Black Butte Ranch

5 02 2018

blackbutte1 Black Butte Ranch, nestled in Central Oregon near the town of Sisters, developed in the 1970s on the property of the former Black Butte cattle ranch. Although it sounds like a place straight out of a western movie, Black Butte Ranch offers amenities that secure it as a leading resort. Its eight square miles encompasses stables, golf courses, tennis courts, playgrounds, and outdoor basketball and volleyball courts. Swimming pools and hot tubs located both inside and outside offer views, slides, and water features. Additional indoor amenities include restaurants, stores, and a spa. Besides the quiet road system, miles of paved walking and biking paths deliver guests to every part of the ranch. They wind across expansive meadows, between rocky lava outcrops, and through Ponderosa Pine, Incense Cedar, and Quaking Aspen forests.

blackbutte6The privately owned homes and vacation rentals accommodate a range of budgets and groups from personal getaways to reunions, corporate retreats, and wedding parties. Black Butte Ranch supplies its own post office, police and fire stations. It allows public access to restaurants, stables, and golf courses, but restricts the rest for seasonal guests and residents. Black Butte Ranch is open all year. For more information, go to

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Alpenrose Dairy

13 07 2017

Alpenrose Dairy is more than a working dairy farm. Shade trees and a farm backdrop provide an ideal location for picnicking in the white gazebo or at the several picnic tables dotting its manicured grounds. Finish your meal or your stroll around the farm with a scoop or two from the old-fashioned ice cream parlor.

Get lost in Dairyville for the afternoon by walking on the frontier boardwalk and exploring this western-themed town showcasing a pioneer exhibit, bank, schoolhouse, and model train display among other vintage businesses. Dairyville is free and open from 1-4 p.m. on Sundays in the summer.

The farm also hosts the Girls’ Little League Softball World Series, 4-H groups, movies in the old opera house, an Easter egg hunt, Christmas in Dairyville including Storybook Lane, and races on the famous velodrome track and midget race car track.

Alpenrose Dairy began over a century ago by the Cadonau family, and over six generations continue running the business today. The Cadonaus originally came from Switzerland, naming Alpenrose after the Swiss national flower. This humble family farm began hosting community events in the mid-20th century that grew to become beloved Portland traditions.

Alpenrose Dairy is located at 6149 SW Shattuck Road in Portland, Oregon. For information on Alpenrose Dairy products and seasonal events, visit



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Flying M Ranch

17 09 2016

img_8495-1I love visiting Yamhill County, Oregon where picturesque farms, majestic vineyards, and quaint towns reside. Yamhill, one such homey town within this small county, nestles near the Coast Range between Interstate 5 and U.S. Highway 101. For decades, my destination to Yamhill has been the Flying M Ranch where I’ve camped, hiked, swam, ridden horses, and enjoyed quintessential ranch breakfasts. It also hosts a private airport and a popular wedding venue. Flying M Ranch is open all year, so pay them a visit and enjoy the county’s scenery along your way. Find them at 23029 NW Flying M Road, Yamhill, Oregon 97148,,, or (503) 662-3222.

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Crescent Moon Ranch

9 09 2015

IMG_1655-copyAn Alpaca herd grazing along the highway caught my family’s attention while traveling through Central Oregon. The emerald pastures and quaint 1911 white farmhouse of Crescent Moon Ranch incited an impromptu visit. Crescent Moon Ranch gleams like a jewel among the high desert’s craggy lava rocks, Juniper trees, and tumbleweed. The Cascade Mountain Range’s Three Sisters and Mt. Jefferson, and Oregon’s beloved Smith Rock flank the ranch’s famous Alpacas.

Owners Scott and Debbie Miller welcome visitors at Crescent Moon Ranch and encourage guests to hand-feed the Alpacas, stroll along their pastures, and shop in The Alpaca Boutique, a former potato cellar. The Alpaca Boutique sells a variety of products including Alpaca clothing and home accessories, and other non-fleece mementos of a ranch visit. Shorn each spring, Alpacas produce 22 colors of fleece considered one of the softest and rarest natural fibers worldwide. Their fleece is even hypoallergenic.

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Crescent Moon Ranch set two world records when it separately bought and sold the most expensive Alpacas. The Millers’ championship breeding program includes breeding, raising, boarding, buying and selling Alpacas. Alpacas originated in mountainous regions of South America, providing warmth and revenue from their fleece, and as a food source. These herbivores are part of the camel family and cousins to llamas. Only two breeds of Alpacas exist. The common Huacaya breed’s crimped fleece resembles the classic Teddy Bear. The rare Suri breed’s fleece grows into long ropes similar to Dred Locks.

Experts describe Alpacas as gentle, intelligent, and shy. They reproduce one cria (baby Alpaca) per year during their lifespan of 15-20 years. The average adult weighs 125-175 pounds and measures 32-38 inches at its withers. The average cria weighs 15-20 pounds and nurses for six months, with mama already pregnant within a few weeks of each birth.

IMG_1701My family arrived at Crescent Moon Ranch in time to witness two simultaneous births in the pasture, from pregnancy to first wobbly steps. The newborn pictured is Ophelia’s handsome little guy. He was strong and determined to stand up despite the common interference of his curious herd. Crescent Moon Ranch and its visitors will enjoy seeing his personality develop!

Crescent Moon Ranch and the boutique are open for visitors daily from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at 7566 N Hwy. 97 in Terrebonne, Oregon. The mailing address is PO Box 600, Terrebonne, OR 97760. For information, go to or call (541) 923-2285.

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Fossils Found at Beverly Beach State Park

26 06 2015

IMG_9946Beverly Beach State Park inhabits the north end of Newport, Oregon on the iconic Highway 101. Pacific Northwesterners flock to Beverly Beach for its ideal camping and day-use facilities, to catch a glimpse of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, and to regale on its picturesque beach. Two paths extending from the parking lot and nearest campground lead visitors under the highway bridge, over smooth cobblestone-like rocks, and onto an expanse of white sand dotted with piles of driftwood.

IMG_9949As if Beverly Beach State Park isn’t a find in itself, it conceals treasures unique to this Pacific Coast location. Poke around the driftwood and discover debris from Japan’s 2011 Tsunami tangled amid the ocean’s offerings. Please be respectful and mindful of the posted regulations regarding tsunami debris. Most beachcombers literally step over the most fascinating additions to collections: Fossils. Embedded among those rocks disrupting a clear path to the water’s edge lie thousands of ancient fossils etched into or forming stony figures. Even the most amateur paleontologists cannot miss these numerous fossils if they slow down and observe on the way to their coastal destination.

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The Stone House

25 02 2015

IMG_9243The Stone House in Portland, Oregon resembles the remains of a fairy tale cottage nestled in the woods along a creek. Ferns grow from its mossy, cobbled wall ending at steps leading to the upper level. Empty, stone-ledged windows accent the arched doorways and draw the eye toward a peaked roofline open to the sky. A lower-level entrance draws visitors inside a dark, windowless room coated in graffiti and condensation. The Stone House transports admirers to another era.

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) built this landmark in the mid-1930s during the Great Depression as a public restroom for hikers. The Stone House functioned as a beloved rest stop until the Columbus Day Storm of 1962. Irreversible storm damage along with continual vandalism forced the city to gut the interior and leave it in disrepair. Locals nicknamed it the Witch’s Castle. Its shell still stands in Forest Park. Forest Park encompasses over 5,000 acres and 80 miles of trails, making it the largest urban forest park in America. This seven-mile stretch of forest reserve lies west of downtown Portland in the Tualatin Mountains, also called the West Hills.

A brief stroll along the Upper Macleay Trail or the Lower Macleay Trail gets visitors to the Stone House in less than a mile either way. Committed hikers may access the house from the Wildwood Trail originating at Washington Park. The Upper Macleay Trailhead parking lot is next to the Audubon Society of Portland that merits its own visit. The Upper Macleay Trail switchbacks down a gulch, crosses over and follows Balch Creek.

Balch Creek is named after Danford Balch, the original landowner and the first man to be legally executed in Oregon. Mr. Balch hanged for shooting and murdering his new son-in-law on November 18, 1858 just 14 days after his eldest daughter rebelliously eloped with the family’s hired hand, Mortimer Stump. The property then changed owners many times until Donald Macleay gave a portion of it to the city of Portland in 1897 for a park to be enjoyed by all.


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Multnomah Falls in Winter

8 01 2015

IMG_8857Multnomah Falls, the most visited recreation site in the Pacific Northwest and Oregon’s most visited natural attraction, welcomes over 2 million people annually. It remains the tallest waterfall in Oregon throughout the year at 620 feet, being fed by underground springs from nearby Larch Mountain, melting snowpack from the Cascade Mountain Range, and plenty of rainfall. The majority of visitors flock to Multnomah Falls during warmer months even though it stays open all year, and each season provides its own charm, but my family also makes the trek every winter hoping to catch the falls clothed in ice. This glacial wonderland compels one to stare in awe.

Spray from the 542-foot upper and 69-foot lower falls freezes into crystal shards and frosty white sheets against jagged cliffs that flank the waterfall and bottom pool. Creeks that trickle from the sides form icy bubbles over mossy rocks, bare branches and sword ferns. The trailhead view satisfies enough, but meander the paved foot trail a quarter mile up to the 45-foot long 1914 Benson Footbridge that spans the lower falls. Peer down 105 feet to the lower falls or observe the upper falls intimately as its spray engulfs you in an arctic shower and inflicts a frigid blast. Be cautious of slippery concrete and continue on the path nearly an additional mile to a platform overlooking the falls in its entirety, a dizzying perspective of the drop along with an Eagle-eye panorama of the Columbia River and Gorge, the Union Pacific Railroad, and the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge built in 1925.

This path leading to the platform divides toward Multnomah Creek (one of my favorite spots to picnic) and adjoins trail systems throughout the Columbia River Gorge. Unless you are prepared for a lengthy winter hike, head back down to the day-Lodge area and warm up. You’ll find the Multnomah Falls Lodge Restaurant, a gift shop, espresso bar, snack bar, Interpretive Center, and public restrooms. You won’t leave hungry or empty-handed.

Multnomah Falls is located off I-84 between Troutdale and Cascade Locks or along the 1913 Historic Columbia River Highway, the first highway in America named a National Historic Landmark. Parking is plentiful and a Northwest Forest Pass is not required. Pets are welcome and the Leash Law applies.

Simon Benson, a philanthropist who left his mark on Oregon, donated land that encompasses Multnomah Falls, financed projects including his namesake bridge, and constructed the HCRH Scenic Byway that is a must-do if possible. The HCRH provides several features on the National Register of Historic Places such as unique bridges, viewpoints, recreation sites, rare plants and creatures, and numerous waterfalls. The road itself is a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. But enough of the titles, just go if you can!


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