For my birthday I spent the weekend in Silverton, Oregon. Saturday I hiked a trail of waterfalls. Sunday I reveled in the creative spirit of the region, and luckily that included reveling in spirits.
I did not know there was a Frank Lloyd Wright house anywhere in Oregon until planning this trip. And even then, I read on a “Things To Do” list that it was nearby, but I didn’t know where. To my surprise, it is on the grounds of the Oregon Garden, an 80-acre botanical garden, walking distance from where I was staying. So first thing in the morning, Pedro and I wandered across the grounds and took photos.
As far as I can tell, this is the only house designed by Wright in Oregon. It was originally constructed in Wilsonville for Evelyn and Conrad Gordon, and completed in 1963 (after Wright’s death). The next owners were not impressed and were going to tear it down. Luckily for lovers of architecture, it was saved and moved to the Garden in 2001. The Gordon House is currently available for rent for small catered gatherings, and the two bedrooms upstairs can be rented for an overnight stay. It is closed for tours because of the pandemic. I am totally interested in staying there one of these days!
Next we made the short trip to Mt. Angel, and the Benedictine Brewery. Yes, the beer is brewed by monks on the site of the Mt. Angel Abbey, using water from their own well, and hops grown on their own land, in the true sense of farmhouse brewing. COVID-19 restrictions prevent indoor seating, but there is a covered awning outside with portable furnaces between tables to keep visitors a little warmer.
We were meeting Tara there, since T had a birthday gift for me and the trip to Mt. Angel is much shorter from Corvallis where they are going to school, than making the drive to Rainier.
It was cold outside, but we were dry and the beer was good and we stuck it out. Pedro ordered a pint of Dark Night, and I ordered a flight to share with Tara. This is how I ordered: “I want to try the Black Habit…and uh…how about all the Saints?” “You got it,” the woman behind the counter said, “Don’t want to leave out any of the saints.” “I don’t want to risk implying a favourite,” I said. She poured me samplers of Saints Benedict, Gabriel, Michael Helles, and Raphael. The Black Habit was outstanding. So was the Dark Night. I liked those much better than the lighter beers. Other patrons came, drank a beer, and left. We stayed and had another.
It was great to sit and chat with Tara. I’ve missed my kiddo so much during the pandemic. Tara was uneasy about meeting us, and listed all the friends that have recently been diagnosed with COVID-19. They felt better when I explained we would be outdoors the entire time. The tables are on a hill overlooking the fields of what would be hops in a different season. You can tell where hops are grown because they need high wooden frames with twine strung along the tops and between supports, to hold the vines when they grow. Sorry I didn’t get a photo. It’s very distinctive. But even with barren frames, and leafless trees on the borders of the fields, the view of the valley was lovely. We didn’t meet any monks. During the pandemic, for safety reasons, the monks are isolating and not interacting with the public at the tasting house. We did see a monk going for a walk. Maybe it was his habit.
We bought bottles to take home, Tara said goodbye, and we told ourselves that despite the pleasant location, there was more to do in the area than enjoy a brew or two. Or three.
As a way to promote their city, the Silverton Mural Society was formed in 1992. The Society commissions and sponsors murals, then takes care to maintain the murals, and re-paint and touch up when necessary. I think there are 31 total. I downloaded an app to find more information about each one, but the app does not contain a map that shows the location of all of them, just 30 different maps showing the address of each one. I looked all over the Internet, contacted the Chamber of Commerce, but simply could not find a map of the murals until I asked the front desk at the Oregon Garden Resort, where I stayed. They had one! Thank goodness. Seems like if the murals are a tourist draw, then maps of the murals would be an obvious accessory.
It was overcast and raining the entire time, but we had fun running around the streets of Silverton, on a “Mural Scavenger Hunt” as Pedro called it. There is plenty of information on the app about each mural, but I’ll leave most of that out in the interest of keeping this post shorter. We did not have time to get all of the murals, so we decided to skip all of those that are concentrated in the center of town, and got the ones on the periphery. That means, of course, that I’ll have to go another day to get the rest. Yay!
Somewhere in between the Red Sox and Our Twentieth Century, we took a wrong turn and got lost in an alley during our scavenger hunt. It was serendipitous, since alleys have multiple uses, particularly when one has spent the previous three hours with the Saints.
That was all we had time for. Fun murals, huh? The grey day sort of made the colours glow, which was nice. The Mural Society spends most of its income on maintenance, they say, so that is another reason for the vibrant colours. I am looking forward to my next trip over there to capture the rest. After that final mural, we left Silverton and went back to our respective homes with their respective cats – all cats having formed the opinion that human birthdays are no reason to leave cats home alone.