Monday’s Meander: To Hood River Fruit Loop for Apples

It was time to visit the Fruit Loop, a 35 mile trip that passes 29 member farms which offer produce stands. The orchards bear a variety of fruits, and acres of flowers or vegetables alongside wineries (tasty-looking wine, but we no longer drink) make up a cornucopia of delights. We go through the town of Hood River which sits on the Columbia River, and head out one Highway 35. The landscape is breathtaking; this fecund valley lies at the base of Mt. Hood in the Cascade Mountains. (One also sees Mt. Adams in places.) We were seeking apples and pears but the views alone are worth a leisurely drive–during any season, though I love the autumn weather and offerings.

We originally migrated from Michigan decades ago and still miss those big apple orchards, hayrides and up-close views of busy cider mills from our youth. Nothing quite as fine on a frosty day than a cup of steaming hot cider with a still-warm cinnamon sugared cake donut nearly melting in your mouth. This was (and is) a long tradition shared by untold numbers there, and when we grew up and later took our five kids, it was even more fun. There are not just the same offerings in Oregon, though close (apple strudel with ice cream and cider at Portland Nursery, for instance). But our fall outings make up for our Midwestern loss.

We’ll first stop by Drapers Girls Country Farm and U-Pick Orchards. We come here mostly because it has a quaint, almost worn feel and I find it inviting. A third generation farm now run by one family member and her three daughters, it offers ten different fruits. (The place below is a small rental house on the property.)

We wander about but purchase only a handful of apples here–we have a favorite orchard coming up next.

On we go, passing Oregon scenery I love so keep snapping pictures, even from the moving car.

Our destination is Kiyokawa Family Orchards, operating since 1911; their speciality is growing over 150 varieties of apples, pears, cherries, and stone fruit. And that means over one hundred varieties of apples, alone! We consistently find their operation clean, the staff knowledgeable and friendly, and the bounty exceptional.

We park amid a throng of cars; I try to avoid photographing people up too close. But there were a lot of visitors and apple tasters.

We wound our way back from viewing some of the orchards and, having decided to not pick our own but sample multitudes of choices, we found apple heaven as we expected. You pay $15 per bag, then fill them up with any type and as much as you want!
Below, our final indulgence, lugged to the hold of my car (a new compact SUV bought since our accident).

Happy with our many choices–whose names we have already forgotten–and munching on a couple different ones, our mouths watering with each satisfying bite, we start home.

Passed a old and empty, dilapidated country store that I had to stop and look over. It must have been humming with business once upon a time.

And we then followed the highway along the Columbia River within the Columbia River Gorge. Next week, I will take you back there for more.

Monday’s Meander: Yes to Dahlias, Darling!

For the second year Marc and I headed out to Swan Island Dahlias farm in Canby, Oregon to see what there was to see. A gorgeous sunny afternoon also seemed perfect to take my new compact SUV (replacing the sedan totaled in the accident a month ago) for a drive through undulating hills and fields. It was a relaxing, satisfying outing. (I do like the car pretty well, also–a Hyundai Kona in a cheery metallic red).

I love the big fluffy or intricate or delicate petal designs of the showy, hardy dahlia. And it’s a late summer/early fall flower, a change. Upon arrival, the farm overflowed with strolling folks. We noticed some areas were less burgeoning with dahlias where we walked (out of 40 acres, all open to the public). It seems likely the drought has impacted flower growers as well as other farmers. A great many also are cut for selling to businesses and visitors. But the fields were still striated with beautiful shapes and colors.

We whiled away more than an hour, though we sure got sweaty in the strong August sunshine. Some of the finest things in life are simplest pleasures, filling one with appreciation and peace. Flowering fields are one of those, to us.

This prolific business has been operating for 93 years, though it was bought in 1963 by the current successful farmers, the Gitts family. They grow over 370 varieties and introduce 5-15 new ones yearly.

Enjoy the shots taken as we moseyed about–may you, too, find flowers of joy.

I think my shirt has some dahlias on it…

We looked around the gift shop’s goods set up outdoors and people watched before buying three bunches of dahlias to take home.

Crazy Legs? Why not?–love it.

I got four bouquets from my three bunches and gave one to our youngest daughter, whose birthday was today. Altogether, a terrific day at the Swan Island Dahlias. They create the largest full color dahlia catalog in the US–and are proud to be family-owned after all this time. Give them a try!

Monday’s Meander: Chinook Landing Marine Park

Just a turn off winding NW Marine Drive, close to the suburb of Fairview, you will find Chinook Landing, one of the largest boating facilities in Oregon. It is a 67 acre marine park with six boat launching lanes into the muscular Columbia River, which rushes and skims by Portland on the way to the Pacific Ocean. Besides boating and fishing this is a good park for picnics, wildlife viewing and archery, and there is also river patrol station here. I came across these photos taken in 2015 that encourage me to return… while the sun beams down and river breezes are cool but dry. What a sweet place to sit and watch the boats go by, to walk and daydream.

The houses seen to the west in foothills of the Cascades are on the Washington side (likely Camas), a short drive over the Interstate Bridge.

Because I live among so many rivers and not far from the sea, I am constantly enlivened and delighted by the varied bodies’ daily changes and a plethora of water activities. It makes a difference, as I grew up surrounded by the Great Lakes in Michigan (and over 62,000 inland lakes, as well!), so would feel forlorn without water near by. In my hometown, I also played by the pretty tinkling Snake Creek and the swift Tittabawassee River (prone to flooding).

I stood on the long, usually rocky shores of Lake Michigan and never saw the other shore, it was/is that gigantic. As a youngster I’d stare toward the horizon and think: this is just like an ocean but fresh water, how amazing is that! In the Pacific Northwest we are lucky enough to enjoy both fresh (but only about 1400 lakes here–but there are 110, 994 miles of rivers) and saltwater of the Pacific Ocean. (I need to rent a kayak and get out there before winter rains arrive!)

I hope you enjoyed the photos. Chinook Landing at the Columbia River is a good spot for river lovers.

Monday’s Meander: On My Way to Farmer’s Market with Happy Arrival

Sometimes on the way to somewhere else, you find views that entertain, inspire or bemuse. That’s easy when walking any city. Portland is a curious mix of old and new. I take my time getting to the a fantastic Farmer’s Market each Saturday on the pretty grounds of Portland State University. For quite awhile now I have sure missed going there, though apparently it’s managed to remain open. But Marc and I haven’t been keen on inserting ourselves into crowded masses–thousands traditionally visit weekly. (We do occasionally enjoy the small local famers market in Lake Oswego) For now, I visit via the multitude of photo files covering many years. Maybe in later fall I will venture there once more.

I offer shots of buildings and scenes as I walk many streets on the way to market. Like any city, Portland is full of historic and contemporary architecture to ogle. And there has been a great deal of change and tremendous development–some of it unique, beautiful–since I arrived in 1992. Many churches, for example, have been repurposed, and keep their place proudly alongside soaring business or housing complexes. Three are seen in part here. I always pause and consider their history, wondering why many are for lease…how it came to be over the decades. But there is always something of more current design or another sort of visual interest along the way!

But there is much more than old churches. The market offers color and fun. (Though there are so many that perhaps it’s be good to shoot only those structures for their own post!)

When I finally get to the Farmer’s Market, I’m stuffed with random images and inspiration– here you go!

There is a touch of nostalgia here: the ease with which people not so long ago moved and breathed and mingled is delightful to note, a reminder that life has been very good over the years in many ways, with decent options and simple pleasures. I can only hope it will get better again, and remind myself of this though the daily news brings gloom. Being an engaged part of our complicated world provides such gifts, rich moments to share. I will keep discovering, appreciating, and posting them here.

Monday’s Meander on Tuesday: A Glimpse of a Strange Coast Trip

Looking down at Highway 101 from a trail above Cape Perpetua, OR.

The above shot–taken while hiking a narrow, winding, rough trail that was beautiful– is one of the last ocean views I saw. When on the way back to our lodgings, we were hit when tuning left by a fast moving, passing vehicle on the highway seen below. This is a famous highway in CA. and OR., often hugging the edge of cliffs as it runs the length of coast. And it can be very dangerous to drive.

I wanted to work on the photos today, then put up a full post. But I think it best to rest; it has only been two and a half days since the accident. Each day I am a bit more sore and tired. My car was totaled, unfortunately–but we are okay! I may write more for tomorrow’s Wednesday’s Words post.

But least Marc and I enjoyed this great hike before all that…Next week I will have a complete Monday’s Meanders post of the Yachats area readied and up.