"All work and no play make Jon a dull boy?" Phooey on that. All work and no play just plain annoys Jon.
So this weekend, no work. No unpacking. Hey, we're almost done anyway. Instead, we undertook to get the lay of the land. Exploration! Yay!
What we found pleased us both immensely. We found a cool winery, a gorgeous state park and the Sisters Folk Festival.
Yesterday we headed north with no greater goal in mind than to reach the little town of Madras, an hour, at most, away. Why? Because it's there.
Got there, looked around, then turned around and headed back with a couple of subsidiary goals in mind. We'd seen signs for something called the Faith, Hope and Charity Winery. A winery in Oregon's high desert? Hey, we just had to take a look.
Maybe 10 to 12 miles to the west of Highway 97, the main north/south road in this part of the state, this place is a little jewel. The wines, we thought, were merely OK. But both the setting and the grounds were gorgeous. We sat under the shade of an awning for about an hour sipping the wine being offered there, prolonging our tasting for as long as we could while enjoying the respite.
Oh, that name? There are a number of wonderful mountains that help give this area its character. They include Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, and Mt. Jefferson. Three others are called the Three Sisters, named Faith, Hope and Charity. The little town of Sisters is close to their base, which is how it got its name.
Next, on the recommendation of my pal and former colleague Mike Swanson, now a copy editor at the Portland Oregonian, we checked out Smith Rock State Park. What a surprising, gorgeous place. Here are a couple of the photos I shot while there. As always, you can click on these to see them fullsize.
This place is volcanic in origin, and is far more than just a rock. It is an impressive collection of red spires and cliffs that soar above the Crooked River. This is hiking country. Also rock-climbing country. We weren't equipped for hiking, and we're not sufficiently crazy to try to climb, but we've vowed to return to sample those trails. The main one we saw leads down from the south rim of the park itself, across the river, and then either along the river or up, steeply, dizzyingly, up a trail that looks the way I imagine the Khyber Pass might look. I mean, it's steep! But that's after a set of killer switchbacks that start right at the river. I think we'll wait awhile on that one. I plan to explore the river walk, just to check out the fishing.
OK, that was Saturday. Today is another day. As they say. So we embarked upon a different kind of tomfoolery.
Last weekend Laura explored Sisters, the little town I mentioned earlier. She came back filled with enthusiasm for the place.
Sisters is known not just for its quaintness, cool shops and relaxed way of life, but also for its rodeo. And also for its annual folk festival.
Wait, did I say folk festival? Some of you will know that's right up my street. So we went over there today – Sisters is maybe 15 miles west of us – to take a look and maybe catch a little music.
What we found was a town absolutely dominated by acoustic music. We counted at least five large tents, with acts going in each one. We were told that there are more. We also found booths with lots of cool music-oriented stuff, and also food and drink, for sale.
The highlight of the day was catching the end of a performance by Laurie Lewis and Tom Rosum, two bluegrass greats who were here today as a duo, rather than with their usual band.
We stood and listened to their last song, a poignant one in which they had the audience singing the tune's chorus. It was about friendship, love and the shortness of time, and it was brilliant. When it was done, I was wiping water from my eyes. I noticed that Laura was doing the same.
So why weren't we there all weekend? This festival is so popular that by Friday, the day it opened, it already was sold out. So we could walk around and hear music wafting from the various tents, but no way could we get inside and actually enjoy a full set.
Ah, but next year, we will be prepared for all three days of this grand event.
Right? There's always next year. And as far as Smith rock is concerned, there's always next week.
And finally, this: At some point, I'm going to have to change the title of this blog to something that more closely reflects our residential circumstances. I'm pondering this. So stay tuned and don't be surprised by a change in the lay of the land.