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re Corvallis (Archives)
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Fri, April 13 2007 - 12:04 pm





November 26, 2007

I'm back in Corvallis for the week, and it is cold! Frosty! The combination of flowers, cobwebs, and frost is really something! Unfortunately, one picture went untaken (A dried-up frosty yellow rosebud with a frosted cobweb for a back-drop.) I tried to take it but my batteries died. A couple of hours later, with fresh batteries in my camera, and the frost had melted, making the cobweb almost invisible. Well. Maybe I'll venture out on another frosty morning soon....

Word at the coffee shop (The Red Horse) is that this Friday evening, November 30, there is a little celebration happening here. It entails a tent in downtown Corvallis and some good food and champagne served by the locals for an entry fee. I'll have to give the poster that originally caught my attention another look to get more details for you. Sounds like fun! Too bad I'll be on my way out of town!

The Benton County Courthouse is all dolled up for Christmas. I'll try to get a picture up for you. Don't know when, but I'll aim for before Christmas!

October 31, 2007

It has been a month since I have written anything about Corvallis, mostly because I have not been there. But I know a couple of people who work at the First Alternative Co-op, and it occurred to me that potential visitors and residents of the town should hear about it.

Yes! There is a local health-oriented place to buy your groceries and delicatessen items! This is pretty impressive for a town the size of Corvallis and really reflects Oregon's tradition of respect for the environment, internal and external.

There is a great quilt shop and a store that sells Birkenstock shoes and great socks. (You can get wonderful socks at the Co-op, too.)

There is also a Farmer's Market in Corvallis, where I bought the crispest apples I have ever had in my life (Liberty apples.) I wanted to buy more, but got a job that kept me from going again. The man who sold them to me said you can tell how crisp an apple is by holding it up to your ear and tapping it. I forget what it sounds like - I guess I'll have to learn again by trial and error - or by going back for a visit to wonderful Corvallis!

September 21, 2007

Well, sadly, I am no longer in Corvallis. While I was there I bought a digital camera and took a few more pictures, concentrating more this time on the Central Park area, about 1/2 mile (I think) from the campus of OSU. (The first set were taken with an Advantix camera, which unfortunately broke. Maybe it got sandy at the beach!)

I did take some ocean beach pictures but I have limited the photos I put in the website to Corvallis proper.

Just be aware, those who are thinking of Corvallis as a place to live and/or go to school, Corvallis is only an hour away from the Pacific Ocean and an hour away from the Cascades! (In opposite directions.) And it is on the Willamette River! Lots of natural beauty around. These photos are just a little intro to the charms of the town.

September 17, 2007

A little geographical note for newcomers to Corvallis:

The west coast can be really confusing for those of us from the Midwest and other inland places. We are used to the main drag of town having an east/west orientation. Here in Corvallis, as in many other west coast cities, the main traffic flow through town is north/south.

On top of that, there are two highway 99s in Oregon. 99E is not highway 99 heading east, it is highway 99 on the east side of the Willamette River. You can go north or south on this highway. Similarly, 99W is a two-directional (north and south) highway on the west side of the Willamette River.

This particular naming system is the first of its kind I have ever encountered and only took me about two years to sort out! (Don't tell me - really I have heard of maps!)

An interesting fact about Junction City, which I have written before about visiting by bike: it is so named because that is where 99E and 99W meet.

(When I rode my bike there, I took Bellefountain and other roads down, Peoria Road back. I had to get on the highway for a couple of miles, but avoided it as much as possible.)

Do not think if you get on the wrong highway, you can just turn around and go in the other direction. Sometimes bridges across the Willamette River seem few and far between!

September 8, 2007

Corvallis has a glorious day for the Quilts in the Garden Walk sponsored by Mary's River Quilt Guild! Couldn't be better! For a blend of magnificent quilts and magnificent garden, my choice would have to be the Queen's Ave. display, but all the sites we visited were worthwhile!

One of the homes displaying quilts and other crafts was on Pilkington Ave. A large Italianate home, it was originally Judge Woodcock's home, built around 1870 or so on the corner of 5th and Jackson. When it was threatened with destruction a century later, a smart citizen bought it for $4500 and moved it out of town where it now stands, looking as beautiful as it ever could have. Rose, the present owner, is kind enough to allow occasional tours of her home, which has big beautiful windows lots of interesting architectural detail, and ceilings of palatial height!

This is a house that definitely would have been on the Corvallis Walking Tour, but it has been moved out of walkingtour range!

September 6, 2007

Another glorious day in Corvallis. I walked along the south side of Central Park and saw a collection of asters such as I have never seen in my life! A glorious assortment of pinks and purples, many of them as tall as I am.

Went to a few more quilt exhibits. One at the library was of great variety in size and styles of quilts. Take the time to walk around a little when you return your books!

Quilts by Susan Johnson are featured at Talisman Jewelers. The jewelers have taken pains to feature jewelry that plays off the quilts (and vice versa). The often jewel-like quilts actually set off the merchandise with better interplay than I have seen before. If I had had $500 extra dollars I would not have been able to resist some of their unusual and appealing custom creations!

The main concourse of the Student Union Building at OSU has some fantastic pieces also. Do take the time to visit!

September 4, 2007

Reporting from Corvallis, Oregon, here. I walked downtown along Country Club Road from 49th St., passing what used to be a big white house with a huge sequoia tree in the front yard. House and sequoia - gone. In place of them and the community gardens that used to be there is a housing development and park with a mosaic of children playing, graced by what I can only call a memorial squash! From sequoia to squash. Oh, and the housing development is called "The Gardens," thus joining all the other developments that should be called "Used-to-be the Gardens, Used-to-be the Meadows, Used-to-be Quail Run" etc. sad cetera.

Downtown I was reminded (by a collection of quilts in Olufson Designs called Auf dem Huhnerhof (In the Chicken Yard) that not only is there a quilt and garden show Saturday, but all over Benton County there are quilt shows in stores, libraries, and educational institutions to celebrate Quilt County 2007! Students who have quilting aficionados in the family might want to make them aware of this wonderful quilt celebration!

One word of warning - you might wait to see the quilts on the second day listed at any given location. Two displays I tried to see today were just in the process of going up! And me, not too long ago I was glorying in how relaxed the West is! Well, it is, so relax!

August 15, 2007

Yay! I'm coming to Corvallis September 1! I get to see the quilt and garden walk on September 8th (weather permitting.)

Maybe I'll see you there!

July 20, 2007

The Quilts in the Garden walk is on in Corvallis for Saturday, September 8, 2007 from 10 -4, weather permitting! Should be fun! For more info and a map, see www.marysriverquiltguild.org.

July 19, 2007

The other day I was thinking about gay rights, and it made me remember something about Corvallis that I might not have thought to mention in my walking tours, but that made me really proud to live in Benton County, Oregon! (Too bad I ended up leaving six months later!)

In March 2004 Benton County, following the lead of San Francisco and (I think) Portland, started issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

Banned from doing this by the State pending resolution of the issue by higher authority, Benton County had a stroke of genius. Rather than treat their citizens unfairly, they stopped issuing marriage licenses at all!

Unfortunately, I think the state government supported the ban on gay marriages. But for one brief moment of time, Benton County's citizens were all equal, at least with regards to one issue.

I don't say ultimately, because I believe that ultimately people will come to see that sexual preference really should not matter with regards to civil rights in civil union. If it offends, take the word "marriage" out of the laws regarding civil union. If marriage is sacred, it is not part of the purview of our government anyway - that is, if you believe in the Constitution!

June 4, 2007

A tour I hope you get a chance to take this summer is the Quilt and Garden Tour I enjoyed there, probably in the summer of 2003. It was too wide-spread for a walking tour, but I would have been able to see it all by bike if I hadn't wasted an hour or so getting lost!

It included an elegant garden in the foothills, a quilt show in a park alongside a huge lavendar garden (the garden was big, not the plants) where you could buy lavendar lemonade (a memorable treat!), and small intimate shade gardens. Each garden was festooned with quilts - a double draw for people with the same interests as I!

The Quilt and Garden Tour is sponsored by Mary's River Quilt Guild and this year it is scheduled for Saturday, September 8th. More details of the tour should be up on their website www.marysriverquiltguild.org within a week or so.

May 19, 2007under pictures. I lost them for a while, and now they are in crazy arrangement. You may have to go back and forth some to see them all. Hopefully soon they will be more aesthetically arranged! There are a couple new ones there, though.

May 16, 2007

Remember, this month Corvallis is celebrating its history! It's a great time to visit Corvallis and see if you want to live there or go to school there and enjoy the historical tours! There are a couple of tours scheduled for this coming weekend, and other events will happen through at least the middle of June.

When I was working at Flowerland in Corvallis I met a young man named Fabian (he had long hair, too!) who was promoting the idea of victory gardens, but for environmental reasons. He sold us seeds, so he might have been from Victory Seeds. I'm not sure that name isn't appropriate in its original sense now, considering the war in Iraq.

It's not too late in Corvallis to start growing some food that otherwise might have to be shipped to you! For more information about the victory gardens near Corvallis, google victory gardens Oregon. I'm sure you will find help if you want to try your hand at gardening. Even a small space can be exploited for the sake of the dinner table!

April 20, 2007

Corvallis used to be called Marysville, but the name was changed because there was a Marysville in California on the same stage routes and that caused confusion. (Can you imagine that happening now? There's got to be a Peru in every state in the Midwest!) But I'm glad it did. Mary is way common, and Corvallis, I believe is unique. Let me know if I'm wrong.

When I was living in Corvallis I heard various tales that I never got to substantiate so I'll pass them along. Walking along the path by Mary's River once, I encountered someone who told me about ghosts that hang around there. He swore he heard a bloodcurdling yell one night. Anyone else hear about a Mary's River ghost, or was that a still-living homeless person trying to defend his territory?

The same person told me there are Native American mounds somewhere near the vicinity of Avery Park and Mary's River. I never really got a clear notion of what is where South of Avery Park and unfortunately I don't get to Corvallis often now.

If you google Corvallis Walking Tours and click on Benton Historical Society you can see a list of walking tours scheduled for May of this year in Corvallis. It sounds like alot of fun! If you're planning a visit to Corvallis, May is a great time of year there anyway. Blossoms galore!

April 13, 2007

Hello! I have decided to make it easier for Corvallis-oriented people to read the Corvallis stuff without wading through all the other stuff that I write daily under Rumilluminations. From now on, if I write about Corvallis I will use this space.

There is supposedly a ferry that goes across the Willamette River downstream from Corvallis. I read an article in the local paper that mentioned it is free to bicyclists (and pedestrians, I think). What fun, I thought, so I began to ride in that direction (north). I only had time for that one exploratory ride and got lost, or didn't go near the 20 or so miles necessary to get there. Just bringing it up because it might be fun. (Get good instructions!)

In A Walk in the Woods Bill Bryson talks about an Appalachian Trail hiker who was always getting lost. I can relate to that guy! I was always getting lost in Oregon. The Benton County roads had cool little green-and-white road signs with so many directions they were sometimes evocative of a bottle brush. But often sites where you would expect more official helps like maps and signs were curiously hard to find. I often wondered whether Oregon really wanted to keep its cool places secret. On the other hand, of the Oregon I saw, almost all of it was cool!

Oh, I forgot to say, as I remember the ferry was called the Buena Vista Ferry.

April 3, 2007

One day in Corvallis, Oregon I decided to ride my bike to Junction City to see the Swedish Festival there. It's helpful to have a special reason for getting exercise; even a long walk is inspired by a destination, if only an illusory or imaginary one.

On this particular beautiful day in September I headed west toward Philomath on the bike path and south on Bellefountain Road. The highlight of the ride was not a sight or event, but a smell! Riding along an ordinary-looking green field, I was hit by a warm wave of mint. Intoxicating, really - especially since I wasn't expecting it. It must have been freshly harvested to pack such a wallop!

The Festival was fun. There were handicrafts I had never seen before (woudn't it be fun to sweep with a brightly colored hand-painted broomstick?) The meal and entertainment I got were well worth the ride.

I just love being around small crowds enjoying a common activity, even if I am alone. I enjoy simultaneous autonomy and entertainment, basking in the warmth of humanity without the push-me-pull-you that 'companionship' so often seems to entail.

Admittedly, this is an acquired taste. Good company would be preferable. I have just learned that not many people really want to go on a seventy mile bike ride in one day!

Me neither. I spent the night in a Junction City hotel, where they kindly allowed me to park my bike in the laundry room overnight. The next morning I rode back to Corvallis on the east side of the Willamette.

Try Corvallis - Junction City - Corvallis as a day trip if you have a road bike!

March 29, 2007

Anyone out there besides me frequently being sexually misunderstood?

One time when I was living in Corvallis I took the bike path to Philomath, where a quilt exhibit was showing at the Benton County Museum. It was part of a county-wide quilt show. Quilts could turn up in stores, the library - anywhere!

After enjoying the museum and its displays, I headed to the bathrooms, which were on the second floor. The ladies' room was occupied, so I stood there looking out the window and whistling.

A short while later, an elderly gentleman and his wife emerged from their respective bathrooms and headed down the stairs. As they descended, I heard the man say, "Whistling outside the restrooms. If that isn't a come-on, I don't know what is."

Good lord! Did he get that from 1940's romantic comedy? Or from that old saw, "Whistling girls and crowing hens always come to some bad ends?" What a laugh!

I could give more instances, but mostly they are too subtle to make good stories. I'll tell my story about my cross-country busride another time.

Anybody else have such a tale? I'd love to hear it. 219-263-6528.

March 24, 2007

Well, nobody can accuse the U.S. of not taking care of business. Since I started writing in corvalliswalkingtours.com again I have received two business credit card offers and no personal responses at all. Of course, if these business people had really perused the site, they would know that I don't have walking tours in Corvallis. I just thought it could be a fun way to earn a little pin money, started to do the ground work, and then moved away.

In Santa Fe, New Mexico (where I lived for almost thirty years) there was a man who gave walking tours. It seemed an attractive occupation. Corvallis is no Santa Fe, but there is something about Corvallis that I find fascinating, even though it may have history in common with thousands of other small towns.

It is very architecturally interesting, for one thing. The University is a history lesson in itself. The library is not just a little brick cube thrown up by Carnegie. There is a house there that has pagoda hints to it - an occasional fancy of the arts and crafts movement, I'm told.

And transportation! Citizens of Corvallis, did you know there used to be regular steamships taking passengers up and down the Willamette River in the mid-1800's? Imagine being able to walk to the river and have a leisurely scenic ride to Eugene or Portland. And if I'm not mistaken there was a trolley in Corvallis, too. Not to mention three train lines!

March 21, 2007

One of the things I miss most about Corvallis is the Evergreen Restaurant. Wonderful Indian food is something I cannot get here in Valparaiso, although Chicago has one or two great ones within walking distance of the South Shore. I do mean to get there if I ever feel rich again.

There are Chinese restaurants in Valparaiso, but Middle Eastern cooking is really a different experience. My friend Radhia in Corvallis gave me some lamb stew once that literally almost made me swoon. (Admittedly I walk around so hungry most of the time that I was probably a little faint anyway - she probably recognized the signs, being the mother of four.) No really, the soup was spectacular!

Please, someone, open an Indian restaurant here in Valparaiso, Indiana!

March 17, 2007

If you explore the north part of the campus of Oregon State University, you come across a covered bridge called the 'Irish Bend Bridge.' I thought it would be fun to locate the present bridge at Irish Bend, wherever that was, so I set out to explore a bit.

It was harder than I thought! When my daughter and I drove there in the evening after a long day sightseeing, I thought either I was turned around or the signs were! The road called Irish Bend seemed to have several right angle turns. Or my brain did. It got too dark to look further, so we gave up.

I really wanted to find that bridge because it would be a way across the Willamette River. There aren't too many of those! Eventually, never having found it, Joseph and I learned that there is a campground at the former site of the bridge, so we decided to camp out there and float down the river back to Corvallis.

We took a taxi (!!) to the park and camped and rowed and floated, which was pretty exciting, but that is a whole other story.

Irish Bend refers to a bend in the Willamette and an Irishman who used to run a ferry back and forth across the river before the covered bridge was built. I guess it was relatively narrow at that point and still is.

I never learned more about what that Irishman was like but today I'll celebrate that particular Irishman who is remembered in the name of Irish Bend and the Irish Bend Bridge! Here's to you!

March 5, 2007

I just noticed the other day that there are going to be some live (did I understand correctly?) walking tours in Corvallis. Great! I think it is a perfect town for it.

Maybe I'm just too much in the mood for a mystery, but when I was reading A History of Benton County, Oregon, written by David D. Fugan, in 1885, something piqued my curiosity. When he wrote about several fires in the county, for which he had "space to mention only a few" it seemed quite a high number to me. I haven't managed to find too many statistics about frequency of fires in those days, but at least a couple of fires were suspected to be the result of arson.

Some members of the fire department were also local builders. Isn't that a potential conflict of interest that would raise eyebrows in the 21st century? Read Fugan's account and see if it strikes you the same way. I found it at the OSU library; the accounts of the fires are on pp. 429-431.

Another little footnote about the History of Benton County. According to History's Detectives (PBS show), General Grant encouraged people in the United States to write histories of their counties. Look in your own libraries and see if there isn't one for your county.

February 1, 2005

Well, a lifetime has passed since I last wrote here. My dad had a seizure, then a stroke, then entered rehabilitation, then passed away. Not an easy three months for any of this clan.

Another lesser, but possibly truer excuse for not getting back to this is that I'm afraid I just don't have that many stories from Corvallis to tell. Some that I would like to tell, I won't, but they are probably not cliff hangers, anyway. Or wagon-tuggers. So now, although the web-site has the same name, it is not going to be limited to Corvallis. That is henceforth to be considered a poetic, not literal designation. If you don't like four syllable words, don't read on.

Anyway, I was walking between greenhouses at Flowerland, pulling an empty cart, when all of a sudden I felt a slight tug. I looked back, and there was my seventy-some year old boss, George, standing upright on the still-moving wagon with a sly elfin smile! He had a youngster with him, whom he encouraged to hop on after he got off, and I took him for a ride. I felt like going, "Hee-haw!" but who could fail to be impressed with that feat of balance?

My next tale is of Valparaiso, Indiana, where I am presently trying to get work of a challenging nature. Well, not too challenging.

When I first came to town this time around, I remembered an artesian well I had visited on a bike ride with a friend, Liane Weddle, many years ago. It was a couple of miles out on west Lincolnway, and quite a neat (this was the early sixties) thing. Evidently if water gets trapped in a certain geological layer of some porous rock, it gets filtered naturally as it flows through the ground and comes up drinkably pure. Liane knew of this fountain, and on a hot summer day it was a real oasis. I rememb

frost is really something! Unfortunately, one picture went untaken (A dried-up frosty yellow rosebud with a frosted cobweb for a back-drop.) I tried to take it but my batteries died. A couple of hours later, with fresh batteries in my camera, and the frost had melted, making the cobweb almost invisible. Well. Maybe I'll venture out on another frosty morning soon....

Word at the coffee shop (The Red Horse) is that this Friday evening, November 30, there is a little celebration happening here. It entails a tent in downtown Corvallis and some good food and champagne served by the locals for an entry fee. I'll have to give the poster that originally caught my attention another look to get more details for you. Sounds like fun! Too bad I'll be on my way out of town!

The Benton County Courthouse is all dolled up for Christmas. I'll try to get a picture up for you. Don't know when, but I'll aim for before Christmas!

October 31, 2007

It has been a month since I have written anything about Corvallis, mostly because I have not been there. But I know a couple of people who work at the First Alternative Co-op, and it occurred to me that potential visitors and residents of the town should hear about it.

Yes! There is a local health-oriented place to buy your groceries and delicatessen items! This is pretty impressive for a town the size of Corvallis and really reflects Oregon's tradition of respect for the environment, internal and external.

There is a great quilt shop and a store that sells Birkenstock shoes and great socks. (You can get wonderful socks at the Co-op, too.)

There is also a Farmer's Market in Corvallis, where I bought the crispest apples I have ever had in my life (Liberty apples.) I wanted to buy more, but got a job that kept me from going again. The man who sold them to me said you can tell how crisp an apple is by holding it up to your ear and tapping it. I forget what it sounds like - I guess I'll have to learn again by trial and error - or by going back for a visit to wonderful Corvallis!

September 21, 2007

Well, sadly, I am no longer in Corvallis. While I was there I bought a digital camera and took a few more pictures, concentrating more this time on the Central Park area, about 1/2 mile (I think) from the campus of OSU. (The first set were taken with an Advantix camera, which unfortunately broke. Maybe it got sandy at the beach!)

I did take some ocean beach pictures but I have limited the photos I put in the website to Corvallis proper.

Just be aware, those who are thinking of Corvallis as a place to live and/or go to school, Corvallis is only an hour away from the Pacific Ocean and an hour away from the Cascades! (In opposite directions.) And it is on the Willamette River! Lots of natural beauty around. These photos are just a little intro to the charms of the town.

September 17, 2007

A little geographical note for newcomers to Corvallis:

The west coast can be really confusing for those of us from the Midwest and other inland places. We are used to the main drag of town having an east/west orientation. Here in Corvallis, as in many other west coast cities, the main traffic flow through town is north/south.

On top of that, there are two highway 99s in Oregon. 99E is not highway 99 heading east, it is highway 99 on the east side of the Willamette River. You can go north or south on this highway. Similarly, 99W is a two-directional (north and south) highway on the west side of the Willamette River.

This particular naming system is the first of its kind I have ever encountered and only took me about two years to sort out! (Don't tell me - really I have heard of maps!)

An interesting fact about Junction City, which I have written before about visiting by bike: it is so named because that is where 99E and 99W meet.

(When I rode my bike there, I took Bellefountain and other roads down, Peoria Road back. I had to get on the highway for a couple of miles, but avoided it as much as possible.)

Do not think if you get on the wrong highway, you can just turn around and go in the other direction. Sometimes bridges across the Willamette River seem few and far between!

September 8, 2007

Corvallis has a glorious day for the Quilts in the Garden Walk sponsored by Mary's River Quilt Guild! Couldn't be better! For a blend of magnificent quilts and magnificent garden, my choice would have to be the Queen's Ave. display, but all the sites we visited were worthwhile!

One of the homes displaying quilts and other crafts was on Pilkington Ave. A large Italianate home, it was originally Judge Woodcock's home, built around 1870 or so on the corner of 5th and Jackson. When it was threatened with destruction a century later, a smart citizen bought it for $4500 and moved it out of town where it now stands, looking as beautiful as it ever could have. Rose, the present owner, is kind enough to allow occasional tours of her home, which has big beautiful windows lots of interesting architectural detail, and ceilings of palatial height!

This is a house that definitely would have been on the Corvallis Walking Tour, but it has been moved out of walkingtour range!

September 6, 2007

Another glorious day in Corvallis. I walked along the south side of Central Park and saw a collection of asters such as I have never seen in my life! A glorious assortment of pinks and purples, many of them as tall as I am.

Went to a few more quilt exhibits. One at the library was of great variety in size and styles of quilts. Take the time to walk around a little when you return your books!

Quilts by Susan Johnson are featured at Talisman Jewelers. The jewelers have taken pains to feature jewelry that plays off the quilts (and vice versa). The often jewel-like quilts actually set off the merchandise with better interplay than I have seen before. If I had had $500 extra dollars I would not have been able to resist some of their unusual and appealing custom creations!

The main concourse of the Student Union Building at OSU has some fantastic pieces also. Do take the time to visit!

September 4, 2007

Reporting from Corvallis, Oregon, here. I walked downtown along Country Club Road from 49th St., passing what used to be a big white house with a huge sequoia tree in the front yard. House and sequoia - gone. In place of them and the community gardens that used to be there is a housing development and park with a mosaic of children playing, graced by what I can only call a memorial squash! From sequoia to squash. Oh, and the housing development is called "The Gardens," thus joining all the other developments that should be called "Used-to-be the Gardens, Used-to-be the Meadows, Used-to-be Quail Run" etc. sad cetera.

Downtown I was reminded (by a collection of quilts in Olufson Designs called Auf dem Huhnerhof (In the Chicken Yard) that not only is there a quilt and garden show Saturday, but all over Benton County there are quilt shows in stores, libraries, and educational institutions to celebrate Quilt County 2007! Students who have quilting aficionados in the family might want to make them aware of this wonderful quilt celebration!

One word of warning - you might wait to see the quilts on the second day listed at any given location. Two displays I tried to see today were just in the process of going up! And me, not too long ago I was glorying in how relaxed the West is! Well, it is, so relax!

August 15, 2007

Yay! I'm coming to Corvallis September 1! I get to see the quilt and garden walk on September 8th (weather permitting.)

Maybe I'll see you there!

July 20, 2007

The Quilts in the Garden walk is on in Corvallis for Saturday, September 8, 2007 from 10 -4, weather permitting! Should be fun! For more info and a map, see www.marysriverquiltguild.org.

July 19, 2007

The other day I was thinking about gay rights, and it made me remember something about Corvallis that I might not have thought to mention in my walking tours, but that made me really proud to live in Benton County, Oregon! (Too bad I ended up leaving six months later!)

In March 2004 Benton County, following the lead of San Francisco and (I think) Portland, started issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

Banned from doing this by the State pending resolution of the issue by higher authority, Benton County had a stroke of genius. Rather than treat their citizens unfairly, they stopped issuing marriage licenses at all!

Unfortunately, I think the state government supported the ban on gay marriages. But for one brief moment of time, Benton County's citizens were all equal, at least with regards to one issue.

I don't say ultimately, because I believe that ultimately people will come to see that sexual preference really should not matter with regards to civil rights in civil union. If it offends, take the word "marriage" out of the laws regarding civil union. If marriage is sacred, it is not part of the purview of our government anyway - that is, if you believe in the Constitution!

June 4, 2007

A tour I hope you get a chance to take this summer is the Quilt and Garden Tour I enjoyed there, probably in the summer of 2003. It was too wide-spread for a walking tour, but I would have been able to see it all by bike if I hadn't wasted an hour or so getting lost!

It included an elegant garden in the foothills, a quilt show in a park alongside a huge lavendar garden (the garden was big, not the plants) where you could buy lavendar lemonade (a memorable treat!), and small intimate shade gardens. Each garden was festooned with quilts - a double draw for people with the same interests as I!

The Quilt and Garden Tour is sponsored by Mary's River Quilt Guild and this year it is scheduled for Saturday, September 8th. More details of the tour should be up on their website www.marysriverquiltguild.org within a week or so.

May 19, 2007under pictures. I lost them for a while, and now they are in crazy arrangement. You may have to go back and forth some to see them all. Hopefully soon they will be more aesthetically arranged! There are a couple new ones there, though.

May 16, 2007

Remember, this month Corvallis is celebrating its history! It's a great time to visit Corvallis and see if you want to live there or go to school there and enjoy the historical tours! There are a couple of tours scheduled for this coming weekend, and other events will happen through at least the middle of June.

When I was working at Flowerland in Corvallis I met a young man named Fabian (he had long hair, too!) who was promoting the idea of victory gardens, but for environmental reasons. He sold us seeds, so he might have been from Victory Seeds. I'm not sure that name isn't appropriate in its original sense now, considering the war in Iraq.

It's not too late in Corvallis to start growing some food that otherwise might have to be shipped to you! For more information about the victory gardens near Corvallis, google victory gardens Oregon. I'm sure you will find help if you want to try your hand at gardening. Even a small space can be exploited for the sake of the dinner table!

April 20, 2007

Corvallis used to be called Marysville, but the name was changed because there was a Marysville in California on the same stage routes and that caused confusion. (Can you imagine that happening now? There's got to be a Peru in every state in the Midwest!) But I'm glad it did. Mary is way common, and Corvallis, I believe is unique. Let me know if I'm wrong.

When I was living in Corvallis I heard various tales that I never got to substantiate so I'll pass them along. Walking along the path by Mary's River once, I encountered someone who told me about ghosts that hang around there. He swore he heard a bloodcurdling yell one night. Anyone else hear about a Mary's River ghost, or was that a still-living homeless person trying to defend his territory?

The same person told me there are Native American mounds somewhere near the vicinity of Avery Park and Mary's River. I never really got a clear notion of what is where South of Avery Park and unfortunately I don't get to Corvallis often now.

If you google Corvallis Walking Tours and click on Benton Historical Society you can see a list of walking tours scheduled for May of this year in Corvallis. It sounds like alot of fun! If you're planning a visit to Corvallis, May is a great time of year there anyway. Blossoms galore!

April 13, 2007

Hello! I have decided to make it easier for Corvallis-oriented people to read the Corvallis stuff without wading through all the other stuff that I write daily under Rumilluminations. From now on, if I write about Corvallis I will use this space.

There is supposedly a ferry that goes across the Willamette River downstream from Corvallis. I read an article in the local paper that mentioned it is free to bicyclists (and pedestrians, I think). What fun, I thought, so I began to ride in that direction (north). I only had time for that one exploratory ride and got lost, or didn't go near the 20 or so miles necessary to get there. Just bringing it up because it might be fun. (Get good instructions!)

In A Walk in the Woods Bill Bryson talks about an Appalachian Trail hiker who was always getting lost. I can relate to that guy! I was always getting lost in Oregon. The Benton County roads had cool little green-and-white road signs with so many directions they were sometimes evocative of a bottle brush. But often sites where you would expect more official helps like maps and signs were curiously hard to find. I often wondered whether Oregon really wanted to keep its cool places secret. On the other hand, of the Oregon I saw, almost all of it was cool!

Oh, I forgot to say, as I remember the ferry was called the Buena Vista Ferry.

April 3, 2007

One day in Corvallis, Oregon I decided to ride my bike to Junction City to see the Swedish Festival there. It's helpful to have a special reason for getting exercise; even a long walk is inspired by a destination, if only an illusory or imaginary one.

On this particular beautiful day in September I headed west toward Philomath on the bike path and south on Bellefountain Road. The highlight of the ride was not a sight or event, but a smell! Riding along an ordinary-looking green field, I was hit by a warm wave of mint. Intoxicating, really - especially since I wasn't expecting it. It must have been freshly harvested to pack such a wallop!

The Festival was fun. There were handicrafts I had never seen before (woudn't it be fun to sweep with a brightly colored hand-painted broomstick?) The meal and entertainment I got were well worth the ride.

I just love being around small crowds enjoying a common activity, even if I am alone. I enjoy simultaneous autonomy and entertainment, basking in the warmth of humanity without the push-me-pull-you that 'companionship' so often seems to entail.

Admittedly, this is an acquired taste. Good company would be preferable. I have just learned that not many people really want to go on a seventy mile bike ride in one day!

Me neither. I spent the night in a Junction City hotel, where they kindly allowed me to park my bike in the laundry room overnight. The next morning I rode back to Corvallis on the east side of the Willamette.

Try Corvallis - Junction City - Corvallis as a day trip if you have a road bike!

March 29, 2007

Anyone out there besides me frequently being sexually misunderstood?

One time when I was living in Corvallis I took the bike path to Philomath, where a quilt exhibit was showing at the Benton County Museum. It was part of a county-wide quilt show. Quilts could turn up in stores, the library - anywhere!

After enjoying the museum and its displays, I headed to the bathrooms, which were on the second floor. The ladies' room was occupied, so I stood there looking out the window and whistling.

A short while later, an elderly gentleman and his wife emerged from their respective bathrooms and headed down the stairs. As they descended, I heard the man say, "Whistling outside the restrooms. If that isn't a come-on, I don't know what is."

Good lord! Did he get that from 1940's romantic comedy? Or from that old saw, "Whistling girls and crowing hens always come to some bad ends?" What a laugh!

I could give more instances, but mostly they are too subtle to make good stories. I'll tell my story about my cross-country busride another time.

Anybody else have such a tale? I'd love to hear it. 219-263-6528.

March 24, 2007

Well, nobody can accuse the U.S. of not taking care of business. Since I started writing in corvalliswalkingtours.com again I have received two business credit card offers and no personal responses at all. Of course, if these business people had really perused the site, they would know that I don't have walking tours in Corvallis. I just thought it could be a fun way to earn a little pin money, started to do the ground work, and then moved away.

In Santa Fe, New Mexico (where I lived for almost thirty years) there was a man who gave walking tours. It seemed an attractive occupation. Corvallis is no Santa Fe, but there is something about Corvallis that I find fascinating, even though it may have history in common with thousands of other small towns.

It is very architecturally interesting, for one thing. The University is a history lesson in itself. The library is not just a little brick cube thrown up by Carnegie. There is a house there that has pagoda hints to it - an occasional fancy of the arts and crafts movement, I'm told.

And transportation! Citizens of Corvallis, did you know there used to be regular steamships taking passengers up and down the Willamette River in the mid-1800's? Imagine being able to walk to the river and have a leisurely scenic ride to Eugene or Portland. And if I'm not mistaken there was a trolley in Corvallis, too. Not to mention three train lines!

March 21, 2007

One of the things I miss most about Corvallis is the Evergreen Restaurant. Wonderful Indian food is something I cannot get here in Valparaiso, although Chicago has one or two great ones within walking distance of the South Shore. I do mean to get there if I ever feel rich again.

There are Chinese restaurants in Valparaiso, but Middle Eastern cooking is really a different experience. My friend Radhia in Corvallis gave me some lamb stew once that literally almost made me swoon. (Admittedly I walk around so hungry most of the time that I was probably a little faint anyway - she probably recognized the signs, being the mother of four.) No really, the soup was spectacular!

Please, someone, open an Indian restaurant here in Valparaiso, Indiana!

March 17, 2007

If you explore the north part of the campus of Oregon State University, you come across a covered bridge called the 'Irish Bend Bridge.' I thought it would be fun to locate the present bridge at Irish Bend, wherever that was, so I set out to explore a bit.

It was harder than I thought! When my daughter and I drove there in the evening after a long day sightseeing, I thought either I was turned around or the signs were! The road called Irish Bend seemed to have several right angle turns. Or my brain did. It got too dark to look further, so we gave up.

I really wanted to find that bridge because it would be a way across the Willamette River. There aren't too many of those! Eventually, never having found it, Joseph and I learned that there is a campground at the former site of the bridge, so we decided to camp out there and float down the river back to Corvallis.

We took a taxi (!!) to the park and camped and rowed and floated, which was pretty exciting, but that is a whole other story.

Irish Bend refers to a bend in the Willamette and an Irishman who used to run a ferry back and forth across the river before the covered bridge was built. I guess it was relatively narrow at that point and still is.

I never learned more about what that Irishman was like but today I'll celebrate that particular Irishman who is remembered in the name of Irish Bend and the Irish Bend Bridge! Here's to you!

March 5, 2007

I just noticed the other day that there are going to be some live (did I understand correctly?) walking tours in Corvallis. Great! I think it is a perfect town for it.

Maybe I'm just too much in the mood for a mystery, but when I was reading A History of Benton County, Oregon, written by David D. Fugan, in 1885, something piqued my curiosity. When he wrote about several fires in the county, for which he had "space to mention only a few" it seemed quite a high number to me. I haven't managed to find too many statistics about frequency of fires in those days, but at least a couple of fires were suspected to be the result of arson.

Some members of the fire department were also local builders. Isn't that a potential conflict of interest that would raise eyebrows in the 21st century? Read Fugan's account and see if it strikes you the same way. I found it at the OSU library; the accounts of the fires are on pp. 429-431.

Another little footnote about the History of Benton County. According to History's Detectives (PBS show), General Grant encouraged people in the United States to write histories of their counties. Look in your own libraries and see if there isn't one for your county.

February 1, 2005

Well, a lifetime has passed since I last wrote here. My dad had a seizure, then a stroke, then entered rehabilitation, then passed away. Not an easy three months for any of this clan.

Another lesser, but possibly truer excuse for not getting back to this is that I'm afraid I just don't have that many stories from Corvallis to tell. Some that I would like to tell, I won't, but they are probably not cliff hangers, anyway. Or wagon-tuggers. So now, although the web-site has the same name, it is not going to be limited to Corvallis. That is henceforth to be considered a poetic, not literal designation. If you don't like four syllable words, don't read on.

Anyway, I was walking between greenhouses at Flowerland, pulling an empty cart, when all of a sudden I felt a slight tug. I looked back, and there was my seventy-some year old boss, George, standing upright on the still-moving wagon with a sly elfin smile! He had a youngster with him, whom he encouraged to hop on after he got off, and I took him for a ride. I felt like going, "Hee-haw!" but who could fail to be impressed with that feat of balance?

My next tale is of Valparaiso, Indiana, where I am presently trying to get work of a challenging nature. Well, not too challenging.

When I first came to town this time around, I remembered an artesian well I had visited on a bike ride with a friend, Liane Weddle, many years ago. It was a couple of miles out on west Lincolnway, and quite a neat (this was the early sixties) thing. Evidently if water gets trapped in a certain geological layer of some porous rock, it gets filtered naturally as it flows through the ground and comes up drinkably pure. Liane knew of this fountain, and on a hot summer day it was a real oasis. I remembered it as a regular fountain-shaped structure (cement?) with perpetually flowing water at the foot of a long gradual hill, surrounded by green grass, with a little clump of trees nearby. I only visited it a few times, but in my long absence from Valparaiso living in a very dry state, I often thought of this little miracle.

So on coming back to Valpo I thought it would be fun to track it down, and went on impulse once when I unexpectedly found the library closed. Well, I wasn't on a bike, but I figured I would go on a very long walk. The sun was shining, it was a hot day, but ever the optimist, I figured, what the heck, there was a drink at the end of my quest. Well, I walked and walked, saw lots of stagnant water by the side of the road, and began to wonder if my memory was serving me well. There were businesses I didn't remember along the side of the road, and as they began to peter out I thought I'd better find someone who could help me. I went to a place that sold boats, and asked if they knew of an artesian well nearby. An older (even than me, maybe!) woman came out and said, smiling at the memory,yes, her father used to stop by it and let the kids put their little cups under it for a drink. It was just beyond the first road to the right. There was still a truck pull-out there, she said.

Well. I walked and walked past several roads to the right, which I guessed must be driveways, because I didn't see the artesian well. I peered into the murky waters of the swamps along the side of the road, trying to glimpse bubbling waters or pieces of the old fountain, reminding myself that my memories dated from forty years ago. I was enjoying the cattails, but I was getting really thirsty.

Finally, after passing a real county road on the right, I saw a paved area along the side of the road, near a little clump of trees. And I am now at the end of my story hour for the day. Please visit again sometime for the exciting end of this true story!

September 27, 2004

My friend and I were on the Willamette River in our little inflatable raft, and we saw an osprey with a fish. A ways down the river a little later, there was an interesting spectacle on the shore. Quite a large fish, much larger than it looked from high up in the air. An Osprey nearby. Also an egret, and two vultures. Just hanging out. I don't know if the birds were all just hanging out because they were more afraid of us than they were of each other, or if this was the form a power struggle over the fish took. The birds moved not much, although I have some memory of a vulture kind of taking a tentative peck at the fish, which was certainly dead. The four birds just hung around, and we just kept drifting downstream and out of sight of the drama.

On the same trip, we had an underwater encounter with what might have been a sturgeon. Whatever it was made the boat rock a little as it pivotted underwater. My friend and I both had the impression of a creature at least three or four feet long churning down there.

New story - this time about Flowerland. One day I was trudging along in the narrow space between two greenhouses, pulling an empty cart behind me, head down, when I felt a slight tug on the cart behind me. I turned around to see - Oh, but now I really am out of time - I have probably been here two hours! I wonder if anyone is reading these stories anyway? I have been so remiss. I'll try to write more often. Later.

September 16, 2004

Last time I left George looking outside the greenhouse to see what had fallen on it. It was a big fish! I asked George if he ate it, and he said no, it was a trash fish.

What happens is that the osprey, who live at the top of tall poles along the Willamette River, catch fish by diving and pulling them right out of the water. But they have to have the strength to get them up to some high place in order to eat them safely. If the fish is too big, they have to drop it.

That fits with what a friend of mine and I experienced going down the river from Corvallis to Albany one day. We saw an osprey flying with a fish in its claws (oriented aerodynamically the long way.) He was squawking, and seemed just like an adolescent really proud of his accomplishment but not quite sure what to do next. He just kept flying around in circles and yelling.

A little while later we saw (well, I have to get home in case the moving van shows up today. I'll tell you more next time.

August 30, 2004


Aargh! I just spent most of my time trying to tell you the rest of the ghost story (sorry that tomorrow has turned into several tomorrows) and another story, and I got confused and lost all my work! Aargh. I'm still learning how to do this. Well back to the ghost story...
A guest at the wild party decided it was too cold in the living room, and grabbed a painting off the wall. The painting was an original, the portrait of an old soldier, and it had been left hanging on the wall. I guess it had alot of red, white and blue in it. The partier threw the painting in the fire. The next time one of the luminescent mists appeared, it was a murderous red. A week or two later a motorcycle parked by the side of the house went up in flames, and almost took the house with it.

Here's another Corvallis story that George Chadwick told me. It's not a ghost story, but it sure must have been eerie when it first happened!

One summer day George was out in a greenhouse working, when all of a sudden thunk! - something hit the roof of the greenhouse. He went outside to see what happened and he saw... oh-oh, I have to save my work and exit - tomorrow!


August 20-something, 2004


It looks as if these walking tours may only be literary. I cannot seem to persuade people here that Corvallis has history worth repeating! Ah, an unintentional joke!

Corvallis is an interesting place. The name Corvallis is from Latin, as Philomath is from Greek. This alone shows a consciousness of a kind not often found in place names. The people who came here had an interest in learning and culture, perhaps more than people who name a place after a town left behind or a geographical feature. They tried to start institutes of higher education here, and they certainly ultimately succeeded.

The name Corvallis shows ambition. The people who settled here wanted to make Corvallis a major center, trying to get the capitol here when it became a state. But all you citizens of Corvallis probably know all this better than I do. How about a ghost story?

This story would probably not have made it into my walking tour just because the location is a block or two from the beaten path in historical Corvallis. It happens on 9th Street, and may be more of a phenomenon story than a ghost story. The young man who told me this story lived in the house, which he characterized as having very unusual woodworking in it. He thought it might have been painted over by now, but I don't think so. At least, when I walked up to the house, the door was made out of the kind of interesting burled wood he talked about being in the house, and when I peeked in the window of the door it seemed that there might be more unpainted wood inside. At any rate, there were fascinating columns or pieces of wood in the house that were like natural totem poles. The grain of the wood itself held all kinds of fantastic faces, one above the other.

I don't have an exact chronology as told to me, because I'm afraid I might have left my notes of his story behind, but he and his friends would occasionally see round white balls of white mist in the house, which would form luminously, then seep back into the grain of the woodwork. You could see it separate into striations as it entered the wood. These luminous mists had always been seen in white, or sometimes blue. They would appear downstairs, and had also been seen upstairs near a large closet called, he did not know why, Pandora's Closet. (I did meet someone in Corvallis named Pandora - hey, Pandora, was that your closet?) Well, once the residents were having a particularly wild party, and... oops got to go...

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