We’re back on the road again after 2 weeks wwoofing on an organic blueberry & cranberry farm.
The farm was just South of a town called Bandon, right by the Pacific Coast in Southern Oregon. The owner, Nick, had bought the farm less than a year previously and we were the first wwoofers there to help out. A majority of our time was spent picking and sorting blueberries, as well as weeding around the bushes. This was the first harvest of the season so we were also able to help at its debut at the Farmer’s Market at Coos Bay. It was good fun and we learnt a lot about working on a small-scale commercial fruit farm.
Some of the highlights were:
- Travelling around the farm on a quad bike – checking out the 70 acre property full of lakes, sheep, llamas and searching for lobster mushrooms.
- Being invited to a local wedding reception in the old cheese factory in Langlois – which involved a lot of country dancing to the upbeat band playing. This was coincidentally on Hattie’s birthday so we had a double reason to dance!
- Celebrating 4th July on a beach and seeing the fireworks over Bandon.
- Attending an annual dog show, where all the owners were grooming and pampering the plethora of pups.
- Spontaneous road trip to Eugene, where we had a tour around the University of Oregon, and back to Portland where we spent many hours back in Powell’s bookstore and were able to try the famous VooDoo doughnuts (we both had the ‘Dirty Old Bastard’ which was covered in peanut butter & oreos – yum).
It was wonderful having Nick as our host as he joined us in all these activities and provided a lot of laughs when comparing the American vs. English language. It was inspiring to see someone who was just 3 years our elder owning and working on a fully productive farm. We’re excited to keep in touch and see how the farm takes off and prospers with his ownership and lead. After leaving the farm, we’ve seriously missed the enless supply of blueberries on the doorstep!
Since being back on the road cycling, we realised that we lapsed quite behind on the blog – as most nights we put up a tent and are asleep before it’s dark! Therefore there’ll be another update soon as we will keep on it more diligently.
Hattie & Rio
We set off from Portland for the coast, both looking forward to the cool sea breeze after being inland for a couple of warm weeks. We continued opting for backroad routes towards the coast, then joined up with the Highway 101 and the ocean in Tillamook. The bike ride out was through charming countryside towns with plenty of rolling hills and even a few mountains.
We also faced our first flat tyre of the trip, on the back of Rio’s bike, but were pleased that we could fix it without too much worry and were cycling again within the hour.
Our first glimpse of the Pacific in Oregon was on Sunday morning when we cycled down to see a mist covered bay with playful seals swimming around.
Since then, we have been able to follow the coast along the 101 and every corner has felt like it should feature in a picture postcard. The area is well-known for its lighthouses, so we made sure to stop and check out two of them this week; Yaquina Bay Lighthouse near Newport and Heceta Head Light near Florence (which can be seen in the background of the photo below). We’ve also been keeping our eyes on the sea at every stop, after meeting 3 marine mammal observers who told us that Grey Whales were still in the area and could be seen milling off the coast.
During this stretch we’ve been saving money by spending a majority of our nights wild camping. Finding a decently hidden location has added to the excitement of the trip, with some locations being easier than others. Most of our ‘campsites’ have been in forested areas within 10m of the main road, allowing easy access and quick departure in the morning. As of yet we haven’t run into too much trouble, the only downside is having no access to a refreshing shower at the end of the day – but we find the dirt and mud has made us look more tanned than we really are. Our lemon & eucalyptus mosquito spray works wonders as a perfume, if we’re without a shower for a few days.
We’re able to cook and enjoy a warm meal at the end of each day using a small Trangia camp stove, meaning we don’t have to rely on being close to restaurants or towns for our food.
We’re currently having a day off in the beautiful hilly countryside near Coos Bay whilst staying with a friend’s family. They have a wonderfully copious supply of fresh fruit and vegetables from their well looked after garden, which is definitely recharging our batteries in between cycling.
Hattie & Rio
We’ve just finished our first WWOOFing (world wide oppurtunites on organic farms) in North America and it met all of our hopes and more. We spent 3 weeks on a small farm situated south of Chemainus on Vancouver Island. Our lovely host, Jan, greeted us with open arms into her home & we immediately felt like part of the family. We spent our time working between Jan’s garden and the Halalt Community Centre – where the food was being grown to supply and support the people within the local area. Jan also had chickens, turkeys, geese & 5 goats which then expanded to 12 – as 7 kids were born during our stay. This provided quite a bit of excitement as one of the does gave birth down a ditch full of mud with rising water, thus the three poor kids were crying, wet and chest deep in mud when we found them. The runt was too weak to find its mother’s teat and we resorted to bottlefeeding it and supplying copious amount of TLC. The kid was named Zomer (meaning summer in Dutch) by a lovely young girl from the Netherlands who was also staying at the farm. We were further delighted when Jan suggested two of the other kids should be named Hattie & Rio. One thing that we hadn’t realised prior to arriving, was that the house was on a First Nation Reserve. We were fortunuate enough to be invited to lessons on Hul’qumi’num (the local First Nation language), taught by the Elder Florence James. She is one of about 27 people still fluently speaking her language and has both a captivating and inspiring presence. The langauge is closely connected to the land and its people, and Florence told us that as wwoofers we are called ‘shthuyunup’ which means ‘preparers of the Earth’. One of our great friends we met at the farm was MaryDawn, who has been working with Florence to transcribe the Hul’qumi’num language so that the words are not lost. MaryDawn is an Inuit lady from the NorthWest Territories but moved to the Island many years ago. She taught us so much about the local people, history & land. For example, whilst hiking on a nearby Mountain, she would pick up plants for us to try and explain their medicinal and cultural value. We ended up staying an extra week at the farm as we enjoyed it so much and didn’t want to leave the incredibly eclectic family that was formed. Some of our time wwoofing at Jan’s were:
- Learning about sustainable living, the local culture and sharing wonderful cooking made with fresh produce.
- Eating deer, elk and smoked sockeye salmon – all caught on the Reserve.
- Sitting around the fire at the end of each day, often making smores and hearing the Australian WWOOFers tell awful jokes.
- Road-tripping Tofino with MaryDawn, 2 German WWOOFers and fortunately seeing two bears chilling by road.
- Watching the procession through Chemainus for the local High School Prom – it totally felt like it was a scene from a movie.
We’ve left with so many amazing memories and one of the most exciting things so far has been the brilliance of unpredictability. We’re currently in Victoria and heading to Port Angeles tomorrow to start the American leg of our trip. Hattie & Rio