Flying into Medford, Ore. one can tell they are in for a treat. Lush forests and treacherous rivers along with fog-covered mountaintops fill the landscape.
I joined a few friends there for a couple of days last week to check out the scenery and do a little hiking. My goal was not to worry about time while spending lots of time staring at the powerful Rogue River as it ran along the edge of a little bar and gas-station-only town called Galice.
The Klamath Mountains in the Siskiyou National Forest are the backdrop and though I like to think I spend a lot of time hiking, the vertical terrain reminded me, with Charley horses in the middle of the night, that it's not the same climbing mountainsides as it is exploring North Dakota.
Hours in the woods blazing a trail is a great way to spend a vacation even though, besides deer and hundreds of birds, we didn't see much wildlife. There was a lot of bear scat and I appreciate viewing bears from afar but was happy scat was all that we saw as the area is far out of range of help if something unexpected comes up. No cell coverage, no homes, no one near enough to hear blood curdling screams and probably no one to find someone for days if it did come down to it. Umm, and that's why the local stories of sasquatch running off with entire families in the middle of the night aren't too uncommon here (but those are stories for another time).
To put it in perspective, the road we parked along before diving with backpack into the forest is the Coastal Road. This one-lane (sometimes not even) gem runs through the mountains. At 66 miles long, it takes three to four hours to drive!
After surviving a few days hiking the woods, preparing to get back on the plane in the morning and being just hours from the coast, we decided to treat ourselves to fresh seafood. Fortunately, the path to get from camp to the ocean was via the Redwood Highway. All of the trees in Dickinson put together may not add up to the width of one of the many monster Redwoods along that stretch of road.
After the awe-inspiring drive, we found a seafood joint and avoided looking at prices in order to get whatever we craved. (This is a must if you live smack dab in the center of the country and have a chance for fresh seafood once in a blue moon). It was worth it.
The next morning, with sleeping bag rolled tight and packed, along with a wad of muddy clothes in an old suitcase, I said goodbye to my friends and reluctantly stepped onto the plane.
As we took off I watched the mountains fade. I couldn't help but long for an extension of the adventure and not thinking, an "ahh, Oregon," escaped my lips. Without explanation, the man in the neighboring seat agreed.
-- McBride is The Press managing editor. E-mail her at email@example.com.