Nuts, Hops, and a $2 Ferry Ride

an old barn amongst trees and tall grass

Yes, It’s an Old Barn –

and that’s all there is to that story. That’s one thing about doing longer house sits, you get to know many smaller details of a place.

and that’s all there is to the story. That’s one thing about doing longer house sits, you get to know many smaller details of a place.

This house sit was our second extended stay – four months in the same place, twice in a row. It was so different from the previous year when we were always on the move. 

Having the long sit in Lincoln City was terrific but also frustrating at times given the weather. However, it also gave us ample time to explore the Oregon coastline.

close up of a grape vine with a few grapes

Seems Like a Long Time

Being at this house for an extended period was easier from that perspective, but I seem to start getting ‘wandering fever’ after about six weeks.

It also seems that when we’re in a place for a few months, we don’t explore as much, especially if we’ve already been in the area before.

Perhaps we unconsciously think we’ll be there so long there is no urgency to it. The days slip by, and we catch ourselves – “Hey, did we get out of the house at all this week?” Sometimes the answer is no, so off we go right then.  

a wheat field

How Many Combines Does Your Neighborhood Have?

As we may have stated previously, Dallas is surrounded by farms, and the fields are heavily planted: some corn, vegetables, orchards, grape vineyards and lots of wheat. We noticed two things about the wheat fields: they were there, then they were gone.

The combines come in and make short work of harvesting the grain. The combines also make long work of driving down the highway. But soon enough they turn into another field. 

a combine driving down a country road

Next Step

Make hay – but not until the sun shines. The cuttings lay in the field to dry and then in come the bailing machines. It’s fascinating to watch those at work if you like that kind of thing. A sort of rake in front, with bales coming out the back. Fields go from golden brown, the grains swaying in the wind, to stubble – all pretty quickly.

The hay bales end up going in all directions filling up some large barns! For a while, you see more hay trucks than logging trucks on the road and in Oregon, that’s saying something. 

a mown wheat field

Now, For the Fireworks

This much is certain: you will never see one of these in Los Angeles! Head up into Oregon, and these fireworks stores are all over. Mostly tents in parking lots, and, surprisingly, a lot operated by schools or churches. We’re not much into explosives, so we didn’t visit.

a large tent in a parking lot selling fireworks

We’re sure our canine friend was glad we didn’t buy any fireworks. This is her after hearing a few firecrackers in the neighborhood: “Oh S**t, not those again! Every freaking year they do this.”

She was not fond of the noise, and we kept her close on the 4th. Jim tried to imagine what all the pops would be like with hearing about a thousand times better than his. No thanks.

an old Labrador looking up

We Learn Something New

Hot Spots – Who knew? The opposite of wheat fields, here – then gone, and quickly. The hot spots started with what you see in the photo below, and then, very quickly, came on strong, all within a few hours. We had never seen welts like that on the old gal. She didn’t seem to be too uncomfortable with them, but we were.

We made a quick trip to the vet for a checkup, and we’re glad we did. He said hot spots are relatively common, especially in the summer with the heat, stickers in the fields and flying insects. Though we had never seen it, we were the third of the day for the vet, and it wasn’t even noon.

close up of dogs back with a few hot spots

The Fun Stuff

Off they took her for a shave (we’ll spare you the photo – yuck). They gave her a shot, some topical spray and sent us off with meds – antibiotics, prednisone and some topical spray. The condition can get nasty if not discovered and treated but we didn’t have to deal with that. 

The symptoms went away in a couple of days, and all she had left was a shaved rump. Maybe a blow to any vanity she might have, but that’s all. She was an excellent patient. She did better with it than we did.

a Ragdoll cat lying inside looking at the camera

How About Those Cats

The cats were fine during our stay and didn’t need any visits to the vet or medications or even any counseling: that was terrific! They were as comfortable as can be around the house. 

What is it about cats (please tell us if you know) that they want to be right in the middle of whatever you’re doing? Here’s Jim at the desk in the den just in front of a window looking out on the street. It’s an excellent place to write. But that will have to wait. 

a huge Ragdoll cat lying across a desk

Typically you see this cat sitting on the sill watching life on the other side of the glass. But this time Puss n Boots wanted to be front and center. He’s a big fellow and when he’s front and center nothing else can be. He takes up most of the desktop.

The only solution was taking the laptop somewhere else. Of course, he would be over there pretty soon too. Funny guy. No respect at all for the clock on the wall. Ah, the feline life.

a fluffy Ragdoll cat lying exposing her tummy

All three of these creatures loved getting groomed and would jostle for position whenever I got out the brush – seeing who gets the most brushing. When I would start grooming the cats and given their long fur, that was very often; the lab would nudge her way in every time: she just had to get in on it. It’s a rule – brush out? Doggie comes. 

Here’s the queen at court – looking out over her realm! She’s a superb queen at that.

a small Ragdoll cat resting on a patio

Visiting Willamette Mission Park

One day I wanted to find a place that we could walk along the Willamette River in Salem, and we headed out to a park that on the map looked like it would fill the bill – Willamette Mission Park. We drove to Salem and then off onto River Road, sounds good so far, right? 

Small filbert trees

As we started walking along the path that we thought would take us to the river, we found these trees, then a sign nearby – Filbert Grove. Filberts are also known as Hazelnuts, the official Oregon State nut! 

I found out later Oregon grows 99% of the US crop of hazelnuts. There’s something for your trivia notebook. We didn’t know that either. 

filbert trees creating an archway

Only when we got up very close to the trees could we see nuts everywhere! Each one was hiding in a protective covering that makes them quite difficult to spot at first. I guess it also serves to protect them from all but the most determined creatures.

close up of filberts growing

Have a Few Nuts!

I found the trees fascinating. So many nuts on those trees. From 50 feet away they look like a hundred other types of tree. Up close you can see what they’re up to – dense growth, the branches all evenly spaced, laden with those heavy nuts, and leaves covering each one just so.

We made a note to come back at harvest time to see how that goes. But we were probably in the next state by then.    

close up of filberts growing

Searching for the River

As we continued along the trail, we eventually found a side path leading to the river, we hoped. We did get down to the water, but there were rocks and high plants all along the bank: nothing like a traditional river bank. There wasn’t much to do there. We could have had our pick of rocks, but every rock was just like all the others, so we passed on it.

a river flowing along with trees on the other side

Since we couldn’t walk along the waters’ edge we went back up to the trail. It was strange: though the river was just a few feet away, we couldn’t see the water from the path. Not exactly a river trail.

a river flowing along

Another Great Find

As we walked along we started seeing blackberries; I mean thousands of them. This photo shows how big the clusters were. Imagine this hundredfold everywhere. 

The problem? They were too high for us to reach. Some of the vines had climbed thirty feet up in the trees, it was incredible! No one but us stopped to pick blackberries. It must be a rule in Oregon.

hundreds of ripe blackberries growing

We also saw more nut trees of all sorts and this old guy: a real stand-out in a forest of green trees.  

a dead-looking bare tree

Thistles anyone? There were plenty of those around. Just around the bend, we saw a Frisbee golf course winding through the trees and a foursome of young fellows hard at the game. Serious types, keeping score and everything. 

close up of some brown thistle-like plants

An Unexpected Find

When we left the park, we drove a bit north and around towards what we thought would be a ferry across the river. While driving, we saw these huge, strange plants along the road and had to stop. They were very long trailing plants that were strung up high, row after long, long row.

Hops plants growing

Maybe you know what they are at first glance, but we didn’t. When we got out of the car and got closer, I figured it out. What’s one thing that is quite popular in Oregon – Beer. These were hops! I had no idea the plants looked like this. 

Hops plants growing

Here they are, on the way to your local pub in not too long. Or so we guessed.

Hops plants growing

We found the plants beautiful and fascinating. We also wondered how they harvest them. I assume they cut down the entire plant.

Hops plants growing

Ferryman, Ferry Me

We got back into the car and continued our search for the ferry. We didn’t think it was real, who would run a ferry way out in the boonies where we were. But we had to check it out anyway. All of a sudden, we were in a line of stopped cars, and there it was!

Sign for Ferry Rates across the river

In our previous posts about our travels around Oregon, we’ve mentioned all the rivers. In most places, they don’t have many bridges across them, and you have to drive quite a way to get on the other side, usually adding miles to what could be a shorter journey. This was a great find as we were nowhere near a bridge.

a small ferry carrying cars across a river

We had to wait while the ferry went back and forth transporting the cars ahead of us in line. 
close up of a car on a small ferry going across a river

There’s something very peaceful about the ferry. No one in a hurry. Each driver can tell exactly how long they’ll have to wait. Count the cars in front. Count how many cars get on each load. Clock the trips back and forth – bingo. You know when you’ll hit the other shore.

By the way, what can you get for two bucks anymore? A ferry across this river, for one thing.

photo in the center of a river

On the other side, there was a beach, well, sort of – and there were people out and about climbing on their jet skis or into their fishing boats. What a hoot!  

Soon enough we were on our way home, up on the road passing by Mennonite farms (the signs told us that), each as neat and tidy as farms ever get. From what we’ve seen, that’s saying something. 

a river

All in all, it was a good find, just not what we went looking for – a walk along the riverbank. Oh well!

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