At 94, Neil Farnham hasn’t left much undone in his life. He’s not terminally ill like the two men played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman in the 2007 comedy, The Bucket List. In fact, the energetic, retired architect has been skiing since 1936, when the only way to the top was by foot.
Six decades later, on his 80th birthday, he rode a helicopter to the summit of a mountain in British Columbia to ski. “I’ve never been so scared in my life,” he admits with a laugh. At 77, the Redmond resident started cycling and completed Cycle Oregon five times. But one goal has eluded him—riding the rim loop at Crater Lake. Snowy roads blocked his first attempt, but when the road is clear, expect to see this lifelong Oregonian crossing another adventure off his list.
1859 asked readers for their bucket lists and got a bucket full. We’ve culled a few here and put more on our website. Many are so popular, you’ll need to plan ahead. Others are perfect for doing when the mood strikes. All are quintessential Oregon.
The Pendleton Round-up lasts for a week each September, but for Old West authenticity and Rainbow Room carousing, visit during “the slack,” the Monday and Tuesday before the rodeo begins on Wednesday, September 14. “You’re going to see something unexpected,” says Keith Isley, the clown in the padded barrel who stares down 2,000 pounds of pure hell on hooves. Pendleton is his favorite rodeo, and he characterizes the crowd as “polite rowdiness.” Lauren Raburn and Lucas Posada, Portland designers who attended the 2010 rodeo, say the slack is a cool, casual atmosphere, a chance to hang out with cowboys and their horses while they await their tryout. For authentic Western wear, locate a feed store and buy tight $20 Wranglers, an extra-starched Cinch shirt, Lucchese boots, Let’er Buck cologne … and don’t forget the Stetson hat.
If setting up a tent in the rain at night with cranky kids seems like a drag, try a yurt—a domed tent that sleeps five, has lights, heat, a wood floor, and nearby toilets and showers. Reserve one at Beverly Beach State Park, located north of Newport. Do it early—the twenty-one yurts go fast. At nearby Otter Rock, peer into the Devil’s Punch Bowl and then eat at Mo’s or taste wine at the Flying Dutchman Winery.
Charles Blair MacDonald, the father of American golf, would be proud if he could play the course named for him at the famed Bandon Dunes Resort. Golf Magazine declared Old Macdonald the best new course in 2010. Like its three siblings, the course lays out a true Scottish links experience—ocean views, sand dunes and fescue grass. Tee-time reservations are highly recommended.
Sniff, swirl and spit—that’s right—but don’t knock back every taste of wine unless you want to be on your back at the end of the day. Better, take a group of friends and a designated driver or alternative transportation for visiting Oregon’s wine regions. Many specialized tours are available. In Southern Oregon, for example, enjoy the area’s Chardonnay, Syrah, Tempranillo and Bordeaux varieties with Wonders of Wine. In the Willamette Valley, where Pinot noir reins, arrive holding reigns on the back of a Tennessee walking horse, no experienced needed, with Equestrian Wine Tours. In the Columbia Gorge, take a luxury limosine. Other choices include limos, luxury vans and buses. Design your own itinerary with Portland’s ecoShuttle–they’ll transport your group in biodiesel-fueled nine-passenger vans up to 48-passenger buses. For an extreme adventure, try a hot-air balloon, but pray for good weather … and a sober pilot.
At the Britt Festival, musical memories are made here. The outdoor music festival set in the idyllic Southern Oregon town of Jacksonville, attracts top musical acts to a venue where you can kick back on the lawn with your own picnic or patronize the festival’s vendors while in closer assigned seating. Find country, rock, reggae, folk, jazz and classical performances at the nearly fifty-year-old festival. One of folk rock’s most compelling voices, Brandi Carlile, returns to the Britt Festival for her fourth year. In her first year, she played on a ticket with Chris Isaak, her second with the Indigo Girls. Last year at the Britt, Carlile was the headline act on a beautiful evening. This year, she plays on a ticket with the another amazing folk singer, Ray LaMontagne. “Oregon is either at the start of my tour with lots of energy,” Carlile says. “It’s experimental and raw. But I’ll be damned if I’m not going to try out new songs. Or Oregon comes last in the tour, and when I cross the California line, I really get recharged to be in Oregon. In Oregon, you get to see me at either extremes .”
Immerse yourself in Alpine splendor and up-close views of South Sister, Mount Bachelor and Broken Top while paddling your canoe or stand-up paddle board at Sparks Lake. Lava formations surround the shallow, clear waters. It’s an easy day trip, twenty-five miles west of Bend on the Cascade Lakes Highway. Or stay overnight at Soda Creek Campground. Watch the deer come out at dusk, but remember the mosquito spray. Rent a vessel in Bend at Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe.
Crawling around Oregon’s bays, tidal pools and jetties could be tonight’s dinner—fresh Dungeness crab. The best time to drop a crab ring off a pier or a boat is September through December, but recreational crabbing is open year-round. Keep the fellas, but let females and juveniles go free. Details about places, licensing at the Dungeness Crab Commission and the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Reach your peak: Climb the 11,237-foot Mt. Hood. Expect heart-thumping views on Oregon’s highest mountain. Go April through June, preferably a weekday to avoid crowds. First-timers should climb with an experienced mountaineer or hire a pro. The south side (Hogsback) route is the most popular and takes ten to twelve hours roundtrip from Timberline Lodge. Peggie Schwarz of the century-old climbing organization, Mazamas, says climbers need to be fit and prepared, and have technical climbing skills with ropes, crampons and ice axes. timberlinemtguides.com | mazamas.org
Run or walk Pre’s Trail, a four-mile stretch along the Willamette River in Eugene, named for Steve Prefontaine, a University of Oregon track star and international running phenom who died in 1975 at age 24. Attend a meet at Track Town, USA’s famed Hayward Field. In June 2012, catch the Prefontaine Classic or the U.S. Olympic Trials for track and field. The latter event is expected to sell out, but some tickets will go on sale in April 2012.
Oregon’s summer doesn’t truly start until the strawberries come in. That’s typically June through early July. Kathy Unger of Unger Farms in Cornelius says to look for “Hoods” – the state’s famed dark red, intensely sweet berry. Pick up a flat at the farmers’ market or pick your own. Eat fresh with vanilla Umpqua Ice Cream. oregon-strawberries.org
Why fight the rain? Go with the flow to the Portland Japanese Garden, 5.5 acres of sheer tranquility and beauty amid the urban landscape. Enjoy the gardens year-round—each season reveals its own beauty. Reflect, meditate, find your inner Zen—and remember your umbrella.
Ride the Crater Lake Rim Loop, but make sure your bike has good brakes and low hill-climbing gears. At more than 7,000 feet, the thirty-three-mile loop is challenging with almost no flat road. Go clockwise, starting at the north entrance or park headquarters. Riders share the road with motorists, but the lake views and sweet pine smells are worth it.
White water, steep canyons, black bears, spring wildflowers and remote lodges—all are part of the thirty-five-mile section of the Rogue National Wild and Scenic River, a classic American river trip drawing visitors worldwide. Whether you hike or raft, you’ll need to plan ahead and make reservations, possibly pushing this out a year. Floating the river between May 15 and October 15 requires a permit. Without one, hire a river guide or plan ahead for early May 2012. If white water turns your stomach, hike the forty-mile trail from Grave Creek to Foster Bar and either camp or stay at one of the lodges. Visit the cabin used by Western fiction writer Zane Grey or explore the Rogue River Ranch National Historic Site near the mouth of Mule Creek. But remember this—you’ll need a ride back to your starting point or someone to shuttle your car to the endpoint. roguerivertrips.info | wildrogue.com
Oregon’s fourteenth governor, Oswald West, designated the Oregon Coast a public highway, open to all. Today, Oregon is one of a few states whose coastline is public property. Oregonians can now participate in a myriad of activities on the Oregon Coast that would, in other states, be difficult. Along the central Oregon Coast, visitors can drive their cars onto the beach for tailgaters. Perhaps one of the most exciting activities made possible by Os West is horseback riding for miles along the shore in early morning or at sunset. There are a few stables that cater to rides of one hour to all-day.
15 Hike the Rogue River trail from Grave Creek to its terminus.
16 Hike the Badlands outside of Bend.
17 Run from Macleay Park to the Pittock Mansion in Forest Park, Portland.
18 Tent Camp at Cape Blanco State Park (the most westerly point on the West Coast).
19 Camp at Steens Mountain.
20 Stay a night in any Forest Service lookout tower.
21 Bird watch in the Malheur National Wildlife Preserve in southeast Oregon.
22 Photograph the Painted Hills at the John Day Fossil Beds in spring.
23 Drive the Aufderheide National Scenic Highway in fall.
24 Do family dinner at Tad’s Chicken & Dumplings on the Sandy River in Troutdale.
25 Eat a crab sandwich at Tony’s Crab Shack in Bandon.
26 Dine at the Timberline’s Silcox Hut on Mt. Hood.
27 Have the bone-in filet mignon at Ringside Steakhouse in Portland.
28 Raft the Owyhee River.
29 Soak/chill at the Cougar Springs hot springs.
30 Paddle Waldo Lake in the summer.
• Ride a horse on the longest continuous stretch along
the Oregon Coast.
• Listen to the wolves howl in the Eagle Cap Wilderness.
• Snorkel the Elk River to watch the cutthroat trout sea run.
• Hike the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and eat signal cray-fish out of the Little Chetco River.
• Visit Crater Lake and take the boat tour.
• Bike Highway 101.
• Drive Highway 58 in October, stopping at the vehicle turn-outs to see, smell and feel the season of fall.
• Visit the Oregon Zoo with a young child.
• Spend one complete day volunteering in a public school.
• Make smores over a campfire on the beach.
• Go to a concert at the Oregon Zoo.
• Eat freshly-picked Oregon strawberries.
• Taste three different Pinot noirs from three different Oregon wineries.
• Attend the Oregon Country Fair.
• Do the Treesort in Cave Junction!
• See all of the Oregon ghost-town remnants.
• Hit the Sisters Folk Festival, September 9-11.