Memorial Day Weekend in Oregon: Lessons in genealogy and a vineyard horseback ride.

Welcome to Astoria

With 5 days off from work, I headed to Oregon for the Memorial Day weekend and my sister Katy’s birthday.  It was typical spring weather in Oregon, mostly cloudy skies with brief moments of heavy rain, followed by patches of sun, and temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees.  My mother lives near Astoria, at the mouth of the Columbia River.

The Astoria Bridge, taken from the Astoria Column.

The bridge under construction. My uncle took this photo.

The Astoria Bridge links Oregon and Washington over the Columbia River.


For me, every visit to Astoria requires a stop at Josephson’s Smoked Fish store where you can purchase the best fresh smoked spring chinook salmon in the country.  It is truly food for the gods.  A very close runner up for the title of best local delicacy is Dungeness crab.

Josephson's Smoked FIsh store in Astoria, Oregon.

We made the required stop enroute to the Ocean View Cemetery in Clatsop County Oregon.  My mother’s parents and her maternal grandmother (my great-grandmother) rest in peace at this cemetery near the Pacific Ocean, and each Memorial Day we visit to place flowers on their graves.  My mother’s mother’s mother who lies here, Hanna Johnson, immigrated to the US from Sweden in 1890.  We try to keep the grave stones clean and decorated with flowers, and the memories fresh.  My mother’s brother is here as well.

The Oceanview Cemetary on Memorial Day weekend.

Ocean View Cemetary, Clatsop County, Oregon

My great-grandmother Hanna Johnson is remembered with rhododendrons and birch branches.  I have been to Ellis Island in New York and found the documents and passenger logs of her arrival in the US.

The following day we made another Memorial Day stop at the Prairie Cemetary in Knappa Oregon.  This cemetery is where my mother’s Aunt Hedvig lies (born here in the US in 1896, their first child) along with her parents Able and Katrina, my mother’s grandparents on her father’s side.  This is the Katrina for whom my sister was named, and whose birthday I had come to Oregon to celebrate.

Able Hepo-Oja  (my mother’s paternal grandfather) immigrated to the US with his wife Katrina.  He was born in Pulkkila, Oulu (the province) Finland, Sept. 12, 1863, 100 years before my own birth.  His wife, Katrina Sohviia Ranta-Junttila, was born in Vihanti, Finland, April 25, 1870.  Their children (my grandfather Oney and great-aunt Hedvig) were born here in the US.  Another child, born in 1900, died at the age of one year, and was buried in a small grave near their home.  My mother can still locate the gravesite and small marker in the woods near her home.  Katrina died on her 50th wedding anniversary, Oct. 20th 1944.  It was nice to visit their resting places and hear the stories my mother remembered.  They were my great-grandparents and I fear the memories will be lost if they aren’t written down.

My mother places flowers on the graves of her paternal grandparents.

The main purpose for my visit to Oregon this weekend was to celebrate my sister’s birthday.  She requested that we all join her in a Willamette Valley wine tasting tour and lunch on horseback.  The Willamette Valley is now a wine destination, which we have toured many times, but never on horseback.  She read about this experience in an article in Sunset Magazine.   The operator, Equestrian Wine Tours, and Jake Price Stables of Carlton, Oregon made it all very simple.  We arrived at the appointed vineyard at 11 am and met Jake and wrangler Sarah with the saddled horses.  The ride was short, but it was fun to arrive at the tasting rooms and then our picnic lunch on horseback.  Longer rides are available for those comfortable at all paces.

My brother, two sisters, my mother and myself on the vineyard ride.

The Big Deal, my stead for the vineyard lunch tour, a former 3 year old grand champion.

The lunch was fabulous and my mother’s return-to-the-saddle inspired grin made the entire day worth while.

The lunch is served outside at one of the wineries, with the horses in the background.

My sisters enjoy wine tasting at the White Rose Winery.

The White Rose Estate is located in Dayton, Oregon:

My mother was happy to be back in the saddle,

It is a somewhat rare occasion that we can all get together for a family portrait.

Sure, it would have been nice to have warm sunny weather for the entire weekend, but then it wouldn’t be Oregon, and it wouldn’t be as green as it is.  The lilacs were in bloom, which was the icing on the cake for this visit.

Lilacs in bloom at my mother's house.

This entry was posted in Family, Oregon, Seasons & Holidays, U.S.A.. Bookmark the permalink.

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