Day 1 – Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway – Champoeg to Salem

Yesterday morning, Keith and Joanette drove us to Champoeg State Park on the Willamette River, about 30 minutes drive from downtown Portland.

Champoeg was a town in what was then Oregon Country, a disputed area that both England and the United States claimed. In 1843 area residents, meeting in Champoeg, voted 52-50 to petition the US government to establish a provisional government . It took two years for the petition to reach Washington and in 1846 Oregon treaty settled the land dispute and Oregon became a US territory, but Champoeg was passed over as the capital.

In 1861 the town was destroyed when the Willamette River rose 55 feet above flood stage, washing away most of the structures, and they were were never rebuilt.

But today it was important to Bill and me. It is the Northern terminus of the Willamette Scenic Bike Bikeway. Bill and I will bike along scenic backroads and lanes back to our campsite at Armitage County Park. We will take four riding days to cover the 134 miles. Our first day we logged 35.81 miles.

Yesterday, our ride was divided into two parts, the first along lightly traveled roads through a very diverse agricultural area, with many varieties of fruit and nut trees and two vey important crops: hops and hemp.

Hops vines are strung vertically high above the ground.

You can see the hop cones, almost ready for harvest.

And the other interesting crop is

hemp, a cousin to cannabis. When we first saw the plants, I thought it odd that they were out in the open, unfenced and unprotected. Although very valuable commercially, they have no benefit to someone looking for a cheap high.

We rode past all the various fields on our way to the Wheatland Ferry, where we crossed the Willamette River to visit a couple of wineries and the Willamette Cheese Factory.

It was a quick ride across and then the first winery was just up the road to the right. Arcane Cellars, a great little winery, right on the Willamette River.

Very rarely do Bill and I think every wine at a tasting is worth taking home, but Arcane wines did just that. But on bikes, we had to choose. Their Rogue Valley Tempranillo was the winner.

Our next stop was Stangeland

Here, we met the winemaker and tasted a few wines. Because we were on the bikes, we shared one tasting at each place. Again we found the wines to be well crafted and selected another tempranillo for purchase. I wasn’t quite as impressed as at Arcane.

Just across the road was our last stop for the day,

Home of some great tasting hand-crafted cheeses. We tasted several cheeses and ended up taking four with us. It is a challenge to keep the cheese cool in our saddle bags.

Getting back on the bikes we had a challenging 5 miles before we picked up a bike lane again. Our deviation to visit the wineries and cheese factory had taken us off the bikeway and onto a busy highway shoulder.

The last few miles were across Salem and by the State Capitol.

The statue at the top is not a specific person but an artistic representation of the Oregon pioneer.

We arrived at Century House BnB and was greeted by Jean, an enthusiastic biker. She told us at breakfast that she has biked in 38 of the states.

Jean was a great host and was very attentive to make our stay comfortable. The welcoming butterscotch cookies were particularly well received.

After a little down time we walked to dinner and crossed the campus of Willamette University, was where we passed these huge Sequoia trees. I thought they must have been there when the university was founded in 1842, but surprisingly they were planted 100 years later in 1942 in celebration of the university’s centennial.

After a great night’s sleep, we had breakfast with Jean and the other two guests and were on our way to Albany, Oregon, a planned 42 mile day.

Bill waiting for breakfast to begin.

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