24 Hours in Southern Oregon: Portland to Jacksonville

Things to do in Southern Oregon - Inspired Travelers

It’s Thursday night and Bob’s a few drinks deep when he notices a message on his phone.  “Hey, you guys wanna visit Jacksonville this weekend to see the farm?”  A medical marijuana farm, that is. The message was from our good friends who recently purchased land in Southern Oregon, which also happened to be set up for a medical grow.

Now before you get your panties in a twist, let us remind you that it is legal for adults 21 and older to purchase, possess, and grow medical and recreational cannabis in the state of Oregon.  The Oregon Medical Marijuana Act was established by Ballot Measure 67 in 1998 when voters supported its passage. Years later in 2014, possession and cultivation of cannabis for non-medical use, Measure 91, was approved by Oregon voters.  Oregonians love weed — records indicate that the state consumed around 340,000 pounds of legal marijuana in 2017! Remember, the purpose of our site, The Inspired Travelers is to feature the great Pacific Northwest, and this is just a part of the culture, so don’t be a square.

OF COURSE we decided to make the trip to the farm!  Though we’ve lived in Oregon for five years, neither of us had visited an official medical or recreational grow operation, so to say we were excited was an understatement.  Not to mention, harvest time is right around the corner!

The road trip from Portland to Jacksonville is a straight shot down the I-5, taking about four to five hours depending on traffic and how many stops you make.  For the most part it’s a boring ride, but at least it’s scenic. Once you get past Eugene the drive really starts to get interesting, traveling up and down the twisting mountain passes and through a landscape thick with Douglas firs and cedars — gorgeous!  

As we approached Medford, we could still see and smell smoke from the nearby wildfires. Because we can’t pass up an In-n-Out Burger (we don’t have access to one in Portland) we made a quick stop at the Medford restaurant for our Double Doubles (literally the best ones we’ve ever had!).

We continued driving west through the national landmark and historic town of Jacksonville.  “Jville,” as the locals refer to it, is located in the Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon, the land of wine and weed.  The cultivation of both products along with tourism are essential to the economy in this region. Marijuana production is a longstanding tradition in the valley, and was prior to its legalization. It is said that a popular strain was bred by a legendary local grower in this area, a sativa-dominant hybrid known as Trainwreck.

Driving another 30 minutes beyond Jville and deeper into the countryside, now dusted with fall colors, we finally started to see them right along the side of the road — hemp plants! The fields we passed were specifically CBD weed, not plants containing the psychoactive compound everyone associates with marijuana, THC.  After turning off onto several dirt road, passing by a popular commercial recreational grower, Lion Tree Farms —we finally arrived at our final destination.

Things to do in Southern Oregon Medical Marijuana Farm

The ladies (only female plants produce buds) were a short hike up and down a few small hills.  OMG! They were huge, looking more like big, bushy trees than the marijuana we’re accustomed to seeing.  This crop were impressive. Even if you don’t like cannabis, there’s no way you can deny this is a pretty cool specimen.  We walked plant to plant, pinching the sticky flowers to better smell the buds.

Some were gassy like fuel, others piney, and there was one that even smelled like oranges, each one different from the last.  They all varied in color too, leaves ranging from deep purples to bright green to dark greens.

The majority of these plants were started from clones, i.e. starter plants, besides three that our buddy started from seed.  We were surprised to see that the plants started from seed were pretty much the same size as their sister clones. The flowers were well developed on most plants, which were only a few short weeks away from harvest. Then follows the process of drying, trimming, curing and eventually consumption.  Much time and care must be taken to produce a quality product!

Things to do in-Southern Oregon Medical-Marijuana Farm

We weren’t the only ones visiting the garden that week; the first couple plants inside the entrance had been nibbled by some pesky intruders, the local deer.  Apparently it’s pretty common in this area to find the wildlife munching on buds in the marijuana fields. There’s even a famous deer in the Applegate Valley, Sugar Bob, who was featured on the news for his cannabis craving.

Doing our part to protect the ladies, Bob helped to install a new fence the following day, hopefully preventing the greedy freeloaders  from lifting crop in the future. Doubtful…

We made plans to wake the following morning, rally, and head to the Jville Sunday farmer’s and craft market, featuring over 70 vendor booths each week.  Diving in head first, we explored each row of vendors and walked away with non-essentials like cheesecake, homemade soap and an aloe plant.  

To be fair, we’ve really wanted an aloe plant and this one was perfect. We actually needed a bar of soap, but probably not the $6 handcrafted bar smelling of potent fresh pine trees — shout out to Northwest Soap Works of Central Point, Oregon for killing it with your soap scents!  

Now we absolutely did not need the cheesecake, but the guys selling it were cool hippy dudes from Gold Beach, and the samples they shared were simply irresistible. Though there was no shortage of berry options, salted caramel, chocolate and the likes, we went with the classic for $10 in order to let the cheesecake shine —totally worth it!

The market had no shortage of crafts, talented artists, and beautiful seasonal produce options, but it didn’t offer what any of us were craving in terms of food. Our friends suggested a restaurant they’d tried before, the Jacksonville Inn, which operates in one of the towns earliest buildings constructed in 1861 during the gold rush.

The Jacksonville Inn has received numerous awards, including Best Restaurant, Most Romantic Inn in Oregon, and the “Award of Unique Distinction” by Wine Enthusiast to name a few.  

The host seated us outside on a cute patio, adorned with draping vines on the pergolas, and bustling with the Sunday brunch crowd.  Upon inspecting the brunch menu we realized that nothing we ordered would be disappointing; not only did the food leaving the kitchen look bomb, every brunch specialty includes endless glasses of apple cider or SPARKLING WINE, SCORE!  

Unfortunately we couldn’t get rowdy because we had a five hour drive back to Portland ahead of us, we enjoyed the little glasses nonetheless. We did not leave hungry. In fact, we both agreed that we’d visit in the future to try the dinner menu. Though a little pricey, it’s nothing outrageous that should surprise you in a quaint town popular for tourism.  

Things to do in Southern Oregon - Jacksonville

After waddling out of the Jville Inn, the next stop on our way back to the car was a neat shop of antiques and collectibles, the Pickety Place. We’re actually both really into unique, old and funky collectibles, so we obviously left the store with treasures — I couldn’t pass up the 1978 Merry Mushroom collectible dishware, while Bob decided on this seasons must have item, a Mattel Jack-in-the-box.  

By this time it was already mid-afternoon, and both having to work the following day, our trip was quickly coming to an end.  As we drove out of Sterling we passed through the tiny town of Buncom, settled in 1851 when gold was discovered nearby.

If you blinked you’d probably miss Buncom, as all that remains are a post office, cookhouse and bunkhouse.  By 1918, the gold was depleted and the town abandoned; today Buncom is listed by the historical society as one of Oregon’s ghost towns.

And just like that, our 24 hours in Southern Oregon was over.

Things to do in Southern Oregon - Inspired Travelers

Bob and Nicole in the house!  Currently living the dream in Portland, Oregon, with our cat sons, Purrito, ten, and Luigi, three, but originally both from Upstate New York (Go Bills!).

We have a passion for adventure, seizing all opportunities to see or experience something new!  In our downtime we especially love road-trips around the Pacific Northwest, often exploring the great outdoors, but also intrigued with the quirky and lesser-known oddities we find along the way.

Fun facts about Bob:  Diehard Buffalo Bills fan who hates melted cheese and wearing shoes. A literal viking with a stellar red beard, but is not actually a ginger. If he could eat only one thing for the rest of his life it would be hamburgers.

Fun facts about Nicole:  Self-proclaimed crazy cat lady with a wicked sweet tooth, particularly for cookies. Creative and crafty DIY project-er, with lots of ideas and mostly unfinished projects.  Amateur runner who loves the outdoors, including camping and hiking, especially to waterfalls (Pisces!).

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