© 2015 The Nielsens

Dogdander
Day Four: That’s Just Nuts! Salem to Newberg, Oregon Today’s mileage: 46 Total bike mileage so far: 161 Local Gas Prices: $3.02 in Newberg Weather: Cool and overcast Saddle Sore-o-meter reading: 0.5 Animals for the day: Alpacas Crops seen: Hops, grapes, apples, green beans, strawberries! Hazelnuts, Swiss chard or kale, feed for dairy cows, lots of flowers      A few years ago, we stopped on a bike trip at a ranger station/interpretive center where the ranger showed us a video about a huge land event that washed the topsoil off Montana and deposited it in the Columbia and Willamette River Valleys of Oregon. There is more to it, but that is the condensed version. We must be right on the receiving end of that today, because this Willamette Valley is one fertile valley. We saw lots of hazelnuts and hops, interspersed with many leafy crops. It took us a long time to decide what the hazelnuts were. We assumed they were apples (not a bad guess in this region), but after a while we noticed the ground around the trees was as flat and weed-free as a brand new parking lot. Then we could see some nuts on the ground. Berta, always willing to float a guess, thought she had heard that Oregon has a lot of hazelnuts. Later, an internet search confirmed it. There are old hazelnut trees and brand new ones for acres and acres across Oregon.      We saw an alpaca in a field on the side of the road today. He was caramel colored and had just been shorn. We commented how tidy he looked. He looked at us with big brown eyes, not sure what to think about us. Cows are more judgmental than alpaca. Cows look at us and think “Look at those crazy people with the bright clothing!”      We followed the Willamette Valley Scenic Bicycle Route today. The maps we found online looked a little complex, like there were many turns to keep track of. In reality, the country roads just made a lot of ninety-degree bends to get around the big squares of farmland. The route was marked with signs showing “WV” with a picture of a bike. That really helps for people trying to cross a state on bicycles.      We turned in to Mission State Park, knowing that this had nothing to do with Catholicism. The half-mile access road to the park was lined with wine grapes on either side. We slowed down at the pay-the-fee kiosk, but did not slow enough to pay a fee. In the parking lot, there were eight people unloading their bikes for a ride in the park. They didn’t acknowledge us. We continued to the public restrooms. We read a sign that said a cougar was spotted nearby more than a year ago. On the way out of the park, we marveled at the massive oscillating sprinkler watering the vineyard. There is no drought here!      Hops cover much of the land here, and it is hop harvest time. We stood and watched as two trucks and a specialized vehicle worked together to cut the twenty foot vines off from their

© 2015 The Nielsens

Day Four: That’s Just Nuts! Salem to Newberg, Oregon Today’s mileage: 46 Total bike mileage so far: 161 Local Gas Prices: $3.02 in Newberg Weather: Cool and overcast Saddle Sore-o-meter reading: 0.5 Animals for the day: Alpacas Crops seen: Hops, grapes, apples, green beans, strawberries! Hazelnuts, Swiss chard or kale, feed for dairy cows, lots of flowers      A few years ago, we stopped on a bike trip at a ranger station/interpretive center where the ranger showed us a video about a huge land event that washed the topsoil off Montana and deposited it in the Columbia and Willamette River Valleys of Oregon. There is more to it, but that is the condensed version. We must be right on the receiving end of that today, because this Willamette Valley is one fertile valley. We saw lots of hazelnuts and hops, interspersed with many leafy crops. It took us a long time to decide what the hazelnuts were. We assumed they were apples (not a bad guess in this region), but after a while we noticed the ground around the trees was as flat and weed-free as a brand new parking lot. Then we could see some nuts on the ground. Berta, always willing to float a guess, thought she had heard that Oregon has a lot of hazelnuts. Later, an internet search confirmed it. There are old hazelnut trees and brand new ones for acres and acres across Oregon.      We saw an alpaca in a field on the side of the road today. He was caramel colored and had just been shorn. We commented how tidy he looked. He looked at us with big brown eyes, not sure what to think about us. Cows are more judgmental than alpaca. Cows look at us and think “Look at those crazy people with the bright clothing!”      We followed the Willamette Valley Scenic Bicycle Route today. The maps we found online looked a little complex, like there were many turns to keep track of. In reality, the country roads just made a lot of ninety-degree bends to get around the big squares of farmland. The route was marked with signs showing “WV” with a picture of a bike. That really helps for people trying to cross a state on bicycles.      We turned in to Mission State Park, knowing that this had nothing to do with Catholicism. The half-mile access road to the park was lined with wine grapes on either side. We slowed down at the pay-the-fee kiosk, but did not slow enough to pay a fee. In the parking lot, there were eight people unloading their bikes for a ride in the park. They didn’t acknowledge us. We continued to the public restrooms. We read a sign that said a cougar was spotted nearby more than a year ago. On the way out of the park, we marveled at the massive oscillating sprinkler watering the vineyard. There is no drought here!      Hops cover much of the land here, and it is hop harvest time. We stood and watched as two trucks and a specialized vehicle worked together to cut the twenty foot vines off from their supports. When the team reached the end of the row, the vehicle needed to maneuver into position, so men on foot yanked on the vines and threw them into the truck beds. The other vehicle had an articulated boom that reached up and cut the twine that held up the vines. At the same time, it grabbed the vines and moved them into the truck bed. Once the team got going, it moved at a quick pace, probably five feet per second. There was a guy near the top of the cutting arm, directing it so that it clipped the twine and missed metal support wires. When the trucks were full, they zipped over to a barn for processing. We grabbed a clump of hops that were on the road. They don’t smell very strong. Yet.