This recipe has been in my family since my kids started going to school. I tend to whip it out a few days before the fortuitous calamity of Spring Break takes hold: one week of no-school, with its free-form days, lingering cabin fever and dreary, unpredictable Oregon weather. I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit over the years, but the general method remains the same. The right mix of places, people and attitude make for one hot dish, perfect for grey days cut through with an occasional rainbow.
1-2 Caregivers, slightly worn*
1-5 Rascals, depending on taste
3-5 Oregon wine country destinations
1-2 Days of unpredictable weather
*They can be parents or grandparents adults otherwise crazy enough to take responsibility for the little Rascals in public.
Move the Rascals from your couch to the car and buckle in. Set your GPS to McMinnville, all available routes are the scenic route. If Rascals start to bubble over en route, stop at Red Hills Market in Dundee for breakfast scones, coffee and a round of bocce on the court out back. Take HW18 towards Dayton.
You will know the rascals are ready for adventure when they start pointing and waving at the giant 747 atop the Wings & Waves Waterpark at the Evergreen Aviation Museum. Alternate reading about the jets, planes and space craft on sight with frequent impromptu comedy sketches with old airline seats, a kiddo play area, an indoor fun park ride, and the IMAX theater. If you notice a dip in mood, pretend you are the only person in the museum who can’t see Howard Hughes’ 219-ft. Spruce Goose, the largest wooden plane in the world.
By now your Spring Breakation has been simmering for about three hours and weather will decide your next steps. Taste test the Rascals by kissing their foreheads to see if the flavors have started to congeal.
If it’s raining, head back to Evergreen for an afternoon at the Wings & Waves Indoor Water Park. After thoroughly wearing yourself out there, drop in for some paint-your-own pottery at Jack Potter. If the Rascals start to show signs of hunger (whining, bickering, or hitting each other in the backseat) stop in at the Grain Station Brew Works for a pint before heading home.
Chance of sun
If the sun has taken over, grab some snacks at Harvest Fresh Grocery and head on 99W towards Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge. Climb to the overlook to catch sight of overwintering Canada Dusky Geese and other waterfowl. Pretend like you speak their language and teach your kids a few words. On the way back, stop in at Brooks Winery, one of Oregon’s most Rascal-friendly wine destinations, for choice Pinot noir, and, if you’ve timed it right, some wood-fired pizza and lawn games. Carry the Rascals back to the car, if you must, and blast your self-help podcast on the way home just a few seconds after they fall asleep.
Makes one very happy family.
Emily Grosvenor is a travel writer in McMinnville, OR. Follow her on Twitter: @emilygrosvenor