discovering (more of) oregon

i have severely overestimated the amount of downtime i would have on our big trip back to the united states this summer. i had quite enough last summer in iceland, isolated on a farm with no means of transportation in borgarbyggd (west iceland) and only my own two feet to explore the hills and tiny nearby villages, but this summer has been a different story altogether and so different than my trip home two years ago. then, there was a real abundance of time, but i’ve had to be so strategic with what i do each day or how many people i can visit over the past almost five weeks.

it has been really good though, and has given me a chance to explore a state that i think many washingtonians don’t really get to know aside from its largest city or the coast: oregon.

i flew in in early august to be greeted by my dearest megs and a huge swath of smoke and smog that had blown up from the south from fires in central and eastern oregon. i don’t exaggerate when i say that we could not see the ground when the plane came in for a landing! portland wowed me as usual with the myriad of bridges crisscrossing the river and hills. real hills – right in the city! i knew i was in the northwest before that, though – i mean, you’re not in detroit anymore when you spot a white grand piano next to a stumptown coffee kiosk. back in the northwest – the moment i’d been waiting for.

(broder brunch realness, above)

the next day (after a night catching up and drinking local beer, as one does), we jumped in our rental and drove out to central oregon, bend, to be specific, snapping loads of photos from the passenger side of the amazing scenery…

suddenly, you see hills upon hills of white tree skeletons were there were serious and terrible fires in the washington and jefferson park areas over the past year or so… to say nothing of the absolutely awful eagle creek fires in the columbia gorge area right now. the past few summers have been a hard one for the northwest in terms of fire danger and terrible loss of forests and wildlife.

i have absolutely loved staying in and getting to know little bend, oregon for the better part of the week for my dear friend julie’s destination wedding extravaganza. now i completely understand why this area is so special. and barring my travels as a baby, i am quite sure i have never seen high desert before. it was wild… think i might be hooked!

getting to know some of the bend breweries and float the river was a huge highlight, as my stint as a bridesmaid to support julie in her absolutely gorgeous special day.

of course, we couldn’t leave the area without checking out some of the “lava tubes” at redmond caves! turns out, lava tubes don’t look like the ones from iceland. they are just (big, awesome, dark) caves. which is cool… if you have a flashlight.

the landscape in this area really reminded me of iceland… but the desert version. the same way that iceland has nothing but miles of moss and lava rock, so goes with central oregon and high desert brush.

last but not least, we headed up to hood river (located on the columbia gorge) across the river from washington to visit alex’s friend adam. hood river is definitely a sweet little town you could definitely imagine yourself living in working in. it’s the perfect size – walkable, lots of fun eateries and great beer, and gorgeous mt. adams views.

and then it was off to head to the end of the “march to the sea” – my home-state!

okay oregon, i’ll admit that i’ve underestimated you. you’re real cool in my book! i’m so thankful for this opportunity to have a proper road trip and real “get to know ya”.

have you ever been surprised by that unassuming state or country that neighbors the place where you’re from?

some photos thanks to michael whelan & steve heinrichs photography.