We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Jefferson State Of Mind Journey and Danny's Beer-Butt Chicken

My Traveling Tales by Linda

 "The newsreels were to air nationally the week of December 8, but tragically on December 7th Pearl Harbor was bombed and the State of Jefferson rebellion of 1941 came to an end. The people of the region went to work for the war effort and good roads were eventually built into the backcountry to access strategic minerals and timber. These same roads have helped countless numbers of rural families make a living from the land that continues to produce abundant, quality natural resources. The State of Jefferson 'state of mind' remains in the hearts and minds of people everywhere." 
                                                                                                  ~The Jefferson Statehood Project

City Hall in Jacksonville, Oregon.
  This past August I took a real summer vacation which I had not been able to do for the past several years. I had originally made plans with Michelle... she and Maddie were coming to visit me in Sonoma in the first week of August, but when Michelle had a business opportunity arise, she had to cancel. She was headed for Waco, Texas... leaving me to plan an entire 14 days without my sister and niece.

Mount Shasta: "So beautiful it is almost unreal," said Avalon.
   What to do? Well, my friend Richard and I had been talking for several months about traveling to his family's property in Southern Oregon, so suddenly this seemed like the opportune time to go. Richard's family purchased 30 acres on the Little Applegate River five years ago, when I stayed there with Richard for the first time. This is the Southern portion of Oregon, that once led a campaign to secede from the state of Oregon and along with the northern most part of California, in order to become the 51st state. The State of Jefferson secession movement gained momentum for a time, and then ulimately failed in 1941 when World War II began. Richard's property is remote... about a 30 minute drive from the quaint town of Jacksonville, and since my daily life includes the hustle and bustle of retail, I was really looking forward to a scenic road trip. I hungered for a nice long stay on pristine acreage with river running through it. No cell phone service, no internet, no television... heaven!

   On the first leg of our trip we traveled up I-5 and enjoyed the views of mile after mile of orchards and farm country. We were surprised to see many acres planted with sunflowers, as well. A few hours up the road we pulled into the City of Mount Shasta. One of our favorite stops is the Berryvale Natural Foods Grocery. It is a great little market/deli, and is a good place to pick up last minute items, stretch your legs and have a snack. The mountain was dazzling in the afternoon sun with its snow covered peaks standing out against the blue sky. I felt my spirits soaring while I filled my lungs with mountain air. I could feel myself gladly leaving my busy daily life behind, and happily settling into vacation mode.
   We didn't arrive at the Little Applegate Ranch until well after dark. We attempted, without success, to get the pump turned on. Finally, we decided we could live without running water until the next morning. I could hardly wait for the sun to rise the next day... illuminating views of the large meadows, the riparian growth along the river and the hills in the distance. When I awoke, the sun was shining, and the view did not disappoint.

   Since we had no cell service, we drove into the town of Jacksonville, so Richard could contact the caretaker of the property to obtain assistance with getting the water turned on in the house. No cell phone service, no water, heck, perhaps we should have ridden into town with a horse and buggy, which would have fit the scene because Jacksonville is very small and is best known for its historic red brick buildings from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuies.
   In modern times, the town is known for the Britt Festival. The Britt Festival has been bringing great music to the community since 1963. A pavillion was built on the site of former hillside estate of Peter Britt, one of Jacksonville's founding pioneers, and visitors flock every summer to see great musical performances and enjoy the gorgeous vistas that the Siskiyou Mountains provide.

Stop by the Good Bean Company for the scene and a tasty latte.
  The first stop of the morning was at The Good Bean Company, which is Jacksonville's busy coffeehouse set in an historic building which formerly housed a saloon. Their coffee is delicious, and Richard and I found ourselves on many a very warm afternoon, sipping tasty iced coffee drinks in the cool interior. It turned out the cell phone and internet were harder to leave behind than I thought, and an annoyed Richard accused me of hogging his computer... which was probably true, and has also made me consider investing in an iPad for just such a future occasion.

   Jacksonville has quite a few restaurants among the plethora of gift shops to choose from, since the primary business of the town is catering to visitors. Our favorite place to have breakfast is MacLevin's Whole Foods Deli. It is a small space operated my Mom and Pop MacLevin, and the food is organic and delicious. The made-in-house corned beef is a yummy lunch option.
   We also enjoyed a Sunday Brunch and a dinner out at Gogi's. Gogi's seems to be the best fine dining experience that Jacksonville has to offer, other than The Jacksonville Inn.
   Jacksonville is just the right size to amble around the downtown and outlying neighborhoods on foot or by car. It is full of picturesque buildings, houses and shady trees from a bygone era.

   The Little Applegate Ranch is an hour's drive from the beautiful city of Ashland, which is famous for its Shakespeare Festival. Richard and I were lucky enough (in June) to purchase the last couple of tickets available for a Molière 17th century comedy, which is a play with a twist, on a Tuesday night in August... so if you wish to see a performance when visiting Ashland, it is prudent to plan well ahead. The plays are extremely popular, and many families as well as senior's groups have a tradition of attending a few plays every summer, so the tickets to the Shakespeare plays were already completely sold out by the time I began my search on-line. In the end we were so glad that we saw The Imaginary Invalid. The production was outstanding... I laughed for the entire two hours and had tears in my eyes at the end. Richard and I and the rest of the audience gave the cast a standing ovation. I will definitely go back.

Sesame and Larks are two notable dining recommendations in Ashland.
   Richard and I splurged on a delicious dinner before the play at Larks, which is the restaurant in the Ashland Springs Hotel. We had a leisurely meal at outside tables on the sidewalk, and enjoyed our dinner al fresco while people began gathering for the play that evening just down the street. Ashland is also home to the beautiful Lithia Park, and many couples and families were enjoying the evening eating and playing alongside the creek. Richard and I ate several times at a restaurant just across the street from the park called Sesame. This Asian-fusion restaurant is a real gem, with great food, tables outdoors in front facing the park, and a wonderful shady patio in the back that is situated alongside Lithia Creek. Their Citrus Peppercorn Crusted Ahi Salad served over peanut dressed soba noodles was so good that I ordered it twice (on separate occasions), and I am going to try to duplicate the flavor sensation here at home.

   Southern Oregon has become known in the last decade for producing outstanding wines, including along the Applegate Wine Trail. Since the weather was hot during our stay, I was very much in the mood to sample the tantalizing array of whites. The area's wineries produce excellent viogniers, sauvignon blancs and chardonnays. I came home with bottles of my favorites that I tried from Cowhorn Vineyard and Garden, Troon, Longsword Vineyard and RoxyAnn. Downtown Jacksonville and Ashland have many tasting rooms in which one can sample the region's splendid offerings.

   Early into our stay, Richard picked up a pamphlet advertising jetboat tours on the Rogue River. We purchased tickets over the phone for a five hour whitewater excursion that included a dinner stop. We drove into Grant's Pass on the day of our tour, and subsequently happily climbed aboard a sleek jetboat with about 20 other folks on a very hot afternoon, who were all anxious to see the breathtaking scenery of Hellgate Canyon and get drenched from the acrobatics performed by our boat's pilot along the way. I was not able to bring my camera with me due to being warned in advance that there would be water flying everywhere, so the photos that I would have loved to take are provided in the link here. Richard and I both gave this outing two thumbs up. It was definitely worth the price of admission.

Visiting the Pacific Botanicals farm.
   Another day's adventure was to a local herb farm from which I have purchased medicinal herbs in the past. Pacific Botanicals has been growing certified organic medicinal herbs on a beautiful farm near Grants Pass since 1979. I called a few weeks before our visit to arrange for a tour. It made my heart sing to see the row upon row of elecampane, motherwort, lobelia, echinacea and poke root thriving in the summer sunshine and rich soil of Southern Oregon.

   A final journey on our vacation was to drive out to Applegate Lake, and see the old covered McKee Bridge on the way. Later we drove as far as my low-to-the-ground Honda Civic would take us on Yale Creek Road to look for wildflowers because the season is late on the Siskiyou Crest. The road became too much for my little car before we had gone very far, but I was able to photograph a few worthy specimens, and gaze at the majestic view across the valley. Too bad my dear sisters Michelle and Juliette couldn't be with me on this venture, since we had such a wonderful time together (cough) at Red Rock Canyon  in Las Vegas, you can read all about it here (from Juliette's point of view).

   For the journey home we traveled back on Highway 101, which weaves through gorgeous forests and along the Pacific Coast. It is Bigfoot country, and every time I drive through the dark and narrow winding roads among the giant redwoods there, I am always hoping I will catch a glimpse of the big and hairy him or her. So far no such luck. There are many roadside stands selling enormous carvings of Bigfoot though. I always wonder how people get their oversize sculptures home? Richard and I were reluctant to leave the Oregon summer, but our time had come to an end in the State of Jefferson, and return we must.

Danny's Beer-Butt Chicken

   For the recipe for this post, I am sharing a simple grilled chicken recipe that I learned from my former husband and friend, Danny. Danny calls it "Beer-Butt Chicken", but my internet research yielded results called Beer Can Chicken, because the chicken may be set on top of an opened beer can. Danny prepared the dish for me when I visited the Santa Ynez Valley (my former home) this past January. Evidently, this is a longtime favorite way of grilling whole birds (especially by men who like to drink beer while they grill). The novelty factor of the beer can aside, Danny and I both prefer to use a nifty little piece of equipment made by Weber especially for this purpose. I purchased two of the roasters, and honestly, this has become my favorite way to cook a chicken. The results are moist and flavorful, and the clean up is a cinch. Thanks, Danny!
   Richard and I did plenty of grilling in the evenings in Oregon, and we prepared Danny's Beer-Butt Chicken on one of the evenings when the sun had sunk behind the hill, and the hot day was turning into a balmy evening... the stuff vacation memories are made of.

1 or 2 chickens
beer, or Coca-Cola, or white wine
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, or barbeque spice rub

Richard preparing the charcoal grill.
1. Preheat a gas grill to 350°F. You can also cook over indirect heat using a charcoal grill. The oven is always an option as well.
2. Fill roaster compartment with beer. Alternatively, Danny has also prepared the chicken by swapping Coca-Cola for the beer, and adding a sprinkling of dried Italian herbs. Michelle likes the idea of white wine, freshly squeezed lemon juice, chopped garlic and dried thyme.
3. Make sure giblets are removed from inside the chicken.
4. Do not wash the chicken…contrary to popular opinion, all this does is spread bacteria around your kitchen and sink.

5. Season exterior of chicken liberally with salt and pepper or barbeque spice rub, or seasoning rub of your choice.
6. Place spiked piece on top of the beer compartment in the roasting dish and place the whole chicken on top of the unit with the neck on top.
7. Place metal plug in the neck of the chicken to retain the moisture.
8. Roast chicken for an hour or more (depending upon the size of the bird) at 350°F to 400°F on the grill or in the oven. If your cooking on a charcoal grill, keep the cover on to retain heat. The same goes for a gas grill... keep the lid closed. Remove from grill when chicken reaches 180°F and the skin is brown and crispy.


  1. Love the State of Jefferson! I've lived here 40 years and my husband is fourth generation. I am also the co-author of 3 books on the State of Jefferson: IMAGES OF THE STATE OF JEFFERSON and THE STATE OF JEFFERSON: THEN & NOW, both by Arcadia Publishing. The 3rd book, HISTORIC INNS & EATERIES IN THE STATE OF JEFFERSON features a chapter of recipes from the 30 historic locations! Check them out: www.gailjenner.com.

  2. Hi Gail...thanks for letting us know about your website. I loved looking at the vintage photos (especially the one of the Jacksonville Inn), and I can't wait to try the Honey Hazelnut Crusted Salmon from your recipe section. Wild hazelnuts grow on The Little Applegate Ranch. The State of Jefferson rocks! Thanks for reading.


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