Salem Area Fun Stuff©

Ya know…this verbal diarrhea from the left over the recent violence in Charlottesville has just got to stop. The guy that drove into the crowd should be tried for Murder 1 and executed…like tomorrow. Setting his actions aside as they were clearly not planned or organized by the rally people…the biggest problem with the left and media is that the right wing folks weren’t engaging in protected free speech according to the leftists…they’re racists and need to be shouted down. ‘Round these parts…as I said the other day…we don’t support the alt right folks who believe that Caucasians are a superior race any more than we support the far left wing who demand discrimination against anybody not brown for Affirmative Action or those who think the US government should pay “reparations to all” Americans of African descent just because.

Despite the fondest wishes of the left…we cannot and should not whitewash history and cleanse all remembrances of the Civil War or slavery. As I said the other day…the Civil War was largely not about slavery but about states rights…and no matter what you believe about the causes of the it both sides were fighting for what they believed was right. A memorial to Robert E. Lee…or to the Confederate dead like the one the leftist protestors destroyed in Durham NC later on with no arrests made…is just as “right” and “an important part of our heritage” to folks in the South as the memorial to President Lincoln on the National Mall or the hundreds of streets named Martin Luther King Boulevard around the country is to those in the north and on the other side politically. A memorial to Confederate dead is just that…a memorial to brave young men who died for a cause they believe was right…just like the statue below is a memorial to the brave young men who died for a cause they believe was right.


Here’s another memorial that’s just as right from another point of view…it’s the Hiroshima Peace Memorial dedicated to those Japanese citizens…the vast majority of which were non-combatant civilians…killed in the attack on that city in August 1945.


War memorials are largely that…memorials for the fallen who gave all in defense of their cause. One can debate the moral rightness of any cause…that’s easy…but why the hell can’t we let all sides honor their dead, have free speech, and not start a riot over it.

As best as I can figure…and again I’m setting aside the guy who drove into the crowd as he was clearly 100% wrong…the original rally was to protest the renaming of Robert E. Lee Park and the removal of a statue of the man…the park is a memorial to the dead in the Confederate cause. The counter protestors…the alt-left as the President called them…showed up itching for a fight…so naturally they got one. Both sides are wrong for the violence…but both sides have a guaranteed right under the Constitution to speak whatever they want no matter whether the other side likes it or not.

Now the media is all up in arms because the President…rightfully…blamed both sides for the violence…but that’s not acceptable to the left echo chamber…anybody further to the right than the leftists is automatically a bigoted racist and…at least as far as the left is concerned…that conclusion is settled science just like every other cause they support.

I wish all this crap would go away so I wouldn’t have to keep blathering about It…it’s irritated Connie so bad she’s unfollowed a dozen folks on twitter over it.

After our somewhat underwhelming trip over to the 3 Capes Scenic Drive…although we did get some nice moody/foggy photos…we were ready for something with a little more pizazz. So we headed out early Monday morning to the Columbia River Gorge about 90 minutes north for a hike up to Triple Falls. Actually…this trail has a total of 7 waterfalls on it…we visited 2, passed 2 others that were not accessible due to some rock slides and trail collapses last winter, and passed on the ones farther upstream. As it was we did a round trip hike of about 4.1 miles and 720 or so feet of elevation gain…it was almost all up on the way out and down on the way back…to get to the other 3 falls would have been another 4 miles and another 800 feet of elevation gain. We didn’t figure we were up for that so just settled for seeing Triple Falls and the Middle Oneonta Falls…Upper Oneonta Falls was inaccessible due to the rockfalls and the Lower Oneonta Falls is accessible through a connecting trail but would have added a mile to our hike and we were too tired to go over there.

Middle Oneonta Falls…that’s the one I’m sticking with but there’s some disagreement on various websites and with the USGS on which falls on Oneonta Creek are which name…I’m basing my selection on looking at the photos on the web…with 3 of the 5 places I looked agreeing with me. Amiright? Who knows…but that’s my story and Ima sticking to it. Anyways…it’s a 65 foot single drop on a side trail off of the main trail up to Triple Falls…it was only 1/10 of a mile down and then back up…but it was also about 90 feet down and then back up so Neil actually did a little more elevation gain than Connie did.

The Columbia River Gorge is bounded on the Oregon side by a pretty much sheer ridge ranging from 600 to 2000 feet in height…most of the waterfalls on the gorge are on the Oregon side and are located in side canyons…there’s a rim on the Washington side as well but it’s farther back from the river and not as dramatic a rise…most of the far fewer waterfalls on that side require considerable hiking to view and all of the famous falls are on the Oregon side. The first half mile is pretty easy hiking…it’s got a grade on it but it’s a pretty good trail. One previous review complained that it was too rocky…which it would be if you’re wearing flip-flops like a goodly number of people we saw were.

Looking out from a viewpoint at the Columbia River looking downstream…just before we turned away and headed up Oneonta Gorge.

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Once you make the turn off of the side of the main ridge bordering the Columbia and turn up into Oneonta Gorge it got more rocky but was still not bad. About 1.2 miles into the 2 mile outbound hike…Neil headed down the side trail to Middle Oneonta Falls and Connie waited for him at the trail junction. Once he got back 20 minutes or so later…we continued our climb and ran into what we would call the bad section of the trail. The grade remains about the same…about a 7% average but with sections from slightly downhill up to about 11% or 12%…however there’s a section about 250 yards long where the trail is basically gone and buried under a rock slide. On that section…you’re walking across piled up tennis ball to softball sized rocks and the footing is much worse. We figured that section would be way worse on the way down…but it turned out to be not as bad as we thought it would be. Bad enough though.

Bridge over Oneonta Creek at the Middle Falls…Connie would not have gone across this…open grating bridge deck and about 80 feet down to the creek.

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Middle Oneonta Falls…the first one is pretty much straight out of the camera and the second one I cleaned up a bit to bring out some details in the foreground and rocks.

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We arrived at the top about 1.5 hours after we started out…it just seemed longer.

Guess why it’s named Triple Falls? Go ahead…I’ll wait.

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Slightly wider view showing the bridge over the creek upstream of the falls…we could have walked there as it’s only about a quarter mile around…but you can’t see the falls from the bridge as it’s upstream. Note the log on the rock between the middle and right hand drop.

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Closer shot of the log below the bridge…it’s about 8 or 10 feet from the edge where it’s a 64 foot drop as the falls is 64 feet tall. The rocks were clearly wet…and the slope of the one jut below the log is probably 30%.

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And then there these 4…well…idiots would probably be the best term. Four of those millennial snowflakes I’ve mentioned previously…we know that because they got back down to the parking lot while we were having lunch…and they were the idiots parked the farthest into the travel lane as noted below. The chick in the white dress was the driver.

The two guys…well, they’re pretty stupid for sitting right there on the edge of the drop…note the steep slope just below the feet of the one with the black pants. Then there were the two chicks…the one walking on the wet log is wearing flip-flops and is just a slight slip from ending up at the bottom of the falls. The other one is wearing a white dress…and black velvet Ugg boots…I’m pretty sure they’re even less appropriate footwear than the flip-flops are.

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After getting our photos and having a snack we headed back down. Normally Neil lets Connie lead on hikes so she can set the pace she likes…but going downhill she was concerned about tripping due to her lack of depth perception so he stayed in front and told her about bad spots and helped her with the bigger steps down. It only took us about an hour or so going back down and we were really glad after seeing the large numbers of hikers heading up as we came down that we started early. The trail sign says that dogs are allowed on a leash…and we only saw 2 or 3 of the dozen dogs that past us that were not leashed. Strangely enough…almost all of the unleashed pooches were obviously snowflake millennials who decided the rules just didn’t apply to them.

Connie sez…the photographer in action.

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Here’s the elevation profile of our overall hike…that little dip at about 1.2 miles is where Neil did the side hike down to Middle Oneonta Falls.

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Arriving back at the trailhead parking lot…we discovered that all 8 or 9 spots were full (as opposed to only one other besides us when we arrived)…and that there were at least another 2 dozen cars parked in various non or sorta existent parking spots along the side of the road…it’s a narrow road but most of the ones parked this way didn’t bother getting out of the traffic lanes. We had lunch…leftover Lemon-lime-fennel-cilantro chicken from the other night turned into wraps…and then headed back westward for home with 2 scheduled stops and 1 unscheduled stop. The unscheduled one was first…when we passed Multnomah Falls Neil spotted a car pulling out so grabbed that spot and he got a some photos of that waterfall.

Both falls…Multnomah Falls has an upper drop of 542 feet and the lower one is 78. The bridge just above the lower drop is about 50 yards from this viewpoint but was a quarter mile hike up a bazillion switchbacks to get to…Neil’s feet were asking him just what the heck he was doing. Connie…well, she stayed in Big Red for this one.

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Closeup of the lower falls.

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The upper falls taken from the bridge…it was really windy and the water was blowing sideways.

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Here are a couple of videos we took today…if they don’t open in a separate window click Back to return here…or right click and choose to open in a new window or new tab.

Middle Oneonta Falls

Triple Falls

Next we headed for Smokehouse Provision BBQ in Vancouver WA just across the river from Portlandia. A few weeks back…Connie happened across an article from Southern Living that listed the…according to them…best BBQ bucket list place to eat in each state and as it turns out we’re going to be in the right location for several of them this summer. Alabama’s entry is Dreamland BBQ in Tuscaloosa…and since we’ve eaten there and know it’s outstanding…and since we really like BBQ…we put all 50 of them in our Places and Eats spreadsheet to visit as our travel schedule allows. Smokehouse Provision actually gives us a twofer…we get to check off both OR and WA on the list. The OR entry is Storrs Smokehouse in Newberg…Storrs is owned by the same guy that owns Smokehouse Provision in WA…so obviously it’s the same BBQ…and we don’t feel too badly about crossing both of them off the list. Besides…Storrs was closed today.

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Next stop was Fred Meyer’s to fill up Big Red with fuel…we took on almost 88 gallons…and then we headed home for showers, BBQ, and brews.

Dinner review…pretty darned outstanding. Really well smoked pulled pork with a whole lot of smoky flavor. Potato salad was also excellent…fingerling potatoes with pulled pork in them and a vinegar and mayo dressing. The baked beans were the best BBQ joint baked beans we’ve had in a long time…usually the beans are almost an afterthought and aren’t really smoky or flavorful. These were spicy and had both pulled pork and smoked sausage in them. We polished off everything but a quarter cup or so of the pulled pork…we shared a single full meal with 2 sides…we’ll make pulled pork soup later in the week out of it. We knew when we walked in…just from the smell…that it would be good though.

Tuesday we headed off for the Oregon State Capitol building and the Willamette Valley Cheese Company. Oregon became a state on Valentines Day Feb 14, 1859 but didn’t learn of it until St. Paddy’s day the following month Mar 17, 1859. The news had to come cross country by courier/horse/whatever and then up the coast via steamer, inland on the Columbia River to Oregon City and then overland south to the then territorial capitol at Salem.

The Capitol Building was built in 1938…it’s the third one. The first was the territorial capital which burned back in the 1800s. The second was on this same site but burned in the early 1930s and was replaced by the current building.

The Rotunda…it’s round on the outside but square on the inside…we’ve never seen a square rotunda in any other capitol building.

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Sculpture outside the entrance.

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Rotunda ceiling.

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Two of the 3 murals at the corners of the rotunda…they’re sorta strange looking as they wrap around the corner. The photos Connie took of the other two didn’t work out.

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State seal…many references to Oregon history here. The heart shape just inside the stars commemorates the Feb 14 acceptance into the union and the 32 stars the fact that Oregon was the 32nd state.  Other references include western expansion, mining and farming tools, mountains, and British and American vessels.

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Senate chamber followed by House chamber. They only meet here for votes and infrequent debates…which just as in other assembly chambers are intended as political points rather than an attempt to woo others to your way of thinking.

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North exterior of the building which is the front.

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Next it was off to the cheese company…we sampled and bought and…well, it’s cheese. We passed on the raw milk product as we prefer our dairy pasteurized for safety. Then it was home for lunch, getting our grill propane cylinder refilled, roasting garlic, and steak on the barbie for dinner.

So…we’ve been here in the Willamette Valley awhile so I figured I should tell ya about it. The valley is about 150 miles long along the Willamette River which runs north until emptying into the Columbia River. Bordered by the Oregon Coastal Mountain Range, the Calapooya Mountains to the south and the Cascades Range to the east…it contains the 3 largest cities in Oregon…Salem, Portlandia, and Eugene…as well as being the home of about 70% of the state population and almost all of the wineries.

Today’s activity was a visit to the Ankeny NWR just south of Salem in the southern portion of the valley. Because we were planning on a 1.5 mile hike along the boardwalk…we wanted to be there early for bird feeding time so we got up early, had coffee and a granola bar and headed off…arriving at our first stop in the refuge where the hike was located jut a bit after 0700. We headed off south about 1/4 mile then meandered westward a half mile through the swampy areas along the boardwalk then north, east, and south along the edges of a section of fields back to Big Red. It was a great day to be on a walk in the woods…60s, sun just coming up so the light was excellent for photos and no ‘skeeters to be found. There were some sort of lil’ bugs buzzing around…but they didn’t bite and weren’t bothering us so we left ‘em alone as well.

Following the hike we continued driving clockwise around the refuge stopping at another 3 or 4 places to look for wildlife. We got done and headed back to the rig arriving about 1000 and took a nap for a couple of hours before getting up and doing all of the preparatory stuff for tomorrow’s transit day.

Luckily there were observation blinds at a couple of our stops both along the hike and the remainder of the refuge…that makes it easier to get bird photos since they don’t know you’re there. Unfortunately…most of the birds we saw were out a couple of hundred yards…so even with the long bird lens they were still smaller than we would have liked. Still though…we got a few new species for us…and ya gotta take what ya can get we always say.

Connie got some really great shots as we walked along the boardwalk and peered out from the blind on the hike…I especially like the ones of the marsh with the reflection in them…quite nice.

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Meanwhile…Neil was concentrating on the birds with the bird lens…although it’s a zoom with a minimum focal length of 75mm which is just a bit more than a “normal” SLR lens…it’s too big and heavy to bother taking many closeup photos with it so he primarily looks for things way out there.

Female belted kingfisher…you can tell it’s the female because of the orange belt band in addition to the blue-gray chest patch…we can’t recall ever seeing a female before.

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Cinnamon Teal.

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Dunlin…both this and the teal above are new for us.

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Another shot of the female belted kingfisher…she kept flying off and coming back to this snag. Neil was irritated that she never came over nearer the blind so he could get better photos.

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Great blue heron…but way out there.

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Couple of great white egrets…again pretty far out there.

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Neil shot a couple of interesting looking leaves/seedpods/whatever they are…he thought they looked cool with the lighting the way it was.

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We almost stepped on this slug.

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Closeup of the slug with Connie’s boot in the shot for scale…this is the largest slug we’ve ever seen. Those folks on the TV show Alone would have made a full meal out of this bad boy.

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Another Cinnamon Teal.

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Neil really liked these two reflected birds shots.

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Barn swallows (or maybe cliff swallows, hard to tell which one). Those lil’ suckers are devilishly hard to get in focus.

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Sparrow of some variety.

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Another Great Blue Heron and then a shot of him flying off when Neil tried to get a better angle.

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And finally…just as we got back to the campground. Look…up in the sky…it’s a bird, it’s a plane…it’s Superman!

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Just a couple interesting things today…this post is already pretty long.

The liberals at the TV station must have had a slow news day.


More pano gone wrong.


Busted…definitely busted.



About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
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3 Responses to Salem Area Fun Stuff©

  1. Cat White says:

    I’ve given up on the “news”. A friend sent a couple of articles re: Trees stop crime and Gee, wow! whoever knew there was a chain of volcanoes under the Antarctica ice? Also whoever would guess that the thinning of the ice sheet will cause the volcanoes to erupt. With this level of science the left will have us worshipping thunder gods in no time. However, a bright spot in the day is your blog and photos. Carry on. Have fun and keep us stay-at-homes posted.

  2. If you ever get tired of being retired (LOL) you can become a Photographer. Your Photos are absolutely wonderful. I can’t get over how big that Slug was. Ye gads. You guys come up with the greatest recipes for left overs ever. ( Are you going to use the slug?) Pork Soup. Never had it so you have to give me the recipe when you get back. I Love Soup of any kind. Your blogs are the highlights of my days. So keep em coming.

    • Neil Laubenthal says:

      Nope…no slugs for us but it was huge.

      Pork soup…pretty simple actually…and the proportions really don’t matter a bit.

      We had about 1/3 of a cup of leftover pulled pork that I chopped fine. Last night we had Guinness and Potato Skins with cheese and bacon at the pub…had 3 half potatoes left over so we had about the equivalent of a whole 5 or so inch long potato.

      Saute’ed a half onion and when it was done dumped in a small can of chopped green chili’s from the Mexican food aisle. Dumped in a half glass or so of white wine and let it almost all evaporate so just the flavors were concentrated. Added in the pork and chopped up potatoes.

      Then you need some liquid. I usually use a mix of chicken stock and half and half…but we were short on half and half so I used the 2/3 of a cup or so of that I had, 2/3 cup or so of stock and a half cup or so of milk. Really you just put in the amount you want…depends on how chunky you like your soup.

      Added a couple of tablespoons of fresh basil pesto…I always have this in the fridge and we make it our selves. Get fresh basil from the produce section, remove the leaves from the stems and chop fine…I roll mine and then split the roll lengthwise and then julienne them thin. Put in an airtight container with a bit of salt, some chopped toasted sunflower seeds, and enough olive oil so it’s about the consistency of mustard. This time I used two of those little plastic things of basil…probably 4 or 6 ounces total…a couple tablespoons of sunflower seeds toasted (pine nuts are better…but they’re like $15 for 3 tablespoons now and I’m too cheap to buy many of them). Put in a couple tablespoons of finely shredded Parmesana Regianno as well.

      I also added some roasted garlic to the soup…I put in 3 cloves and I usually have this in the fridge now as well. Take 2 heads of garlic and separate and peel the cloves…basically bend them a bit in the middle so that the paper shell cracks and peel them off. Put in a small pyrex container with maybe a teaspoon of olive oil and cover with foil. Roast in the oven…I don’t do this inside the rig but carry our Breville oven outside as the whole rig will stink of garlic for days if you do it inside. I roasted them at 350 for 30 minutes then another 12 and then another 12…checking them to see if they’re done. They’re done when they’re soft and the color of caramel…not too dark. Once they cool put in an airtight container, cover with olive oil and pop them in the fridge.

      Added a little more salt and pesto to the soup and it’s done.

      Other things I might add…we make very similar soups a lot…I keep Velveeta cheese spread cut into 2 oz blocks in the freezer…just toss one of them into the pot while the liquid is heating up. Stuffed cheese tortellini or ravioli, maybe some orzo pasta, bacon (bacon is good in anything) or whatever other meat or non meat leftovers…grilled mushrooms and onions, stuffed mushrooms, cooked carrots, pretty much whatever’s leftover in the fridge.

      That’s about it for the soup recipe…well as much of a recipe as I’ve got since I mostly make it up as I go…took me maybe 15 minutes from a standing start to have it done…and as I said it’s usually made out of leftovers. The last batch I did…we had a half of a leftover carnitas burrito from a Mexican place when we were down in Zion National park…along with some pork and onions from Connie’s plate and some black beans and mole sauce from my plate. Chopped it all up, dumped in the pot after sautéing the onions, and put in chicken stock and half and half. Done.


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