14 September 2008

Passage to the coast: part two

Besides arriving on the Pacific coast on a sunny afternoon -- the first such afternoon in five days we learned from the desk clerk, today's highlight was lunch. After our rest stop on the Williamette where Tal gathered large leaf maple seeds, we finished our descent into the valley and found the King Estate winery just south of Eugene. The estate sits on 1000+ rolling acres which includes over 450 acres of organic vineyards and some 20 acres of fruit, flower and vegetable gardens, enjoying something of a Mediterranean climate.

Our lunch, consisting of salad, entree and dessert, also included tastes of four lovely wines. We had a wonderful time -- dining and strolling the ordered, golden grounds after the meal.

I battled sleep for the rest of our travel day, leaving the valley, traversing the Coast Range (which reminded me of the Appalachians a bit, from the terrain and the road grades to the poor communities and junked up hollows), approaching Florence and the coast along the Siuslaw River. We hardly paused in our rooms before congregating on the deck at the dunes to chat about the day and enjoy the combination of radiant sun and rather chilly sea air.

We crossed pretty much half of Oregon today and saw forest fires, mountain passes, rivers -- both dammed and running free, flat farm land, rolling vineyards, tidal estuaries and the Pacific Ocean. Oregon is nothing if not diverse. Each time we stepped from the coach was like entering another world. I liked them all.

This sunset got folks out of their rooms. Some guests at the hotel had been there for a week and had seen nothing but fog day after day. (The hotter it is in the valley, the more fog on the coast.) Color in the sky, not to mention the mystery of the lighted ship just off shore, was cause of conversation and some measure of collegiality.

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