June 7, 2012
For months now I have been trying to make room in my crazy schedule to go on the full eight hour day escapade that Rogue Valley Zip Line Adventure now has to offer. This new tour offers zipping, a small amount of hiking, a catered lunch, a guided rafting trip down the class four nugget (my favorite rapid on the Rogue River), as well as wine tasting at the end. A HUGE thanks goes out to these local owners for bringing this to us. Make sure to book your trip at www.rvzipline.com
You start the day off with a zip and a historic Braden gold mine tour. The longest zipline in the Pacific North West, RVZA takes you over 2700 feet of their five zipline course. As each ride gets longer and higher, you will feel like your height threshold goes up more than it ever has before (unless you are already a height dare-devil). One of the best things about this zip (in addition to their extremely friendly, funny, and knowledgeable guides) is the view. You can actually see both Upper and Lower Table Rocks, the rim of Crater Lake, Mt. McLaughlin and Mt. Thielson.
After your last zip you have a catered a picnic box lunch provided by Pony Espresso of Jacksonville. A BBQ, horse shoe pit, and a set of picnic tables await your arrival. They even let you choose your favorite sandwich from their online menu at www.ponyespressojville.com
This is the perfect opportunity for you to get wet! When you are done with your lunch they take you to their rafting pick up spot, where Rogue Rafting Company, located in Gold Hill as well, will take it from there. They take you on a gorgeous two hour rafting trip down the Rogue, where you have a professional photographer waiting to capture your moment conquering the Nugget! Jeff Wishard of Ashland, can be contacted at www.activeimagesphotography.com. No matter who your professional guide, they will take it easy on you or make you do some local river “surfing”. You can meet the guides and read more at www.rogueraftingcompany.com
Now, what you have all been waiting for after your exciting day in the hot sun…wine tasting! Your last drop off point (which was also your first pick up point, where your car is left) is at Del Rio Vineyards & Winery. By this time, you are ready to relax and mingle with the rest of the tour group. You have the option of a tour, or you can skip to the tasting itself. Personally, I chose the tasting then the tour. Del Rio has over 200 acres and fifteen grape varietals, and produces premium estate wines and is a key supplier of grapes for fine winemakers.
Here comes the best part (in my eyes)…how was MY trip? Fabulous and could have not been better!!! This was one of the best days I have had in months. Steve and Kevin were our zip guides, and they were cracking jokes as well as giving historical facts for hours. Additionally, not only did I get to meet a fun loving family from San Diego and tell them everything I loved about Southern Oregon, I got to witness a wedding proposal at the end of the 5th zip!!! An adorable couple from Arizona, Mark and Autumn, had been dating for a few years when Mark decided he wanted to “continue the adventure forever” as he stated during the moment that made us all cry. She said yes (of course) and the whole family was there to capture the moment they would all remember for the rest of their lives. What were the other highlights of the day you ask? Having a blast of a 76 year old man for a rafting guide who spun us around in circles until we were dizzy (with our permission of course). Willie was his name, and fun was his game. Willie, Mark, Autumn and I were all smiles down the Rogue. On the other raft, our other half of the tour group, were our San Diego friends. Colleen, Joe, and their two teenage daughters Addy and Maddy, along with the owner and other guide (Ben).
After the Rogue we went to the winery where I got to taste more than my given six, with a little sweet talking of course. They were sampling the following wines: 2008 Estate Reserve Petite Syrah, 2010 Pinot Gris, 2009 Viognier, 2011 Grenache Rose, 2009 Pinot Noir, 2010 Syrah, 2009 Malbec, and even the 2011 Gernache (right out of the stainless steel tank). Thank you to the Del Rio crew (Lindsey, Don, Courtney, & Delores) for taking us all out and passed the end of your working hours!
Although I was beat after this amazing day, I could not pass up the offer to go to dinner with the family from San Diego. There is nothing better than sharing your favorite places with people who are spending their hard earned vacation time (and money) in your home town area. We drove to Rogue River and had dinner at Paisano’s Italian Kitchen. This mom and pop feeling restaurant definitely surprised my pallet with a delicious eggplant parmesan dish. Whatever you do, do not let the strip mall or paper plates turn you away. Every dish that was ordered was fresh and just as it is in Italy itself (I can say that because I was there a little over a year ago-otherwise I would not).
I don’t know about you, but my favorite thing about traveling is not only the places I see, but the people I meet. It does not matter if you are at the Louvre or Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Blarney Stone in Ireland, or the lodge at Crater Lake National Park. People are everything, and that is one of the things I love best about Oregon. We have some of the most genuinely happy people in this state and I am proud to say I am one of them. Keep traveling and sharing all that you know and love. Until next time…
For a short video clip you can check out my zip ride on our Facebook page, as well as a digital magazine article on this adventure written by our very own Dan Shryock.