Fantastic Oregon wine is not this region’s only claim to fame. The Oregon Trail was, of course, the “Gateway to the West” — and, if you’re the right age, a thrilling computer game! But the legendary route holds some surprises, even nearly two centuries later. Did you know:
- The Oregon Trail meandered. This wasn’t an interstate! The original route led pioneers through Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon. But as people trekked through the frontier, they spanned out to hunt or find land to graze their animals. Some also went “off road” to cut new trails.
- Pioneers used “prairie schooners.” Most people think of the famed Conestoga wagon when they imagine the Oregon Trail. But these beasts were more like the 18-wheelers of today. They could carry in excess of 6 tons of freight. For faster (and we use that term loosely) travel, pioneers opted for the smaller “schooner,” which could cover 15-20 miles a day.
- Not the bacon! Money-grubbing opportunists often conned pioneers into over-buying for the 5 month trek. As a result, they had to offload supplies en route. Legend has it that during the Gold Rush, pioneers left behind 20,000 pounds of bacon. The horror!
- Disease was the enemy. Disease killed far more people (20,000) than attacks by Native Americans (about 400). “Indians” were far more likely to be allies on the journey, not adversaries.
- The Oregon Trail left an indelible mark. Literally and figuratively. The importance of this route on American history cannot be over-emphasized. Pioneers made their mark – you can still see the ruts from the wagons in all six states.
Pioneers embody the bold spirit of the United States; they struck out, searching for better lives. This thirst for adventure and improvement drives us today.
And if you’re still sad about all that wasted bacon, serve up scrumptious bacon-and goat-cheese stuffed mushrooms with a glass of bold Rainstorm Pinot Noir. Ok, maybe it’s not what the settlers would have eaten, but we think they’d pull up a feed bag and dig in with us!
Behold the wonder that is the Pacific Northwest. Not only is the climate and topography ideal for growing delicious, dynamic Rainstorm wines, but it also makes the region an advantageous home to a variety of animals. While you’re out and about, be prepared to encounter these wild residents:
- Burrowing Owl. These wise old owls, weighing in at just 6 ounces, make their home in burrows dug by squirrels and other critters. Each nest houses a breeding pair who produce 7-10 owlets. Pocket-sized cuteness!
- Sea Otter. Always a crowd-pleaser, these furry water-dwellers are a “keystone species.” They have a significant impact on the ecosystem and many other species depend on them for survival.
- Gray Fox. These foxy creatures are actually quite shy. Keep your eyes open and you may spot one while it’s foraging for food – which can be anything from fruit and nuts to grasshoppers and carrion.
- Bald Eagle. If you’re around large bodies of water, look out for these majestic hunters. When you see the signature white head and tail, you know it’s a mature eagle.
- Black Bear. Solitary black bears prefer to roam wide tracts of wooded land as they “hunt” for fruits, nuts, berries, and small game. They mate in summer, so be wary; males can be aggressive. Best to stay well away!
- Gray Wolf. Gray wolves form tight packs, and these families can survive and thrive virtually anywhere. The Pacific Northwest is hospitable in that it provides a diet of hoofed animals and plenty of space to roam.
- Cougar. Count yourself lucky if you see one of these big cats; they prefer to avoid people – and each other! Quite solitary, their beauty is unparalleled.
- Beaver. The general contractor of the wild, beavers are Oregon’s state animal. The largest member of the rodent family, they create important habitats for themselves and other animals.
- Roosevelt Elk. Named after a famous Teddy, this subspecies has the longest antlers of any elk. There are over 5000 in the biggest unmanaged herd, located in Washington.
- Sasquatch. Just a myth, a legend, a tall tale? Or perhaps Bigfoot is real. There are a lot of wild acres in the Pacific Northwest…. Maybe he’s hiding out there with the cougars! Well, you may not be able to find the Sasquatch, but you can certainly find terrific Pacific Northwest wines to liven up your dinner conversation
Who is your favorite PNW native?