Driving the American West: Northeastern Oregon

Portion of a mural outside York’s Covered Wagon in Baker City

The three main towns of northeastern Oregon — Baker City, La Grande, and Pendleton — made me feel like I was visiting another time, just dropping in via Volkswagen.

In this rugged slice of the country, the Gold Rush, fur trade, and Oregon Trail feel both quietly alive and properly labeled. Its towns are small, friendly places to lose yourselves for a while, reconnecting to America’s pioneering spirit and gentle sense of humor.

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A Portland Sort of Birthday

Jessica (left) and I enjoying a view of Portland’s Willamette River

Every year around this time, my birthday happens.

And as it happens, this year I’m spending half of my birthday week in my favorite American city, Portland, Oregon, with my dear friend Jessica. She lives here, which never ceases to delight me. See, I discovered my love for Portland in 2006…but I didn’t discover Jessica until 2009.

On this trip, we’ve so far wandered the Eola-Amity Hills Wine Route in the Willamette Valley (I highly recommend a stop at the Dobbes Family Estate) found some spectacular fall leaves, and enjoyed the meal of the gods: Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings from Pok Pok. Tonight, I’m looking forward to feeling a real chill in the air and breaking out my first sweater of the season.

In the time Jess and I have left this week, we might take a drive to peer out over the Columbia Gorge, amble up to a food cart or two, crack open a bottle of Argyle Pinot Noir, and settle in for a while with our laptops at a French restaurant which features both Kir Royales and free Wi-Fi. We’ll also mull over future Oregon trips, like one to mineral-blue Crater Lake and another to the pink-tinged Strawberry Range.

But most importantly? We’ll be enjoying each other’s company, catching up on stories, listening to some good music, talking back to her meowing cats, and taking a few minutes to notice that autumn is settling in all around us. 

Getting older isn’t so bad when friends are along for the journey.

Go West, I Said

Call it a test of my own gumption or a simple thirst for adventure:

I’m hopping in my car and hitting the road to explore the American West!

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Off We Drove to Forest Grove

A few weeks back we hit the road to find ourselves some autumn fun in the Pacific Northwest. With the help of our friends, we found it in Forest Grove, Oregon, less than an hour from Portland.

Between huge flocks of birds, a sake tour, wine tasting and a fine mist hanging o’er the hills, I’m sure as heck glad we got off the couch and headed west.

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Portland, Oregon: A (Real Live) Weekend Away

A bit of the bar at Ping in Portland’s Chinatown

Recently spent my (early-October) birthday up in Portland, Oregon, which is just about our favorite city in America.

We stayed with friends, went to a book fair and a radio show taping, toodled around the city, drank wine and stuffed our faces. We wore actual sweaters and jackets to ward off the autumn chill. 

And you know what? It was darn good for the mind, body and soul.

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