Departing Crescent City, we headed north. As previously mentioned, we continued passing through some remarkably beautiful country. The road was a bit twisty, but nothing like the semi-harrowing drive across the mountains on 36, and we managed to make several stops to indulge my need to photograph. (Really, sometimes I think the best way to do one of these trips is to walk. Sometimes every twenty feet there’s something new, something seductively photogenic. Not all of it comes out as well as you initially thought it would, but…)
Passing into Oregon, the road leveled out, the land flattened a bit. Presently we came to a collection of buildings—gas station, shops, etc—called Cave Junction. As we neared the major intersection, a sign appeared.
Bridgeview Winery 4 miles →
Donna veered off the road, onto the parking lot of the gas station/convenience store, bounded over to the new road, and headed east.
A bit of history. Back in 2001 we did out first major west coast visit, flying into Oakland, renting a car, and driving up to Seattle, meandering along the way. It was a marvelous, magical trip. This current trip was partly intended to fill in some of the gaps of what we missed that time.
Anyway, after one particularly long day of driving (in Oregon) we stumbled into a hotel (somewhere) as twilight was coming on, tired and hungry. Across the parking lot was a Marie Callendar Restaurant. (Yes, just like the one we stopped at in Eureka.) Donna likes to tease me about being surprised that such a thing exists. Unlike me, she actually read the box one of their frozen dinners came in, so she was aware that the franchise began as a chain of restaurants on the west coast. I was surprised that first time, but no longer, but people in the midwest usually are surprised, and I like to play to that. What did surprise me about that first experience was (a) the quality of the food and (b) their house wine was superb. I mean, really good.
It was Bridgeview. We’ve subsequently added Bridgeview to our list of preferred wines when we have a chance to restock our cellar (modest as it is).
So here we were rumbling down a narrow road on the way to that (we hoped) very winery, a gift of serendipity.
Of course, it wasn’t four miles straight down the road. We turned south onto an even narrower road, and came finally to sprawling vineyards and a gate:
We drove into a lovely compound with a lake, wildlife, and a menagerie of impressive brass sculptures—eagles, mainly (though they lacked one thing to make their diving attack poses work to best effect: targets)—and it turned out we were the only visitors so far that day. We did a tasting, hosted by an enthusiastic woman who checked to make sure we could still find Bridgeview in Missouri, and waxed eloquent about their new vintages. (They now bottle a Gevurtstraminer that I think my mother would like—she prefers them sweet.)
I was a little disappointed to see that they have now gotten so big that they’re putting product in boxes. Not that there’s anything precisely wrong with that, but…
But the sampling was excellent. They have a fine Pinot (dark and white) and their signature cab was as good as we remember.
The landscape can change dramatically sometimes, but now it was a gradual shift from shady roads to higher mountain and then, finally, reaching I-5, which was pretty much near the crest of the chain.
The day was hot and although our air-conditioner functioned admirably, a few hours constant driving under cloudless skies wore on us. Also, long sections of the highway were paved in such a way that the road noise penetrated our bones. I could barely hear anything Donna said. It gnawed on our nerves and by the time we got just north of Redding we were frazzled. We paused at one more rest stop before the final leg into Redding, and there Donna made a special moment with the seabirds that came this far inland for tourist forage. She had a bag of Doritos and conducted a gathering flock in an elegant little dance.
We drove the rest of the way into Redding. Between the road and the heat, we weren’t going much farther. At the first exit with a hotel sign, we pulled off and found a Fairfield Inn squirreled away in an industrial court. Donna wanted a room and food, the sooner the better.
I walked up to the counter and inquired about a vacancy. “Absolutely. We have a king.” She looked at me. “You aren’t a member of AARP, are you? No, of course not.”
“I’m not, but I qualify.”
She blinked. “If you were, I could give you the senior discount. But…you aren’t even fifty, are you?”
I produced my ID. “Well, you sure take care of yourself! Tell you what, I’ll give it to you anyway.”
I unloaded the car quickly and asked about food. Dill’s Deli was right across the road. I ushered Donna into a very open space that was more cafeteria than regular dining, but it smelled good and the portions were ample.
Sitting there, however, I became aware of the signage. Even the napkin holder at our table boasted a very pro-NRA affiliation. FOX News was on the monitors and it just felt like a somewhat right of center place, but when you’re tired and hungry, what’s the difference? It was barbeque and it was good.
That night was the first time since we’d landed that we watched any television. I channel-surfed and found a local show, guitarist Ed Ballantine hosting a blues pianist in discussion and some jams. In some ways it felt like we’d experienced a good weekend all in that day.
“Good night, Mark.”