"Do you have any mittens?" I asked hopefully, my hands in pain from the nippy air. In only a couple of hours I had gone from 90-degree weather in Los Angeles to chilly Jacksonville in Southern Oregon. And I was freezing.
The first store I came to was The Old Library Thrift Shop. No, there weren't any mittens, the saleslady said, regretfully, But I encountered something far more interesting--history. Jacksonville is full of it. A onetime Gold Rush town, it is a National Historic Landmark and has more than 100 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places
And I was in one of them, the Brenner Building, which dates from 1855.
A vintage cookbook and other purchases in hand, I crossed the street to the GoodBean Coffee Company. Cozy and inviting, the GoodBean is housed in the Table Rock Billiard Saloon Building, which was constructed in 1859. In those days, Jacksonville was called Table Rock.
This shop carries such mouth-watering Oregon products as handmade organic chocolates from Lillie Belle Farms in Central Point, including the lavender-flavored caramels sprinkled with sea salt that have won national acclaim.
Another is Cosmos caramel corn from Eugene, free of hulls and kernels and so smooth that it melts in your mouth.
I took a break from shopping at Mamma Mia Gelateria, which in 1859 was the Martin & Zigler Blacksmith Shop. Bacio (chocolate and hazelnut) gelato looked good, but I settled on straciatella--sweet cream gelato laced with chocolate strands.
I could look out the window to Bella Union Restaurant & Saloon (1856), which that night was grilling oysters to go with Oregon beer. But my plan was to taste wines at South Stage Cellars, which was once the P.J. Ryan Hotel Building (1856).
Then on to dinner at the Nunan Estate bed and breakfast (1892), where I was staying. Jacksonville's acclaimed chef, Tim Keller, cooks at the Carriage House restaurant there. Keller is a Californian who came to Oregon after a restaurant career in San Francisco.
The restaurant was about to move into new quarters with an open kitchen when I was there. It's named for a building with guest rooms across from the main house, an elegant Victorian structure that has been decorated in keeping with the era.
Other choices were grilled rib eye steak with foie gras hash, vanilla-larded lamb rack with corn custard, fingerling potatoes and mission figs, and Pinot-glazed duck breast.
Not until later did I learn that this was Keller, a nice guy as well as an accomplished chef.
The Old Library Collectibles & Thrift Shop, 170 S. Oregon St., Jacksonville, OR 97530. Tel: (541) 899-9555.
Good Bean Coffee Company, 105 S. Oregon St., Jacksonvile, OR 97530. Tel: 1(800) 486-4036.
Jacksonville Mercantile, 120 E California St., Jacksonville, OR 97530. Tel: (541) 899-1047.
Mamma Mia Gelateria, 157 W. California St., Jacksonville, OR 97530. Tel: (541) 899-9120.
Bella Union Restaurant & Saloon, 170 W. California St., Jacksonville, OR 97530. Tel: (541) 899-1770.
South Stage Cellars, 125 S. Third St., Jacksonville, OR 97530. Tel: (541 899-9120.
Carriage House restaurant at Nunan Estate bed and breakfast, 635 N. Oregon St., Jacksonville, OR 97530. Tel: (541) 899-1890.