Examples of water stop guru Don's goodies: lunch at the fairgrounds in Corvallis: Carla's road marks leaving her camp sight....good advice!
An Odyssey it was! What a great tour! Where do I begin? At the beginning? That would be Richardson Park just west of Eugene...we pulled in after a 6 hour road trip from home to meet up with our trusty tour leader Pete and his almost all brand new crew. Marker Bob and Linda, on massage, were the only seasoned staff on this tour: our newbies included Matt on lunch, Don on water stop and Scott on luggage. Running a tour is always a challenge and the prospect of running one with an all new crew is a little daunting......but this crew proved to be stellar!
We kicked the first night off with registration and the map meeting in a glorious sun filled afternoon. The weather for the whole trip proved to be amazing....could not have asked for better conditions. After introductions and instructions we served up a salad bar dinner consisting of curried chicken salad, pasta salad, potato salad, green salad with all the trimmings, pea salad and home made cookies for dessert.
It was great to see so many friends from previous tours over the years: Bob, Jay and Eric from the Houston area: Pete and Carol from White Salmon, Washington: Carla from the map department of ACA: as well many, many new riders to the tours.
It was great to see that the average age on this tour was quite a bit younger than most of the tours that we do! We had a couple of father/daughter combos on the ride, as well a few younger couples. I would guess that the median age on the tours runs around 56+......this one came in much younger.
Day 2 on the tour broke bright and early. This was a short 39 mile day from the park to the fair grounds at Corvallis. It is a pretty ride traversing through agricultural lands of corn fields, grape orchards, acres of Christmas trees and nut orchards. Water stop was in the town of Monroe in the parking lot of the Sweetspot bakery. This tribe did a very nice job of consuming sweet rolls and pie from this quaint little stop in the road.
With a new crew I was a little concerned about the set up of the water stop and lunch stop. I try to provide enough varied foods to try and keep the stops interesting as well as giving the tribe what they need to re-fuel. I had briefed Don on the ins and outs of water stop. I gave him some suggestions as to how he could augment the presentation of the food so that the daily offerings were not mundane, boring, and tasteless. None of these applied to Don's water stops. He took the challenge with a water stop guru gusto that has been surpassed by none. With the tiki-tiki props provided by Leader Pete, he went over the top. Every day was a new surprise of what could be done with granola bars, banana bread, bagels, home made jams, bananas, peanut butter, nutella, dates and trail mix. By the end of the tour I decided he was hired for life. Not only were his creations beautiful, but they were tasty. He even challenged the tribe to a jam taste off. I provided home made strawberry, raspberry, and apricot jams for the tour. Everyone had their favorite...and I sent the tribe home with souvenir jars at the end of the tour.
Matt and Don were going to trade off lunch and water stop through out the week: but they settled into their own little culinary venues and were good to stay in their own happy place each day. I give Matt an extra pat on the back: he went above and beyond on day 5, the ride from Beachside State Park into Honeyman State Park. The tribe meandered and side tripped and played perfect tourists: he kept the lunch stop open until about 4:30.....still feeding the tribe ....when he should have been done by 2'ish.
Dinner the second night was a mini seafood feast. We did a kale and romaine salad with balsamic dressing, (kale is all the rage right now in the food world: very healthy and very green!) grilled oysters, bourbon salmon, corn on the cob, zucchini & eggplant strata with marinara sauce, and fresh strawberry shortcakes for dessert. The tribe did a good job of cleaning up the buffet......
Day 3 was one of the big ride days on the tour. We were up early to fuel the tribe with plenty of carbs and protein to get them up and over the hill from Corvallis into Lincoln City on the coast; home of the D River, shortest river in the world. French toast and scrambled eggs and 7 grain hot cereal from Wheat Montana helped round out the meal. The tribe was on the road early to find their way to Devils Lake State Park. It was a 73 mile day and a short bit of this route took the tribe onto a pretty remote road that offers a mile and a half of gravel. I believe the road department keeps it that way to keep the general tourist traffic off of it. The logging trucks use this road extensively and it proved to be a little scary at times for some of the tribe.
We had one of the tribe crash on today's route. He did go to get patched up: some pretty good road rash and soreness..nothing serious so he thought. After riding the next two days he decided that he was feeling pretty awful: a lot of pain stiffness. Come to find out he had 3 fractured vertebras in his neck....he was so so lucky that nothing worse came of this. One tough cookie.
We did not follow the route on this day: we headed up and around on the main highways and settled into camp to take Ruby Dew for a swim in the lake. We decided last minute to include Ruby on the trip. She was so pitiful while we were packing up to go: she curled up on my jacket and luggage and gave me those big, brown, sad eyes. I'm a push over. She proved to not be the big bad guard dog that she would like to think she is: the last night at Honeyman we were invaded by a family of raccoons: she snored away at the foot of the tent while Jack was out doing battle with the hose! Jack loves raccoons. NOT.
Enough for now....I am going back for a couple more minutes of sleep before I continue tackling the canning and preserving of the produce left over from the trip. I guarantee there will be zucchini relish for all next year....