Friday, November 21, 2014

GOLDENAGE BACKPACKERS TRAVELLING IN MEXICO




Golden Age Backpackers - Traveling to Amatlan de Cañas Hot Springs


                                                                                Article and Photos by John and Doreen Berg



It was a late summer morning while sitting at our Powell Lake cabin sipping my morning coffee staring out the window watching the rain pelting off the front deck's surface and listening to the gentle lake waves lapping against the shoreline that my thought reflected upon our two night March excursion to Amatlan de Cañas in Mexico.  There was a bit of guilt included with my reflections as we'd planned to document our Mexican trip as soon as we arrived home in early April.  However, it wasn't long before we were absorbed with our spring gardening tasks, our struggling to obtain a permit to construct a workshop in our backyard and our rushing up the lake to energize our cabin for summer usage.  Needless to say we were busy and focussed on local activities and the writing and sharing of our late season Mexican trip slipped in a rather rapid manner to the "back burner"!  Our wonderful spring and summer season was upon us and either we are getting slower at task completion or we include too many.  We'd like to think it's the latter!  As April and May slipped away it wasn't long before July was in the rear view mirror and the grandkids, bless their souls, chewed up August.  September slumber was quickly upon us and the lake boat traffic stilled to a slow ebb.  Now was the final opportunity to either write and submit this article or chuck the story idea and move on to next season's Mexican trips.  As the old cliché goes, "Better late than never"!  So here is the reporting of our last season's travel experience completed just before packing and departing for our home away from home- Los Ayala, Mexico!
An early departure saw us tossing our bags into the Xterra's rear compartment and as usual our first stop was the nearest Pemex station to top up the gas tank.  On the road again it wasn't long before we pulled into Las Varas for our second stop at Angelina's Restaurant, one of our favourite, to enjoy a hearty breakfast consisting of huevos rancheros and a Mexican omelette complete with hot cups of coffee.  Finally, with both fuel tanks topped up, the vehicles and ours, I anticipated driving directly to our final destination- Amatlan de Cañas.  But, as we reached the outskirts of Mesillas, Doreen suggested we stop to visit our young friends, Mario and Elizabeth at their roadside coffee shop.  They're a young family we met years ago to visit their coffee plantation and to scramble over rocks to view stone carved cliff petroglyphs.  We usually visit once or twice a year sharing pie and coffee, and purchasing a couple of bags of their scrumptious coffee. After a warm visit and another cup of coffee we were back on Highway 200 heading towards Compostela.  Today the highway was not busy making the twisting turning drive to the Compostela junction pleasant not having to deal with impatient drivers passing blindly or being stuck behind a slow truck. (View - "Compostela - The Forgotten City" published in Jaltemba Bay Life.com, May 14, 2014)
At the intersection near Compostela, we drifted to the right and took the cuota highway 68D toward Guadalajara then switched to the libre road stopping at Ahuacatlan for lunch.  We wandered the town's picturesque plaza  stretching our legs and taking pictures while checking out the street taco stands for our lunch.  We employed one of our golden travel rules and selected the busiest stand to enjoy chicken tacos and juice.  All the people eating there can't be wrong!

After our lunch we drove through Ahuacatlan picking up Highway 4 proceeding towards Amatlan de Cañas.  While the highway is a secondary road it was in good condition climbing over the mountain range.  Although one must be alert watching for loose rock on the road or on-coming vehicles cutting corner on the curvy road. 
We arrived at our destination mid-afternoon providing for an early hotel check in, or one would think, but I'd forgotten our road atlas and hotel information on our bungalow table in Los Ayala.  At this point I wasn't a popular individual!  Thus it was with a bit of luck that we found our hotel.  Following a one-way street in the wrong direction we passed a hotel entrance and Doreen recalled the posted name as our destination hotel.  Fortunately, this let me off the hook!
Being mid-week and after a holiday weekend, Bungalows Los Pavorreales ( the peacocks) was empty.  The owner, Alfonso Ron, gave us an opportunity to select the room of our choice.  We settled on a comfortable second story room providing a splendid view of the hotel's beautifully manicured and appointed lawn and pool area.  Alfonso was extremely helpful lending us a cooler for our food and beverages plus advising on the best local restaurant for dining.  While relaxing on the balcony playing cards, four peacocks joined us for an extensive photo opportunity which brought closure to our day. 
We certainly did not realize that these relatively large birds could fly as well as they demonstrated, safely soaring from our balcony to the lawn.
As dusk descended we took Alfonso's advice and walked to the nearby Toucan Restaurant.  The restaurant was a local favourite for special occasions featuring a fish and steak menu.  Since we often purchase fresh locally caught fish on the coast, we opted for hamburgers and fries.  Our meal was adequate but certainly not inspiring.  We're spoilt with our varied excellent restaurants located in the coastal towns of La Peñita and Rincon de Guayabitos.
Early next morning found us in the town's plaza desperately searching for our morning coffee!  We must remember on our next trip to include a coffee percolator to enjoy our early coffees in the comfort of our room!  At busy Sandorval Restaurant we enjoyed hueves rancheros and a Mexican omelette washed down with, you guessed it, more hot coffee.
  Next, we wandered the plaza visiting Templo de Jesús de Nazereno and the Templo de Roasario.  We unsuccessfully searched for a museum but were eventually led to a small room containing local photographs.
Returning to our hotel we collected our swim gear and headed for the hot pools.  The drive was a short distance to the Balnearias Aguas Termales (hot waters).  We paid our 50 pesos fee and set about soaking in a few pools and swam in the larger pool before settling on a smaller comfortable pool with a favourable temperature.  Just like Goldilocks, "Not too hot, not too cook, just right!"
Belnarias Agua Termales is a vast concrete structure complete with numerous levels with many pools of varying sizes and temperatures.  There are numerous table and bench combinations where family groups would arrive and stake out their area unloading coolers of food and drink to spend the day soaking and socializing.  I don't think one would desire to be there on a busy weekend with the sea of people that apparently arrive during holiday periods.  Or if you enjoy crowds it might be a huge amount of fun interacting and observing the Mexican families at play.
After our soak we returned to our room and relaxed before preparing to again dine at the Toucan Restaurant.  Having had our "burger" experience we both selected a fish dish from the menu and enjoyed our respective meals, retiring early to our bunglow.


Amatlan de Cañas surrounded by La Sierra de Pajaritos and Sierra Madre de Sur mountain ranges, is a pleasant prosperous town depending on agriculture and ranching plus serving the small surrounding towns.  The pace appeared rather casual with local produce being sold in the plaza from pickup truck beds, resident farmers attending to business and others occupying the park benches.
After a breakfast in the plaza we left Amatlan de Cañas to return to Los Ayala, our home away from home.  We retraced our path following Highway 4 back to Ahuacatlan passing the turnoff to El Manto Water Park.  Another man's dream of constructing a recreational complex  to visit and swim in one of the many cooling pools.  If you haven't visited this amazing canyon water park, do so and it's guaranteed you'll marvel at the amount of construction and excavating done to carve a small canyon stream into a beautiful attraction.  (www.elmanto.com.mx)  This time we continued past the El Manto turnoff not stopping for a brief swim.
On the way home we stopped at Santa Isabel to browse a couple of the many roadside pottery shops.  Great place to purchase family gifts.  We were searching for the number "1" to complete our lakeshore cabin address, but had no luck.  Surprise, surprise, not all was lost!  Doreen discovered a set of three beautifully painted butterflies.  Now at our cabin these gorgeous butterflies adorn the wall above our front door.  You can't miss them as they further enhance our cabin's Mexican theme.
After paying the 35 pesos toll on the cuota road (toll road) we again joined Highway 200 at the Compostela intersection.  We drove directly to Las Varas which became our lunch stop.  For a change of restaurant venue we stopped at Rosita Restaurant located beside the highway and close to the town's northern entrance.  We enjoyed a fantastic meal consisting of carne asada with papas fritas on the side plus a decadent dessert, helado de nuez (walnut ice-cream).
We arrived at our bungalow mid-afternoon to a rather quiet courtyard as most Canadians by now had returned to Canada while the locals were busy preparing for the upcoming Semana Santa celebration.
We experienced a successful excursion to enjoy the area's interior and gain a brief glimpse and flavour of the true Mexican pulse.  For us, our trips are a way to escape the more touristy tone of the coastal towns and experience in a small way another aspect of Mexican culture.
In just a few short weeks we'll be returning to the Riviera Nayarit area again to bask on the beach, renew friendships and check out the changes.  Life is good!
Author's Note:  One might alter the return route driving to Ixtlan del Rio to visit Los Toriles Archaelogical site.  Visit our article in Jaltemba Bay Life.com, "The Golden Age Backpackers - Los Toriles Archaelogical Site" February 20, 2013.  Well worth a half day visit as the temple of Quetzalcoatl is considered top notch in architectural circles.
Able to purchase fresh strawberries in the plaza.

Dinner at the Toucan Restaurant

Backyard Mechanic

Playing cribbage on our patio!

Fresh meat(beef) being delivered!



Thursday, April 3, 2014

RIVIERA NAYARIT, MEXICO TRAVEL - Featuring three day trips starting from Rincon de Guayabitos and Los Ayala, Mexico

INTRODUCTION

It's fantastic to be able to enjoy the sparkling waters and soft sands of small Mexican coastal towns for long periods of time.  However, when visiting Riviera Nayarit we find time to visit the interior towns and other nearby attractions.

This year's three day trips are outlined below.  We hope that you're motivated to take one or more of the trips if in the area.  If you do not have a vehicle, tour operators will be happy to assist or hire a taxi.  Enjoy reading about our wonderful fun filled adventures.

#1     Day Trip to El Cora Cascades

 
At the base of the falls

Our first glimpse of El Cora Cascades

 


















                                                                                             Article and photos by:
                                                                                                             John and Doreen Berg

 

When first arriving in Riviera Nayarit contentment is achieved by enjoying the warm sun’s rays and splashing in the sparkling Jaltemba Bay waters.  As the Zac Brown Band sings “I got my toes in the water, a_ _ in the sand.  Not a worry…life is good.” After two or three months of sun and surf it’s time to venture further afield to investigate the many nearby beautiful vistas and remarkable sites.

Our first day trip was planned nine months ago in June 2013 after reading Rob’s Ramblings reported in Jaltemba Bay Life.  A copy was made to become our road map to drive north toward San Blas to discover El Cora Cascades.  Without fail, Rob’s explicit driving directions successfully directed us to the dry weather road leading to the waterfalls. 


Too rough to drive further but able to park off the road
After parking the Xterra we continued on the eroded roadway for a short ten minute hike to the trail head.  We climbed a short pathway to a rocky viewing platform which offered us the first glimpses of El Cora Cascades with massive water flow plunging into the large lower pool.  Upon descending to the pool one could hear the thunder and feel the rush of the river flowing over the upper lip to plummet into the lower pool.  After our hike in the hot mid-afternoon sun a dip into the cool waters was a welcome relief.  A poolside lunch was consumed and a final cooling dip taken before our climb to the top to return to Los Ayala.


After the hike Doreen and Al are
 ready for a cool  swim
El Cora Cascades is a lovely spot tucked away but near enough and worth the effort to discover and enjoy the raw power and spectacular beauty of the cascading waters providing an impressive sight.

Driving Directions:

Search the “Jaltemba Bay Life” archives for “Rob’s Ramblings, Hike to El Cora Cascades, June 26, 2013” and use his article as your map.  We’ll add a shorter set of directions that should take you to the falls.

Round trip from Rincon de Guayabitos to El Cora Cascades and back is 298 km (185 miles).

Drive north to Las Varas and take the highway towards San Blas and after Platanitos look for a Pemex station on the right.  It is located at the intersection of Highway 76.  Here turn right toward Tepic.  When you reach the 37 km marker you’ll be at the entrance to Tecuitata.  Turn right and drive 10 km to El Cora.  Continue into El Cora turning right at the Zocalo and after one block turn left.  Now drive out of town passing a graveyard.  Note the newly constructed sidewalk and the finely crushed gravel smoothing out the cobble stone road.  A green sign “Cascades” points left.  Continue a short distance reaching a dry weather road.  The scenic road passes numerous jack fruit orchards.  Watch for an obvious parking pull out.  Park and walk the steeper eroded roadway passing an old palapa to the trail which goes uphill at first to a viewing spot where the corner posts of a palapa are still standing.  From here the trail consists of numerous cement steps dropping steeply to the pool- about a 15 minute descent.  At the bottom enjoy the view and cool waters.
Viewing area before hiking to pool


New sidewalk and smooth road surface, why?


The "Shark" boat has been on
'Playa Plantanetos for years

 
 
 

 


 


 

 

 


El Cora's main street
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
#2      Compostela – The Overlooked City
    
The majestic 16 Century Cathedral
                                                          
Article and Photos by
                  John and Doreen Berg
 
As our departure date approaches the question presents itself.   Where will the next day trip take us?  Like a thunderbolt the answer flashes from the road atlas page.  There centered in bold print is the destination – Compostela, a colonial city.  We’ve driven past the Nayarit city on our way to the Mexican interior, but never paused to visit.  Thus the present adventure was grasped.
Leaving Los Ayala early insured breakfast in Las Varas enjoying “Divorced Eggs” and “French Bread” at Angelita’s ever popular restaurant.  As mentioned in an earlier article the trip is not solely about the destination but about the journey along the way.  Conversations flowed uninterrupted until reaching Mesillas, stopping at Café Nayarit for a coffee and a brief visit with friends, Elizabeth and Mario.  Over the 
A visit with our two friends at Café Nayarit,Mesillas

 

seasons we’ve visited the family’s coffee plantation to film petroglyphs on a rock wall.  After saying our goodbyes we drove across the highway to visit another good friend, Felipe Rodriguez, an elderly stone carver.  As always, our visit is heartfelt and of course we purchased a small figurine while friends, Ted and Jan, scooped up stone carvings for family gifts.  Visiting Felipe’s workshop is an intrepid stop to gain a glimpse of a Mexican culture that is seldom experienced in coastal tourist towns. 
Felipe a Mesillas icon


A must stop for any adventurous inquisitive individual.  If his shop door is open the welcome mat is out.

Continuing to follow the twisting turning highway through the Sierra Madre Mountain range our next brief stop is a green two-story roadside shrine where small candles were being lit by people who probably lost loved ones or pray for safety along this stretch of highway.  Reaching Compostela’s center we locate a nearby parking spot.  A short walk returns us to the historic picture perfect zócalo with the 16th century Cathedral, complete with its loud clanging bell announcing the hour.  Something to recall if planning to stay overnight in a nearby hotel!  In the center the majestic bandstand holds the spotlight. In front of the Cathedral a small fountain provides a drink for the pigeons while the flowering shrubs complete the picturesque setting.  In the southern corner of the square the compact Compostela Archeology and History Museum
An excellent display of preclassical
 ceramic figures(2000BC to 200 AD)
 presents inherited evidence from the region’s past. Diagonally across from the museum is located a popular restaurant thus cementing the plaza’s tourist importance.
Most might consider the Cathedral and its ornate interior the community’s main attraction.  For us the major impact was the spotless streets, the pedestrian walkways and the helpfulness and friendliness of the local people.  One such example occurred when after purchasing watermelons we managed to splatter one on the sidewalk.  For the clean-up a plastic bag was required.  The vendor didn’t have one, but seeing our plight a merchant rushed across the street with a large store bag.  Compostela turned into a hidden gem and it’s only a brief drive from Rincón de Guayabitos.

First things first, a chance to shop


 

The intrepid tourists. 
Or so we think









 


Driving Directions

From the Rincón de Guayabitos Pemex the round trip is approximately 134 km (84 miles).  Direct driving time one way is 45 to 60 minutes.  During holiday periods the highway can be congested.
Drive Highway 200 towards Tepic.  Nearing Compostela continue towards Tepic turn right onto Calzado Gral Flores Munoz, the first road past the Pemex station # 2380.  We never did spot the street name!  Passing a stadium you’ll come to a white coloured roundabout, blend to the right onto Miguel Hidalgo.  Follow this street directly to the square.  Locate a parking spot nearby.  Visit the square’s attractions, wander the city’s streets, possibly shopping and maybe rent a Mexican bike rickshaw complete with driver for an escorted city tour.  Enjoy your Compostela visit.  
Compostela's picturesque bandstand

 
#3     El Molote Hot Springs
                                                                       
Article and Photos by
                                                                                        John and Doreen Berg

A relaxing pleasant afternoon soak

 
As our Mexican holiday season slowly draws to a close the desire to be on the road again beckons.  Our destination was to visit the source of El Molote hot springs.  A rustic spot to enjoy an amazing soak in a natural setting without the hustle and bustle of commercial enterprises.  The hot springs are located in a picturesque fertile valley where huge cabbages and other garden crops flourish.  On this day, contrasting cultivation methods were at work with a team of horses pulling a cultivator and a motorized rototiller breaking sod in the same field!  Since our journey is as important as the destination, time was taken to photograph such events along the way.    

Following the road through the stream
The narrow gravel road meanders through the valley crisscrossing a shallow stream toward the hot springs source.  Reaching an open barren area a slight sulfur odour and faint steam vapour floats above the boiling bubbling hot waters.  The source is a somewhat barren rocky area with the steaming water gurgling from the earth’s crust.  Employing long handled barbecue tongs, eggs were placed in the hot bubbly water.  Voilá, in fifteen to twenty minutes we had hard boiled eggs ready for the lunch salad!  In addition prawns or other foods might further enhance the cooking adventure.  After briefly exploring the area and dipping our toes in the nearby cool flowing stream we returned a short distance to a warm shallow pool.  Shade trees overhang the natural tranquil pool. The comfortable water’s temperature is an opportunity to soak away all tensions and stress allowing them to flow downstream.  Do the waters contain healing powers as well?

Our tailgate lunch
Soon our stomach rumbles pulled us from the warm soak to a tailgate party of two.  Others enjoyed lunch immersed in the pool while some ate creek side.  In the back of the Xterra and without chairs, Doreen and I stood enjoying the scrumptious outdoor lunch and the area’s quiet remoteness. 
After a return to the pool for a brief soak we packed up and bid farewell to the warm stream waters. A fantastic day drew to a close as we departed for our bumpy return drive to the highway and home to Los Ayala.
 
A horse team pulling a tiller.  A rare sighting today

19th and 20th century implements
 working in the same field

 

Driving Directions
 
Head north on Highway 200 towards Tepic.  Stopping in Las Varas at Angelita’s Restaurant for breakfast is always enjoyable.  Continue driving watching for a green road sign listing three towns – “Molote 6, El Salitre 7, Palos Maria 10.”  The distance from the turnoff to the Molote hot springs is 8.29km.
Turn left off Highway 200 following the gravel road to a junction. At 2.5km take the right branch which appears less travelled.  Continue bumping past ranches and fields traversing through a wider stream bed with a low rock dam to your right.  This is a favourite swimming spot for Mexican families to spend the day.  Continue on, passing through the small town of Molote.  Drive through the town and take a right turn as you exit.  An open field should be on your left and a basketball court on the right.   Soon after, when crossing a creek, watch for a turn to the left. The turn is approximately 7.5km from the highway.  Going to the right or straight ahead will take you to Mesillas.  The left turn road is rough gravel constituting a slow drive.  A car with reasonable clearance should have little difficulty, although a 4 x 4 is best. 

Fun to cook food in the hot water



Huge cabbages ready for market
Very quickly you’ll pass cultivated fields growing huge cabbages and other garden crops.  Continue on following the road crisscrossing the flowing stream.  When traversing the stream select a rocky route avoiding soft sandy areas. Watch for a shallow pool area on your right.  Later, return to this spot for your soak.  Coming to a barren open area look for the hot spring’s faint mists on the left and a stream on the right.  Well done, you’ve arrived!  Driving time from the highway will be 45 to 60 minutes. Use extreme caution if attempting to place food in the hot spring waters.  Once you explored this area return the short distance to the warm soaking pool to enjoy a relaxing immersion.

 

Fantastic, we made it to the source
Turn off Highway 200 at signs

 
 

 
 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

HIKING "THE EASY" TRAIL IN THE JUNGLE ABOVE LOA AYALA, MEXICO


                                    Hiking “The Easy” trail above Los Ayala

Article and photographs by

One of the many hiking groups that enjoy the jungle trails.
John and Doreen Berg

 

The dawn of a bright sunny Sunday morning motivated Doreen and I to leave our bungalow and hot coffees early to hike the “The Easy” trail located above Los Ayala.  This was our second exploratory hike of the season to determine which of the jungle trails were clear and suitable for forthcoming group hikes.  With perspiration dripping from our brows, we crested the first hill to pause at the junction, where three trails begin, for a water break before proceeding onto “The Easy” pathway.  The trail gained its name by default as in previous seasons, members of our hiking group thought it was an easier hike as compared to other route choices.  As a result the trail’s name was born.

We moved through the first sector, an older orchard area again being cultivated.  The gently flowing path continues into the solitude of the jungle portion.  Here we were greeted by the early morning song birds welcoming the glorious morning’s rays.  The varied palm trees, the peeling tourist trees and the giant tropical trees
TOURIST TREE.  TURNS RED AND PEELS
 JUST LIKE A TOURIST!
give this trail’s section a Jurassic Park ambiance.  The well-defined track begins its descent to the lower reaches of the bright sunlit grass meadows and marsh area.  Here we observe the colourful flowers opening their bright petals to welcome the morning warmth and entice the butterfly profusion to alight for a draft of nectar.

“The Easy” trail received our stamp of approval and we declared it fit and ready for future group hikes. With sweat drenched bodies from the hour and a half exertion and moisture soaked pants from the heavily dew laden tall grasses our footsteps quickened as we followed the familiar El Monteon pathway toward Kissing Beach. 
TRAIL END. 
 DIFFICULT TO SEE BUT THE TWO S's FACE EACH OTHER!
We soon arrived at our bungalow with a sense of accomplishment and a desire for a cleansing, cooling shower and a hearty, healthy breakfast.

Small groups of five to twelve hikers leave the roadside entrance to El Delphin at 7:30 a.m. every Tuesday and Friday.  The hikers enjoy the many trail permutations created by Bill Smyth carving out a series of interconnecting trails.  The approximate two hour hikes start and finish in Los Ayala, giving people the opportunity to enjoy the remainder of the day or locate a Los Ayala restaurant to enjoy a breakfast.  Periodically, during the season, we hike to El Monteon, enjoying the hike and a trail-end breakfast plus hikes to Punta Raza.


 Leave the morning comforts of your bungalow and the sparkling waters behind to come enjoy nature’s beauty while trimming the waistline.  See you on our next hike.


ONE OF THE LARGER TROPICAL TREES.

 

 
NATURE AT IT'S BEST!
 


 


 

 

BIRD SANCTUARY

OBJECTS TO CLIMB OVER.


As a rule we do not usually publish our newspaper articles as part of our travel blog.  But just for fun we thought we would add this piece.
                

Thursday, November 21, 2013

GOLDEN AGE BACKPACKERS - Pause and Smell the roses not the Fumes!




Pause and Smell the Roses, not the Fumes

                    .....The Covered Bridges of Cottage Grove, Oregon



Silk Creek flowing through
 the center of Cottage Grove.
Article and Photos by John and Doreen Berg       

 

Are you heading south on Interstate 5 and wishing an alternate to an overnight stay in a chain motel/hotel, having an evening dinner and rising to an early alarm to hit the pavement for another tedious day of driving?  We had considered venturing off the beaten path making our drive more of an exploratory trip but our selections usually involved considerable detours to and from I-5.  This time we did discover the perfect stopover location, Cottage Grove!

Our deluxe room complete with my foot!
This fall our annual trip to Sacramento to visit our brother-in-law was significantly different.  On "Travel Zoo" Doreen discovered a "Dinner Package Special" being offered by Village Green Resort and Gardens.  The dinner package included two night's accommodation, breakfasts and a dinner for two in their restaurant with a bottle of complementary wine.   (See following "General Information" for details.)

Village Green is located approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Eugene, Oregon in the heritage town of Cottage Grove.  After driving eight to nine hours it was the perfect stop-over spot for us to enjoy the countryside and relax before continuing to our final destination- Sacramento.

Cottage Grove bills itself as a friendly recreational, family oriented small town.  For us the town added interest to an otherwise predictable drive.  Cottage Grove is small enough to be able to wander the local antique shops, view hand painted murals and examine intact collections of historic 20th century buildings.  And, of course, dine at local restaurants to sample the regional cuisine.  The first evening witnessed us dining at Stacy's Covered Bridge Restaurant marveling over their cedar plank salmon special.

The town also boasts a 17 mile dedicated paved bike trail.  Unfortunately due to the season's lateness, the resort's bikes were stored and the local bike shop had bikes previously booked.  The trail sections we saw from the road looked impressive.  Next time!


Swing Bridge -
The current bridge is at least the 4th on the site.
Cottage Grove has the distinction of being the "Covered Bridge Capital of Oregon."  The seven restored covered bridges do verify the town's claim as this is the largest number in any town in Lane County!  The bridges were built between 1900 and 1925, the regions heyday for construction and farming.  From local sawmills, readily available timber was used and house-like structures were built over the bridges to prolong the bridges' life spans.  The first morning of our stay we followed a detailed easy-to-follow map that was part of our resort package.  The roads we drove were paved and the traffic was sparse with the fall colours and landscapes creating a magical atmosphere as we visited and photographed each bridge.


Fall colours highlight the Mosby Covered Bridge
with Mosby Creek gently flowing beneath.
Lunch was at Torero's Mexican Restaurant and after a wander through the historical business section, we again consulted our tourist map and drove River Row Road to the Brice Creek Trailhead beginning at Cedar Creek Camp Site.  After taking a wrong gravel side road and climbing for a few miles, we turned back and easily located the camp a few meters past the erroneous turnoff.


Beginning our afternoon hike.
The trail follows the scenic Brice Creek

Our plan was to hike to a set of falls.  However, presented with a fork in the trail we elected to hike left while we should have gone right.  We missed the falls but the hike was enjoyable and scenic, plus providing needed exercise.

That evening in the Village Green Restaurant, we enjoyed our complementary dinner complete with a bottle of wine.  I selected a trout dish special and Doreen chose the salmon plate.  Both selections were delicious and cleverly presented.  After our meal a short stroll was in order prior to retiring for the evening and preparing for tomorrow's road journey.

Cottage Grove is favourably located to allow us to divide our 1500 kilometer drive into two days driving  with an intrepid pause to explore a region.  The historic town is situated close to the freeway making for an easy exit and return.  Yet, only a short drive from I-5 and you encounter the town surrounded by rolling pastures, lakes and beautiful forests.  We left Village Green refreshed and with an appreciation and better understanding of the county's environment and culture.  On our next drive south we plan to pause at Cottage Grove to further explore the surrounding countryside and ride the bike trail!

 

General Information:

Resort

Village Green Resort and Gardens:  725 Row River Road, Cottage Grove, Oregon, 97424.  Web:  www.villagegreenresortandgardens.com.  Telephone: (541) 942-2491 or (800) 343-7666.  Wi-Fi  is in all rooms.  
One of the resort's beautiful gardens.

Our deluxe room sported a fireplace plus T.V., fridge and microwave.  A set of patio doors led to a small private patio area.  Excellent decor and king size bed.

A spider enjoys the garden.
The resort offers a variety of special packages.  Our Dinner Package Special included a dinner with wine and two nights' accommodation in a deluxe room and breakfasts.  At check-in we were presented with an information package about restaurants, local maps, entertainment and coupons for a wine tour as there are many successful wineries in the region.  The resort features large gardens of flora, ideal for wandering through.  We felt that the package special was an excellent value as the dinner for tipping purposes was valued at $62.00 US.  The total package cost $139.00.

 

Restaurants

Torero's Family Mexican Restaurant  1205 Highway 99 North, Cottage Grove, Oregon.  Phone: (541) 942-1155

Located in a small shopping mall.  Good ambiance and the Mexican lunch was tasty plus pleasant prompt service.  Reasonably priced.

 

Stacy's Covered Bridge Restaurant 401 E. Main Street, Cottage Grove, Oregon, 97424.  Phone: (541) 767-0320

Located directly across from the police station.  Stacy's is an excellent restaurant.  We ordered the day's special, salmon cooked on a cedar plank.  It was one of the most delicious salmon meals we've enjoyed.  The server was courteous and attentive.  There's also a bar area for lighter snacks.  Our meal including drinks and tip was $60.70 US

 

Wal-Mart:  located next to Village Green Resort just off Row River Road.  The supermarket is a good place to stock up on lunch provisions for the next day's travel.

Travel Zoo:  www.travelzoo.com

Travelzoo is a publishing company listing travel, entertainment and local deals.  The company evaluates deals to judge their value.  On the company's web site they publish a weekly top 20 selections that can be sent to your e-mail.  We've taken advantage of offers and have been extremely pleased with the results.
Centennial Bridge
Built on old abutments to celebrate
Cottage Grove's centennial.
Seven Covered Bridges


1)  Centennial Bridge - reconstructed in 1977

2)  Swinging Bridge - built for foot and bicycle traffic

Chamber's Covered Railway Bridge
3) Chambers Bridge - built in 1925 and restored in 2011 - employed by a timber            company as a train bridge.

4)  Mosby Creek Bridge - 1920 and restored in 1990 - oldest bridge and open to traffic

5)  Stewart Bridge - 1930 Restored in 1996.- deep water below for swimming

6)  Dorena Bridge 1949 - now closed to traffic

7)  Currin Bridge - 1925 ( replaced an earlier bridge built in 1883) -  Restored 1995.
Massive timbers were used in most covered
bridge constructions.