by Kaspar Heinrici - posted from home in Amagansett
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Ali has been hearing my stories about Oregon for the last eleven years (since I lived there from 1990-1998) and although she has visited Portland and Hood River this was my opportunity to give her the full experience. We went to my hometown of Eugene, visited the Oregon Country Fair and got into Central Oregon around Bend. My favorite thing about Oregon and Eugene in particular is that the usual rules, manners and social norms that one might be used to in the rest of the United States don't necessarily apply. I know that Austin has the slogan "Stay Weird," but Oregonians are the original off-the-grid misfits. When I set foot in Oregon I feel my mind relaxing and opening up to new possibilities, nothing is surprising yet everything is new and fresh. As soon as you begin to sense a pattern developing something happens to disrupt your sense of reality contributing to a sense of permanent surrealism.
Maryhill Loops Road is the most iconic road in America (I would argue) and I'm not talking necessarily about the view or the landscape, I'm talking about the construction of the road itself. Sam Hill, who is responsible for building this undulating path of asphalt once said,
"Good roads are more than my hobby, they are my religion"
Sam Hill built this road in 1913 to demonstrate his construction prowess. It drops 850 feet at a 5% grade, with 25 undulating turns, eight of which are complete hairpins. That is why this road is considered a mecca for downhill longboarders. I have gone to Maryhill the last four years to see old friends and pay reverence to this monument of engineering. This year I attended the Maryhill Summer Freeride RVOD. Everyone comes out, from my grandparents to the fore fathers of skateboarding. This is a premiere stoke fest, no judgement, no competition, just pack runs and panty runs (skating the hill in your underwear).
June 25, 2017, SUN. - "We got up to the hill by 8:30. I was in the 1st Uhaul. After one run i was not sure if I would be able to go for very long. My legs were screaming and couldn't hold a tuck. After a while though I started to feel good and it didn't take as much effort..."
Below Maryhill is the Peach Beach where you can stock up on fresh fruit from the orchards and take a dip in the Columbia River. I camped with my old friend Robin "the leg" Mcguirk and Tad Drysdale and rested up for the second day of skating, while Ali enjoyed the well deserved comforts of a bed and air conditioning in Hood River.
After the Maryhill race and a brief visit with the grandparents we headed south to Bend to visit more friends! We swam in the Deschutes with Annaliese Brown and super golden Railey (see pic at top of post), found a quiet mountain lake and I cruised the smooth trails of the lava flow.
June 29, 2017, THURS. - "After we downed a marionberry biscuit + bear claw from Sister's Bakery we strolled the town and checked out the quilt store...as Ali fell asleep in the car I drove west out of Sisters into the Deschutes and up to lower Matthieu lake. It was tiny and beautiful. Ali was sleepy and dazed when we pulled up to the lake, but it seemed like a good surprise that we magically appeared at a lake in the woods..."
June 28, 2017, WED. - "I went for a ride with Lance and Conan down the lava flows to Benham Falls. The path is butter smooth but littered with pine needles to add some spice. The grade is moderate but you can get up a lot of speed."
Taking the slow road back up to Hood River we stopped at Smith Rock and took in the view of Mount Hood each place more magical than the next. Mount Hood was my home during the winters in high school where I went to Mount Hood Ski Academy. You will meet Jasper Buchbauer in our next post (another MHSA alum who now lives in Bozeman, MT). I grew to know this mountain intimately and its year round snowfields remain a familiar backdrop.
Pear Cottage in White Salmon, WA was the perfect place to stop for a while and spend some time with family (in this case we had four generations). You cannot step foot into the pear orchard without feeling its mystical pull. Imagine rows of pear trees with thick undergrowth and wildflowers where birds make their nests and deer cut narrow paths. A bend in the Columbia River is seen far below flowing away to the West. Peeking up above it all is Mount Hood to the South and Mount Adams to the North. The possibilities are endless for activity; rafting on the White Salmon River, day hiking, kite boarding and bike riding. We did them all and Ali could not get enough of the wildflower picking possibilities.
My grandparents have been coming out to Hood River, OR since 1985, but they have had this Pontiac LeMans since 1965 (all original everything). My Granny Trish still handles this thing with no power steering or brakes.
As you may have seen in our first post my grandfather taught me to windsurf and now to kite surf. We made sure to take advantage of the world class wind and waves to get some runs in. These were much more advanced conditions than I was used to, smaller kite, bigger wind and bigger waves! Thanks to Ali there are some pictures of the action.
Our final stop in Oregon was Eugene and visiting the Oregon Country Fair (OCF). This is the ultimate and most outlandish expression of Eugenenian culture (says me). I believe that Eugene is a culturally significant place that is the epicenter (along with some other PNW towns) for many of the recent trends in urban centers like Saturday Markets. The Saturday Market in Eugene is not just another farmer's market. If the OCF is an extreme expression of Eugene then the Saturday Market is the core essence of Eugene. It has been in existence since 1970 and when I lived there in the early 90's it was not just a place to go every once in a while to peruse hipster trinkets, rather a regular meeting place with a farmer's market, food trucks and craftspeople. Of course now these types of markets are par for the course in every urban center in America and are associated with hip places like Brooklyn, but the irony is that Brooklyn is the last place this rising tide of organic foods and recycled crafts seemed to touch. My point is that in many ways Eugene along with other PNW towns was ahead of the cultural curve.
Obviously the OCF is not the modest counter culture gathering in the woods it was in 1969 nor is it even the same as it was in the 90's, but the original spirit of good will, education (we saw a demo of bow drill fire making) and simply tripping people out is still in tact. If you believe in magic you will find it at the fair and there is a collective vibration that everyone can tap into. It is common to hear the question, "how is your fair?" The response is usually a description of a new experience he or she had, a person they met or a magical interaction they did not expect, rather than the more typical response of, "good" you might expect to hear if someone asked you how you are during your everyday life.
Ali was blown away by the Saturday Market. The selection of different produce is unbelievable to someone who is used to not being able to find fennel at the local grocery store. Here you have your pick of even some of the more exotic vegetables. We spent time moving back and forth between stalls comparing prices, colors and perceived freshness picking out our dinner for the night. In many places you can find like minded people that appreciate local organic foods. In Eugene there is nothing but real food, no one would imagine eating the kinds of things that are sold as food in most of America. We ate at the Morning Glory Cafe and had to go back a second time, makes me want to go vegetarian.