Monday, October 08, 2007

Watching for Clouds

Breakfast at the Cricketwood Inn is made to order and there is no shortage of food, from eggs and bacon to cinnamon roles and creme brulee french toast. We practically roll out of there, convinced we won't need to eat for days. The drive through the Sisters Wilderness area is strikingly beautiful and we head for Black Butte, to hike and work off our breakfast. The trailhead is at 4,900 ft. and rises quickly to 6,400 ft. in less than an hour. As we climb, we can see four main mountain peaks across the valley, white from the recent snowfall and mystically moving in and out of view from the passing clouds. At the higher elevations, the trees around us are shrouded in snow, providing a sharp contrast to the golden and crimson autumn leaves. Off in the distance, the landscape is white, with branches sparkling in the occasional sunshine. It is a beautiful sight and we consider ourselves fortunate that the recent cold snap and snowstorm has left this landscape for us; I suppose the cold weather was worth it after all. After our hike, we stop alongside the Metolius River, where Ray tries his hand at fly fishing while I take a pleasant walk on the river trail. The days are getting shorter and we reluctantly leave the area, on our way toward the coast. The weather becomes quite wet as we move through the mountain passes, past Eugene and into Florence, a small coastal town.

We arrive at the Edwin K Bed and Breakfast around 10pm. The innkeeper lets us in, tells us to be quiet, and turns out all the lights downstairs. I suppose that is a hint that we should go upstairs to bed. The notebook in the room has a list of many rules and we feel as if we have entered a boarding school. Lights out at 10, breakfast at 9am sharp, don't use the white towels to remove make-up, don't use the colored towels if you have bleach-like facial cleanser, no eating in the rooms, ......... Sigh!
However, in the morning, we come down to an elegantly set table, and are treated to a 5 course breakfast, all homemade. The innkeeper is a friendly fellow, quite a chef, and with service to match. He describes the 6 pots of homemade jams and salsas, and begins with strawberry and yogurt compote. He then serves each of us a plate of spinach souffle on a bed of ham with raspberry sauce, accompanied by yummy potatoes. This is followed by fresh fruit, fresh baked nut breads, and warm scones. While we eat, he entertains us with stories about Florence and the b&b. We learn that it was an original Sears Craftsmen house built in 1914. Sears had 4 models in their catalogue and were delivered with all the pieces-beams, beveled leaded glass windows, nails etc. Sears would send someone to put it all together. This original house was 1500 sq. ft.
Florence is a charming historic town on the wharf with the best ice cream parlor in Oregon. We walk the old downtown area then leave to travel south down the coast to Gold Beach.

Gold Beach feels like home as we have been there so often. Tomorrow, we will test our luck with Greg and hopefully bring home some salmon for the year. At 8am, it is windy and cold as we get on to the boat. Greg takes his boat out and we ride up and down the mouth of the river, waiting for a bite. 2 hours later, we are still riding up and down, no bite yet, and I am frozen. We take a bathroom break and I get a cup of tea, shivering in the cold. It would be a miserable day if we didn't get a single bite. I lose on off the line, Ray catches a wild silver which he cannot keep. He loses on off the line. We eat lunch, still no fish. We pass the same boats over and over again as we all cruise back and forth, up and down that section of the river.
On one boat, a boy sleeps for more than 4hrs. We see others catching big ones, little ones, not our luck. Finally, a fish on.
It is my line and I fight to keep it on-pull up, reel down as fast as I can, pull up..... All of a sudden, the line goes loose-did I lose it? Reel, reel, reel, says Greg, and I follow his instructions. Whew, it is still there. wow, it is a big one, more than 20 pounds. What a moment-the adrenaline flows! I don't think I have ever caught one this big.

Back to our seats and we go back and forth again, but we have a story to tell the others who pass. Greg's line dips down and he hands it to me. One more big fish-its a hatchery silver and we can keep it. 2 in the cooler now. Toward afternoon, Greg hands Ray his line and Ray brings in a monster of a fish- somewhere around 35 pounds of Chinook Salmon. Lots of pictures and so much excitement. It is time to call it a day. We take the fish up to the dock and Greg cleans them for us. He gives me the recipe for caviar and we pack up to leave for home. It has been a wonderful and productive day of fishing. "Greg always comes through for us", we say.

We begin our long drive and stop to sleep at Richardson State Park among the redwoods. In the morning we head for home.
It is time for a fish feast and a caviar making session. Robert, Julia and Jen join Ma and Pa as we prepare our feast of fish head soup and fresh salmon. We eat plenty of toasted baguettes with caviar. I like Greg's recipe the best-with a hint of sake, soy and mirin. the rest of the evening is spent fileting and vacuuming packing fish--it is like a cannery. Our annual Oregon trek has given us a freezer full of salmon, enough to last us the year!


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