Southern Passage Through Oregon on I-5

Our next stop heading south was Wilsonville, Oregon, the halfway point between Portland and Salem.  Steve was due for his quarterly doctor visit in Tucson, AZ and months ago he had chosen Portland as his getaway airport.  It was an uneventful rainy day while he was away, but a very happy day upon his return when he told me his oncologist won’t need to see him again for a whole year! 🙂

In 1938, it took three days to get the 7.7-ton Oregon Pioneer statue hoisted 140′ to its perch on top of the capitol building

We had three activities planned for after his return; 1) a visit to the state capitol in Salem, 2) Steve checking out the World of Speed Museum, and 3) meeting up with new RV friends.  YAY!

So off we went to Salem, just a half hour south of our campground at Pheasant Ridge RV Park, to catch the first guided tour of the day – the Tower Tour.  After warming our legs on the 121 steep stairs to the observation deck, we looked up to gawk at the 23′ tall bronze Oregon Pioneer.  The most eye-catching feature of this building, it’s gilded with gold leaf and symbolizes early Euro-American settlers.


Looking north at the State Capitol Park complex from the observation deck
Looking west toward the Oregon coast

Afterward we joined a regular building tour and noticed the structure has simple adornment, rather than monumental staircases or grand columns or intricate ornamentation like many others we’ve visited.  Completed in 1938, the Art Deco-style structure carries the inspiration of the undaunted pioneers who were the beginnings of Oregon.  Its heritage is reflected throughout:

The walls of the nine-story-tall rotunda feature murals, each depicting an event in the Euro-American settlement of Oregon
One of the murals depicting Lewis and Clark arriving at Celilo Falls in 1805
Looking up at the dome where 33 stars signify the state’s rank in the Union
Senate chamber

David and Celia have been piddlin’ around the country for a couple of years, and we’ve followed each other’s blogs.  The chance for a face-to-face presented itself while we were in Wilsonville and they were in Portland visiting family.  We had a great meal and discussion with them, but our server wasn’t much of a photographer:

With David and Celia – nice hats, guys!

Steve spent his “alone time” at the World of Speed Museum, checking out a large display of some of the world’s fastest land vehicles:

Move over Prius drivers, I’m late for a meeting!
Nice display of funny cars and top fuel dragsters

Next up was a visit to Henderson’s Line-up in Grant’s Pass for an inspection of Betsy’s suspension, brakes and tires.  We went in with no particular complaints, but since these experts performed several suspension upgrades in 2012 Steve likes to have them check her out when we’re in the area.  This was our 4th visit, and we ended up needing some minor brake work so it was definitely a worthwhile stop.

While Betsy was being checked out we occupied ourselves by taking a hike at the Cathedral Hills Trail System near Grants Pass.  There were several trails available, and we chose the Walker/Outback Loop trek.  We clocked a decent 5.5 miles while roaming the hillsides under Douglas Fir, Ponderosa Pine, and Madrone forest.  But what really caught our attention was a large number of Manzanita trees with their unique and sometimes twisted shapes.  It’s a very distinct tree with its smooth red/orange bark that glistens in the sun:

A beautiful gnarly Manzanita

Getting Betsy back in tip-top shape, we continued on to our final stop in Oregon at the excellent Emigrant Lake County Park in Ashland.  The Fall colors here were awesome during our first visit in 2016, when Ashlanders Eric and Laurel were in town to give us a wonderful walking tour of the city.  This time we didn’t hit the colors quite as well, but still enjoyed the atmosphere and had a good time:

Loved site #12 at Emigrant Lake County Park
Betsy’s on that hill, as seen from the lake

In the city, we revisited Lithia Park, the crown jewel park in Ashland and Eric’s former office…

Japanese Garden at Lithia Park

…and caught some fall colors as we followed trails within its 100-acre area:

Several wineries were beckoning us to stop as we drove to and from the campground each day.  We tasted (and purchased) some excellent wines at Weisinger (great Chardonnay) and at Simple Machine (great Grenache).  We learned that Oregon isn’t just about Pinot Noir, but that one was awesome too!





  1. Such great news for Steve!!!

    Oregon is always packed with good stuff! Those Manzanita trees are gorgeous, and your campgrounds looked pretty darn nice, too. I love your tradition of visiting the state capitols — such an interesting thing to do.

    I’m also glad to hear Betsy had a check-up, but now you’ve got me scared for the next post!

  2. We are so bummed we weren’t in Ashland while you were there. We have such great memories of our time there together in 2016. You’re making me homesick with your beautiful photos of Lithia Park and Emigrant Lake. But hey, we don’t care where we see you, we just want to see you again somewhere soon! Looks like you had a fun meeting with new friends, and I was wondering why the girls didn’t get lighted hats, too. 🙂

    You guys are giving us some new things to do in our home state! I’m embarrassed to say that we’ve never visited the state capitol building (ridiculous, right?). It looks so cool from your photos and so different from any other capitol we’ve seen.

    Best news of all is Steve’s continued great health. Hugs to you both!!

  3. That is fabulous news about Steve! Such a relief!!

    We absolutely loved Ashland when we were there last fall and your photos are making me jealous. The colors are just beautiful and we loved Lithia Park. Such a great town. And, it looks like you are doing Oregon right with some proper wine appreciation! That’s one thing we totally failed on. And Pinot Noir is my favorite wine! Weird!!

    Anyway, Cheers to healthy hubbies (and hopefully motorhomes, too???)

  4. We really enjoyed getting together and meeting face to face! Your recommendation of Emigrant Lake Park was right on. We enjoyed it and even stayed longer than expected until the cold spell passed in the Carson City, NV area. We also visited the Weisinger winery and enjoyed the personal attention we got there.
    We are still piddlinaround so we have just made it to Carson City today.
    We will have to put Salem on our list to visit. We try to come to Portland every year so hopefully that will be sooner than later. We also put Wickenburg AZ on our list to visit per your recommendation.
    Thanks for all your help.

  5. Glad Steve and Betsy both got a clean bill of health! The teaser for the next post is concerning, though. That’s an odd looking capitol dome. It looks like an upside-down five gallon pail. 🙂

  6. Great news that Steve does not need to go back for a year! Those Manzanita trees certainly are interesting. We are headed down that way sometime in December, we will have to see if our paths cross!

  7. YAY STEVE!!! Such very good news…..
    Love those Mazanita trees also, their color is so beautiful and their growth habit is very interesting. We enjoyed our time in Ashland despite the temperatures in the low 100’s. We cooled off in a few wineries ourselves and were happy to see the different wine offerings in the south. Oregon’s Pinot Noir is sublime to be sure, but don’t overlook their other offerings!

  8. Hi there! I just discovered your blog thanks to piddlinaround. I love your interactive map and really look forward to reading more of your blog posts. My husband and I have been full-timing for 17 months. Our plan is Alaska next summer and the maritime provinces the following summer. Safe travels!

  9. So glad both Steve and Betsy got good reports!! Always make sleep much better:) We enjoyed visiting the capitol, as well. I really enjoyed the murals. I think I might have enjoyed the Speed Museum. I always like those different museums. That is a gorgeous manzanita tree!! Thanks for sharing! We do have to get the Ashland area. Maybe this spring/summer! That was a perfect site you had!

  10. I think we stayed in that same spot at Emigrant Lake last year! So fun to read your blog. I’m catching up on past posted and I’m up to April 2014. BTW, we met you about a year and a half ago at Navajo National Monument on the tour with Jimmy. That really kicked my but going back up those steps!

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