Tag Archives: river

When Guests Come to Town

I love exploring Oregon. And I love having company. Getting to explore Oregon with company? Maybe one of my favorite things. When my parents visited over the summer, I took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy a couple of nearby attractions.

The first is literally just down the road in the small town of Winston. Wildlife Safari began in 1972 as a conservation facility and has grown into that and more. The major attraction is the drive-through wild animal park, featuring dozens of species that can be seen from the car.

img_0809

img_0810

We saw zebras, giraffes, hippos, bears, and elephants, many of which get to roam completely free throughout their area of the park.

img_0811

img_0824

img_0818

img_0816

img_0834

There is a spot to feed some of the animals (buying feed is an additional charge and the vehicular line is even slower than the drive through the rest of the park).

img_0830

Wildlife Safari is especially known for their cheetah conservation and breeding program.

img_0838

img_0841

img_0840

An adult ticket is $17.99 and kids up to 12 years old are $11.99 per ticket. However, I’ve noticed that there are usually specials available, so you may check out Groupon before you go. In addition to the drive through portion, there is the Safari Village, which houses additional animal displays. There are special events throughout the year, as well. It was a fun way to spend a sunny, summery morning.

The other, super fun, thing that I did with my parents was Hellgate Jetboat Excursions. This was seriously one of the most fun things I have done in a while. We chose to do the dinner tour. With our $66 tickets booked in advance (I would recommend this – our tour was completely full), we arrived at Hellgate’s check-in desk (which not so subtly requires one to walk through a rather large gift shop) and then to the line to get onto the boats.

We started the tour with a lovely, relatively tame, mostly dry trip down the river.

img_0847

img_0864

img_0857

img_0851

img_0848

The scenery along the Rogue River was spectacular. We went all the way to Hellgate Canyon, with a few exciting spins and minor splashes thrown in.

img_0865

img_0882

img_0881

img_0879

img_0875

img_0873

We then turned around and stopped by Hellgate’s own restaurant, The Ok Corral, on the river for dinner. Despite the fact that there were almost 300 people present, dinner in the open-air restaurant was delicious and well paced.

img_0886

img_0889

img_0888

The family style dinner included barbecue, salad, and delicious sides. I had preordered the vegetarian option, which was a surprisingly edible vegetarian lasagna.

img_0891

img_0896

img_0895

img_0894

img_0892

And let’s not forget the classic Oregon summer dessert – berry crumble.

img_0898

After dinner, there was time to wander around as the evening began to cool. Relaxed with the content feeling that only comes after dinner with good friends, little did we know what was in store.

img_0901

img_0915

img_0905

The real fun began with the ride back. What had been lively spins on the first part of the tour became wildly fun spins and splashes, sometimes in conjunction with another one of the boats that had everyone soaked and laughing by the time we arrived back in Grants Pass.

img_0920

img_0927

img_0926

There was literally no way to stay dry, even if you tried to use your child as a human shield, not to name names. My mom did her best to hide behind my dad. That too was unsuccessful. We had an absolute blast. As we pulled up to the dock to disembark from the tour, I felt a mix of disappointment that it was over and a strong desire to put on dry clothes. Too bad I hadn’t thought of that beforehand…

img_0930

If you are looking for a delightful summer activity in southern Oregon I highly recommend Hellgate. They have a number of tours, including one that goes further into the canyon and a brunch tour that probably needs to be a part of my plans next summer.

And with that, another successful weekend with out of town guests was completed.

 

 

 

The Art of the Showcation

You’ve heard of a vacation. You’ve heard of a staycation. But now that I live in Oregon, I get to enjoy what I have termed a showcation. This is when I have the opportunity to take a mini vacation and show off my home to friends and family who are visiting. My first experience with the Oregon showcation was when my brother visited in March. My entire motivation at that time was to convince him that Oregon was so amazing that he needed to move here. I’m still holding out hope that I will be successful. When my parents recently visited, I was motivated to convince them that I am, in fact, content and happy and doing wonderfully well living in Oregon. In other words, I needed to show them that I am doing okay, even if I was crazy enough to move thousands of miles away from them.

So I highlighted three aspects of my life that make me incredibly happy: amazing friends, beautiful places, and delicious food. Really, what more could any girl want?

Amazing friends: One reason I chose to move to Oregon was that one of my best friends moved here. One evening while my parents were here we hung out with her and her family. This proves to my parents that I am not all alone in Oregon. For example, I imagine that as my parents, they worry that I will get sick or in a car accident or stub my toe and that there will be no one there to help. Or something like that. Spending time with friends proves to them that they have (a little bit) less to worry about.

DSC01203

DSC01205

Beautiful places: Pretty much anywhere you look in Oregon is scenic, so it would not have been hard to show my parents that I am surrounded by beauty. However, just to be safe, I made sure to show them the breathtaking, the awe-inspiring, the beyond beautiful. Beginning with Crater Lake.

DSC01135

DSC01145

DSC01180

DSC01175

DSC01168

DSC01163

DSC01160

DSC01159

If a place like this doesn’t convince them that I live in an amazing place, nothing will. But that’s not all. There are also rivers and oceans and mountains and flowers. As an added bonus, they were able to enjoy all of this without breaking a sweat. Literally, it was like in the nineties and humid back in Arkansas, making the relatively cool Oregon weather seem even more wonderful by contrast.

DSC01129

DSC01130

DSC01161

DSC01196

DSC01220

DSC01226

DSC01231
Shore Acres State Park was initially a private residence. The house is no longer there, but the gardens remain, gardens set against the dramatic backdrop of the rocky Oregon coastline.

DSC01234

DSC01245

DSC01240
The only original building still standing is the gardener’s cottage.

DSC01236

DSC01261

DSC01258
This particular rose had a citrusy smell.

DSC01254

DSC01252

Delicious food: Last but not least, I took my parents to some of my favorite restaurants, as well as trying some new ones. I cooked them Oregon favorites like salmon and made homemade dishes that were good enough to convince them that my mostly vegetarian diet is not short on flavor.

While at Crater Lake, we tried the restaurant in the lodge. It was lovely and the food was quite good. 

DSC01132

DSC01137

DSC01136

DSC01139

DSC01138
A salad made with Oregon ingredients such as hazelnuts and marionberry vinaigrette, and Oregonzola. It was especially yummy accompanied by the beer cheese soup.

Perhaps my favorite restaurant in the Roseburg area is the Lighthouse Bakery. An all vegetarian restaurant, my parents were somewhat skeptical that they would enjoy it. However, between the view and the incredible food, my parents were quickly convinced that a restaurant that did not serve meat was worth the drive.

DSC01187

DSC01194

DSC01188

We also tried a new-to-me place in Grants Pass. River’s Edge, located as the name suggests next to the Rogue River, did not disappoint. We sat outside on the expansive deck and enjoyed our meal accompanied by live music. The scallops I ordered were beyond amazing and my mom got to eat one of her favorites – crab legs. It is a restaurant I will certainly go to again.

DSC01218
Everything about this makes me happy.

DSC01217

DSC01215

DSC01211

DSC01208

I am certain that my parents continue to wish that I lived a bit closer to home. However, I think that after their first visit to Oregon, they understand why I love living here. The people, the places, the cuisine, each of these did their part to reassure them that I’m happy and living a life that I love, even in far-way Oregon.