In this year without anything resembling normalcy, Andrew and I have—like most people—really missed our vacation getaways. We vacation well together, whether it's a quick trip to Seattle or an over-seas adventure exploring London. We finally got away at the end of October with a 3-night COVID-safe adventure in Hood River, Oregon. We took the long-way round to get there—around the back side of Mt Hood—so it was 2-hour trek, as opposed to the quick 1-hour direct route. That way it seemed more like a real get-away.
I've got some great (I think) shots of our nature adventures, but today I'm sharing the agaves I discovered at Taco Time, in The Dalles, Oregon.
For those of you that don't know The Dalles, it's about 80 miles east of Portland, on the Columbia River. Taco Time is a fast-food restaurant chain specializing in Mexican food, founded in Eugene, OR, in 1960.
As for us, we'd been out adventuring all day and were headed back to our hotel in Hood River when we decided to swing by Starbucks in The Dalles on our way—thank god! Taco Time was right across the street. That's when I remembered a long ago blog commenter had tipped me off to these exotic plantings, I just hadn't made it to see them, until now. I did a little digging on the history of the location. Here's an image of the restaurant under remodel in late 2018...
...and here's May of 2012. Oh my!
This restaurant has a bit of a storied history. As part of a plot by the Baghwan Shree Ranjnees in the mid-1980's, the salsa bar was contaminated with salmonella in an attempt to poison residents and thus suppress an important local vote. "The attack on The Dalles Taco Time salsa bar and nine other restaurants remains the first, largest, and worst bioterrorism attack in the US" (source).
We didn't go inside so I can't tell you if the salsa bar is still open. I can however report there is a pretty amazing collection of yucca and agaves, for example this grouping, surrounded by parking lot on the left and drive-thru on the right.
I think this, and the next one, are both Agave parryi.
Maybe conglomeration of Agave 'Blue Glow'?
I'm guessing Agave 'Mr. Ripple'...
And of course, Yucca rostrata.
Not every plant is going to be successful.
An interestingly malformed Agave 'Blue Glow'...complete with straw accessory.
One last look at the drive-thru island...
And we head over to the strip along the parking lot and street.
Trachycarpus of some sort...
And a nice little yucca and agave planting—with rocks so the agaves can't be smashed by big trucks cutting the exit a bit close.
As I was walking around taking photos my mind was trying to pin down what the climate here is like. I knew it was drier than Portland (14" rain annually where as Portland gets 36") but I wasn't sure how cold their winters were. Here's what I found online: "The area receives measurable snowfall virtually every year, but the snow totals fluctuate dramatically from one year to the next; some seasons see only one or two brief light snow events while others get major snowstorms and cumulative totals of 20 inches (0.51 m) or more....Average winter temperatures are only about 3 to 5 °F (1.7 to 2.8 °C) colder than in cities such as Portland and Seattle, and temperatures below 0 °F or −17.8 °C are very rare, but not unheard of – historically occurring on three mornings out of every five winters, but only once since February 1996." (source) So a little colder, but what would really get me is the wind. It's in the Columbia River Gorge after all, a natural wind tunnel.
Now I've walked to the front of the restaurant on the main street.
This planting is next to the small outdoor eating area.
Another 'Mr. Ripple' perhaps?
The outdoor tables are behind that short wall.
And framing the drive through is this narrow planting.
I thought this agave had some 'ovatifolia' overtones, but those I consulted online said no, it's an Agave parryi, although some offered that it might be an A. 'havardiana'.
The landscape fabric in this shot had me scratching my head. Is it under all the mulch?
Weather Diary, Nov 8: Hi 47, Low 31/ Precip 0
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