A park ranger works like it's 1845 in garden at Champoeg State Park.
Catholic Sentinel staff know what it's like to live on a budget. Here, they offer some of their favorite Oregon sites that won't empty your pocketbook. They've included a place to go to Mass.
Cave Junction, Southern Oregon Unblemished by strip malls and suburban McMansions, Cave Junction in Southern Oregon is surrounded by natural beauty. The town itself has an authentic, historic feel, and is surprisingly diverse. Though Josephine County has long been home to loggers and farmers, the county’s solitude and laid-back pace has also attracted back-to-the-landers and other free spirits. It’s the kind of place where you can pick up gun ammo and a kombucha scoby at same local store. Home to fewer than 2,000 residents, the city is in the foothills of the Siskiyou Mountains on Highway 199, halfway between Grants Pass and Crescent City. The most interesting accommodations by far are the treehouse resorts, Out ‘n’ About Treesort and Vertical Horizons Treehouse Paradise. With names like “Majestree” or “Serendipitree,” the houses are built anywhere from 10 to 100 feet off the ground. Some are even plumbed and wired for electricity. Hiking, fishing and camping spots are abundant and beautiful. During wild mushroom seasons, hunters trek into the woods to forage for the highly prized boletes, chantrelles, matsutakes and morels. Fry them with butter and eat on a crusty baguette. A long drive up a zigzagged road drops visitors at the Oregon Caves National Monument. Guided tours are $8.50 per adult, and $6 per child, and are scheduled on a first-come first-served basis. The marble formations are awesome. Don’t drop your flashlight. Masses are at St. Patrick of the Forest Church at 11 a.m., Sundays, 407 W River St., Cave Junction, 541-592-3658. — Clarice Keating, staff writer
Champoeg I lounged happily under a signature Oregon white oak, watching a woman in pioneer garb churn butter. She wiped her damp brow with a cepia-colored apron, noticed my languid smile, and promptly handed me the churn. "Your turn," she said. I guess loafing warranted no truck in the 1840s. For those of you who like a little history in your vacation and a little money left in your pocket, it's hard to beat Champoeg State Heritage Area. Though less than an hour from Portland, Champoeg is 170 years from modernity. The landscape alone is a treat. The area contains one of the Willamette Valley's largest patches of oak savannah. You can play disc golf under the gnarled behemoths, which look like the offspring of giant bodybuilders and ballet dancers. A bike trail links the old 1840s townsite to the campground (yurts and cabins available) and then follows the Willamette a few miles to Butteville, where a store from the 19th century serves pie, ice cream and candy sticks like pioneer children must have relished. This route can be covered without hearing or seeing freeways. The museum in the park features short films and artifacts like the wheel of a riverboat that once transported passengers on the river. A plaza near the old townsite marks the spot where Oregon Trail settlers met many times to discuss problems like menacing wolves. It was those "wolf meetings" that gave shape to the civil codes of the region. At Champoeg in 1843, settlers voted on a provisional government and sought to make Oregon a U.S. territory. A stone marker occupies the site, which includes plenty of benches and quiet. An 1861 flood — a startling 55 feet above normal levels — wiped out the town. Many settlers had already packed up for the California Gold Rush. In the summer on weekend, park staff dress in period garb and show how an 1840s farm worked. There may be French Canadian voyageurs milling about. Visitors can winnow wheat with a farmer from the past. A lucky few may be required to churn butter. But it's worth it when the pioneer farmwife comes out with fresh bread and a table knife. Mass at nearby historic St. Paul Church, built in 1846, is at 6 p.m. Saturdays, and 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Sundays. — Ed Langlois, staff writer
Dufur If you are looking for a peaceful and relaxing weekend, the perfect destination will be Dufur, a little town off the eastern Columbia River Gorge. An hour and 40 minutes east of Portland, Dufur takes you away from the cold. There is plenty of sun and warmth in Dufur, making it an excellent location for spring, summer and fall outdoor weddings, reunions, bike trips, or a romantic getaway. Come with a good book and rest. There are also wineries, like Maryhill, Dry Hollow Vineyards, Cathedral Ridge Winery, Pheasant Valley Winery and Marchesi Vineyards. Dufur, home to about 600 souls, takes you to the Old West. The beauty of the land brings the farm community alive — wheat, tree fruit and grapes keep the local economy going. Also nearby are art museums, golf, hiking, shopping, biking, rafting and fishing. But the highlight of a visit to Dufur is a stay in the historic Balch Hotel. It takes you back in time: No televisions, phones or elevators. It is a perfect place to relax and be in touch with nature. The view of Mount Hood is like a painting. Over the weekends there is a 25-percent discount and the price per room includes a fabulous breakfast family style in the dinning room. Enjoy the big patio and have a picnic on the grounds as you marvel at Mount Hood. The hotel was built in 1907 by Charles Balch, a local rancher and druggist. The bricks used were made on his ranch. When it opened, rooms cost 50 cents to $1.25, touting “hot and cold water in every room, electric lights and steam heat.” Restoration is continuing. The third floor suite boasts a Mount Hood view and private bath with whirlpool tub. St. Alphonsus Church in town has Mass in the summer Saturdays at 7 p.m. and in the winter Sundays at 8:30 a.m. — Rocio Rios, editor of El Centinela
Jordan Valley It doesn't take a person long to walk through Jordan Valley. The city located in the southeast corner of Oregon covers only a little more than two square miles, but it's the mysterious lunar-like juniper landscape, nearby attractions and interesting history that will pique curiosities. Incorporated in 1911 as a city, Jordan Valley is considered by many to be the burial place of Sacagawea's son Jean Baptiste Charbonneau. Besides the city's connection to the history of the Oregon Trail, right in the middle of town stands a pelota fronton, or Basque handball court. The court was built in 1915 by Basque settlers, many of whom had been recruited from their homeland near Spain to herd sheep in the area. Go on walkabout down the road past St. Bernard Catholic Church in Jordan Valley, and you'll still find many of their descendants as well as old mine shafts, creeks and sprawling grasslands folks nearby use to feed their cattle herds. A short drive from Jordan Valley provides visitors with Leslie Gulch, an impressive rock canyon on the east side of Owyhee Lake, whose rock formations are made of tuff, a type of rock consisting of consolidated volcanic ash ejected from vents during a volcanic eruption speaking to the area's geological history. Locals say never enter the gulch without plenty of water, food and blankets. A popular destination for rock climbers, its mysterious formations while pleasant to the eye, may bewilder a weary traveler; particularly one without a GPS. Mass at St. Bernard Church in Jordan Valley is at 5 p.m. on Sundays. — Jon DeBellis, news editor
Central coast If your idea of a trip to the Oregon coast is a visit to Seaside’s arcade and souvenir main drag, or finding your spot on the crowded beach at Haystack Rock, then we need to talk. By traveling a bit further south, there’s the “real” coast, the stuff of coffee table books and postcards. About three hours from Portland and two from Eugene is a stretch of rocky cliffs, beaches and small coastal towns between Florence and Newport on U.S. 101. Near Yachats (“Ya-hots”) is Devil’s Churn — a natural wave funnel — and Heceta Head lighthouse (fun climb to the top). Don’t forget Cape Perpetua nearby, where for just $5 you can park your car in an old-growth forest and walk out to a covered shelter for photo opportunities your relatives in Iowa only dream about. For a taste of local fare, have lunch at LunaSea in Yachats, where dishes come from locally caught halibut, cod and salmon — easily the best fish-n-chips around. Along the eight-mile drive north to Waldport, campgrounds offer overnight accommodations, picnicking and long stretches of beach. Family-run motels and bed-and-breakfasts along the way are another, more cozy option that offer budget-friendly winter rates. Visit www.coastvisitor.com for a great list. In Waldport, cruise the flea market, shops and experience the quirky, colorful culture of this small beach town. Rent a motored rowboat (541-563-2003), crab pots and bait at the town dock, and putter around the bay for delicious quarry. Top salmon fishing up the Alsea river is there for the sportsman in you. Before heading inland on U.S. 20 from Newport, visit the Oregon Aquarium and get up-close and personal with sea lions, sharks and otters – oh my! Call 541-867-3474 or visit www.aquarium.org for rates and hours. Sack lunches are welcome. Mass at St. Anthony Church in Waldport takes place at 5 p.m. Saturdays and 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Sundays. — Bob Jaques, advertising representative