tour guide brain! My places-to-go list for grandsons and guests hasn’t changed in years (Shahalie Falls, UO, historical places, water parks, Wildlife Safari, any place that sells elephant ears, etc.).

In an effort to change my course, I decided to poll a few friends on their favorite places to take visitors in and around Cottage Grove and Lane County. i.e. Places close to home. Following are some of their tips. These are personal opinions. No money has changed hands for their input. Initials have been used to protect the innocent.

 Along Main St., folks liked strolling into shops—antique, jewelry, the museums, whatever. Book stores are especially popular. Everyone had a favorite place to eat or beverage stop. I started to list them all and realized that if I left a restaurant out I would be toast!  Suffice it to say that you will not go hungry or thirsty in our town.

J.P. combined a variety of activities: “In the summer I take guests to the concerts in the park and the Art Walk. I drive upriver and stop along the way to admire the beauty. A drive in the country (maybe along Sears Rd) and the swinging bridge adds excitement.” R. H. added his two cents with four words: “Pancakes up Bohemia Saddle.”

Many folks recommended the Covered Bridge Tour. My favorite comment came from S.L. who said: “One Sunday at the Community Center a couple with a British accent asked me if this was where they filmed “Bridges of Madison County. I told them ‘no,’ it was clear on the other side of the USA. They were very nice and must have come from across the pond but were happy with directions on the maps.”

For the physically fit, A.C. suggested this route: “If visitors are energetic, we take them for a hike to Trestle Falls on the Umpqua Forest or bicycling on the Row River Trail.  For bird watching, the Row River Nature Park is great and has an amazing number of species including both great blue herons and green herons; often you can see osprey and bald eagles there, too, as well as multiple warblers, woodpeckers and migrating ducks in the fall.”

Short area walks; hikes and bike rides along the Row River Trail are also popular.  Former resident S. B. recommends the labyrinth at the Village Green.” B. G. suggested a hike to Brice Creek Falls. Not difficult but beautiful. B.I. added, “We just think that the C.G. Lake area is hard to beat for scenery. We are so blessed to live here!”

C.A. suggested that Lane Co. is an avid golfer’s paradise: “Eugene’s Fiddler’s Green is a golfer’s delight along with Emerald Valley in Creswell; Middlefield and Hidden Valley in C.G.; Sandpines in Florence and Tokatee near Blue River.”

The Oregon Coast is always a must-see. L.M. said, “Most of our visitors are from California. They always love the coast. It’s rugged beauty is in sharp contrast to their beautiful but treeless beaches.”

B. W. reminded me of a personal favorite that I can vouch is worth the trip: “Sweet Creek Falls Trail. It’s on the way to Florence, about 11 miles to the trailhead off Hwy. 126 in the Siuslaw Nat'l Forest. An easy-to-moderate hike follows the 70 ft drop in 4 tiers. The 2 1/2 miles of trail has moderate steps, wooden bridges with hand rails.”

Now I’m going to break my rule and name a restaurant since it’s out of the city limits. C.A. said, “In Florence, just around the corner from Mo’s, is Lovejoy’s Teahouse. It's a little known but popular gem. They serve traditional English food and have yummy scones with preserves and clotted cream, a variety of English tea sandwiches (cucumber, egg salad and watercress), petit fours, and a variety of loose leaf teas served in your own teapot. 

Replies waxed absolutely poetic about lunch at King’s Estate: B. G. said, “The patio affords a beautiful view of the Loraine Valley with a distant view of snow capped mountains.  In summer as you drive through the property toward the main building, your eyes feast on the lush green grape vines allowing one to see grapes in their formative stage. Fall brings the harvest with leaves of gold and orange and grapes showing their distinctive purple color.”

Well, I’m out of room but I think the point has been made: You don’t have to go far to have a good time in C.G. and Lane Co. There’s always somewhere to go, something to do and someplace to eat. If you’re still lost, check out the Chamber of Commerce. Great stuff!

 And don’t forget—this weekend it’s time for the WOE Heritage Fair and Lumberjack Show. You can enjoy a historical event and eat elephant ears. I’ll see you there!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

Bohemia Mining Days in Cottage Grove, Oregon

7/15/15 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

BMD Daze: Where to go and what to do!

Howdy, folks! Welcome to Bohemia Mining Days here in beautiful Cottage Grove, Oregon. This weekend, we’re putting out the welcome mat for everyone to come and enjoy some good, old-fashioned fun. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a born-and-bred Grover or a first time visitor—you’re going to enjoy some great history and hospitality.

Bohemia Mining Days celebrates the discovery of gold in them ‘thar hills southeast of Cottage Grove in 1863. Legend has it that two men (fleeing from Roseburg after killing an Indian) made their way into the Calapooya Mountains where they accidentally found gold while skinning a buck. And the rest, as they say…is history.

Eventually an area called Bohemia City was established as miners began the hard work of picking out a living. In the early 1900s they even had a few parades to celebrate their mining efforts. Then, in 1955, a really big 10-day celebration honored the 100-year birthday of the settlement of C.G. A parade precedent was established.

 “Radio Ray” Nelson (who loved the mining life) is credited with stirring up interest to celebrate Oregon’s Statehood Centennial in 1959. To help with financing the event, he founded the “Prospectors and Golddiggers Club” to be a booster group for mining. He soon became known as “Bohemia Ray.” Nearly 60 years later, the financial backing, traditions and enthusiasm of this event are still reflected in today’s Bohemia Mining Days.

Of course, there have been changes. The entire event has certainly grown since Chuck and I rolled into town in the late 1980s. As I recall, some activities such as carnival rides, food vendors and other concessions were located in a dusty field in what is now WalMart’s parking lot. I also remember a year when the carnival rides were set up in the old Madonna property located off Highway 99—a long walk from Main St. and Bohemia City.

And speaking of walking, the free BMD Express Train will once again be offering rides along the Main St. route from Coiner Park (Bohemia City) to the carnival rides at Bohemia Park and the Opal/All America Square. The Express will also go to Trinity Lutheran’s chicken dinner and First Presbyterian’s ice cream social. Times vary so check the printed schedule.

The festivities actually begin this evening (Wed.) at Bohemia Park Amphitheater with a free show. “The Fret Boy—Al Bennett,” will be performing classic rock. Seating is limited, so bring some folding chairs or a blanket for the grass and rock on!

Thursday afternoon from 3-9 p.m., Bohemia City opens in Coiner Park. First there is an opening ceremony. Then, the sky’s the limit: Every day there’s a “Cultural Stage” talk, musical performances, pony and camel rides, an antique engines exhibit, food and drink vendors, a beer and wine garden and on Thursday only, a miner’s dinner near the basketball court. It ends when steaks run out!

On Friday, there are some additions: the Kiddie Parade will scamper thru downtown; a family friendly melodrama will entertain at Cottage Theatre, 700 Village Dr., on Fri. and Sat. at 7 p.m. and Sun. at 2:30 p.m. Cost $7. The Oregon Aviation History Center will be open along with the Bohemia Gold Mining Museum and CG Historical Museum. A Gold Rush 5K night run or walk thru town begins at 9 p.m. at Washington & 6th St. Cost $20-$30.

The Ice Cream Social and Quilt Show is one of BMD’s oldest events The quilt show opens at noon on Friday at First Presbyterian Church, Adams & 2nd St. Then, from 4-8 p.m., homemade cakes, brownies, pies and a choice of ice cream are dished up. Proceeds benefit the FPC youth music program and Community Sharing. Cost: $1.50 kids; $3.50 adults.

Saturday, of course, is the really big show (as Ed Sullivan used to say). The eagerly awaited Grand Miner’s Parade starts off at 10 a.m. As of this writing I don’t have a float schedule so the line-up will be a surprise! But you can count on the parade beginning with a Color Guard processional followed by bands, batons, dogs, horses, old cars, music, people of all ages and floats decorated from the ridiculous to the sublime. It always ends with the wail of fire engines. 

Then, if you’re brave, you might want to check out times to compete in one of the feud contests. For many years, the Lemati Gang re-enacted an original running feud from the late 19th century. They entertained BMD audiences with their western themed shootouts, hangings and jailbreaks. This is the third year of the resurrection of “The Slabtown vs Lemati Feud.” Feud contests range from the ridiculous to the sublime on the Gazebo stage.

Saturday also features some great food. In addition to corn dogs, curly fries and cotton candy (I hope!), there’s a chuck wagon breakfast from 7—11 a.m. in Bohemia City. An always-fabulous BBQ chicken dinner plate at Trinity Lutheran Church runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. or whenever chicken runs out!

Sunday, beginning at 6 a.m., the 51st Annual Miners Breakfast on the Mountain will begin. It’s a great chance to not only get some grub but appreciate the scenery up the winding road to the Bohemia Mining District, 40 miles SE of Cottage Grove. The breakfast ends at 1 p.m. but the fun goes on in town at Bohemia City until closing at 5 p.m.

So, there you have it. It’s BMD! Time to celebrate the colorful and rich history of Cottage Grove with your family and friends. A full three days of celebration of carnival rides, history, melodramas, food, musical entertainment, cherry seed spitting and beard growing contests. There’s something for everyone. Don’t miss it!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.