This last year I had the chance to do a lot of day hikes around the Pacific Northwest. I found myself chasing waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, exploring mountainous landscapes at Mt. Rainier National Park, and even adventuring around the epic scenery to be found on Vancouver Island. Although a lot of these hikes were during spring and summer, the great majority of the hikes I did in Oregon were in the midst of winter.
I used the beautiful nature that was anywhere from 1-3 hours outside of Portland to get rid of any lingering winter blues. The Pacific Northwest is notorious for gloomy, rainy, and wet weather. It does snow occasionally too. Basically, if you’re hiking during the winter, you should be prepared for any kind of weather. The weather can also change multiple times throughout the course of a day.
When thinking about the Oregon coast, images of rugged cliffs, turquoise blue waters, and windswept forests come to mind. The untouched beauty of this stretch of the West Coast is appreciated by many, but it rarely feels overcrowded. The Oregon coast is the place to catch the best storms and listen to ghost stories. There’s an eeriness as well as a raw attractiveness that make people come back again.
I especially love the long stretches of the southern Oregon coast that are a lot less developed than the north. You feel disconnected from the rest of the country, winding through the curved roads that look out over breathtaking views.
There has been only one other time in my life that I’ve been on a jet boat, and that was on the famous Shotover Jet Boat Ride in Queenstown. Now it’s hard to beat that one. It’s a raucous 20 minute ride that is reminiscent of an amusement park ride where there are death-defying spins and close calls with cliff sides. In other words, it was an adrenaline rush in the best ways.
The recent jet boat ride I did with Jerry’s Rogue Jets in Gold Beach, Oregon was very different in a lot of ways. There were still spins here and there, but the main purpose of the tour wasn’t for the giddy-inducing stomach flips. It was for the scenery, and let me tell you, the Rogue River knows how to set a beautiful scene.
With the stress of the US election and its results still ringing in our ears, I think we could all use a post that reminds us of the beauty that still exists in America. Last month, I visited the southern parts of the Oregon coast for a short trip, only to find some of the most striking and ethereal spots in the state – and that’s saying something!
I started my journey in the small seaside town of Brookings and continued all the way up to Cape Blanco, before cutting back to the Eugene area after my trip. The drive took two days in total and there were a lot of gems along the way.
Ashland, Oregon is stunning at anytime of the year. I visited the city for the first time last summer when I went to my first Oregon Shakespeare Festival Production. This year, I had a chance to visit again in the early fall and I fell in love with this cultural capital again. One aspect that Oregon does well is fall foliage and although Ashland is almost to the California border, it still has beautiful mild seasons and colorful leaves in the fall.
This time I didn’t have full days of trying to fit in as much as possible like I did last summer, but a more relaxed and local experience that sat well with me. I still managed to get to another Oregon Shakespeare Festival play to my excitement and I squeezed in a pint at Caldera Brewing, but other than that, I had a lot of new experiences that further endeared me to the city.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” // Martin Luther King Jr.
I’ve gone back and forth about whether I wanted to write about the last year and a half I lived in Portland, Oregon. It seems to be a city that is loved by many and disliked by none, but if I’m being honest, it was a city that constantly made me feel depressed and negative on a regular basis.
I’m generally a positive person. I try to focus on the genuinely good aspects in life and shake off the bad. I tried my best to adhere to that positive mentality while I lived in Portland. However, there was an underlying nature to the city that I could not get on board with.
As little as two years ago, Grants Pass in central southern Oregon wasn’t known for its bustling downtown. If you lived in Josephine County, where Grants Pass is located, you would have one of the lowest property taxes in Oregon. Without sales tax in Oregon either, however, there was little to give to local services such as the sheriff and fire departments. Crime rates rose. There was a meth problem on the outskirts of the city, a drug that continues to haunt many cities around Oregon.
Two short years later and Grants Pass has gone through a complete revitalization. Thanks to the tight-knit arts community that brings in continuous revenue and investment into the city’s historic buildings, there are numerous new businesses that are coming into downtown these days. There is a focus on farm-to-table cuisine in local restaurants, an increase in craft beer culture, and plenty of wine options. Grants Pass is situated near the Applegate Valley, which is arguably the best spot for wine tasting in Southern Oregon. Although Ashland is seen as the cultural capital of southern Oregon by many, Grants Pass is giving it serious competition these days.
I made my way to the old part of SE Divison, a place that used to have mechanic shops and furniture stores line the streets only a few years ago. A decade ago, you wouldn’t recognize the SE Division you see today, a bustling area with food carts, boutique shops, quaint cafes, old-school barber shops, and good eats. In fact, some of the best eats in Portland, as I soon would learn on my Forktown Food Tour.
I remember the feeling I had when I first saw Crater Lake, that feeling of pure awe and amazement. I’ve seen quite a few miraculous feats of nature, but none quite so pretty as the clear blue reflective waters of a sunken volcano.
A few of you who follow me on Snapchat may already know about my recent venture into eastern Oregon this past week. I spent St. Paddy’s Day in Bend and I had the chance to take a day trip further east to the John Day Fossil Beds.