Our Oregon Experience!

Sometime around Christmas, 2015, my cousin, Pam, and her husband, Neil, were having a drink with my wife and me and Neil declared that this year be called the “year of fun.” We decided right then and there to plan a summer fun vacation to a place in our beautiful country that we haven’t been to yet. Our choice…Oregon!  My wife and Pam had both been there on separate occasions for work and both of them thought to themselves that this would be a great place for us to go for fun.

We did some research and found out that there would be some cold water fly fishing opportunities along with hiking and touring multiple breweries and wineries. Fishing, wine, beer, and some of the most breathtaking scenery in our country!! I couldn’t wait!

We flew into Portland and went to the car rental place only to find out the mini van we were supposed to have had a nail in its tire, so the only thing they could give us was an Escalade!  Hum, let’s see an Escalade for the same price as a mini van? You bet. Our first stop was on the Columbia River. We had gotten there at the wrong time of the year for the steelhead run but we did run into a few Native American fishermen who were cleaning their catch, canning, and smoking salmon. IMG_0057

The guy I talked to said that the scar on that fish was probably caused by a seal when it was out in the ocean. These were the fish they couldn’t sell to market and were keeping for their family. We went up the road a bit and purchased some smoked salmon to snack on in the car. Talk about delicious!!

Along the way we visited Wahkeena Falls and Multnoma Falls. It was beautiful hiking through the green canopies. Here’s a picture of Lisa and me at one of the falls.IMG_0048

It was almost like a rainforest. Along the path, they put up big cable wire meshing material to protect people from falling rocks. I joked that it was put there to keep the velociraptors away. What do you think?IMG_0054

So our first stop for lunch took us to our first brewery of the trip in Hood River.IMG_0066

Our view of the river from out table.IMG_0061

Beer flights.IMG_0062

Beer to go anyone?IMG_0060

After leaving Hood River, we headed to Bend, OR to visit some more breweries. I learned what growlers were. The thing about growlers is, you have to drink all 62 ounces in one sitting because it will go flat once you’ve opened it. Check out this picture of what I called the “Wall of Fame” from Crux Brewery. IMG_0075

We enjoyed some more beer flights here and got to see some of the brewery equipment up close.

We spent the evening in Bend and visited our third brewery for the day. The following morning we went to Crater Lake. Crater Lake is one of the most beautiful National Monuments in the United States. It’s the deepest lake (at over 1,900 feet) and is the cleanest. We did the nearly two mile hike down the rim to the water and did the 2-hour boat cruise down there. Here are some pictures from there.

IMG_0102Here is a large picture of the view looking down from the hiking trail. It’s the bluest water I’ve ever seen and visibility has been reported to be a record 141+ feet!
Here’s a picture of “Phantom Ship,” a rock formation left over from the volcanic eruption that caused the lake.IMG_0109
You will notice some of the many beautiful colors of lichen on these rock formations:IMG_0110

One more picture before leaving for Klamath Valley and our guided fishing trip.IMG_0088

By the way, the temperature that morning was in the low 40’s. They actually had snow on the mountain the day before we got there.

I wish I could show you some beautiful pictures of some of the rainbow trout we caught the next morning but we were very disappointed in our guided trip. I’m not going to mention the name of the guide service here, but I will mention that our guide for the day was a very nice fellow from Vermont who had only been fishing Oregon since April of this year! We did manage to catch 5 ‘bows but we had to work very hard for that and Neil’s 22-year-old son nearly stepped on a rattlesnake along the way. Here are two pictures from the day. One is a picture of the best fisherman on the river and the other is a picture of a cool nymph that we were using.

We were disappointed in the fishing but we were able to chase those thoughts with a few more of these that evening. The fresh squeezed was my favorite IPA from the trip!

One of the things that stung a little hard was the fact that our wives did a spa day while we were fishing and they said the physical trainer there said he knew where we could catch 20-plus inch rainbows on the nearby Williamson River without a guide and without a boat…on public land. Oh well. Our next day began our trek though wine country. Oregon is famous for it’s Pinot Noirs. I think we visited four wineries in two days and did some tasting there. Gotta love the Oregonians and their sense of humor.IMG_0137

And we took a tour of a fairly new winery that had some mighty tasty wine.IMG_0141

Toward the end of our week we got a condo on the beach (Lincoln City) and were treated to some beautiful sunsets and viewed some grey whales. I couldn’t get a picture of the whales but I did get these.

More scenery

One our last day, the guys decided to do some of our own fishing on the Siletz River. We caught around 15 resident cut throat trout.IMG_0167
Love the different colors of these trout. The one above ate one of the nymph patterns I tied before I left Baton Rouge. The one below ate a black wooly bugger.IMG_0166Neil caught this small sucker fishIMG_0165
Flying kites is a popular pastime on the Oregon Coast.

IMG_0170

On the last evening, Lisa and Pam cooked us a fantastic meal of fresh salmon and Dungeness crabs. I wish I would have taken a picture of that! They used a variation of a barbecue shrimp recipe but without all the butter. It was probably one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten!

On the last day, we did a little more hiking and visited one more brewery before heading to the airport.

Oh, did I mention the Oregonians’ sense of humor? Maybe this has something to do with it?IMG_0169
Yes, pot is legal in Oregon. Oh, and Lisa and Pam found this energy drink that they bought for their husbands. I better not post the picture on here because I teach at a Catholic high school and I have students that subscribe to this blog I could get into a bit of trouble. 🙂

Anyway, one more picture of Mount Hood from our plane as we headed home. I am looking forward to next year’s trip. Remember, Neil called it the year of fun. I’m renaming it the DECADE of fun!IMG_0176

 

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