Our trip was more than halfway over and Kelly and I were in a rhythm. On Thursday, October 22, we reviewed our list and headed out for sightseeing in Salem. Even though the temperature had dropped, the sun was shining and it promised to be a glorious day.

I had planned to start at Enchanted Forest—home to storybook characters, a slide through an old woman’s shoe, and a bobsled ride. I used to take my girls there every year when school let out and it is one of Kelly and my favorite places to play with our grand kids…or without them. But since it was closed for the season we did our best to locate the former site of the Fairview Training Center, our first stop.

Its history is a sad one. I remember it was still open my senior year of high school but didn’t know anything about it then. The original intent was to train those with handicaps and disabilities to care for themselves and others. When they opened in 1908, they raised animals on the 672-acre spread and most of their own food. But somewhere along the line those in charge lost sight of their purpose and compassion for their patients. The institution became a dumping place for epileptics, promiscuous girls, hitchhikers, and the homeless. Care-givers carried out sterilization, hysterectomies, even castration to keep their residents in check, and to prevent their breeding with other “undesirables.” Eventually this came to light and Fairview closed its doors in the year 2000.

After that sad bit of history, Kelly and I were glad to go to Mission Mill. The Thomas Kay family opened the Mill in 1889 and it operated until 1962 when wool was replaced by synthetic fabrics. They opened the museum in 1964 for tours and events and now host a café and cluster of shops that sell beautiful woolen yarn, crafts, and local products. For the price of admission, we were given a passkey for our own self-guided tour to three homes and Presbyterian church, moved on site to preserve their historic significance, and the mill. We roamed at our own pace learning about the rich history and stalwart spirit of the missionaries, businessmen, and Native Americans who settled this area.

Our next stop didn’t take long. I have passed it thousands of times over the years but never knew its significance. Waldo Park, on the corner of Union and Summer St., consists of a single sequoia tree planted by Judge William Waldo in 1872. When he was forced to sell his land to the city his only stipulation was they keep the tree. A hundred and fifty years later it still stands, on a twenty by twelve foot corner of land dubbed Waldo Park in 1936. It reaches more than eighty feet tall and more than six feet in diameter. Looking up into its branches we smiled at Waldo’s appreciation for a tiny sapling that became a mighty tree.

Although the sun was strong, the wind was cold. It felt good to get inside the Taproot downtown and warm up with a delicious lunch. Kelly and I shared a monkey bread roll from Great Harvest next door. We will definitely visit both places again!

Our final destination wasn’t weird, just a celebration of all things autumn. We drove to EZ Orchards and the place was packed! We decided to forego cider donuts since we’d just had a yummy lunch and dessert and instead stood in line for the entrance. The corn maze was the best, with interesting informational signs at every turn about Oregon nuts, fruits, and veggies.

Satisfied with our day, Kelly and I set the GPS for McMinnville, where we settled in for the night. We learned a lot of Salem area history–delightful, shocking, inspiring, and fun. The choices we make today—for our families, the people entrusted to our care, in our work, and how we spend our time and money—leaves a legacy. I paused to ask myself, What life story am I writing? What will I leave the next generation?

I know what I want to pass on to them; the same thing the writer of this psalm desired: “I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone. Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come” (Psalm 71:16-18).

I am so thankful for the legacy left to me by my parents, grandparents and church family, near and far. They not only taught me about God’s love and mercy, but they lived it. I saw firsthand what it means to be a God-follower and how to get through tough times with determination and tenacious faith. And to never stop singing.That is what I hope I have passed on to my children and our grandchildren. What tremendous blessings await us!

I would love to hear about the legacy you are building. What is your story? To leave a comment, click on the title of the blog and fill in the box.  

Tomorrow we will visit a few dreamers and inventors. Come along for more weird adventures on our tour of Oregon.