July 3 – 6
Feeling a bit better the next morning we broke camp and with a short drive ahead of us, I considered duplicating Joanna’s hike and bike of the day before but once contemplated, realized I really wasn’t up for the exercise. So, we began our drive thinking we’d stop in Crescent City to grab a bite to eat now that I was feeling better.
The answer as to where soon made itself clear, a Denny’s on the road through town. We sat across from a table full of two adults, apparently not related to each other, and numerous kids, trying to figure out who belonged to who. Without asking them we’d never know. The veggie omelet I had was just what I needed, going down easy and staying there. Thoroughly refreshed we hopped back in the car and made our way north, cutting off onto Highway 199, a road long familiar to us given our many trips up and down this approach.
I’ve known Kathy and Tom, Frau und Heir Angst, respectively, since the mid-70’s, when I met him as my boss at Wilshire Insurance. Along with JB and Doug (the Griz) I would bring these friends with me through life until know, an amazing consideration given that we usually leave jobs with no friends from the experience.
Our first joint visit to Kamp Angst (Joanna and I had just moved in together) was Thanksgiving week of 1981 and as we’ve since visited almost once a year, we lost count after twenty-five as to how many times we’ve been there. More often than not, we’d just blast up I-5 and return that way, but with time, the appeal of coming or going up the coast is a strong one.
Our four nights here would follow a routine familiar to followers of this blog, that is eating, drinking, conversing, hiking and should the circumstances provide, a bit of cycling. On our first day, the morning of July 4th, Tom, Joanna and I drove over Bear Creek Summit down to Caves Highway and then up towards the caves, stopping at the Grayback Interpretive Trailhead.
The weather was surprisingly pleasant for that time of year in this area, low 80’s with little humidity and we ended up hiking about five miles, much of it through meadows covered in purple wildflowers.
We returned to Kamp and spent some time at the pool, installed some years ago by Tom for exactly these types of afternoons and had an appropriate dinner of hot dogs, the ballpark version favored by the Seattle Mariners.
The next morning Joanna and I took off for a ride that we would cover a little less than twenty miles, essentially leaving Kamp and riding downhill to Lakeshore Drive, then out to Selma and back on Deer Creek Road. The last part of this ride involves a steady uphill climb with some steeper sections at the end, before we could coast down the dirt road to Kamp. A very fun ride.
Midway we stopped at Ray’s Market in Selma, where I usually pick up my first twelve pack of Henry Weinhards Private Reserve beer. A pale lager, it has a distinct hop note that hit me just right when I first started drinking it in the early 1980’s, beginning when I lived with my brother on Ocean Park Blvd in Santa Monica. I owned a 1965 VW camper van with an installed ice box and I regularly stop at Jay’s, a liquor store nearby to pick up a twelve pack and bag of ice for get this, five-dollars, on the way to softball practice at Mar Vista Park. Simple pleasures we took for granted then; what I wouldn’t give to be back there for just a day.
Another dinner at home, more drink and conversation took us to the next day when we rode in the morning, doing the same route as the day before but this time in reverse, adding a short loop that took us out Lakeshore where it connects with the Deer Creek extension, then to Selma and back out to Kamp Angst. Along the way I stopped to take pictures of the grow fences; this part of Oregon was once the poorest county. With the legalization of marijuana one of the only requirements is that you block the plants from view. These fences can be seen everywhere now.
For our last night we all drove into Grants Pass for dinner, stopping first at Bohemian Bar and Bistro for a beer, sitting outside on the sidewalk, enjoying conversation with other patrons and passersby. We’d eaten lunch here in 2016 (see this blog post) and had an enjoyable meal there. From there we made our way a couple of blocks to SW Sixth Street for a return visit to The Twisted Cork, Tom and Kathy’s favorite dinner spot for a good reason or two, great food and wine selection.
While the other three stopped for a moment to take a peek at the Grants Pass Museum of Art I entered the restaurant to ask for a table and glass of a Andrew Rich Sauvignon Blanc to start the evening. The rest of the gang showed up not long after and when seated, we settled in a for a nice meal. Joanna ordered the Seared Scallops, a special that night in a light alfredo sauce with pasta. Tom got the rack and lamb while Kathy and I both went for the fish of the day, pan seared halibut, both of us opting for the Buerre Blanc treatment.
With a bottle of Eliana Rose as it would go with our various choice, Joanna’s scallops were exactly what you’d want, large, moist and seared perfectly. My halibut was possibly one of the best I’ve had in recent memory, fork tender, seared until warm and bathed in that Buerre Blanc. If we get to eat in heaven (the jury’s still out on whether that will be the destination of my last big trip), I want this to be my first meal.
Not thinking clearly, we also ordered dessert, a blackberry and blood orange sorbet and a warm brie accompanied by figs, jam and other complimentary items. Honestly, the sorbet would have been enough, as the brie could have almost been an entrée in itself. We made a game go of it but in the end, it was just too much to be fully enjoyed. If we had another night, I would have returned to order a small appetizer to share and then done the brie with a good port or sherry.
We waddled out of the restaurant and back to Kamp Angst. Another visit, another rewarding time at this little retreat in the country, the sound of the creek babbling to us all night long, nothing but forest in your field of vision when you gaze out from the sliding glass doors of the kitchen and dining room. Who says the simpler pleasures aren’t the best?
Lost Coast Brewery: https://www.lostcoast.com/
Henry Weinhards: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Weinhard%27s
Bohemian Bar and Bistro: https://bohemianbarandbistro.com/
The Twisted Cork: http://www.thetwistedcorkgrantspass.com/
Grants Pass Museum of Art: https://www.gpmuseum.com/
Andrew Rich: http://www.andrewrichwines.com/