After we had visited all the animal barns at the Oregon State Fair, we headed to the midway. The rides and junk food were delightful, but we were careful how we combined them.
Years ago, my equilibrium decided I shouldn’t ride the fast rides anymore, but I sure enjoy watching. Most of them are rides that have been around since I could, though. One vintage swing ride even bills itself as “A Michael Jackson Ride, from Neverland Ranch.” The paint job and simple construction are elegant and really take me back.
The one ride we got tickets for was the “Fair Lift”, benches on a high cable, like the sky ride at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. “See the fair from a chair!” Says the sign. “In the air, if you dare!” We added. It was not only a great view of the whole fairgrounds, low enough to smell the BBQ ribs and hear the music, but a chance to sit down for a full 30 minutes!
Down the fair from the midway was the one room Criterion School, which was in use until 1925. It was moved here from Maupin by the National Guard in 1976 as an example of a standard schoolhouse and is currently maintained and staffed by retired educators from all over the state.
I enjoyed talking with the ladies and seeing the old report cards and desks, but what really got my attention were the old books! I have been trying to find curriculum materials from 1903 to use in my story, and here they were! I took lots of pictures and notes…I will be cruising old book sites soon.
Portland is only about 45 minutes north of Salem, which is the capital city of Oregon. Yesterday we all drove down to see the State Fair. Since the weather has finally gotten a little cooler, it was a pleasant day.
First, of course, was the animals. The FFA and other livestock barns are the heart and soul of any state fair. We enjoyed seeing the sheep and goats get all spruced up, then dressed in little robes to keep them clean while they waited their turn to be shown.
Next door was the poultry, where Auntie Bridgett spent some time talking to the ducks and chickens. They actually seemed to be listening for a while, but were confused by her accent. She speaks California poultry, I guess.
The barns are not just big, they are historic. The poultry barn was build in 1921, the year my Momma was born, and the horse barn in 1919. Included in the poultry were pheasants, which I always think of as wild birds, but these seemed comfortable being in a pen and being admired by hundreds of strangers.
In the historic wooden horse arena we saw the “Showmanship” judging. This involved a few dozen horses standing, stopping, walking, and backing up. I admired the construction of the arena as well, all wooden trusses and bracing, and wondered how it would have sounded in 1919, when it was jam-packed with local horsemen showing off their prize animals. I confess, horse shows make me miss my dad, your great grandpa Lowell. At every fair I ever went to, he greeted every horse like an old friend.
Walking out of the cool barn we found the beginnings of the dog judging. One handsome fellow was being the practice dog, to make sure the timing mechanisms were working. He was having so much fun, he kept running through his paces backward and forward, having a ball!
By then, it was time to eat, so we went in search of healthy food! Just kidding. I had a baked potato with everything, Auntie Bridgett had a pulled pork sandwich, and Grandpa Nelson had a three course meal: Karmelkorn, a milk shake, and giant pretzel.
Sunday, we went to the farm. Several farms, in fact, and all just about 25 minutes north of Downtown Portland. We went to Sauvie Island!
This island is where the Willamette River meets the Columbia, and at 26,000 acres is one of the largest river islands in the country. It is almost all farmland, flat, green, and beautiful. We drove up highway 30 and crossed the tiny Sauvie Island Bridge over the Willamette Channel, which is only about 20 feet wide, and there we were.
First we stopped at a lavender farm. It was small, and the season was just over, but it was sure nice to walk around and see the flowers, as well as pear trees on the property.
We got hungry and stopped at Kruger’s BBQ for lunch. Friendly people, pulled pork, salmon sandwiches and corn on the cob put us right. Bridgett was in heaven, walking around in the incredible sunflowers, zinnias and chickens. She likes to talk to chickens, but these were busy and didn’t talk back to her.
Further along, Grandpa Nelson must have read my mind, because he found Columbia Farms where we got to pick our own blueberries. My farming genes must have wanted to get out and stretch, because it sure felt good to be out in a sunny field, picking the food I was going to eat. It only took about 20 minutes to get our flat full. We grabbed a couple ears of fresh corn for dinner and headed off. We drove the rest of the way around the island and headed back into town.
On the way, Auntie Bridgett realized we needed a few things from the market, so we stopped the New Seasons in the northeast part of town. We found some new things and had a sort of food adventure. By the time we had shopped, we were done in.
It has been so hot here in Portland, people are either staying inside air conditioned buildings or getting out of town to stay cool. On Sunday, Auntie Bridgett, Grandpa Nelson and I headed for the coast. It was 100 degrees in Portland, and 70 in Seaside…so, good call.
We drove to Seaside, which is a pretty little touristy town on the beach. There are dozens of shops selling salt water taffy, tee shirts, and souvenirs, as well as bumper cars and a tilt-a-whirl. There is bad traffic and limited parking.
But there is also a beach, with long lovely dunes and beach grass, which is what you get to keep when you don’t plant your dunes with ice plant. The weather was sunny on the dunes, but just over the waves and coming onto the sand was this weird blowing fog…it made everything delightfully spooky. The tide was way out, so there was LOTS of beach. Not many sand castles, though.
The fog and sand were wonderful, but we here getting hungry, and headed into town for some lunch at Sam’s Seaside Cafe, a pleasant enough diner (though later I began to question their refrigeration). There is a little river that flows through town and rental boat that go along it. Rowboats and swan boats were for rent….both looked like too much work!
We drove on up to Astoria, and it was a very different visit than I had with Katie and the cousins. We didn’t visit the wreck of the Peter Iredale, the Tower, or the Battery.
Wandering in the old downtown area, we looked at the cool 1924 architecture and contemporary art. The Riversea Gallery had really beautiful work, including some by Portland artists and friends Dawn Panttaja and Jesse Reno.
Walking along, we saw some young men and women wearing colorful clothes with bells on their legs… Morris Dancers! The Morris dance is a traditional Irish way of celebrating spring, with dancers, drinking and fun. In old Ireland, troops would travel around the country. July seemed late for celebrating spring, but this fellow said in America, they go a bit longer.
It seemed time to head back towards home, since we had an almost two hour drive. Auntie Bridgett’s stomach was feeling queasy (was it the Cole Slaw? We may never know) and Grandpa Nelson’s feet were tired. We drove along the Columbia, our California eyes amazed at all that water just running free.
At Kalama Bay, where there used to be a ferry to take railroad cars across the river, the McMenamin Brothers have build a NEW resort…not a re-purposed old building, as they usually do. We enjoyed the bright fourth floor bar, but from the inside looking out…coming inland this far, the temperature was back up into the 90s.
Auntie Bridgett had a fizzy tonic to try and settle her stomach. Snacks and drinks and we were on our way home, to watch baseball and fall asleep early.
I hope the weather breaks soon! I am longing for my nice cool Portland.