We visit our daughter Gillian about three times a year. She lives in Corvallis and works at Les Schwab in Philomath. She enjoys trouble shooting car problems and telling stories about her interesting work life.

We camp at the Benton Oaks RV Park at the Benton County Fairgrounds. This time, we camped in site #27 with a view of Oregon white oaks rising out of the meadow dotted with English daisies. Camp spaces are angled in this part of the campground, have full hookups, and we were fortunate to have a site that did not look directly into our neighbor’s 40-foot behemoth with popouts.

Oregon white oak grow in English daisy meadow at Benton Oaks RV Park. This view was taken while sitting outside of our trailer. Photo by Kate Poss

Do not even think about camping here during OSU home games, unless you’re an OSU devotee. The prices increase by $20 to $30 a night. Checking now, it looks like overflow parking campsites along Reservoir Road, far from the restrooms, are the only sites left for September’s home games.

That being said, camping here is convenient to nearby eateries, farm stands, thrift stores, downtown Corvallis, the Osborn Aquatic Center, and plenty of trails for walking and hiking. The restrooms are clean and heated, provide good showers, and a laundry room. The campground hosts are friendly and easy to reach by cellphone.

American cow parsnip. This photo was taken at the McDonald Forest hiking/biking trail in Corvallis. Photo by Bill Poss
Bellardia Viscosia at William L. National Wildlife Refuge, Corvallis OR. Photo by Kate Poss
Bill admires a moss-covered Big-leaf maple at William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge near Corvallis OR
Yellow monkeyflower grows in wetlands at William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Kate Poss

Our first morning we stopped at the Midway Farm in nearby Albany. Farmer Carol told us about the just-picked strawberries–sweet and juicy–and we bought her preserved tomatoes, dried Italian plums, red onions, crisp snap peas and basil whose leaves were larger than my hand. We made a spaghetti sauce that night using the tomatoes, onion and basil, which we shared with Gilli after her work day.

Midway Farms organic preserves and produce near Albany. Photo by Kate Poss
Sweet juicy strawberries from Midway Farm. Photo by Kate Poss
Sweet smelling honeysuckle vine at Midway Farms. Photo by Kate Poss

One evening we visited at the home Gilli shares with three friends. A crafting class was meeting in the living room. We spoke with Jane Herbst, a local artist, who is prolific in spinning and dying fiber, knits, paints canvas fabric with realistic motifs from the natural world, makes ceramics, weaves and creates block prints. Here are three of her creations. Look for her art during the holiday season at a gathering of artists–TEAL Artist Cooperative seasonal art gallery.

131 types of natural sheep wool were woven into this loomed art by Jane Herbst. Photo shared by Jane Herbst
Appliqued and free-form sewing machine embroidery art quilt by Jane Herbst. Photo shared by Jane Herbst
Ceramic bowl of marine life created by Jane Herbst. Photo shared by Jane Herbst

While staying in this comfortable college town, we lovelovelove visiting the Corvallis Saturday farmers’ market, which runs along the riverfront paralleling 1st Street until late November. For foodies like us, seeing the heaps of organic fruits and vegetables–we bought tomatoes and plump blackberries–and other bounties and crafts is a highlight of our visit.

Sweet juicy jumbo blackberries from organic farm stand at Corvallis Farmers Market. Photo by Kate Poss

Bakeries displaying top drawer artisanal pastries and breads had me admiring, and Bill buying. The Bread Board Artisan Bakery from Falls City OR offers exceptional bakery–heavy fragrant loaves of raisin bread, filled with cinnamon swirls and raisins–and salad plate-sized galettes filled with blackberries. Their focaccia and sandwiches had me wishing I could eat gluten again. Their food is yum-yum looking. The experience was confirmed later when visiting a friend and Bill cut the galette into quarters. Watching Bill, Gillian and our friend Jim close their eyes in ecstacy upon taking a bite, had me convinced the pastries are worth writing about. Keith and John, who own the bakery, stay busy with lines of customers who know this is a place with good stuff.

Keith Zinn, co-owner of the Bread Board, Falls City OR. Photo by Kate Poss
Blackberry galette from Falls City Bread Board. Photo by Bill Poss
Bountiful offerings from The Bread Board, wood-fired breads, pizzas and pastries in Falls City OR. Photo by Bill Poss

We drove up to Marys Peak, the dominant coastal mountain of the Willamette Valley. At 4,101 feet, its meadows bloom with purple Western dog violet, fawn lily, and yellow violet. We admired the view of the Cascade peaks to the east.

Bill, Gilli and Kate at one of more than 238 waterfalls in Oregon. This one is at Marys Peak. Bill took the selfie
Western dog violet growing in meadows at Mary’s Peak, elevation 4,101 feet. Photo by Kate Poss
Oregon fawn lily, Marys Peak Botanical Special Interest Area. Photo by Kate Poss

During Gillian’s lunch break we visited Jim Garah, the father of Gilli’s friend and housemate Robbie. Jim’s backyard is a Secret Garden of flowers, fruit and veggies. Sitting under the shady arms of his tree hung with lights is a reminder of the importance of what beauty is. His home is an anthropologist’s fantasy, arranged with tribal masks, stacks of rocks, minerals, fossils and crystals. His hundreds of reliquary collages–made of stone, feathers and found art–tell stories of indigenous people blended into modern times. Jim describes himself as an anchorite–a word we had not heard of until he said it. An anchorite is someone who withdraws from secular society and lives an ascetic life.

Jim Garah in his garden of Eden. Photo by Kate Poss
Recalling days of teaching in NJ, and Jim Garah’s participation in the Selma marches to abolish discriminatory Jim Crow voting restrictions in the South in 1965. Photo by Kate Poss
Jim Garah collage invoking the Ohlone indigenous people of Silicone Valley, and its status today. Photo by Kate Poss

Boy, Jim can talk, and his stream-of-consciousness soliloquies range from pre-industrial times where land’s first people honored the Earth, to demanding civil rights in 1965 Selma, to his legacy for his sons and grandchildren, and, the end of the times as we know them.

‘Nuclear Winter’ collage by Jim Garah. Photo by Kate Poss

“You’ve got to read ‘Are We Doomed?'” Jim told us, about an article that fired him up after reading it in the 6/3/24 issue of the New Yorker. The article quotes “the Godfather of AI,” Geoffrey Hinton’s lecture last January at the University of Chicago. Hinton talked about whether the upcoming AI revolution is a threat.

Like Hinton, Jim lived during, what he calls a “perfect time.” Born after WWII, a teenager before the AIDs epidemic, and he’ll die before the end. The end, in Jim’s thinking may come with continued climate change, bioweapons, corruption and the proliferation of surveillance power into the hands of the few. With these threats in the larger world, Jim is actively arranging his collection of art and artifacts. He wishes to publish a website that provides a description and narration by him of the items which he hopes to sell.

Meanwhile, Robbie, Jim’s son, has founded a community group: The Corvallis Creative Cooperative, which has attracted an increasing following in a few short months. We met for a CCC community potluck the Sunday before we left for home. There we met and spoke with interesting and kind people: Rachel, Judy, and Sheila.

CCC’s groups include: ‘Upward Spiral,’ which supports people who feel their lives are in a downward spiral, and are looking for solutions. Another group addresses social anxiety. There are cooking groups, crafting meetups, potlucks, walks, doggy play dates, tabletop games and movie nights. Our Gillian designed and created the CCC logo on her embroidery machine. Robbie wears T-shirts bearing the logo.

Gillian Poss created this logo and embroidered it on T-Shirts worn by her friend Robbie Eberhart-Garah, chief community coordinator, and founder of the Corvallis Creative Cooperative. Photo by Gillian Poss

Back home, and recalling the past week in this story, I am filled with the connection of people we’ve met, recalling the Corvallis landscape, and grateful to have spent time with our Gillian.

While writing this story, our cat Ollie the editor, inspects the copy. Photo by Kate Poss


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  1. On anchorite….they were early Christians going off into the desert to live in caves. I had not heard the word either, but Michael filled in the meaning for me. It all just sounds glorious. Good times!

    • Kate Poss | With Photos by David Welton on

      Writing these stories helps me see the beauty of simple living. Hope to see you soon!

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