The Oregon Drink Scene
If there's one thing Oregon is known for, it's their coffee. Little coffee stands dot every street, tucked into whatever spaces they can find in a little used parking lot, or snuggled up next to some other business. This morning I stopped at Dutch Bros. for the obligatory mocha. While the drink itself wasn't terribly impressive, I found myself wondering how they managed to find such morning people to staff their booths. Despite it only being 5 am, the bro-ista happily chirped at us as we waited patiently for our drinks. Word of caution: their coffee is served at 190 degrees, so accept the offer of a couple ice cubes in your beverage. Anyway, my curiosity got the better of me, as it so often does, and I found myself googling the company. It turns out that Dutch Bros. has a reputation for doing things a little differently. They hold what amounts to casting calls to find such chipper people, with sometimes hundreds of applicants showing up at once. Competition is fierce for a spot in those little shacks. The company claims they only offer franchise opportunities to employees who have worked for them for at least 3 years, and they also help fund those (mostly) young men and women to start their business venture. So despite the lacklustre coffee, I felt good about possibly supporting a young entrepreneur.
Although mainly known for their coffee, Oregon has an impressive liquor making scene. Every liquor store proudly boasts Oregon vodka, whiskey, and rum. I selected a ginger vodka to make mules with and found a ginger beer to add to it. I'm not entirely sure what determines if a drink is a mule or not, but here's my recipe for what I've dubbed the Oregon Mule:
- Ginger Vodka
- Ginger Beer
- Cranberry Juice
- Ice Cubes
Fill a lowball glass with ice cubes. Pour vodka in until the glass is half full (or half empty depending on your perspective), then top off with ginger beer. Add the tiniest splash of cranberry juice and garnish with a slice of lime. Sit back, sip, and enjoy!
Evening Reflections and Sustainable Crops
The night is cool here, with a tinge of nip in the air. Looking over the Rouge River Valley, I realize how isolated and peaceful this part of Oregon is. The night sky is the predominant feature of the landscape. The valley lies sprinkled like a discarded bracelet below me, it's colors refracted in dozens of amber hues, bright against the night sky. The wind blows cool against my skin, warning me of the winter already on its way in June. I'm sure I feel the cold breath of snow coming down from Mt. Shasta. The crickets keep time and temperature in the background. As I contemplate the Oregon valley, I realize how wild the west still is... and how wild translates to peaceful and empty way out here. As much as the lights of the homes down below beckon me, I wish they would turn off for a moment or two and let me absorb the solitude of southern Oregon.
I'm sitting on the edge of the wildlife refuge, right next to an organic alfalfa crop. The farmer is turning the rows of hay over, transforming them from flat yellow fields to ridges of long green caterpillars. The sun is fierce in my eyes, but the breeze steaming off the distant mountains still feels like snow, although the caps are shrouded in blue grey haze. The world feels large out here, like I could stretch my arms in all the directions and never get to the end. It feels wild, yet is obviously well tended. Oregon is a bit of a mystery from here at the edge of the field. Old fashioned habits merge with new technology and ideologies. Solar fields, the new sustainable commodity, are being planted like crops everywhere in southern Oregon, organic crops are replacing the pesticide laden fields to support the newly health conscious, yet the locals still get out and chase the ground squirrels with the hound dogs on the occasional Saturday.