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Beware the BLM Road

You know how you read about travelers of questionable discernment taking off on BLM roads about which they know zip?

Remember how some of those stories end up with said dopes becoming compromised and at the mercy of Bigfoot and his family? I’m way ahead of myself here. Meanwhile, picture Fiona, the brave Honda Civic, tip-tiring her way over and under fallen evergreens.

I had recently discovered a quirky-sounding place just southwest of Roseburg by the name of Lookingglass. It presented the perfect day trip. Lane and I set a date to drive the back way, Highway 227 off Highway 62 out of Trail. It was a gorgeous day. The sun shone and birds tweeted “I love you” on the wing. Spring with all its life had burst forth evergreen, and mid-century jazz provided accompaniment.

Woodsy scenery flanked our roadway as we climbed, and curves prevented much sightseeing from the driver’s seat. As we drew closer to Canyonville, where 227 ends and Interstate 5 takes over, things began to flatten out into farms, fields and oak savannahs. The Umpqua River flowed beside us with several opportunities throughout the day to enjoy its riffles. We stopped for a bottled tea and pit stop at the Day’s Creek store, which showcases stuffed animal heads and girlie posters while waiting for the facilities.

Back on the road we joined up with I-5 until exit 113/Clark’s Branch Road. We made a left then a right onto NE Dole Road, and another right onto Highway 99, left on Brockway Road, and past the old Brockway store, now closed. Turning left on Lookingglass Road and staying right brought us face to face with the old Lookingglass general store. Built in 1852 and looking every year of it despite remaining sturdy, this location was the beginning and end of the Coos Bay Wagon Road and the terminus for the Oakland to Lookingglass stage and freight road. It’s picturesque and definitely worth the drive for a history lover.

Lookingglass was so named in 1846 by Hoy Flournoy, first cousin to Hoi Palloi. No, that last part’s a fib. Hoy said the beautiful green grass of the valley reflected light almost as well as a mirror. It must have been spring. He returned later to settle there.

Inside the store were news clippings from the 1970s of David Brinkley stopping with his news crew on the porch steps. Chet Huntley, Brinkley’s co-anchor of the Huntley-Brinkley Report on the NBC Nightly News, was the great-grandson of the area’s first settler, Daniel Huntley, who arrived in 1851. Next to such noteworthiness hung a piece about the town telephone booth dedication and the first call being made, complete with a proud row of Boy Scouts with flags. The booth still stands, without innards. A two-horse parking meter distinguishes Lookingglass from the one-horse variety. Today the store is the hub of the community and is the oldest business in Douglas County.

We had come through breathtakingly beautiful green countryside to arrive at our destination and were famished. The bell clanged as we moseyed inside, and Wendy the storekeeper greeted us. A lunch special on their chalkboard said enchiladas for $5, so we took the last two with some good coffee made from beans roasted right there. We ate outside on the flower-lined patio as the day, being idyllic, demanded interaction.

We snapped a few pictures and, though they offer home-baked pastries, we capped our meal by lounging on the roomy front porch slurping ice cream cones. I think I said howdy more than once. That porch is begging for old-timers to tell tales of earlier times. We waited but they must have been setting fence posts or bucking hay.

Oh, that BLM road? That happened after visiting Reustle Winery, coming out backwards from the way we went in, and relying on the mischievous mapster — Google. It was 10 miles of fir-lined darkness, waning phone power with no charger, downed and hanging trees (some Lane pulled back while I drove through), and prayer. Ah, what an adventure.

Visit me at Dancin Winery this Friday evening and Medford Barnes & Noble Saturday at 2 p.m. I’ll be signing books.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com and on her Facebook page.