I confess: I’m spoiled. It brings me immense pleasure when I get to go on an adventure, and then the boss man permits me to write about said adventure. But this series was never created as a bragging platform; it exists to widen the collective understanding of Salem and its surrounding areas, and all the delightful possibilities within that radius. Up until I quit my 8-to-5 job for the freelance life, I simply couldn’t seem to squeeze in the time to sneak away and have a spontaneous adventure. But I quickly learned that my notions were false—that it is possible to sneak away even amidst the insanity of the day-to-day hustle. Not to mention that “escapes” are actually super healthy for you, both mentally and emotionally. (Even physically, if you choose to incorporate walking or hiking.)

My job is to set out and rediscover what our rich, local culture has to offer us. Some destinations and shops and restaurants have been around forever, while others are fresh additions. I find the ones worth visiting for the first time or for the seventh time.

An easy favorite of mine, Mt. Angel actually proved a challenge. I, like so many other Salemites, am accustomed to seeing the little Bavarian town in its festively-pompous splendor during Oktoberfest, held every September. And I was guilty of ignoring it the other 11 months of the year. (Sorry, Mt. Angel. You’re still the land of my people.)

I ventured to the charming Old World town on two separate days this month–during a solid day of nothing but rain, and then on a crisp, clear day. This seemed ideal, since we tend to experience one weather trend or the other during our fall and winter months.

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Heading out of Salem, going north on Portland Road, I took a right onto Hazelgreen Road Northeast. This is the straight-shot to Mt. Angel, and signs are posted all along the road to help point the way. Naturally, one is required to stop at E.Z. Orchards Farm Market at the intersection of Hazelgreen and 55th. This little market is chock-full of produce and goodies and gifts and cider and fresh, homemade pumpkin or apple cider donuts. Be sure to nab some deliciousness for the road (I shamelessly opted for donuts). I tempted myself for a bit, walking through the aisles and remembering to come back at a later time with my grocery list in hand.

Continuing on Hazelgreen, then left on Mt. Angel Highway, keep your eyes peeled for a little brown sign pointing you to the Gallon House Covered Bridge. Hang a right on Hobart Road, which will take you straight to (and over) the bridge. Fun fact: the bridge is one of Marion County’s last original covered bridges, and received its name because of its unique location. Built in 1916, the bridge became a “pigeon drop” site for bootleg spirits at the north entrance. While Silverton was “dry” at the time, and Mt. Angel was proudly “wet,” the Gallon House became the perfect halfway point for Silverton residents to acquire a gallon of local “white lightning” whiskey.

Continue to follow signs to Mt. Angel. Right as you pull into downtown, don’t miss out on the giant warehouse to your right, home to Blackbird Granary Antiques & Curiosities. With over 45 vendors, it’s a vintage-lover’s dream stop. The place seems to go on forever, with all sorts of ‘curiosities’ to pique your interest.

Craving coffee to complement your half-dozen donuts like I was? Old Stone Coffee, or Leona’s Bakery are blissfully close by for a quick caffeine or baked goods fix. I lazied my way around downtown. Being a quiet, rainy day, I had the streets mostly to myself (I like that sometimes). Feel free to peek your head into the local shops and businesses that continue to run year-round. There’s plenty to look at while window shopping, as well.

I decided to digest my donuts-and-coffee blend while tripping my way up to Mt. Angel Abbey, which sits atop a bluff overlooking Mt. Angel and Silverton. The century-old Benedictine monastic community was founded in 1883 by Swiss Benedictine monks. Whether you’re of the faith or not, there is unmistakable serenity and beauty to be experienced on the grounds and in the building of the Abbey. I’m always fond of taking walks around campus, following the Hilltop Walking Tour, visiting the chapel to gawk at the gorgeous pipe organ and art and architecture, and taking in the panoramic views. The bookstore/coffee shop (as well as the library) is perfect for a quiet study spot, and the art gallery and museum are both fascinating. I hope to check out the Guesthouse, as well, someday soon.

If hunger calls, I recommend the Glockenspiel Restaurant & Pub or the Mt. Angel Sausage Company downtown. (Donuts can only go so far.) A German myself, I was a fan of the Glockenspiel Spätzle, and the bratwurst sandwiches at the Sausage Company. They specialize in German food—it’s no surprise that anything on the menu that is German is guaranteed to taste amazingly authentic. The Mt. Angel Sausage Company also sells sausages on their retail side of the building; definitely worth taking some home.

Granted, there are many more points of interest and shops and pubs to enjoy in Mt. Angel. That’s the beauty of Choose Your Own Adventure. It is what you make of it. Be sure to get creative during these chilly and sometimes dreary winter days; it’s always fun to accept the challenge of making the most out of our local offerings and possibilities. Cities and shops don’t stop during the wintertime, they just look a little different.

POINTS OF INTEREST:

E.Z. Orchards Farm Market
Mon-Fri 9am-6pm; Sat 9am-5pm; Closed Sun

Glockenspiel Restaurant
Sun-Thurs 11am-8pm; Fri-Sat 11am-9pm

Leona’s Bakery & Cafe
Tues-Sat 7am-2pm; Closed Sun-Mon

Mt. Angel Abbey & Seminary
Open to the public year-round
(Bookstore & Coffee Shop: Mon-Sat 9am-4:30pm)

Mt. Angel Sausage Co.
Sun-Thurs 9am-8pm; Fri-Sat 9am-9pm

Old Stone Coffee
Tues-Sat 7am-5pm; Closed Sun-Mon

The Blackbird Granary Antiques & Curiosities
Tues-Sat 10am-5pm; Sun 11am-4pm; Closed Mon

The Gallon House
Open 24/7/365

As always, whenever you’re planning a trip, be sure to double check the hours and directions for your destinations. Some small shops having limited days and/or hours of operation. There is nothing more disappointing than showing up to your destination…and discovering the hard way that they aren’t open.