From Empire To Enterprise
Do you need proof that Oregon qualifies as a European nation?
It’s more than the beer, but that’s a good start, ja?
Oregon is one of the few states, maybe only state, that holds such a huge variety of road trips.
For example, find a map and run your finger from Empire, Oregon to Enterprise, Oregon in the top right corner.
Do that and you cross the west coast plain, roll through the Umpqua River Gorge cutting through the coast range, head north on the 5, then east on 84.
You’ll cut through the Cascade Mountains on the Columbia River Gorge, then head up to Hwy 82 toward the end of the road.
You started near the dead-end of a coast road and finish near the dead-end of a mountain road. Empire and Enterprise are not the actual ends of the road, but you’re real close.
Why Empire? Why Enterprise?
NW Boomer knows Empire. It’s where you launch a clam-boat headed for the far shore of Coos Bay.
More than that, Empire was once the leading city in Coos County. It’s not any more, though streets wide enough for five cars across still run through it.
What is it about Empire? Start with Cranberry Sweets and More.
This is a factory store in the truest sense. This is where they make cranberry sweets.
This is also where everything is available to sample, so be careful and pace yourself.
How good is it? They have a sign asking that all minors be accompanied by an adult.
When I asked the manager about that sign, she said, “We allow everyone in. The sign is just a reminder to eat one sample at a time.”
One sample at a time? Oops.
Cranberry Sweets knows the stakes. Their flagship store in Bandon, home of Bandon Dunes Golf, pulls the rich and famous and you and I.
And Martha Stewart. And the Food Network.
Now run your finger to Enterprise and drift over to Joseph for another sweet treat at Arrowhead Chocolates.
You’d find the same sort of place in New York, Philadelphia’s Center City, and Las Vegas. The product compares to the best goodies made anywhere, but the people make the big difference.
Whether locals or imports, the staff in both places carry a certain gravity. The goods for sale are incredible, and the people making them are very confident that you won’t taste anything better.
It feels like a secret, an unbelievable find, and you leave wondering why you’ve never heard of places like Cranberry Sweets and Arrowhead Chocolates before.
Here’s the baby boomer blogger answer: Get out of the house and hunt for places you like. Getting older has as many pitfalls for NW Boomer as anyone, but that shouldn’t get in the way of new discoveries.
Where can you find dark chocolate huckleberry truffles? The easy answer is a shop in SE Portland opened by a transplanted chocolate wizard. The best answer is a road trip to the Wallowas.
Where do you find Margarita Salt Caramels? Look no further than Empire.
From the Oregon Alps to Oregon’s Bay Area you’ll find the answer to your sweet tooth’s question, “Can it get any better than this?”
The report from boomerpdx.com says you can try. If you find better sweets, leave a comment with directions.
Inquiring palates want to know.