While seasonal changes may be locked into the annual calendar, isn’t it nice to know that nature can have her way and treat us to what we enjoy most at this time of year? More summer!

This week, we go on a gas tank getaway down backcountry byways where “Butterflies and Roses” seem to say: slow down and savor Oregon’s final summer days.

From atop any rising mountain like Bald Peak or Marys Peak, it’s the sheer size of the Willamette Valley that steals the scene.

There are spectacular views to the vast, wide-open spaces with small hills rising and falling and defining the flat valley landscape far below.

While closer at hand, lasting summer signs are missed by the passers-by who seem to scurry from this place to that.

Perhaps a stop at Champoeg State Park will change the pace and get you out of the race from this place to that – where campers bring in their homes on the road for an overnight stay and cozy up inside a spacious parkland to stretch the summer out a bit longer.

“We have a year round campground,” noted OPRD Ranger Mike Niss. “We have group and individual picnic areas, a boat and picnic dock on the Willamette River and we have a disc golf course. We also have one of the best bike trails in the state park system; it’s paved, flat and off the roadway and these amenities draw visitors to the park.”

Just down the road you will be drawn into colorful roadside roses that signal a family owned business that’s made Oregon history.

Heirloom Roses is a homegrown success story that is guaranteed to capture your landscaping soul.

“We have so much room to explore with five acres of gardens,” said owner Louise Clement. “And we have three thousand different species of roses on display, so it is amazing.”

Heirloom Rose Garden is located near St Paul, Oregon where you may stroll the grounds and admire a place where the “rose is king” thanks to Louise Clement and her late husband John Clement.

Heirloom owns a unique niche following more than forty years of effort to create “virus free” roses that are grown on their own roots (not grafted,) plus, the Clement’s introduced 60 species of their own hybrid roses too.

“We want to show people how roses can be grown in different ways,” added Louise. “So we grow them as hedges, grow them as specimen plants where you just have one and in rows so people can just walk along and visit each bush.”

“There is so much to enjoy on the grounds,” said Heirloom’s General Manager, Cheryl Malone. “The fragrance, the beautiful blooms and in fact folks will often say, ‘This is what I want in my garden.’

Heirloom Rose Garden is open seven days a week from dawn to dusk. And anyone can come at their pleasure and walk through the gardens – for free!

As farm combines harvest grain crops across the Willamette Valley, you’ll know you’re on the right track to reach another unique and colorful display that is open every day.

Bring a sense of humor when you visit Bob Heriford’s butterfly class at Wings of Wonder near Independence, Oregon.

Heriford’s passion has always been raising butterflies. It was a once a childhood hobby that morphed into the butterfly business five years ago at Wings of Wonder.

Bob and his wife Betty Heriford own and operate Oregon’s largest butterfly exhibit and on-site rearing laboratory.

“Some people are really into nature and the butterfly fascinates them,” noted Betty Heriford. “The color of the butterflies draws many folks and for others it’s the metamorphosis of the butterfly. People visit and enjoy our exhibits and Bob makes it all so interesting for everyone; from school kids to adults.”

Heriford also runs the ‘tight as a drum’ butterfly laboratory under federal and state permits and he provides visitors a guided tour of the facility too:

“Folks come in here and see 15 different species in different stages of chrysalis in here,” said Heriford. “Many species emerge within 2 or 3 days of arriving in a shipment while others require several months. So, there is always something incredible to see here.”

Heriford got hooked when he was a kid and he collected anything that would “bite, sting or poison.” But he said it was the beauty of butterflies that captured his imagination!

“The caterpillars were so cool! You could put them in a jar and watch them grow. It was the neatest thing and I always wondered: ‘How did they do that?’ Now I can stand back and watch!”

That’s what you get to do at Wings of Wonder when you step inside the huge jungle-like exhibit building that’s an average 70 degrees.

The butterfly building covers 2400 square feet and holds up to five hundred butterflies at any time.

As you stroll through the jungle-like exhibit hall you will see butterflies flying, resting and feeding.

So, what is the best time to visit?

“Noon to 2pm,”said Betty Heriford. “Because they have to wake up – just like us!”

The life span of a butterfly averages just 14 days so new additions arrive all of the time. That means there’s always something new to see at a place that brings a smile to your face.

about author Grant McOmie

Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.

In this Grant’s Getaway

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These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit tripcheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

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