December 19, 2019 –January 13, 2020
We would spend the next five nights with two of our favorite people, Kathy and Tom, at Kamp Angst, starting with a New Year’s Eve celebration at Barbara and Eldon’s house near Cave Junction, featuring a roller coaster of a ride over BLM Road 39-7-21, otherwise known as Bear Creek Rd. One traverses a wide one lane road over a summit that eventually drops you in the valley on the other side of the hill onto Caves Highway.
It would be a low-key affair, just good friends enjoying each other’s company until late in the evening; knowing we’d need to make the drive back over Bear Creek we left before midnight with enough time on the clock to celebrate the new year back at Kamp Angst. One of the highlights of the evening was discovering that folks at the gathering also share a love of delicious and reasonably priced Cremant, in particular the La Burgondie Cremant de Burgogne Brut Reserve that can be found at Trader Joe’s.
Cremant is as close as you can get to Champagne, without actually being from Champagne. A sparkling wine from France it is made in the traditional method, but just not from the actual Champagne region. So, you can have a Cremant de Alsace, Cremant de Loire, Cremant De Bourgogne, etc. This is one is a de Bourgogne, so sparkling wine from Burgundy. And the blend for this wine is quintessential Burgundy: 50% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, 20% Gamay, and 5% Aligote. Those 4 are really the only varietals grown in the Burgundy region, and they all come together to produce this wine.
Both Kathy and Tom were under the weather during our stay which limited our daytime activities. On one of the days Joanna and I made our way towards Cave Junction to visit Foris Winery and pick up a case of their wine we’d ordered. We’ve visited here often, especially as Tom used to write promotional copy for them in exchange for wine, not a bad way to drink good wine inexpensively.
Foris was founded by Ted and Meri Gerber when they purchased 15 acres in 1971 near the former gold mining town of Holland and added 80 acres more. By 2006, their’ crops had proved that the Illinois Valley is a viable place to grow grapes and in they produced 48,000 cases of wine, making it the 14th-largest bonded winery in Oregon.
Given the extra free time we had at Kamp Angst, it provided us with the opportunity to drive up to JD’s Sports Bar and Brewery in Grants Pass one day to check in with longtime friend Mark. We last saw him in 2016 during our Spring Swing that year (https://wordpress.com/post/3jmann.com/3700) and found it hard to believe it had been four years since our last encounter.
We settled into a booth and over the course of an hour or so drank a couple of beers and got caught up; Mark’s been through a divorce and some upheaval yet retains a positive mindset (he is our guru) and appears to have come out on top of it all. One of the attractions of our traveling lifestyle is this benefit of seeing friends in person, even if it is infrequent at best. There is no better way to stay in touch than the up close and personal.
Leaving Kamp Angst, we drove north on I-5 for the three hour drive to Eugene. Originally, we were going to visit my brother in Bend as we have done each time we travel to Oregon; that would not be the case this time as he wasn’t able to host us. So, not having spent any time in Eugene, we thought why not there?
We’d chosen Tiffany’s Place through Airbnb, centrally located and not far from the University and downtown. It would be a good choice, like so many through this platform have been. Our three nights would run us $230, less than $80 per night with its two bedrooms, nicely furnished kitchen and really, all the comforts of home.
With a completely open agenda, our first stop after getting set up at the Airbnb was at Ninkasi Brewing Co., introduced to us by Oregon native Kemet when we all lived in Charlotte. We settled in at one of the high-top tables in the small tasting room and enjoyed a couple of their fine brews, for me one of my favorites the Tricerahops Double IPA.
Since then, to meet demand, they have opened a new tap room, The Better Living Room at their brewery campus on the ground floor of their administrative building. The new 144-seat space includes two bars, 45+ taps, and a full restaurant celebrating locally sourced food of the Willamette Valley.
From there we ventured to Ta Ra Rin Thai to meet up with Jim, a friend from Charlotte now living in Eugene, and his new wife Mary. Joanna had met him through a yoga class and hiking group out of Reedy Creek Park where I would often join the group for the hour long hike each Tuesday. It was nice to spend time with them so far from the origin of our friendship and to find him in a very happy place.
Starting with a very good cocktail apiece, we enjoyed Lemongrass Curry Noodle (Grilled lemongrass chicken breast, prepared over rice noodles, cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, spinach. Topped with red curry, simmered with peas, basil leaves, and cherry tomatoes) for me while Joanna succumbed to a delightful Shrimp dish on special that night. Both were of sufficient portion size that we took some back to the Airbnb to savor later during our stay.
And so, as usual, our foray into Oregon had gone well, combining elements of the old (Kamp Angst) with the new (Eugene). With two full days in town we’d get a chance to scratch the surface of the home of the University of Oregon, meet up with Kemet, and more than likely, get to drink good beer and eat good food. It doesn’t get any better.
La Burgondie Cremant de Burgogne Brut Reserve: http://laburgondie.com/en/wines/23
JD’s Sports Bar: http://www.jdssportsbarandbrewery.com/
Ta Ra Rin Thai: https://tararinthai.com/?menu=Salads