We left Redding, CA and headed north up I-5 toward Medford, OR. About 50 miles north of Redding, we passed majestic Mount Shasta. We could sometimes see Mount Shasta from certain areas around Redding, but the view was usually hidden by the local hills or distant clouds. The photo below shows Mount Shasta from I-5.
Mount Shasta means "white mountain." At a height of 14,179 feet above sea level, Mount Shasta is the second highest mountain in the Cascade Range. Mount Rainier is the highest at 14,411 feet. Mount Shasta is one of many volcanoes in the Cascades, and the last significant eruption of Mount Shasta took place in 1786. Geological studies show it has been erupting about every 600 years, so area residents should be safe for the foreseeable future.
We had a drive of about 3 1/2 hours from Redding to Joseph Stewart State Recreation Area, which is about 30 miles north of Medford on Lost Creek Lake. Joseph Stewart State Recreation Area has a boat launch and day-use area as well as a campground with almost 200 sites. The internal roads and the pads in the campground are paved, and the sites are mostly grass. After staying at fairgrounds and private campgrounds, it was nice to get back to the spacious sites you typically find at state parks. However, like most state parks, Joseph Stewart campground has 30 amp electric and water hookups, but no sewer. Also, some of the sites, like ours, were not very level front to back. We had to use blocks under the rear jacks to get the rear high enough to be level.
The campground was nice and quiet - no highway noise and no trains. It was fairly empty when we first arrived early in the week; but it was filling up by the time we left on Friday. We suspect it gets fairly crowded (and possibly noisier) on the weekends. The photo below shows our site at Joseph Stewart State Recreation Area.
Medford, OR is the home of Harry and David, the company that sells mail-order gourmet foods and gifts. Harry and David has tours of their facilities, so we drove into Medford to have a look. Their busiest time of year is November and December - over half their 2.8 million orders are delivered during those months. They have about 1,300 year-round employees with about 6,000 to 8,000 extra people for the peak of the holiday season.
Harry and David is busy leading up to Mother's Day, then things slow down until after July 4th. After July 4th, they already begin to ramp up for the holidays. Unfortunately, when we were there at the end of June, the factory was completely shut down for maintenance to prepare for the increase in production that begins in July. They still have tours, but we had to rely on the tour guide's descriptions (which were excellent) and the videos they show along the way (which were also excellent) to get an idea of what goes on. The bus for the tour boards at the Harry and David store, which is shown in the photo below.
Harry and David were brothers. Their father moved to the Medford, OR area from Seattle, WA in 1910, and he bought 240 prime acres planted with pear trees. Harry and David took over the business when their father died in 1914 and they decided to specialize in Comice pears, a variety that only grows in a few areas in the world. Harry and David named their pears Royal Riviera to differentiate them from Comice pears grown elsewhere. They did well during the 1920s exporting the pears to the grand hotels of Europe until the stock market crash of 1929. In 1934, they decided to try selling their pears by mail. They initially visited captains of industry and pitched their pears as business gifts. Soon, orders started pouring in, and the Harry and David direct marketing company was born.
Harry and David both died in the 1950s - one from a heart attack and one in an accident. The company is currently owned by an investment company.
The first stop on the tour was the candy-making facility and bakery. One of Harry and David's more popular items is Moose Munch, which is a mix of caramel-coated popcorn and nuts. It is available plain or chocolate coated. In the photo below, the worker on the far right was performing maintenance of the machine that makes Moose Munch.
The same building also has a bakery area where things like cookies and cheese cake are made, and it has candy-making lines where they make truffles and other chocolate treats. At the end of the tour of the bakery, we were given sample boxes with raspberry-filled cookies and a chocolate mint truffle. The next photo shows our tour guide handing out samples.
From the candy-making facility/bakery we went to the fruit-packing building. Here, gift baskets and boxes of fruit are packed by hand for shipment. There was no packing going on, but we got a good idea of the hustle and bustle that normally takes place from the video.
The packers are paid a base salary plus a bonus for the number of baskets packed. Although the sizes and contents of the baskets vary, there are two long-time employees who are sisters who can each pack a basket in an average of about 45 seconds. The photo below shows the area where the gift baskets are packed.
The specialty of Harry and David remains the Royal Riviera pears. In the next photo, the machine to the right, which is called "Big Red," has a series of buckets that weigh the pears and dump them onto the appropriate conveyor so each box of pears ends up with the correct total weight.
Upstairs of the packing floor, dozens of workers make bows by hand for the gift baskets. They tried machine-made bows, but customers complained so they went back to hand-made bows. A lot of work at Harry and David is done by hand, and it seems customers expect that and are willing to pay for it.
Outside the fruit packing building were stacks and stacks of metal racks (in the foreground) used for cold storage of fruit and wooden boxes (in the distance) used for picking fruit. The picking boxes were also being repaired during this maintenance time. Harry and David still grows most of their own fruit in orchards in the nearby area.
Harry and David has very high standards for fruit that is sold through their catalog and shipped in gift boxes and baskets. Fruit that doesn't quite measure up is sometimes sold at their store at a discount. Fruit that isn't quite good enough to sell at the store is sold to a nearby company that manufactures baby food. Seconds from the bakery are made available in the employees' break room. Items are also donated to food banks and senior centers. Very little goes to waste.
From the packing building, the mini-bus took us back to the store where we had a chance to look around. The next photo shows some of items available in the Harry and David store.
We have received gifts from Harry and David in the past, and everything is excellent quality; and they have a no-questions-asked guarantee. They will refund your money or send out a replacement product if you're dissatisfied for any reason. Harry and David products make excellent gifts, but unfortunately, most things cost more than we were willing to spend on ourselves. We only bought a few items of produce (which were more reasonably priced than the gift items) before heading back to the motor home.
On the way back to the motor home we stopped to gas up the car. That was our first encounter with the Oregon law that prohibits the consumer from pumping their own gas. We couldn't remember that last time someone pumped the gas for us. Oregon and New Jersey are the only states that prohibit self-service gas pumps.
There's more to see in the Medford area, so look for our next post.