It's no surprise that the Oregon Trail ends at Willamette Valley in Oregon. The abundant land, idyllic beauty, and ample resources that early explorers discovered there gave them no reason to continue on. This heart of Oregon argiculture has a cool climate and gently rolling hills that are home to some of the best grapes in the world, not to mention a flourishing wine industry. Two exceptional favorites, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, hail from the Valley.
During the growing season, the Valley enjoys warm days and cool nights. A daytime temperature swing allows the wine grapes to develop their flavor and complexity while retaining their natural acidity (translation: great grapes make for great wine). Take a designated driver along on the road from Eugene to Portland, as you're bound to stop at one or two of the hundreds of wineries.
This is also the home of Nike, where "Just do it!" is as a lifestyle as much as a slogan. The abundance of rivers, lakes and waterfalls, partnered with the mild year round temperatures, make it an excellent spot for outdoor enthusiasts. Camp or hike the Trail of Ten Falls through Silver Falls State Park, or climb to the summit of Mary's Peak - the highest point in the Coast Range. With it's spectacular views that extend to the Pacific Ocean, you'll think you're on top of the world. Descend and take to the waters in a canoe or kayak, or set sail on the
oh-so-blue Waldo Lake.
After a cleansing hike or dip, grab a saddle and experience the area on horseback, courtesy of the Triangle 5 Ranch. The terrain is rich with wildlife (from deer to coyotes and the occasional bald eagle) and trails lead you through centuries-old forests that tower high above you. It's a throwback to the bygone era of the wild west.
While you may never have your fill of the of the great outdoors, you may need to rest your head at one of the many bed and breakfasts in the Valley. Relax on the patio, sip your favorite vintage, and enjoy a panoramic sunset view.
Locum tenens assignments abound in Oregon. The grapes are ripe and a bottle has been corked, all that's missing is you. Just do it!