This blog is coming to you from Cottage Grove, Oregon where I am a columnist for the local newspaper. My 'Chatterbox' column chronicles life's ups and downs while the 'Cook's Corner' segment features updated, country-style cooking. The recipes are family-style: economical, fresh, tasty and simple. Enjoy!
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Oregon Fall Foliage
'Tis the season of pumpkin and apple
The leaves are changing and so is the weather
It's time to put away the shorts and put on the sweater
Halloween is near and Thanksgiving is coming
My favorite time of year this is becoming.
As I finished writing this column a blustery rainstorm blew
into Cottage Grove and largely destroyed today’s subject—the beauty of autumn
and some local places to visit before winter rains set in. By the time you read
this our fall foliage may have washed away. Sorry about that. Mother Nature is
in charge! Perhaps you can save this information in a file under “Fall 2017.”
This column came about out of desperation. For too many
years to count, my husband and I have taken our major vacation of the year in
September or October. The weather is always nice—not too hot and not too
cold—making it a good time to go sightseeing in mostly fall foliage areas
around the country.
years, some of our favorite trips have been to the East Coast. We have fond
memories of eating lobster at Peggy’s Cove on a brisk autumn day and some
fabulous shopping in North Conway after driving through the glorious White
Mountain foliage of New Hampshire.
This year’s trip plans included Niagara Falls and Toronto,
Canada. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Instead, our travel times were visits
to doctors, ERs and hospitals. Chuck has developed some serious cardiac issues
that have curtailed his energy and ability to travel long distances from home.
It’s a bummer.
But you can’t keep determined travelers down. I decided that
this would be a perfect time to make some Oregon fall foliage trips. One does
not have to travel out of state to see color popping up all over the Willamette
Valley. Right here in Cottage Grove all one has to do is head out of town and
up to either Dorena or Cottage Grove Lakes for amazing scenery.
Everywhere you go in the Willamette Valley is a scenic
Roads to most wineries and vineyards are colorful and a
leisurely drive from town. And your trips don’t have to be costly. You can pack
a picnic lunch and enjoy the scenery at any of the Willamette Valley’s covered
bridges. The CG Chamber of Commerce has excellent pamphlets that will tell you
how to get to Currin Bridge, Dorena Bridge, the Stewart Bridge and more. All in
There are other covered bridges outside our area. If you get
really adventurous you can drive east on Highway 126 and check out the
Goodpasture Covered Bridge in Vida Oregon. And don’t forget Eugene. Last week,
driving through Eugene’s downtown, I couldn’t help but notice that their trees
are also popping color.
If you’re into biking, there’s still time before the winter
rain sets in to pedal out our wonderful 35.5 mile Cottage Grove Covered Bridge
Tour route. This scenic bikeway will give you up close views of colorful
foliage that you can’t get on a tour bus, The bikeway is a paved path that is
off the street (no car traffic) and suitable for all ages.
We like heading up north. We want to check out a new place
(to us), the Sweetbrier Train and RV Park’s Pumpkin Patch Train Ride. It is
located in Scio, OR, 25 miles east of Salem and Albany or 90 min. from downtown
Portland. We have not been there but if it’s as interesting as Cottage Grove’s
former Blue Goose train ride it will be memorable. The park closes this weekend
for the winter so if you don’t make it, mark your calendar for next year!
Their website says that the park is privately owned and set
in 19 acres of woods with old growth fir that is interspersed with foliage and
creeks. This year, along with the train ride, there is a tractor hayride,
panning for gold and more. The cost for the 2016 Pumpkin Patch Train trip is $6
per person with a can of food; $10 without canned food and free for children
under 2 years of age.
Speaking of Salem, I’m putting the Ankeny National Wildlife
Refuge on our list to visit. It is located just off Interstate 5 and provides
overwintering habitat for the dusky Canada goose and other migratory
waterfowl.It is handicap
accessible and its boardwalks and kiosks are open year-round. All other trails
are closed from Oct. 1 through March 31. There are interpretive signs and a photography
blind available for reservation. Sounds good to me. Check Map Quest for
directions to 2301 Wintel Rd., about 67 miles from C. G.
Another place that we always enjoy is the famous Dean Creek
Elk Viewing area. It is the habitat for hundreds of Oregon’s Roosevelt Elk
population with viewing stations and of course, photo opportunities. Just a few
miles east of Reedsport, on Highway 38, it’s an enjoyable stop on your way to
Now, dear readers, all is not lost if you no longer drive.
You can still enjoy many of these places. Check out Experience Oregon or other
small bus tours. Winter’s a-coming. Enjoy Fall!
Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people,
places, family, and other matters of the heart. Contact her at 942-1317 or via
e-mail — firstname.lastname@example.org