Cover story dusts off sweet memories
Before my first trip to Oregon in the summer of ’98, I had been only as far west as Durango, Colorado. So when I packed my car and headed to Oregon via Interstates 70, 80 and 84, I relished every mile of “uncharted” territory.
With my trusty Colt — Dodge, dusty blue — I rode west, and it felt wild. From the driver’s seat, with the windows down — no A/C — I experienced the rush of new landscapes.
I can still smell the sweet sagebrush dotting the sweeping scenery of southwest Wyoming. The towering Wasatch Mountains overlooking Salt Lake surprised me, as my preconception of the city did not include the rugged yet majestic backdrop. And Idaho’s lush farmland with another mountain range in the distance had me jumping out of my car for a quick pic — the fire ants greeting me in the field had me quickly scurrying back in.
As I crossed the border into Oregon, I was eager to discover its own western panoramas. The scenery did not disappoint, and the people didn’t either. When I stopped in Burns for a rest and a beer, the bar’s patrons had an unapologetically unrefined authenticity, causing me to reach for my camera, again — on second look, the guns mounted all around changed my decision to shoot ... my Nikon.
Since moving to the Willamette Valley, I hadn’t thought much about that first trip west and the sense of excitement I felt. That is, until I read Mark Stock’s story about the Oregon side of the Snake River Valley AVA.
The cover feature has it all: rugged land, an old mine, a homesteading family, dusty boots, belt buckles and, most of all, adventure. What else would you call growing winegrapes in Baker County?