Sunday, July 14, 2013

Another Day in Oregon

     Well, we survived the day at the quilt show yesterday so we were wondering what we were going to do today. There was a brochure on the front desk of the hotel where we're staying all about the annual Lavender Festival this weekend. Most of the farms are in the western part of the state but one participating farm was listed about 45 minutes away in Madras, OR. So, after sleeping in and having breakfast and reading the Sunday paper, off we went to Madras to see what we could see.
     We got to the lavender farm and were amazed.... 4 acres of lavender; all in bloom. Colors from white to pink to a gentle lavender color to a dark purple. It was lovely! The farm is owned by a family (father and mother, about our age, son and his wife and little kids) and they not only make soaps and lavender wreaths but they also distill the lavender to get the oil and a lavender water. They had samples of everything and even food they had cooked, from cookies to breads to a tasty BBQ'd chicken, all with lavender. They were really passionate about growing their crop and seeing what they could do with it. The young wife was so excited because she was looking into getting her own bees so she could add lavender honey to their list of products. We bought some items and found some varieties we wanted to look into planting at home.
We spent over two hours there just walking around and talking to the owners. They had the place very nicely done; advertising the fact that they do weddings and other events. There were many people there who had brought their lunch and were eating at the little picnic area the farm owners had situated right by the rows of lavender with a view of the snow capped mountains in the background. The picture on the left is of a variety called Super Blue, which is used mostly for the distillation of the oil and water and used to dry for sachets; an all around sturdy and prolific grower. The picture below is of a white variety called Edelweiss. It is also used to distill into oils and water and has a totally different scent to it. They had over 50 varieties on the farm (there are well over 100 varieties of lavender) and every single one of them has a different scent when crushed. All of their lavender is organically grown so they have to spend a lot of time weeding and all the lavender is hand cut! We had such a nice time at the farm. It almost made us wish we could have gone to see some of the other farms that were participating in the festival. There are 22 individual farms that belong to the Oregon Lavender Association and almost all of them were participating in the weekend festival.
      In addition to looking into lavender honey production, the family is also growing Alpacas to sell their wool. This was a really cool couple of hours and we were happy to see this small family thrive and succeed doing what they love to do!

     After we finished at the Lavender Farm we drove over to one of the Oregon State Park called Smith Rock. This park is made up of volcanic rocks and mountains known internationally as one of the best rock climbing areas in the world. Now, I'm not a rock climber or even a hiker (or even a stair climber) but this place was astonishingly beautiful in its ruggedness. It is also known as the location where they filmed the movie Rooster Cogburn with John Wayne. There were dozens of people hiking and biking and just walking around. I can't imagine climbing something like the rocky crag in this picture.
The scenery was awesome and it was another instance where we have run across something wonderful, as we travel, that is totally unexpected, but that gives us another glimpse into the glory of the United States! I know that sounds kind of hokey but it really is true. There is so much to see and learn about in every state! It will keep us traveling!  
     Tomorrow we leave Redmond and begin the journey home. We read about a little town of Albany, OR in the Sunday paper. It's 2 1/2 hours west of here. The town used to be a big logging center, but when the logging industry began to falter the townspeople came up with a plan to bring income and tourism back to the town. I'll let you wonder what it is and I'll write about it tomorrow. :)   

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