The Jefferson Ride - Northwest passages: riding out the storm - CycleBlaze

June 8, 2020

The Jefferson Ride

A shortish post for a longish ride.  With several wet days ahead, we wanted to fit in a longer ride today while we can.  The weather app says we should stay dry, but the skies indicate otherwise.  We step out the door at ten, but quickly return to our room when we find that it’s lightly raining.  Twenty minutes later we try again, happy to see that it’s dry now and the cloud cover has broken up a bit.

We leave town bound for the Buena Vista Ferry, riding through its northern suburbs of Crescent Valley and then east to Lewisburg.  This is the traditional route we always followed when riding back to Salem from Corvallis.  I’ll bet we haven’t come this way in 20 years, but it’s instantly familiar.  It’s satisfying to find that the ridge between downtown and Crescent Valley isn’t as steep as we remembered.

East of Lewisburg we leave the urban boundary and follow pretty Pettigrove Road for a few miles to its end at the Independence-Corvallis Highway.  I’ve always liked Pettigrove Road, a quiet lane that slithers along the base of a low, wooded ridge, just high enough off the valley floor to give you a view.

East of Lewisburg, dropping along Pettigrove Road.
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Horse hotel of the day. The initial entry in what is likely to be to be a quite small album.
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The Corvallis-Independence Highway is hardly that.  It’s really just a narrow two lane country road, but it does carry a fair amount of traffic and considerably more than we remember from the past.  It’s not bad, but we’re happy to leave it behind when we come to Springhill Road and the turnoff toward the ferry.

As we’re riding it today, I enjoy being reminded of one of those proud/embarrassed moments from my past.  Probably 30 years ago now Rachael and I were biking home along this road on a lovely summer day when a red-tailed hawk soared across the field and directly above my head.  I was tracking him with my eyes, and looked straight up at him as he flew past - until I suddenly came back to earth, realizing that I had left the road and was dropping into about a six foot deep, gravel-sided irrigation ditch.  Embarrassing, but I always think back with pride on the fact that I somehow stuck the landing, keeping control of the bike and bringing it to a smooth stop in the bottom of the ditch.

Looking west from the Independence-Corvallis Highway. I think the high point in the distance is Vinyard Hill.
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An interesting collection, in front of a home of nature lovers. There are dozens of bird houses in their yard.
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I won’t attempt a re-enactment today. I’d surely crash this time, and there’s no red-tailed hawk above anyway.
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Along the Independence-Corvallis Highway.
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The Buena Vista Ferry, one of three ferries still operating on the Willamette.
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Pretty cheap ride at $1/bike, especially considering that we’re the only passengers on this run.
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Off the ferry, we turn southeast and cross Ankeny Flats on Talbot Road, another familiar old ride we probably haven’t covered for 20 years.  It doesn’t look like much has changed over the last twenty years.  When we come to Jefferson at roughly the midpoint of the ride, we stop for lunch at a picnic bench in front of a closed cafe.

In Ankeny Flats, looking across a lot of beans at the South Salem Hills.
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It’s been raining off and on for several days. Seems like an odd time to be irrigating and trying to grow the pavement.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesThe problem is that large scale farmers irrigate on a schedule, irrespective of the weather. We have the same issue with the guy who has a hay field behind our house. He waters in the rain on occasion also. Drives us nuts.
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3 weeks ago

We cross the Santiam River just outside of Jefferson, and follow busy Jefferson Highway for about a mile until we come to Scravel Hill Road and turn off.  I’ve only biked this way two or three times in my life, and have avoided it because I’ve always stayed on the highway all the way past Millersburg to Albany.  It’s an unpleasant ride, but it’s much better the way we went today.  It adds a mile and a few hundred feet of climbing, but it’s easily worth the extra effort.  And you might see baby turkeys!

The Jacob Conser Bridge crosses the Santiam River just outside of Jefferson. I don’t really care for this bridge but it’s safe enough, with a narrow walkway along both sides.
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Jacquie GaudetIt's an interesting bridge--if you're not on a bike! The concrete through truss design intrigued me so I looked it up and found this on HistoricalBridges.org: "This is an impressive multi-span example of a rainbow arch bridge, and was designed by noted engineer Conde McCullough. It is a traditional arch bridge, not a tied arch, making it different from some of Oregon's other rainbow arch bridges. It includes ornamental pillars at each end and extensive architectural detailing on the structure itself, this attention to beauty being typical for McCullough-designed bridges." McCoullough is the fellow responsible for those scary but beautiful bridges on the Oregon coast highway.
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetThanks for researching this, Jacquie. I’m surprised to learn that it’s a McCullough bridge. I’ll have to give it another look when we’re back that way. I have to admit I’ve never looked at it objectively and have just viewed it as a barrier to be crossed. Partly it’s the setting, I think - it’s hard to see from a vantage point where you can really appreciate it, except from the water. I’ve canoed under it a couple of times many years ago too but I didn’t appreciate it then either. The Santiam is pretty swift here, and I was more focused on not becoming a statistic.
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1 week ago
Looking west from Clover Ridge to Marys Peak.
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Clover Ridge Elementary School, founded in 1914. It’s gone through numerous alterations and expansions since then, but its core looks like it’s probably the original structure.
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Well, we weren’t too excited about this loop through Jefferson and Albany but seeing this makes it all worthwhile. How did that cute chick end up with such a turkey?
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Kathleen JonesYoung turkeys are called poults, I believe.
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Kathleen JonesPoults. I knew there was a word for them, but was too lazy to look it up. Thanks!
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3 weeks ago
So colorful! We don’t think we’ve ever seen wild turkey chicks before.
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Jen GrumbyIf a baby turkey's a poult
And a baby horse is a colt
Then what's a young frog?
Tadpole? Pollywog?
And who is Daniel L. Schmoldt?
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3 weeks ago

The remainder of the ride from Albany to Jefferson is great, and in places spectacular.  For the first five miles it follows parklike Byers Way as it weaves through a narrow strip of flatland sandwiched between the Calapooia and Willamette Rivers.  I’m sure we’ll see this stretch of road again, maybe including a stop for lunch or an early dinner at Gamboretti’s in Albany.  It’s the sort of flat, easy, safe ride you could really enjoy at the end of an Italian meal at the end of the day.

The great wood duck of Avery Park. This guy has been floating out here for at least thirty years. How long to wood ducks live, anyway?
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Kathleen JonesThis one will probably live longer than average. Just a guess. Also, baby ducks are called ducklings, I believe.
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3 weeks ago
On Bryant Way, west of Albany. This is a beautiful road through a slender wedge of land, with the Calapooia River just to the left and the Willamette just to the right. We’ll have to come back.
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Along Bryant Road, or maybe Riverside Drive. I should have paid better attention.
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I love these guys! They remind me of the Three Haircuts, that great pop trio from my youth. What? You don’t remember the Three Haircuts?
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Video sound track: You are So Rare, and Flippin’ Over You, by the Three Haircuts.

Just call me Sid.
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Video sound track: Feels Like Home, by Randy Newman

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Ride stats today: 51 miles, 1,200’

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Jen GrumbyWow! Those Three Haircuts guys have some serious moves!
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyThey were great, as I remember them now, over 60 years later. Well before your time, I’m sure.
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3 weeks ago