April 28, 2012

A Few Days in the Willamette Valley

We arrived in Salem, Oregon, on Thursday, and this is where we are spending a few days. Yes, Salem is Oregon’s capital but it’s Salem’s convenient location in the Willamette Valley that has prompted our extended stay here.  Another rainy day yesterday provided us with a good excuse to accomplish a few things like getting haircuts and doing a bit of shopping.  I even took an extended nap, which is rare for me.

Getting haircuts has been one of the challenges of the trip.  I’ve had one really great haircut, one terrible one and two pretty good ones.  Luckily, this was one of the good ones and should last until we get home.  I just haven’t yet figured out the secret of finding a great salon on the spur of the moment.  Whom do you ask for a recommendation?  If you have no one to ask, how do you pick a salon from its website?  Then, if you are able to find a good salon, it’s typically booked far in advance or is located in a downtown area where there is no place to park the RV.  Oh well, I won’t have to worry about that anymore.

Today our friend Kevin, who lives in Portland, drove down to pick us up for one of his famous tours of the area.  No one I’ve met is more passionate about where he lives than Kevin.  He absolutely adores Oregon, and Portland in particular, and is a fabulous ambassador for the state.  

We have now had the good fortune to see Kevin three times during our journey.  Kevin accompanied me on the last leg of my pre-trip drive from Colorado to Maine.  Tim and I also spent the day with Kevin in Austin while he was visiting that town.  Now we’ve seen him on his home turf.

Kevin arrived in a zipcar from the world’s largest car sharing service.  Zipcars are a great alternative to owning or renting a car when you live in a city like Portland, which has such great public transportation.  On our way out of Salem, we stopped by the state capitol building and then headed off through the beautiful Willamette Valley toward McMinnville, one of Oregon’s prettiest towns.  

Kevin and His Zipcar
Oregon State Capitol Building
Relief Sculptures on the Capitol Building
A sign beside the road that read “Cheese Tasting Today” led us to stop at the Willamette Valley Cheese Company.  I had never experienced a cheese tasting before, but what a great idea.  We sampled various farmstead cheeses, including varieties of havarti, gouda and jack, that were produced on site from fresh Jersey milk.  The cheeses were very good.  Naturally, we did not leave empty-handed.

Cheese Tasting
These Are Working Girls
McMinnville is located in the heart of the Willamette Valley and has a wonderful main street.  It was fun to walk down the street, peek into the windows and check out a few of the shops.  We couldn’t resist the local market or the chocolate shop, where we were good and left with only one goody apiece.  What is it about food shops that make us freely spend a bit of cash?  We also climbed to the top of the Oregon Hotel where we had a view of the entire downtown.

Downtown McMinnville
The Historic Mack Theater Is Still There
A Great Walking Street
Hotel Oregon
The View from the Hotel Oregon
Spending time with Kevin was so much fun.  He has so much energy and always is game for new experiences.  Again, we were so lucky to spend time with another good friend.

Kevin Had a Nice Chat with Ben
The Bluebells Were Just One of the Many Flowers Blooming


  1. Nothing makes a girl feel better than a new "do"! :-) This looks like a nice place but what is Ben doing there so far from home? LV

    1. LV, How true! I never thought to ask what Ben was doing in McMinnville. It's certainly a bit far from home. Sarah