Day 18- Silver Falls, OR * Day 19- Amity, OR- Gasquet, CA
Another day waking on the vineyard. Maggie and I walked down from the hill towards the main structure that used to be the tasting room. It’s a big building with a wall separating it into two equally sized rooms. One seems to be mostly for storage and the other houses a large refrigerator, a few tables, and hundreds of plastic bins. Looking back, I wish I would’ve asked to take one of the bins to use as a wash bin for our dirty dishes.
Just south of the old tasting room is Mandy’s garden. Rows and rows of mineral rich soil served as a breeding ground for a plethora of fruits and vegetables. We were given permission to pick whatever we wanted, so we walked through and picked some potatoes, green onions, and shallots to make a breakfast hash.
We returned to camp with our bounty when I realized we had a couple leftover hamburger patties, and the idea to make cheeseburger hash based off of Red’s Chinese restaurant’s fried rice dish came to mind. I fired up the propane griddle, with which I have a love hate relationship with, and sautéed the shallots on one side while starting to brown the beef patties on the other. I added the potatoes to the shallots as the beef browned, eventually mixing it all together. When the potatoes started to soften and crisp around the edges, I added a generous amount of creole seasoning, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, relish, and Tillamook cheddar. I stirred it all together, melting the cheese, and tasted. I had created the most flavorful and heavy breakfast I have ever created just before what we would come to find would be a 5 hour hike.
Maggie had her heart set on a long hike, which in normal circumstances, I would be completely fine with. The catch was that I had promised that I would cook gumbo for our hosts. We went back and forth about this trail and that trail ultimately deciding that Silver Falls would be the best hike for our schedule as you can basically choose the length of your adventure.
We started backwards, or counterclockwise, from what I could tell, and got the money shot within thirty minutes of parking. I’m not used to this as most of the hikes have a rigorous path before revealing the “ahhh moment.” So by the time we explored this “first” waterfall, I was still ready for more. A sign pointed us in the direction of another fall 0.8 miles away. It was enough to deter us from walking immediately back to the car.
In our group was Maggie, August, Alexia, Quinn, cousin Stephanie, her daughter, Megan, and myself. We all agreed we wanted to see more, so we hiked through the cedar and Douglas fir forest, stopping many times along the way to identify and taste salmon berries, and test the river water’s temperature. We hiked and hiked. The kids took their sweet time exploring everything that peaked their interest as the adults reveled in their adventurous spirits.
To get down to the viewing point of the lower falls, we had to go down a steep grade that put us on a path to walk behind the waterfall. We thought nothing of it as the kids continued to climb rocks and laugh as if they were in complete control of the situation. We continued on behind and beyond the falls, taking in every site and enjoying the kids getting along so well in nature before we realized the 0.8 mile marker was not a loop but just a measure of distance that we had far exceeded. We stopped to confirm our suspicions with a passing hiker who informed us that he was on his 8th mile which meant that if we continued on our path, we had 8 miles left.
Shocked at our situation, I pulled out my phone to check my pedometer which indicated that we had already walked 2.1 miles. We unanimously voted to turn around immediately and head back the way we had came. Shortly after, we realized that the steep grade we had to hike down to the falls, we now had to climb. I won’t go into detail about this any further than to say we all made it back to car, alive.
With 4.2 miles under our belt and a 7 hour round trip, we returned to the vineyard to make gumbo. The old tasting room I had mentioned before has a big covered slab in the front where J.P. And Mandy have created a very functional outdoor kitchen area. With veggies fresh from the garden and organic chicken from a local market, I started the stock. I chopped the the trinity, most of which came from the garden, before quartering the andouille sausage that J.P. had found at the market.
With all my mis en place, it was time to start the roux. Now, Mandy is allergic to gluten so my roux would be made with cassava flour and avocado oil. I have to say that I was impressed with the roux these ingredients created, and while there were a few things I had to do differently when building the gumbo, the finished product was spot on. If nobody knew, nobody would’ve known. This gumbo would’ve passed any true Cajun’s taste test.
We communed with wine while the gumbo simmered and Mandy made potato salad fresh from the garden, of course. Alexia, Quinn, and August took the John Deere 4x4 out to dump the compost we had gathered from the last few days. Smiles everywhere. This is our life today, and we are grateful.
As we wrapped up our meal and a few vintages, we settled in for an impromptu EDM set from DJ Auggi D. He rocked us with his beats and his hyped dance moves before we turned in for the night. Again, bittersweet, because we knew tomorrow was goodbye.
I awoke at 4 am with Alexia and Quinn as they were getting picked up by cousins Stephanie and Karin to take them to the airport. They’ll learn not to book the earliest flight out especially when airport is an hour and fifteen minutes away after this incident, I’m sure. Maggie and I are grateful for Karin and Steph because our drive today will prove time be seven hours south without the two and a half hour airport detour north.
Sleeping until ten wasn’t our plan, but evidently, we needed it. We moved slow as August cried at the reality of his sister and Quinn being gone. It took us longer than normal to pop down and we were definitely off of our game. We eventually got it done and pulled the camper down the hill. We decided showers were in order, so one by one, we defunkified ourselves in Mandy and JP’s Airstream shower. There’s nothing like a shower after camping for nearly a week without one.
We didn’t pull away from the vineyard until almost 2pm after Mandy filled our bag with fresh produce, some of which August had harvested, for the road. I’ve enjoyed eating from her garden so much that’s it’s inspired us to start thinking about our own garden and what we’d like to grow.
We decided to add a couple hours to our trip today by staying off of I-5 and taking Hwy 99 to the windy hwy 126 which spit us out onto the 101. I’ve got to say that I expected more ocean views, but the majority of the 101 west of Eugene is a windy drive through forest. It wasn’t until we got to south west Oregon that we started to see the beautiful pacific views that I expected. Regardless, we took the low roads, passed through small towns, and we are better for it.
Shortly after 9pm we arrived at Panther Flats campground just outside of the redwood national forest. We filled up on gumbo and caught up with our friend, Rebecca, who is on a similar journey and met us in the forest. I am now wine buzzed again and can’t wait for our first encounter with the redwoods. Stay tuned.
Be good to yourselves and each other.