This Thanksgiving I realized how thankful I was for a milkshake I had around five years ago. It was peach-lemonade.
I’d never heard of that flavor combo before, but this particular milkshake was without question the finest I’ve had in my life, so since then I’ve made it a point to order peach-lemonade milkshakes from Boggan’s Oasis. Sadly, Boggan’s burned Nov. 19. Nobody was hurt. Bill and Farrel are OK, but the restaurant is reported to be a complete loss.
A handful of Fourth of July’s ago, I helped take some folks down the Grande Ronde for a rafting day trip. Fun was had, and everyone was excited to get back up top for barbecues and fireworks.
We pulled the boats in at Boggan’s, and I went to fetch the van and trailer. They weren’t there. I was tromping up to the cafe in something of a mood and, as I’m walking up, Farrel comes out the door just like a gunslinger and puts her hands on her hips, saying, “Betcha wonderin’ where your van is, huh?”
I told her she read my mind. She told me her shuttle driver had spent a good portion of the morning searching for the key I was supposed to leave but didn’t. Not good news.
On the bright side, Boggan’s had world-famous milkshakes the guests could enjoy while Farrel drove me upriver to get the van, with the key I forgot to leave earlier. That is not exemplary river guide behavior.
So we get the van, I start driving back and hit a deer 90 seconds later. I mean, c’mon. Doe just bee-lined out of the bushes.
I hit the brakes, but there was definite contact. I got out and found she was caught under the front of the van, with a front leg tangled in a steering arm. She was not pleased. Wide-eyed. Nostrils flared.
Ready for a hoof-fight, staring me down and making lunges in my direction. I didn’t know what to do. Wasn’t going to move the van for fear of causing more harm. Certainly wasn’t crawling under there to get a hoof in the face.
Farrel got out of her truck behind me and shouted, “Well, at least you didn’t hit the baby!” Oh, man. This day had been going so good until an hour ago.
I crouched down to take another look, just as the doe freed her leg and scooted out from underneath on her back, just like she’d finished an oil change. She was fast. But not as fast as me sprinting to the driver’s door, jumping in and slamming the door.
The windows were up, but I could still hear Farrel’s laughter. It went on for a while. The deer, I’m happy to report, went on her way and didn’t appear to be seriously injured.
Back at the boat ramp I was hurrying to help get loaded, mad at myself, sweaty, wondering what else could go wrong and I heard behind me, “Mister Jon?”
I did not need one more single thing to happen that day. That day had already had enough things. I turned around, and Valerie from up at the restaurant was standing there, holding out a cup. With a straw. She said, “We thought you could use a milkshake.”
It was peach-lemonade and it was the finest milkshake ever made in all the world. Everybody got to their 4th of July parties on time, and I like to think that momma deer and her young one enjoyed the fireworks from the top of a hillside.
Boggan’s really was an oasis. In place of shady palms and water in the midst of sand, Boggan’s provided hashbrowns, cheeseburgers and peach-lemonade milkshakes to white-knuckled travelers coming off the Rattlesnake Grade.
A hub for fishing, hunting, boating –– with a top-notch shuttle service, provided you remembered to leave a key. A lot of activity, as river crossings go.
Bill and Farrel have been running the Oasis for 34 years. Last I heard, they were waiting to see about rebuilding. Whatever happens, thanks for all those milkshakes. Especially the magical peach-lemonade one.
Jon Rombach is a Wallowa County-based columnist for the Chieftain.