That feeling is back. That feeling I get every time I find myself in the mountains when the leaves are changing.
It’s a feeling that bubbles up inside of me and one that makes me stop to enjoy life and breathe in my surroundings.
It’s also the feeling that reignites my desire to live near mountains one day. To experience the seasons, pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and trail mix and set out on day-long hikes with Ryan and Sadie.
Oregon captured my heart today. It’s a stunning place and I feel so, so fortunate to be able to spend time in the state during such a gorgeous time of year.
I, along with the group of bloggers on the Harry & David tour, am staying at the Magnolia Inn, the most charming little bed and breakfast in Jacksonville, a small, picturesque town located just outside of Ashland.
If you happen to be close by and are looking for a fantastic place to stay with lots of character for a romantic weekend away or a quiet girls’ trip, I cannot recommend this family-owned place enough.
I think Abby, the owner’s dog, would agree!
There’s a sense of warmth from family-run bed and breakfasts that simply cannot be duplicated by a hotel. An afternoon snack of warm pecan chocolate chip cookies and milk? I was so impressed.
The first official day of the Harry & David blogger trip kicked off after breakfast.
(This picture is Sandy’s picture from the Wednesday night’s dinner, but it’s the only group picture I have so far and wanted be sure to share the links to everyone’s blogs with you guys since I know many of you love reading food blogs as much as I do! From left to right in the top row: Brenda, Brian, Heather and Matt. Bottom row, left to right: Carrie, Sandy, Dara, Gaby, me, Aggie and Maggy.)
Our group boarded a bus bound for the famous pear orchards a little after 8 a.m. and arrived to a beautiful spread of freshly cut pears and Honeycrisp apples, mixed nuts, endive topped with local blue cheese, coffee and the most unbelievable spiced apple cider tea. (I’m sorry I couldn’t find a direct link to it on the Harry & David website, but I Googled it and found it on Amazon. )
Rumor has it we should have time to do a little shopping tomorrow and I plan to stock up on that tea. When they brewed the tea for us, they added a splash of sparkling apple cider at the end. The apple cider flavor was spot-on and it was the perfect cozy, autumn drink. I could not stop raving about it!
During our time at the orchards, we learned a lot about pears and the harvesting process from Matt Borman, the orchard director for Harry & David.
The winter pears for Harry & David’s holiday gift baskets were already picked for the season, but the orchards were still so picturesque. I was surprised to learn that winter pear picking occurs when the fruit is mature, not ripe and the pears ripen after they’re picked. Nearly 700 tons of pears are picked by hand per day during harvest. It was interesting to learn about all the time and attention that goes into ensuring that perfect pears find their way into the gift baskets. They even use a water flume to prevent unnecessary handling and potential bruising. (We asked if we could ride the water flume and got shut down.)
Our second tour of the day occurred a short drive away at the Harry & David chocolate factory.
The lead chocolatier for Harry & David is a third-generation chocolatier named Charlie, which is all-too-perfect. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!
Charlie told us a bunch of fun facts about chocolate, candy and baked goods made at the factory.
When they’re making chocolate truffles, the factory can produce 120,000 to 130,000 truffles within 16 hours. Efficient and delicious!
And their beloved Moose Munch popcorn?
100 pounds of Moose Munch popcorn is popped per hour at the factory. It smelled incredible. Buttery and indulgent!
My favorite part of the factory tour occurred when we had the opportunity to try some different kinds of dark chocolate and dip our own pears into pink chocolate.
Carrie was my chocolate-making buddy!
We all left the chocolate factory in a sugary daze and headed to lunch in Ashland. More on that later!
Thanks so much to Harry & David for such a memorable and delicious day!