Rice Hill, Oregon

Christine and I are on our way to the Napa Valley in northern California for a working holiday. We’re driving down the I-5 freeway from Washington State to make quick time there and decided to stay in Rice Hill, Oregon, as it’s just over half way to our first destination of Santa Rosa, CA.


I’m not sure we were fully prepared for what we arrived to. This town is a hoot. Actually, it could be a hootenanny because it sure does have that country feel to it–country as in mid-west prairies, not country as in an one-hour drive to the sand dunes of the Oregon coast. Or country as in too small to appear on a Google map zoomed to state-level.


We’re staying at the Best Western, which is about as perfect as you can get in a town that doesn’t have more than a couple hundred residents. There are a few restaurants to choose from: a Denny’s, Subway and a couple of mom and pop type diners, all lining the one street in town. We ended up seeking dinner in the Ranch Restaurant & Lounge, a throw-back to a 50s truck stop cafe.



One of my favourite parts about traveling is sampling the local beers, and while this one may not have truly been local, it was definitely a new brew for me. A very passable amber ale, Alaskan Amber in a frosty glass was a jaw-dropping three greenbacks a bottle–a price the server proclaimed to be outrageous–but considering that I could get three for the price of one pint of Guiness in a Yaletown pub, I was quite happy to pay the tab, and enjoy the cool refreshment after eight hours on the road.


The menu was typical of truck stops, so we ate the typical truck stop dish: steak sandwich with all the fix’ins. And yes, that bad boy is fried, just like grandpappy used to make it! For $7.95 you get a tossed green salad to start, baked potato with sour cream, side of well-cooked and buttered baby carrots and a 6 ounce pan-fried steak served on a thin slice of garlic sourdough.


The two other patrons of the place and the server were all a buzz about the day’s big event. We couldn’t help but overhear and ask a few questions of our own. Apparently, sometime late morning, an eager trucker had ripped into town a bit quick and decided, albeit a tad too late, to pull into the only store that doesn’t sell food or gas as it’s primary offering.


Turns out he or she overestimated his or her driving skills. I sure hope the injuries sustained weren’t as bad as they may have been given the state of the cab.


I don’t think I will ever forget Rice Hill, Oregon. Great choice of mid-point stops on the drive from Vancouver BC to northern California, I highly recommend it. If you ever do stay here, ask a local how Uncle Bob is doing. I promise you won’t regret it.


Look out Santa Rosa, the O’Shaughnessy’s are coming.


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July 2009
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