We found the cheese and the sunshine

ambience of the Oregon Cheese FestivalThe Rogue Creamery in Central Point, Oregon, has been making cheese since the early days of the Depression.  At that time, “artisan” wasn’t a common word associated with food, but the Vella family decided the only way to keep their business viable was to create a new image.  That commitment to creating artisan cheeses changed everything, and the Rogue Creamery has become world renown, with award winning blue cheese, among others.

Oregon-Cheese-FestI read about the creamery in Sunset magazine, read about it again in some food magazines, and then again in a newspaper article touting this amazing cheese resource right under our noses. They host the annual cheese festival, and it seems that this little corner of Central Point is home to several artisan food makers that participate.

Often, Mo and I would drive through Central Point near Medford on our way to somewhere else and see the big banner “Oregon Cheese Festival” and say to each other, “Gee, we have to do that sometime”.  Isn’t is amazing how often something so close to home can be overlooked while we wander the country searching for new adventures?

yummy stick from the Rogue Creamery.  The yellow band on my wrist allows ten wine tastingsYesterday, the adventure was all about cheese, and wine, and chocolate, and more wine, and more cheese, and some great breads, and oh yes…pesto….and salsa….and lavender jam….and habanero chili lime cilantro sauce…..and …..and….more wine.

Just an hour from home, with a dusting of snow on the pass, we found the big white tent with hundreds of cars parked on all the side streets and friendly bike cops patrolling the crosswalks.  There were a LOT of people there, and a LOT of people sharing their passion for artisan everything.

it is spring across the mountain in Central PointWe really had no idea what to expect, thinking perhaps there would be a small gathering of folks, a few booths maybe.  Instead, the huge tent was filled to the brim and it seems that there was a lot more wine than cheese!  For five bucks we got a bracelet with ten spots to check off for wine tasting.

Now, as you know, a tasting isn’t really all that much, but after ten of them, I was as giddy and bubbly as a kid out  of school.  And I couldn’t figure out how I could be so FULL from eating all those little bites of wonderful tasty things.  After all, they were just little bites, and little sips, right?

pib_750mlMy favorite thing of all was the Clear Creek artisan distillery using beautiful Oregon pears to make pear brandy and pear liqueur.  That was truly amazing stuff, and they even have bottles with a perfect pear INSIDE floating in the crystalline 80 proof tasty brandy.  The liqueur was to die for.  Maybe that was why all the cheese tasted so good and I felt so giddy.

We topped off the afternoon with a trip to Chico’s for me  (ahhh yes…have I mentioned I am a Chico’s addict?) and a Costco run for the best chicken breasts around, cashews that are bigger and fatter than any others, and pecans at half the price of the grocery store.  No toilet paper.  How many Costco baskets can you count leaving the store that don’t have huge packs of toilet paper in them?  Not many!

water coming off the steep mountains all along highway 199 and the Smith RiverWe woke again this morning to a dusting of snow, and once again loaded up the Tracker with dog, cat, food, (including of course, our artisan purchases of cheese, salsa, hot pepper jam, and other goodies), clothes, cameras, computers and ourselves, for the four hour trip to Brookings where the MoHo safely awaits our return.  This time the pass had a lot more than a simple dusting of snow, with the plows running heavy and a near blizzard at the top. Once again I was grateful that we weren’t driving the MoHo over that pass to get out of the basin!

Once in Medford, things settled down, but we again had snow on Highway 199 along the Smith River.  I have never seen the Smith running so high and frothy, and all along the canyon, water cascaded down the rocks at every turn.  We stopped for one of the biggest ones, along with several other cars taking advantage of the deluge.

Here we are again, in an even better space.  Look at THAT view!Once we reached the “Banana Belt of Oregon”, however, the sun was shining and the skies were clear and gorgeous.  Not a speck of fog or rain, but huge white cumulus clouds in the sky made the blue seem even brighter.  Harris Beach yielded up the prettiest site we have had so far, and we have had some nice ones.  A24, down toward the far end of the front row, has a wide view of the ocean, with just enough trees to keep us a bit hidden from incoming cars on the road below.  Lots of empty spaces on the front row this afternoon, and we took the very best\

keepsake poster from our trip north last monthJust a couple more little things to share that I keep forgetting about.  Geez.  We finally made it onto the HitchItch.com website.  Of course, we are still in the process of being accepted or not, but hopefully they won’t dump us in the near future.  Al was right, people seem to really use that site a lot to find out where the RV bloggers are. 

good thing we have ten foot walls for all the keepsakesThen, I just wanted to share the really gorgeous poster that we bought from our last trip up to the northern part of the coast.  The whole Lewis and Clark history was so wonderful, and the poster so gorgeous, we couldn’t resist.  It is a good thing Mo’s ceilings are ten footers and that there is still room in the office up high for one more wall thingy. (You know, of course, that you can click on these photos if you care to see them bigger)

cheese fest 3-17-2012 10-41-43 AMActually, speaking of wall thingy’s.  I just have to share this incredible gift from my daughter Deanna.  When she visited last month, she said her whole reason was to bring something to me that she just didn’t want to ship in the mail.  Needlepoint is something Deanna has done for some time now, and she whiles away her non-driving time with needle in hand.  I am the lucky recipient of this amazing stitchery, framed perfectly, and ready to hang.  I think of her every time I pass the low wall in the kitchen where it now hangs.  Just tickles me no end.

With all the rain predicted for our trip south, it’s hard not to want to just sit here overlooking the amazing ocean, but the road calls, new sights await.  Besides, if we sat here it would probably just rain anyway.to brookings 3-18-2012 2-01-45 PM