Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Sue and Mo at Harris Beach
Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Friday, March 31, 2023

03-31-2023 Visiting the Windmills at Kinderdijk

We were awakened sometime in the middle of the night by strange noises.  There was clanking, the sound of running water, and the normal sounds of the river outside our stateroom suddenly deafened by something entirely different. I climbed out of bed to try to figure out what was happening and was greeted by this view.

We had entered our first lock of many along our route for the next week.  I have been through the Panama Canal and marveled at the engineering feat of the great locks that allow ships to travel from one ocean to another.  However, the river locks are entirely different and are surprising with their ability to move river boats and barges through the changes in elevation as the Rhine travels from the high mountains of Basel in Switzerland to the lowlands of Amsterdam.

I attempted to track our progress on Google Maps, but without a decent signal, it was impossible to know exactly where we were located.  Paper maps provided by Viking on our Viking Daily were of no use whatsoever, and I spent a great deal of time being incredibly frustrated about where we were.  I somehow didn't understand the relationship between the actual city of Amsterdam, the port area, and the waterways we would travel before we were actually on the Rhine.  

Later, while in port when I had a better internet connection, I still had a bit of difficulty figuring out exactly how we had arrived near Kinderdijk from our port near Amsterdam.  Kinderdijk is closer to Rotterdam than to Amsterdam. In the darkness, I watched for signs and mileage markers and eventually figured out that we were on a canal somewhere in the vast flat lands of the Netherlands.  Even after traveling these waterways and understanding how to read maps, I can barely figure out how we got from A to B.  It was frustrating and also fascinating to me, especially since the maps of Europe show how much differently these old cities developed compared to our newer cities in the US. What was even more confusing is that as approached what I thought was the Rhine, we weren't actually anywhere near the Rhine and were on a waterway called De Lec.  Eventually, the Waal would turn into the great, historic, and amazing river we know as the River Rhine.

Watching our riverboat passing through these first locks was thrilling, even in the middle of the night, and as tired as we were, it was hard to go back to sleep. By early morning as our river ship settled in near Rotterdam, it was clear that we were in for a very cloudy, rainy, and windy day.

Deb and I were excited about our first full day of explorations and weren't deterred in the least by the weather.  We were prepared with raincoats, warm coats and scarves, and good umbrellas.  We chose to bring our own after reading about the very large and somewhat unwieldy umbrellas that are provided by Viking.

We chose to have breakfast in the main dining room, with fresh pastries, good coffee, plenty of breakfast egg dishes to choose from, and an open seating space with tables set for ten or twelve people.  We sat alone that first morning, but throughout the cruise, our seating mates at breakfast shifted a bit as we got to know more people that were on the cruise.

The ship stopped for a short time near Rotterdam where some guests disembarked for an early-day excursion in Rotterdam.  We continued for a few more miles of slow sailing before we docked in Kinderdijk.  By this time I had a slight idea of where we were on the landscape, but even with google maps working and the little blue dot telling me where we were, it was difficult to pinpoint where we had come from.  To this day I actually have no concrete idea as to how we traversed The Netherlands.

The UNESCO World Heritag Site Visitor Center at Kinderdijk, Netherlands

Our excursion for the day was a two-hour trip titled: "Kinderdijk by Vintage Barge".  Deb chose this excursion thinking it would be easier for me to get around and enjoy the sights without having to worry about my walker.  It was a perfect choice.

The Netherlands is famous for its windmills, with none so fascinating as those you can explore from the village of Kinderdijk, in the province of South Holland.  The Windmills of Kinderdijk are used to pump water from the wetlands using internal or external scoops into reservoirs on two levels.  At one time, there were more than 150 windmills, and today they total just 28, of which 19 are in the Kinderdijk area.

The low-lying areas called "polders" are reclaimed from the sea by the power of these windmills and enclosed by embankments, or dikes.  This legendary place calls to mind the 1865 novel Hans Brinker, in which a heroic boy plugs his finger into a ruptured dike.

We departed for our tour at ten, with a short ride to the Unesco World Heritage site visitor center and gift shop where we walked across some small bridges toward our waiting barge.  Along the way we saw a sculpture called the Cat's Cradle, referring to a legend surrounding St. Elizabeth's Flood of 1421, which took many lives.  After the storm, a local boy went to inspect the damage at a dike that separated one ward from another.  He was surprised to see a cat jumping back and forth on a rocking wooden cradle to keep it from tipping over into the water.  Inside was a sleeping baby girl, safe and dry.  There are other versions of the tale, but most of them are about a cat that somehow saved a child from flood waters and starvation.

By the time we got to the boat, it was raining hard and the wind was increasing dramatically.  The barge ride was perfect for us, and I delighted in watching some of our cruise friends riding along the bike path in the rain as we stayed warm and dry.

Visiting the windmills was fascinating, and we both learned more than we ever knew about the history of this part of the world.  The artistry and function of the windmills is incredible.  The bike and walking tours visited the more recently built windmills that looked somewhat like I expected a windmill to look.  Our barge took us to the oldest windmill in the area, which was completely different.

Our Cruise Director Nancy visiting with the miller at the Blokker Windmill

Our tour took us to the Blokker Windmill, built in a completely different manner than the other 18 windmills in Kinderdijk.

The miller at the Blokker windmill explaining how the braking system and sails work

The oldest of the Kinderdijk windmills, the Blokker is believed to date back to 1521, though the exact date of construction is unknown.  In contrast, the other mills at Kinderdijk date from the 18th century, making the Blokker a unique example of a different style of construction.  The Blokker Mill serves as a museum that shows visitors the mechanics of a windmill and the miller taught us about what life as a miller was like when the structure was operational.

The large building that sits at the top of this windmill weighs more than 4 tons and rotates with the wind. The brake that stops the top from turning is operated completely by the hand of the miller.  This was to me the most fascinating aspect of the windmill, it was completely operated without any kind of powered machinery.

We toured the living quarters of the mill on the lower level.  I marveled at the huge timbers that were part of the structure of the building.  

Deb was fascinated by the kitchen and the small beds, indicating that people were much shorter in the 17th century than they are now.  The present-day miller explained to us how people who want to be millers at Kinderdijk must pass tests and apply for the positions which are highly coveted in the Netherlands.  Most millers are there year-round and keep their positions for many years.

It was interesting to see the rows of wooden shoes and hear how the millers needed these lightweight shoes to walk the mucky bogs surrounding the mills without sinking.  I never knew the actual purpose of the Dutch wooden shoes.

The wind was howling but most of the time we walked the grounds, the rain stayed at bay.  The sound of the wind in the sails was deafening, and it was impressive watching the miller manage the sails.  He explained to us how the positions of the sails were a way for millers to communicate with each other in the days before phones and the internet.  Certain positions could mean a birth, a death or an illness in the family, or a request for help in one form or another. By the time we got back to the boat, the rain had started again.

I had heard about these windmills my entire life but had no idea that they were so fascinating.  I also was surprised at how picturesque the landscape was, punctuated by the historic mills.  It was an interesting and charming excursion. Deb and I decided to skip the visitor center, where the little kitschy models of windmills, blue and white porcelain Dutch shoes and such didn't interest us.

We were happy our tour was by boat not by bicycle

We returned to the ship by noon, just in time for lunch and the 12:30PM sail away from Kinderdijk toward the Waal and then the Rhine River. A few times we saw what we thought might be homeless camps, but realized later that they were rain shelters for fishermen along the banks of the river.  

The entertainment for the evening was an excursion briefing followed by a port talk by our cruise director, Nancy.  Dinner was again satisfactory but unremarkable.  I laughed with daughter Deb last night about how we can't remember much about the meals on Gersemi.  She said, "It was about the ports and the sights, Mom, not about the food".  I would agree with her completely.  A Viking River Ship is many things, but a floating gourmet restaurant is not one of them.

Anna, standing on the left, whom we thoroughly enjoyed, Emil at the piano on the right

Entertainment isn't especially exciting on a river ship either.  That evening the entertainment at 9:30  after dinner was a music quiz or an after-dinner drink with the resident musician, Emil.  I did attempt to visit with Emil a bit since he played the piano, but didn't have much interaction with him.  There isn't room on a river ship with only 180 passengers for the kind of production and stage shows that are found on big ocean ships.  I might have enjoyed a bit more varied musical entertainment, however, as the pianist wasn't that exciting.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

03-29-2023 Flying to Amsterdam for a Rhine River Cruise

In 2010, when I retired, I had a bit of money saved.  It was my dream to treat each of my adult kids to a fabulous trip to wherever they wanted to go.  I gave each of them a chance to pick and choose among any of the options I could reasonably afford.  

My eldest daughter, Deborah, was first in 2011 and chose a special charter Legendary Blues Cruise with Holland America from Fort Lauderdale to the Caribbean.  I treasure every single memory of this trip, with coincided with her birthday. That cruise was more or less a seven-day, 24-hour-a-day party of blues music and dancing, and we had a fabulous time together, even if I did wear out a lot and had to retreat to the stateroom now and then.

The next year, 2012,  with my middle daughter a long-haul truck driver with her husband, and too busy to go when it was her turn, I offered the next mother/daughter trip to my youngest daughter, Melody.  She chose a guided tour with Go-Ahead Tours of Eastern Europe and we spent two weeks touring Budapest, Vienna, and Prague.  Another incredible trip that I will never forget. We ate and walked and laughed our way through the entire trip.

My son wasn't into traveling out of the country, and I thought maybe I could take him scuba diving in Florida, which he loved. With his ongoing health problems, he said all he wanted was for me to visit him in Missouri, which I did several times. That had to suffice for the mother/son trip.  We had some good times together on these trips.

It was 2018 before my daughter Deanna could take some time off to spend three weeks in Italy with her choice for a mother/daughter trip.  Deanna preferred to travel independently, staying in just a couple of places.  We spent a week on the Amalfi Coast, and two weeks in Florence.  It was another trip I will never forget.  We hiked the steps of Positano, ate gelato, and gawked in awe at the art and cathedrals in Florence.

More than a year ago, while sharing Sunday brunch with Deborah here at home, she got all teary as we talked and remembered our cruise together back in 2011.  I didn't quite understand until she tried to explain.  She said, "Mom, I want to take you on a trip where I can be more present with you.  The last time I was into having fun, dancing, and partying, and didn't spend enough time with just you." "I want to treat you to something special, maybe a Viking River Cruise".  It was such a sweet and endearing thought that I could only protest a little bit before we got excited together about planning one more mother/daughter trip, only this time SHE was the one taking ME on the trip.  Wow.

We spent a bit of time making the decision about where to go and finally decided on the Viking River Cruise on the Rhine, from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland.  I have been on several ocean cruises but never a river cruise.  Deb and I thought that it might be something I could do with a bit less difficulty than the type of traveling I did in the past with Melody and Deanna when I could get around a bit more easily.

As the time approached for our departure, we got more and more excited.  We were happy that COVID seemed to be receding and the ship and the airplane no longer required the negative tests within 72 hours of departure.  This has been a nightmare over the last three years for some of my traveling friends, so I was glad we didn't have to deal with it.  We did have COVID home tests and N95 masks with us, however, and made sure we were careful to avoid anywhere that might trigger an infection before leaving.  Both Deborah and I were fully vaxed and neither of us had contracted COVID during the pandemic.

Packing was a bit problematic because it was impossible to predict the weather in Europe in early April.  Our departure was scheduled for March 29, and while it could be chilly and rainy, we also wanted to have comfortable clothing for our time on the ship, and something a bit cooler to wear in case the days warmed up.  Springtime is unpredictable just about anywhere it seems. 

We both bought lightweight and warm puffer coats which served us well throughout the cruise. What a great invention.  Deb and I put a lot of thought into packing with carry-on only, so that we could avoid the problem of dealing with baggage claims and lost luggage.  It worked on the way over, but on the way home we did have to buy a simple little duffle to pack more easily and have room for a few keepsakes.

Deb made all the arrangements for the trip and chose to let Viking make our flight arrangements.  We also chose Viking excursions and a three-day extension in Switzerland at the end of our trip. By the time March 29 rolled around we were excited for the trip to begin.

Deb and me waiting in Medford for the first leg of our trip to Amsterdam

The first leg of the trip was easy.  We flew right out of Medford, Oregon, just a short distance from home for each of us.  Mo drove us to the airport and Deb left her car here at Sunset House for the duration.  

We arrived at the airport in plenty of time to get my little red walker tagged for a gate check and were surprised to discover that having a disability can be a bit of a good thing when flying around the world.  In Medford, I was led to the front of the line for a security check and whisked right through.  Most of the time Deb was allowed to go right with me as my "assistant".  Sometimes she was bothered because she thought it didn't look as though she was actually assisting me, but no matter, it worked great.

Do you see that look of anticipation as the plane taxis down the runway in Medford?

The flight from Medford to Seattle was short and sweet.  Deb had the window seat but it didn't matter much since the skies were cloudy and the beautiful chain of volcanoes along the route wouldn't have been visible to me anyway.

Our layover in Seattle was just 5 hours, long enough to relax a bit and find something to eat before we embarked on our overnight flight direct to Amsterdam.  I did do my best to wear my mask throughout the flight except for when I was eating or drinking, but sometimes when I was trying to sleep it was especially difficult. 

I don't remember much about the flight except that it was very very looooonnnngggg. We flew Delta economy and there wasn't much leg room or arm room or any kind of room at all.  We were supposed to arrive at 1PM in Amsterdam, but there was a bit of a delay and our plane didn't arrive until an hour or so later.

We were glad we had no checked baggage to worry about.  Once again, at the Amsterdam airport, my walker was delivered to me at the jetway, but they had a wheelchair waiting for me as well.  Deb followed along with my walker as the assistant whisked us through the airport, through passport control, and down to the baggage area where we were to meet our Viking representative.

Once we arrived, we saw no sign of the representative in the baggage area and we didn't have a clue which exit door we were supposed to meet them.  It wasn't very clear which exit we needed.  We walked outside and sat a bit before I called the 24-hour emergency number for Viking.  Ch-Ching...ten bucks for a day of usage on my Verizon phone.  They did answer, however, and told us to return to another door where a representative would be waiting for us.  

I do believe I look a little bit tired in this photo after flying all night

After this little bit of kerfuffle, we were on a bus and whisked off to the ship at the Amsterdam cruise terminal.  I was glad that we had booked through Viking and that they were responsible for getting us to the ship.  Sometimes those kinds of transfers can be extremely complex and at least we didn't have to worry that the ship would sail without us. 

In no time we were at the terminal, through the check-in process, and on the ship.  The Viking Gersemi carries just 180 passengers, and the process of boarding is much simpler than I was used to on a big ocean-going cruise ship.

Our travel days were over and we were ready for our days on the beautiful and historic River Rhine on the lovely Viking Gersemi.

Gersemi, named for the Norse Goddess of Beauty, is a beautiful longship with a total length of 443 feet, carrying just 190 passengers with a crew of 53.  This is considerably different from any ship I have traveled and I was looking forward to a very different experience than ocean cruising provides.  Gersemi is much more intimate, with few people and smaller spaces for gathering.

However, our stateroom was especially roomy.  Even though we knew we might not be sitting outside on the veranda in early April weather, Deb opted for the veranda stateroom because it was considerably larger than the French Balcony staterooms which have a floor-to-ceiling window, but no actual veranda on which to sit and enjoy the view.  The larger stateroom gave us much more room for the twin bed configuration that we preferred.

When we boarded the ship, our stateroom wasn't quite ready and we were instructed to relax in the lounge for a short time before going to our room to unpack before the dinner hour at 7.  That is something else that is different about a river ship.  Meals are at specific hours, and there aren't a lot of in-between options if you get hungry before the appointed hour.

We weren't the least bit hungry.  Deb had purchased the drink package, and for the duration of the cruise, we had the choice of whatever wine or cocktails we might like.  

On this first afternoon, we enjoyed a cocktail while waiting for our room to be ready. 

Before going down to our room, we explored the ship a bit, enjoying the views of Amsterdam port in the sunshine and trying to ignore the predictions for rain and overcast skies that were coming for the next couple of days.

We were delighted to see just how roomy the stateroom was, with plenty of storage, and ample room to move around with the two twin beds Deb had requested, and even some space for my little red walker.

Before dinner, we enjoyed a casual get-together in the lounge for a brief talk about the ship and what to expect from our time on board.  We were introduced to our captain, Istvan Fekete, the hotel manager, Nebojsa Milosevic, the Maitre d, Marko Nosonjin, and our program director, Nancy Van Turnhout. At that time we also were instructed as to the use and location of our life jackets and emergency procedures.  This was a bit different than a big ship muster, but the material covered was quite similar.

Although our city of departure, Amsterdam in the Netherlands, is a wonderful city to visit, we didn't have the opportunity to spend any time there.  Many people had pre-embarkation tours and spoke of their delightful visits, but I will have to save Amsterdam for another visit across the pond.  It is a city that is especially enjoyable to explore on foot or by bicycle, neither of which is especially attractive to me anymore. 

Amsterdam is a patchwork of waterways formed by about 90 islands connected by 1,500 bridges.  The legacy of the Dutch Golden Age lives on in gilded mansions and the lush paintings of Rembrandt and other Dutch masters that adorn the museums.   I do wish there had been time for us to visit the Van Gogh Museum, or the Anne Frank Museum, both located in Amsterdam.  

It is funny, but I barely noticed much of what we ate that first evening.  Everything was new and different and we were very tired from our nearly 24 hours of travel. I know we ate in the dining room, but I have no idea what we ate or even if it was any good. We knew that the next few days would be filled with incredible experiences, beautiful cities, interesting lessons in history and culture, and hopefully good food as well.  

It has been a very long day and I fell instantly asleep until.....there was a very loud, very strange clanking noise coming from outside our stateroom....

Sunday, March 19, 2023

03-08-2023 The Last Leg and More Adjustments


Morning at Bayport RV Park

When the morning arrived for our departure from Bayport RV Park on Scappoose Bay in Warren, Oregon, the skies were threatening, but there was no snow predicted for the route we chose.

Cornelius Pass is a decent route that passes by the main urban area of Portland to the west, crossing a low mountain as it approaches Highway 26 and continues south toward the upper portion of the Willamette Valley where we planned to spend two days in Dayton.

Google suggested route from Bayport to Dayton

I checked the webcams, read the Facebook Group for Cornelius Pass, and declared that we could take that route and avoid returning south via Highway 30 and Interstate 5. Even though Mo was driving, the roads required navigating to the extent that I didn't have the opportunity to open the phone camera for photos. So I have no record of this trip.

The density of housing in parts of Aloha is surprising

We crossed Highway 26, the main route to the coast from the city. We were aghast at the wall-to-wall row houses and apartments that seemed to extend for miles around Hillsboro and Aloha on the western perimeter of the city of Portland.

Google is notorious for sometimes routing over impassable roads, and when I saw an extremely curvy road on the projected route I said, "No No! Keep going straight, that road is too curvy". The alternate route I chose seemed to be a bit less curvy and hopefully, we could navigate a way to Dayton that would be a bit less challenging. All was well until we saw a sign for an 18 percent grade ahead. Eighteen Percent??!! I think the steepest sign we have ever seen was 16 percent on the road into Calistoga in California.

We kept on going, and climbed a narrow road into some steep hills (which felt like mountains) to an elevation of 2,000 feet or so, with fairly deep snow on either side of the road. In one short section, within a distance of no more than 2 miles, we saw 4 newish SUV-type vehicles smashed into trees and telephone poles, some appeared to be climbing the poles. So much for avoiding the curvy roads. And no, I don't have a single photo of this experience. Somehow I had no clue that the Willamette VALLEY had steep curvy snowy mountains here and there on the perimeter.

Looking south toward Dayton from the hills

We breathed a sigh of relief as we entered the actual valley toward the community of Dayton and our reservations at the Dayton RV Park. Searching Google again for the actual address of the park, I was redirected to several other RV parks, but no Dayton RV Park. I dug out the reservation papers, which also had no address for the park, then went to the park website and discovered that there was no address listed there either. Finally in the small print somewhere I found the phone number of the RV park and called.

A sweet lady answered the phone and gladly offered the address, yada yada yada...Dayton, Nevada. NEVADA?

It seems we somehow made a reservation in Dayton, Nevada instead of Dayton, Oregon. I would expect that an RVr who has traveled for any length of time has had a similar experience. Now what?

I started calling around, and after a few parks with no openings, found one for 80 bucks a night, with this caveat, "Oh, by the way, we have some construction going on but the framers don't get loud until after 9am.". Thanks anyway, but no thanks. This kind lady pointed me to the nearby state park suggesting they might have an opening on a rainy, out of season, Monday night.

We found Champoeg (pronounced Shampooey) State Park on the map and headed east, hoping for an opening, or at least a spot in a handicap site. That little blue card has saved us more than once in full parks at the last minute.

Arriving at Champoeg, we saw the dreaded "Campground Full" sign, but continued in, hoping for a cancellation or an ADA site. Found a ranger who checked and then sadly confirmed that there was no available space anywhere in the park for us, but said we could stay awhile until we could search for an alternative.

Mo and I settled in for lunch, and about 20 minutes later the ranger returned, saying her boss ranger had found us a site and had to wait a few minutes to be sure that the cancellation was real. Sure enough, it was, and we were directed to a full hookup site 34 in the B Loop, with the added benefit of that site being open for us for the two nights we hoped to stay.  

Site 34 B in Champoeg State Park

Champoeg State Park was a perfect location for a home base as we visited the area around Dayton.  During her research, Mo learned that the Dayton area was well known for a large number of excellent wineries.  We thought it might be fun to sample the famous Pinot Noir grapes of this part of the Willamette Valley much as we dove into sampling the Old Vine Zinfandels in Lodi, California.   

Mo also discovered a well-known four-star restaurant located in Dayton that we thought might be a fitting end to her birthday trip.  As we settled in for the rest of the afternoon, I took advantage of the very slow internet signal on the phone to research a few wineries and the famous Joel Palmer House restaurant.  There were so many wineries to choose from but most of them required a reservation or wouldn't be open when we were planning to visit.  We settled on a plan to visit the Stoller Family Estate, open for tastings on Tuesdays without a reservation.

We then checked for possible reservations at the Joel Palmer House and when we saw that dinner there was fixed at $375 per person, decided we didn't need to visit this 4-star restaurant, no matter how good it was.

Bike Trail adjacent to Champoeg State Park and the Willamette River

We spent some of the rest of the afternoon enjoying a walk along the beautiful bike trail adjacent to the Willamette River which borders the park.  With the cloudy chill outside it was nice to return to the MoHo for the evening.  It had been a crazy kind of day that ended quite well.

loop A still closed for the season

The next morning dawned beautifully, with sunshine and puffy white clouds in the sky.  We took Mattie for another long walk through the park and along the river.  The bike trail continues for a few miles in either direction, with the destination toward the east about two miles being Butteville General Store

We decided that it would be best to leave Mattie settled in at home while we drove to explore the surrounding area before traveling to the winery.  

Lots of informative signs around the park

Champoeg State Park is beautiful, but I was most impressed with the Visitor Center.  Meandering through the stunning exhibits taught us about the history of the town of Champoeg, completely flooded and destroyed in 1861, rebuilt and flooded again in the late 1800s.  

Inside the beautiful visitor center at Champoeg State Park

The exhibits taught not only the history of the area, but also the history of Oregon statehood, and the people who supported it and who were against it. I learned much that I didn't know about Oregon as we walked through the center.

Surprised at how little I knew of Oregon state hisotry

In addition to human history, there was much on the natural history of the area, including the plants, the geology, and the animals that make the park their home.  

There were sound recordings that accompanied this map

Native American history was covered as well, with an especially interesting map of the various dialects of languages that were used throughout Oregon.  So much to learn.  I think we spent at least an hour exploring the Visitor Center.  There is a museum nearby that has more exhibits about the pioneer history of the area, but it wasn't open yet for the season.

Save this for a warmer day and the famous ice cream

After visiting the center, we drove a couple of miles east to check out the Butteville Country Store.  We originally thought maybe ice cream was in order, but it was early in the day and it was chilly so we weren't tempted. I took a photo of the store from the outside, thinking maybe a hot summer day would make it more inviting.

Family owned since 1943 and a vineyard since 1993

Continuing toward Dayton, we found the Stoller Estate Winery on beautiful hills overlooking the valley.  The tasting room was gorgeous, and the proprietor was informative and welcoming.  There were only a few people who came and went while we were there, so it was uncrowded.

Beautiful view from the tasting room at Stoller Vineyard

We chose a wine flight for me, a glass of red blend for Mo, and a lovely sandwich for two.  The sandwich was delightful, with ham and turkey, arugula lettuce, gouda cheese, and a yummy aioli on perfectly baked bread. 

Best known for the Pinot Noir Rosé

The wines ranged from some lighter rosé to some lovely Pinot Noir wines.  The rosé made from their pinot grapes was the driest rosé I have ever tried, but delicious.  We settled on a bottle of Pinot to take home, deciding that we needed something to commemorate our visit.

Lovely farm adjacent to the vineyard

The vineyard was beautiful, with spectacular views in all directions, and made for some lovely photo opportunities with the huge puffy clouds that signaled rain to come.

Historic Joel Palmer House restaurant

On the way home, we stopped for an outside visit to the famous restaurant in Dayton.  I walked up to the imposing door, and the people inside were gracious and let me look inside.  What kind of restaurant is really worth $375 a plate?  It was beautiful and historic, and the chef was really kinda cute. 

Chef/Owner: Christopher Czarnecki

I doubt if we would ever return to eat there, especially since they are famous for using all kinds of locally sourced mushrooms in the dishes.  Mo isn't a fan of mushrooms.

Heavy rain accompanied our late afternoon return to the MoHo, and we were treated to a few rainbows as well.  Mattie was happy to see us, and Mo braved the rain to take her for another walk.

rain and rainbows on the way back to the MoHo

We planned to return home on Wednesday morning, via Interstate 5 to Grants Pass.  I checked weather cams, weather apps, road cams, and everything I could to attempt to find a window of opportunity to get from this part of the state to our home a couple of hundred miles south in Southern Oregon.  I saw that snow was predicted for our campsite, and before going to bed we put in the slide to avoid any possible snow accumulation on the slide cover.

Snow at Champoeg SP on March 8

Sure enough, when we woke on Wednesday, it was snowing, with a bit of accumulation on the grass, but the roads were merely wet.  I checked the weather and road conditions again, and we had a short travel window opening up on Interstate 5 between Roseburg and Grants Pass during the early afternoon.  

Timing our departure in a way that would allow for a stopover at daughter Melody's home in Brownsville near the interstate, we left by 10 AM.  On days like this one, we are exceptionally glad that we have an RV sewer dump at home.  There was no need to get out in the snow and use the sewer connection we had at our site. 

The trip home was surprisingly uneventful.  Mattie adores Melody, and as usual, as we approached Melody's home, she started yipping and singing and wiggling ecstatically.  Our visit was short but sweet, and I loved seeing some of the home projects that Melody and Robert have been doing with their 110-year-old house.

By the time we reached the four highest passes between Roseburg and Grants Pass, the road was clear, with no ice, no snow, and no rain.  We pulled into the driveway at 4:30 PM with a sigh of relief. Home looked great, and the house was warm and welcoming thanks to the ability to program the heater for the end of vacation mode earlier in the day.

Sue and Mo happy walking the trail on the last day of the trip

Despite the challenges, the weather, and the shifting plans, Mo's birthday trip turned out to be a complete success.