The final two days of our Oregon adventure began in the small historic town of Jacksonville, OR which was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1966. This small town in the middle of the Applegate Valley wine region is as close to an old western frontier town as you can see these days. As soon as we arrived the previous evening directly from our river campsite, we all enjoyed refreshing hot showers then headed out for a nice dinner. Then it was off to bed to rest up for a busy final leg of the Giro d’Oregon.
With several forest fires in the area, we woke to a smoky sky and a real sense that there was some serious work in the nearby hills to get control of the seven different fires that were being fought. Of course we were no help, so we spent the morning peaking into the various shops along California St., the main thoroughfare through the center of town. Then it was off to enjoy some wine tasting at a couple of the nearby wineries. We first visited the Red Lily Vineyards on the recommendation of our waitress the previous evening. This was a wonderful small winery in an idyllic setting. We even had the opportunity to meet the owner, Rachael who shared her story and clearly showed pride in what she had created. Interestingly, on our way to the Red Lily we passed an entire field of cannabis that was being tended to by two field hands, and protected by a barbed wire fence and a security guard who was patrolling the perimeter on a quad.
Our second stop was the Schultz Glory Oaks Vineyard and Farm, owned by Greg and Debbie Schultz. The reason we chose this particular winery was because a friend from Fredericksburg who owns a business that makes wine barrel staves, happened to be a college classmate and fraternity brother of Greg Schultz. This small connection made for a fun visit where we instantly felt like and were treated like family.
After two flights of wine tasting it was time to head north to Eugene, so we’d be positioned for our final day to head west to the Oregon Coast. Since we had a full day already planned for Sunday, we searched some of the towns along the way to see if there was a Catholic mass that we could attend. After some aggressive, but safe, driving, we made it to 5:00 p.m. mass at the St Joseph Parish in Roseburg, OR. Then we continued the final hour drive to Eugene, where we mistakenly strolled into the Holiday Inn with all of our bags, before the desk attendant informed us that we needed to go to the Holiday Inn Express which was around the corner. Of course I got ample grief from the rest of the group since I was the one who suggested we unload all the bags before check-in! Finally settled, it was off to bed…
The Last Day:
Our final day is upon us… we woke to another beautiful, clear day. After breakfast we headed west for the 1 1/2 hour drive to the coast. When we arrived we immediately noticed the low clouds of the marine layer sitting atop the cold surface of the Pacific Ocean, while the rest of the sky above us was a brilliant blue. As we headed north on Hwy 101 from Florence, OR, we took numerous opportunities to stop at various roadside lookouts to take in the absolutely magnificent scenery. Some of our stops included Cape Perpetua, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport, and the Devil’s Punchbowl. We continued our coastal excursion up to Lincoln City, stopping at a glass blowing studio and a pottery studio to do a bit of shopping.
We then turned back to the northeast to head back through the Willamette Valley wine region on our way to Portland to catch our red-eye flight back to Virginia. This late afternoon drive through some of the most beautiful vineyards any of us had ever seen was the perfect ending to our weeklong adventure in Oregon.
Over the course of our trip, we were all struck with the diversity and beauty of this state. If you are ever in search of a new vacation destination, put the Tour d’ Oregon on your list!