Champoeg State Park
September 26-28, 2015
We found this park, south of Portland, OR, because friends were camping there to participate in a half-marathon event. It's actually very nice indeed, on the banks of the Willamette River, smack in the middle of the Willamette Valley wine district. It has an interesting history, starting with the name, how to pronounce it and what it means. Here's the latest thinking on that subject.
In any language, it's a very pretty park with an excellent campground and lots of trails for walking and biking. What's more, the park is surrounded by farms that grow hazelnuts, strawberries, and dairy. There are also innumerable wineries in the area. The famous butte, or rounded hill, in the area is where French immigrant families first began growing grapes in the Willamette valley.
Did we say wine?
Yes indeed! Right across the highway from the main entrance to the park you'll find two small wineries sharing the same facilities. One is SineAnn, and the other is Lady Hill. So, in the spirit of adventure, we felt it was our bounden duty to hop on our bikes and ride over as part of a longer bike ride. When we stopped by, the SineAnn tasting room was open, though Lady Hill was not. At SineAnn, we tried their Pinot Noir and their Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2012 Pinot was really very good indeed. The Cab was equally impressive. Since we were riding our bikes, we decided to skip making a purchase for fear of a tragic bottle-dropping accident. However, when we got back home we found SineAnn's Cab available at Costco for just under $26.00. So, we picked up a bottle there and look forward to trying it soon. It's a 2013 and thus quite youthful, but it's probably worth opening a bottle soon, just for fun. If it seems as good at home as it did at the winery, we'll grab a few more bottles and hold them a few more years in anticipation of enjoying them again!
The campground and Butteville
At Champoeg State Park, the campground is really great. There are two loops, each quite different from the other. Both loops offer "standard" campsites, meaning they provide water and electric, but not sewer connections. Loop A, where we stayed (site A-14), is more heavily wooded, while Loop B is more open. Both loops are quite pleasant indeed, and we'd be happy in either. This is a typically awesome Oregon State Park campground, and you can't go wrong staying here.
The bike trails here are really a lot of fun, and that includes a trail that leads to the Butteville Store, the longest continually operating store in the state of Oregon. We're not quite sure what they sell at the Butteville store, since it was closed during our visit, but it must be interesting! Bike riding around here is a real pleasure, and we highly recommend bringing your bikes when camping here.
The blood moon
While at Champoeg, we were lucky enough to witness a total eclipse of the full moon, resulting in a "blood moon." To add extra excitement, this was also what is referred to as a "super moon." We went out into the field next to Loop B and set up chairs, blankies and cameras on tripods to prepare. We had a nice clear evening, and it got chilly quickly as the moon began to rise. Given we're in the far West, the moon was already fully eclipsed by the time it rose over the horizon. When we finally saw the blood moon, it was an exciting moment, and we followed the process for a while before heading in to warm up. We popped out again later in the evening to catch an image of the restored full moon. So, here are a few shots, just to satisfy curiosity.