Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Cranberry Fields Forever

You remember that song from the Beatles? 



They weren't singing about cranberry fields?
Oh, what a shame. 
They missed the opportunity to immortalize coastal Oregon.
But, that's OK, I missed the opportunity to take pictures!

So, I guess this post could be about missed opportunities!

But, heck, you can't really blame me. Mr. Dreamy was driving the motorhome on some twisty, turny, bumpy roads. The few times I had the camera poised and ready, all I caught was a blur of roadside! Or, I'd be aiming the camera to starboard and the perfect shot was to port. But… capturing that picture would require that I jump out of the seat and hop back in the motorhome, lean over the dogs, and catch the shot out of that window. It wasn't gonna happen on those roads!

Here is one picture I managed.
It looks like the berries are almost ready for harvesting.

Up until this point I hadn't thought that much about cranberries, except remembering to pick them up for recipes around Thanksgiving.

I do enjoy the OceanSpray ads like the one below, featuring actors (no, they aren't really cranberry farmers) Henry Strozier and Justin Hagan.

My food geography planted cranberries some place in Maine, or maybe Rhode Island. Oops…. come to find out Washington and Oregon are huge producers of this quintessential American berry. Turns out the little berries were introduced to the early settlers by the Indians… and they were on the table for the first feast of thanks, and they were first cultivated by early settlers in the Massachusetts area.

Cranberries came to Bandon, OR by the hand of a millionaire-wanna-be who didn't quite strike it rich panning for gold, so he brought some cranberry vines from his former home, Cape Cod, and developed bogs in his new home, doing what he knew best. It turns out the climate and soil in the northwest works well for the berry, so it became one of the major crops of both Washington and Oregon. (Maine and Rhode Island are not major producers of cranberries, according to Wikipedia - care to guess the other top three states, without looking on Google?!)

The berries grow on short vine-like shrubs, anywhere from 2 - 8" in height. At first we thought the fields had been mowed, as everything looked so short and event. When the berries ripen, the fields are flooded and special beaters agitate the water, loosening the berries, which float to the surface. We saw one flooded field, which looked something like this:

The berries are 'herded' together and raked toward a conveyor system that reminds me of old fashioned water wheels. The berries are picked up, water drips away, and they are loaded into trucks.

The fields can also be harvested by hand, using special rakes.

Looks like back-breaking work to me!

It was interesting to see the fields with berries at different stages,  and to see trucks carrying the berries to who-knows-where. I love that traveling has literally opened my eyes to new things and new learning!

And the answer to the top cranberry production states….

#1: Wisconsin
#2: Massachusetts
#3: New Jersey (Really???)
#4: Oregon
#5: Washington

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Going Rogue

Oregon is home to the Rogue River (and Rogue River City), Jerry’s Rogue Jets and Rogue Ales and Distillery. One gets the feeling that it all goes beyond the name and is embodied as an attitude!

We Dreamers first experienced this while visiting Newport, OR, where we had the opportunity to visit Rogue Ales and Spirits and tour their operations. While there, we learned about the red silo, Newport's reaction to its erection, and the newspaper's  slightly off-color story that raised such a brew-ha-ha that the tower remains! (Excuse the double entrendres I guess a bit of rogue rubbed off on me!)

The first brew was crafted in a basement of a pub in Ashland, OR in 1988. The following year the operation expanded to space in Newport, where it was given space at a great price if the company would 'feed the fishermen" (support the community) and post a picture of their benefactress, Mo, owner of Mo's Seafood restaurants, in their bar.

This was Mo's choice. How rogue can you get?!

The brewery has prided itself on creating unusual ales, porters, stouts, lagers and spirits, bottled mostly in bombers (22 oz bottles) with unique painted 'labels'. 

Rogue Ales goes beyond innovative makeup and brewing to include somewhat 'roguish' business practices. Their mission is just one example:

If you happen to be near Newport, OR, it is worth a trip to tour the brewery. If not, check out their product closer to home at your local brew pub!

If you have occasion to be south of Newport, stop by Jerry's Rogue Jets in Gold Beach, OR and sign up for a jet boat ride up the Rogue River. I'm sure all of the guides are informative and fun, but you might just ask for Tim Brueckner to get a special feel for 'Rogue'.

Where else can you be deftly driven up and down river by a Lutheran Minister who engages you with his slightly off-color stories; those about Myrtle or about the Madrone Monkeys, for example!

The Rogue Jets also deliver mail upriver to Agness. Here a bundle of mail carried off the jet boat is loaded in a car for delivery to local residents.

The Rogue River, one of the original 8 rivers protected in the 1968 Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, can be a bit of a rogue by itself. The river covered the floor of this bridge in 1964.

Our pilot delighted in turning loops. 
I tried my best to catch one on my phone…


this was the best I could do.

For additional images from our trip down the west coast, visit Dick and Brenda's blog

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Rose by Any Other Name

You could smell the roses long before you could see them.

Roses at the Shore Acres Gardens
near Coos Bay, OR

Wild Blue Yonder

Easy Does It

Dick Clark

Rainbow Sorbet

Hybrid Tea
Love & Peace

Hot Cocoa

Amber Queen

Tournament of Roses


The roses are one small part of the gardens owned and developed by ship builder and lumberman Louis Simpson. He imported many plants to take advantage of the moist, temperate climate of the area. In the aerial photo above, the roses are on the left. The original house burned down in 1921. The gardens pride themselves on always having something in flower. While we were visiting the square gardens in the center picture were filled with masses of Dahlias…. all different! Wow! Such beauty!