Well, we’ve been in Salem for about a week and a half now, and so far things are going very well! I figured out the commute to my new office this week, which involves driving for about 45 minutes and then riding a bus for half an hour. Yes, that’s sort of a long commute, but the bus ride is actually pretty nice since I’m not the one doing the driving. Plus, the people watching opportunities are off the chart! The bus stops less than a block from my office, so it works out perfectly.

Celine had her first flute lesson this week, and she says it went pretty well and she’s looking forward to working with her teacher here. Her commute to Eugene is all by car, and it’s about an hour and 10 minutes, so we did pretty well hitting the middle.

As for seeing what Salem has to offer, we’ve had some pretty interesting experiences! Last night we went to the Oregon State Fair, with two goals in mind: 1) Eat lots of good fair food, and 2) See the demolition derby! We had fun, but it was a mixed bag in terms of our goals. I’ll start with the good stuff.

The demolition derby was pretty amazing. Our friend Delaney got us out to the Cheatham County Fair last year for the derby there, and Delaney, the one in Tennessee was probably better, but this one was pretty good. It was indoors in sort of a rodeo pavilion instead of outdoors, and therefore the derby area was a quite a bit smaller than what we saw last year. However, there were no real rules, so folks could crash head to head (I think because of the smaller arena), so it was pretty cool. The first heat was an epic battle that took quite a long time, and the second heat had a really good crash to end the match, so we were satisfied. One other odd thing: they called it the “Destruction Derby” here.

The food at the fair was a mixed bag, mainly because we made the huge mistake of paying $10 each to take part in their “BBQ Tasting.” For $10, you got five tastings, either BBQ or beer. We entered the tent expecting many tables of BBQ, all with their unique slant on the dish ( you know, like you’d find in the South). Now, we knew the chances of finding decent BBQ up here were slim, but we expected some decent efforts. But when we entered the tent, we found three BBQ stations, one with brisket, one with pulled pork and one with chicken (which is not BBQ by anyone’s standards). None of these meats had any sauce at all. NO SAUCE. How do you even call it BBQ if there’s no sauce?? We ended up trying more beer than BBQ, and the beers were pretty good, but the BBQ was a total disappointment.

After we left the tent, we did find a BBQ stand there at the fair. It was a restaurant called “Ella’s” that supposedly has won many BBQ championships – in Oregon. It was miles better than what was in that tent, but it was still pretty poor in terms of pulled pork BBQ. However, the owner told us she’s from Texas, so I’m assuming their beef was better.

Other fair foods consumed: an elephant ear (delicious!), sopes from a Mexican stand (good, but it was no Nashville taco truck), and strawberry lemonade. All in all, a pretty good night!

Today we headed to the Salem Saturday Market, which was a lot of fun! We spent $27 and got all of the following: a bunch of radishes, a head of romaine lettuce, three sweet potatoes, a head of garlic, an onion, two HUGE green peppers, a 3/4 lb. steak of grass-fed longhorn beef, 2 squash, a pint of blackberries, a wedge of locally made cheese, and a rosemary plant. That’s a pretty good haul for that amount of money out here, and all of the produce was locally grown. We were a little shocked to find that in almost every instance, produce was cheaper at this market than at the grocery store. I should get Celine to write a post about the grocery prices out here, but needless to say, it’s a lot more expensive. There’s no sales tax, but when tomatoes are $5.99 a pound, sales tax is hardly the problem. I think we’ll be doing most of our produce shopping at this farmer’s market, at least until it closes for the season at the end of October.

Okay, off to enjoy some blackberry cobbler! Made with fresh Oregon blackberries! Life is good.