Friday, September 19, 2008

This is Dundee. Not Crocodile Dundee.

Argh! Enough about me, here's more about the place we call home.

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Dundee, population 3100, 26 miles southwest of Portland, Oregon. It is a wide spot in the road on Highway 99W. There are a cluster of businesses that line the highway. I've visited the birdseed and outdoor statuary shop, but there's a bakery that is never open, a real estate office, an elementary school, a dentist office, a hair salon, and a few other small businesses.

There are several restaurants, mostly high-end places like Dundee Bistro, Tina's, and Red Hills Provincial Dining. Other options are Chan's Chinese Cuisine, a Teriyaki hut, Lumpy's Tavern, La Sierra Mexican Restaurant (quite good,) and Calamity Jane's, a burger joint and country-western bar. There's also the Riteway Meat Company, home of the five-foot long pepperoni, great beef jerky, and house-cured bacon. They sell only locally produced meat and provide mobile slaughtering services. Support your local farmers!

Other highlights of this place are the wineries. As I've mentioned in previous posts, Dundee is where the Oregon wine industry began in the late 60's and early 70's. David Lett, Jim Maresh, Dick Erath all planted grapes on this hill that I now call home. Who knew that I'd be the cheesemaker in the middle of all of this great wine? I'm happy to be of service to the folks who flock to the vineyards and wineries. You just gotta buy some fine, hand-crafted cheese to go with those wines, right? I can help anyone that wants to put together a great picnic lunch feature our cheese and their wines. Our neighbors are very happy we're going to be making cheese.

And we just discovered a local apple cider. The daughter of the winemakers at Bethel Heights Vineyard makes English style hard cider. It is called Wandering Aengus Ciderworks. I tried it at the Portland Farmer's Market on Saturday. It is as good as what I found in Somerset! I bought a bottle. Now I've got to get a piece of Montgomery's or Westcombe Cheddar, some Branston Pickle, crispy lettuce, tomato slices, and some crusty bread and I've got the perfect ploughman's lunch. I'm getting hungry.

Portlanders hate Dundee. It is home to a traffic light that can snarl traffic in two directions, slowing down everyone heading to or from the coast and the casino. If you tell someone around here that you're driving to the coast, often you'll be asked, "Which coast?" From Portland you can go one of two ways; North Coast or Central Coast. Cannon Beach or Lincoln City. We live on the route to Lincoln City, about an hour and 10 minutes away. It is an easy drive, through farmland and forest, hugging the Salmon River.

Dundee is also very close to Portland. We can make it to our friends' house in southwest Portland in 35 minutes, faster if no one is looking. Our place is just beyond the Urban Growth Boundary. That means that we live in scenic, rural splendor and have to drive through the sprawling suburbs to get into the city. That also means that we have to get into the car and drive everywhere we want to go. Not fun, but I can get into Portland faster than I could get into downtown San Francisco, or North Beach taking public transit from our old house in the Sunset District.

Oh! Our house sold very quickly, thank you very much! We're quite pleased. If you need a realtor in San Francisco, I highly recommend Danielle Lazier at Zephyr Real Estate. No, she did not ask me to write that. I am simply amazed with how well the deal went. She really helped guide us through what might have been a very stressful process.

The closest town to Dundee is Newberg, population of 20,000. It is about three miles away. We go shopping there, do our banking, and hit the Cameo Theater, a small, family-run movie house. They also own the 99W Drive In, also in Newberg. For most other services, we head south to McMinnville, about 12 miles away. There's a great farmer's market in McMinnville every Thursday that I try to attend. I've met some really nice people there, like Seth and Leslie from Figment Farm, and Katie and Casey from Oakhill Organics. We bought a lamb from Seth and Leslie. Tasty meat, raised about nine miles from here. I like McMinnville because it has a nice, small town feel to it. You still have a bakery, a health food store, several grocery stores, a liberal arts college (Linfield) and all of the service that one might need without having to drive into Portland. You can even visit the Spruce Goose!

Speaking of eating locally, we joined a CSA – community supported agriculture -- called Gaining Ground Farm outside of Yamhill. This means we bought a share in the crops grown on the farm. Every Tuesday for 20 weeks, we get a bag of produce often harvested that day. This keeps us going all week until we return to the farm and get a new bag. I'll be sad come November when the bounty is over. I wish it was a year-round CSA like Terra Firma Farms, the one we belonged to in San Francisco. Not too many growers sell produce year round around here. Such a shame. I'd support them. I know of only two year round farmer's markets, one in the Hillsdale neighborhood of Portland, and one in Salem. There is a local chapter of Slow Food. Perhaps I'll encourage our local members to seek more venues. If we build it they will come, right? Sure, it is cold and rainy for six months, but we still have to eat!

I cannot begin to add up how different this place is compared to the bubble I lived in, in San Francisco. For one thing, everyone is SO NICE. Sure, I might have very different political views, or spiritual beliefs from some of the people we meet around here. But I am always greeted with a warm, genuine smile and a hello. People look you in the eye and talk to you. They are interested in meeting you. At first I was very suspicious of this behavior. I'm used to brusque interaction, and an empty "Have a nice day!" And you never make eye contact or smile at a stranger! They might be crazy and start talking to you. I spent too many years riding on Muni in San Francisco. If you talk to your seat mate, everyone gets annoyed and shoots you mean looks. Chances are pretty good, there's a crazy person on the bus or train annoying everyone. Muni will make anyone bitter.

I'm not totally new to this thing called being nice to strangers. I've gotten into the Country Wave. That's where you wave at the driver of the car passing you in the opposite direction on a country road. Nothing too vigorous, just a casual lifting of four fingers off of the steering wheel when you're close enough for the other driver to see you. I use to do this in college when I drove around the backroads outside of Columbia, Missouri.

1 comment:

Danielle Lazier said...

Cheesy as it sounds, OMG am I really writing this on a cheese blog?!, your story is one of my favorite real estate experiences. When someone shares their dream with me and in some small way, I am able to help them on their path, it feels really great. Selling real estate is whatever but helping people get what they want in life is awesome. Mazel! Someday, I will make it up there for a visit and some cheese and wine tasting!