Portland, Oregon, and Trailblazers

There are places in this world that end up in your everyday. Portland comes up in some form of communication at least once a day.  For me, my only personal association with Portland up to the point of this trip was a few friends who lived there, The Goonies, and Portlandia.  With this top-level understanding in hand, my wife, my sister-in-law, and myself headed there for a long 3 day weekend.  I chose to bring the iPhone 5s and my Fuji X-T1 with the Fuji XF 56mm 1.2, and the Fuji XF 10-24 f4 lenses.  I'll preface with this: I didn't even miss my Canon 5D Mark3.  Not once.  In fact, I've sworn off bringing my Canon gear on trips.  If you can, rent the Fuji X-T1 for a few days and see what the fuss is with these cameras.  And rent a few lenses while you're at it.  The kit lens is pretty barf.  Fuji glass is perfection, but the kit lens pales in comparison to other options.  All images edited in Lightroom or Mextures on the iPhone.


Steps Taken: 11,981

Walking Distance: 5.8 Miles


Travel days rarely make for story days, but we managed to have a good day of eating at a great place, witnessing the grand Portland water scare of 2014 (no, seriously, there was a tainted water supply so everyone was advised to avoid the tap water) and meet up with my friend Taylor Painter.  Check him out on Instagram: @tpainter. What ended up being a "quick" bite to eat turned into a good 5 hour adventure of him showing us around downtown Portland.  Home late for a 5 a.m. wakeup. I should give some thanks to Airbnb for helping us find a perfect home centrally located.


Steps Taken: 20,477

Walking Distance: 9.91 Miles

I've heard of the Columbia River Gorge east of Portland.  Mostly because Pinterest has shown me it's one of the most beautiful places in all the world.  More waterfalls than you could imagine, lush green forests, and fresh air.  Coming from the desert, I could have had one of those and been content.  All three? Heaven.  We started closest to Portland at Rooster Rock Lookout (above Image) and worked our way east.

Sheppards Dell

We started off with an "easy" hike into Sheppards Dell.  "Quick hike in, see a beautiful waterfall, a old bridge and a quick hike out," they said. "This is one of the easiest trails," they suggested.  LIARS!  My legs were not ready for this.  I could already tell my early morning walks weeks prior to this trip were not useful.  I was really excited to strap on my ND filters and get some long exposure shots for my portfolio.

Bridal Veil Falls

We went to Bridal Veil Falls next.  I slipped and fell in the water.  With my shoes completely soaked through and my jeans damp, it dawned on me right there why everyone was in shorts and sandals.  Wasn't able to capture the actual falls with a decent picture due to the fact there was nearly 40 people viewing it at any moment.

Ponytail Falls/Horsetail Falls

Ponytail Falls is a hike that everyone should do if you're hiking in the gorge.  You get to hike under that waterfall!  There's a few sketchy spots, a rickety bridge that was "under construction" and only 1 person was allowed on at a time.  And also there's a beautiful scenic viewpoint that has a non-fenced 150 foot drop straight down.  The hike wasn't too bad but I felt weak and frail.  I felt absolutely pathetic when I saw parents slinging their toddlers with ease on these trails.

Horsetail falls was a site to see in person.  Take a moment and sit on the banks and take in the sight and feel the mist.  The sheer amount of water that comes pouring down is remarkable.

Oneonta Gorge was a bad idea, but not because of the view.  Climbing over a dam of logs to get into this area should have been the first warning I was in over my head (pun!).  I'm not what you would recognize as having good balance, or someone who is athletic.  Once we successfully traversed the dam, we couldn't get farther down as the water was too high. My camera equipment, and myself were not prepped for the event of submersion.  A phone fell in the water so we called it a day, ran to the Apple store in portland, replaced the phone, and went back home.  We weren't able to see Multnomah Falls as they were conducting a search and rescue operation and had everything blocked off.  Bruised, scratched, sweaty and hungry: this day was an ultimate success.  Back up your photos to your photo stream!

Day 3

Steps Taken: 12,221

Walking Distance: 5.92 Miles

Day 3 was a coastal driving day.  We were slightly sad as the weather reports were showing beautiful partly sunny skies.  We came to Oregon for the moody fog!  This wasn't fair!  We figured any weather would be perfect and better than what we left back in Arizona.  First stop was Newport, Oregon.  I think we got there by mistake honestly.  I don't remember the entire story, but it wasn't where we wanted to end up. (Thanks Siri)


The grassy beach was perfect and the weather was outstanding.  We spent a half hour on the beach and then headed north a couple of miles.

Yaquina Head State Park

Oregon coasts will forever be imprinted in my mind.  I had to force myself to put my camera down to stop and take in the moments.  It was at that moment I realized that as hard as it was to not want to snap every beautiful cliff, craggy rock, or ocean swell, it was better spent giving my 5 senses memories.  We had a pretty neat experience while up next to the lighthouse overlooking the water.  About 200 yards out a whale breached briefly.  Even though it wasn't specifically what I had on my life bucket list, I half crossed off "see a whale,"

I named that rock Poop Rock.

We left the state park and continued north.  I absentmindedly missed the Devil's Punchbowl because at about that time, the weather turned cloudy, then foggy.  I was completely distracted by all the moodiness. As we drove, we saw fog rolling over a sole mountain and decided that a detour up that mountain was the only logical plan.

Cape Lookout State Park

I can't put into words how happy I was when we arrived.  There were maybe 2 or 3 other people on the trail.  We were completely alone with mother nature.  All you could hear was rustling of the wind, the crashing of the tide way below us, and the patter of rain hitting the canopy above.  We took enough pictures to last a lifetime at that spot, and yet I still feel like it wasn't enough.  


I thought I had reached the pinnacle of happiness at Cape Lookout Park.  Nope.  How quickly I had forgotten in my foggy heaven that we still had one stop left: Canon Beach.  Before I go any further I need you to understand something.  I know people say it's a cliche touristy spot and there are better spots nearby.  Was it the most beautiful place I had been that day?  Nah.  But - It was Goonies.  And Goonies never say die.  I needed to see this spectacle with my own eyes.  The weather was on our side.

Leaving Canon Beach with night quickly on us, we decided it was best to head back to Portland.  I had never driven through fog that dense and thick before.  And while I was terrified not being able to see far in front of me, when the fog and rain let up, I saw scenes that I had only imagined.  And then we would be enveloped in fog and rain again only to eagerly wait for another clearing.  That will be a drive that will live in my memory for years.

Unfortunately, this is where the pictures end of my travel.  We made it home, fell asleep in our clothes and woke up early in the morning to grab some Voodoo Doughnuts before catching our flight.  Yes, they do live up to the hype.  No, do not try and eat 5 of them in one sitting.  It won't happen.

Oregon, I love you.  Thanks for letting us come visit and giving us the best weather and memories.

Travel, LandscapeMerek Davis