Seven Wonders of Oregon

Columbia River Gorge

Smith Rock

Mirror Pond Pale Ale is named after this little body of water… Or is the water named after the ale? I can’t seem to figure out why else they would name this thing mirror. Perhaps it was discovered by an explorer named Mirror, or inhabited by the Mirror Tribe. It was probably the beer, though. Nothing else makes sense.

This little city is amazing. So much good stuff for such a small size. And it’s not all that far away from us too.

Wholly enjoyed my first night in Bend and looking forward to some more excitement and adventuring today. Coffee and hikes and Beignet, hurrah.

Made it into Bend in time for a dinner date and to start tasting some of its often heralded microbrews.

Deanna sips a High Desert Hef and I took a Black Diamond Lager. Both were extremely good and smooth.

It’s only been a few hours but I already love this city. Such a winning downtown section too.

Onwards to Easter after an amazing and beautiful Saturday. We’ve spent this weekend outdoors which seems like an appropriate venue for Holy Week.

I’ve heard a professor from Portland explain the importance of the weekend as a whole, and not just Easter. There’s Friday, a time of intense violence, grief, and morning. Saturday is full of ambiguity, uncertainty, and disorientation. Then comes Sunday, resurrection and celebration. But these three days exist as a trinity. They give each other context. In life we experience each of these moments, and it’s important to accept them all in fullness, not overhyping one, as we have the tendency to do.

For me? I tend to have an orientation towards Saturday. Ambiguity. Uncertainty. It’s why so much of my spiritual like comes from asking questions and wondering why, and it’s why I believe faith means committing to a course of action before you have all the answers. I struggle with speaking in absolutes even though I believe there are some.

I was born on a Saturday. Sunday follows.

I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

Ever hear that Vonnegut quote? It’s a good one but something a lot of people aren’t good at doing. We can get very conditioned to asking ourselves what’s missing in our lives that we need to make it good. Business and advertising is based on that. Few things are as freeing as being able to just admit when it’s a pretty good life.

That’s how I mostly felt during our weekend trip to Bend. Brewery hopping, rock hiking, and waterfall chasing. And I loved all of it. I looked over at the red rocked landscapes and realized it had been a very good, very full weekend, and I was simply in a good mood. Lately, life had been full of challenges, many of them weren’t over. But this weekend was a relief in some ways and a celebration in other ways. A relief from the challenges and striving, and a celebration of having come so far.

A few years ago, I really valued the freedom to explore everything. I made it my priority and checked off bucket list items at a rapid rate. For the most part, if I discovered there was something I wanted to do or a place I wanted to go, I’d find some way to do it.

I can’t quite live like that anymore. Not with a small family to take care of and some other commitments.

This shift has helped me realize that I got really good at asking myself what I want and I overlooked a lot of opportunities to ask how I could help other people with their goals.

So now I’ve got a new goal… Make other people a priority and figure out how to use whatever I’ve got to help. It’s still a work in progress but I think there are even bigger adventures to be had this way.

“To those who have struggled with them, the mountains reveal beauties that they will not disclose to those who make no effort. That is the reward the mountains give to effort. And it is because they have so much to give and give it so lavishly to those who will wrestle with them that men love the mountains and go back to them again and again. The mountains reserve their choice gifts for those who stand upon their summits.”
– Sir Francis Younghusband

You could replace the word mountains for life to make this quote even more widely true. Or we can also just keep it at mountains cause mountains are pretty cool.

The best things in life aren’t always literal mountains, though. They aren’t always big and bold. They almost always revolve around challenges and the people you take them on with.

Made it to the very top of Smith Rock after hiking the wonderfully named Misery Ridge Trail. Fantastic view, too bad Beignet was way too scared of heights to even know.

The weather this week has been gorgeous… Pretty perfect for outdoor-ing. And baseball’s back. And good moods seem to pop up more and more.

This year has been unlike any other I’ve ever experienced so far, and it’s still early. I’m totally unable to generalize and say it’s been good or bad. It’s been challenging. And exciting. Difficult. And beautiful. And patience testing and life shaping and a learning experience. I’ve been reevaluating a lot, conducting a personal audit, and asking myself questions I didn’t think I needed to ask.

I’m so thankful for it all. It’s life and it’s a maddening, beautiful process.

“If we are not here during store hours, we are most likely out on an adventure, scaling a mountainside, wrestling a bear over a salmon we just caught with our bare hands or possibly just running an errand… In which case we will return shortly.”
–Spotted on a storefront in Bend
I love this approach to work. In Italy I would see so many old storefronts with signs that basically said something along the lines of “brb,” some were even closed for a marriage taking place.

It’s not about doing less work. In most ways you have to work harder to have some freedom and flexibility, but one of the most important things for me when deciding whether or not to take on new things or work with certain teams is the question “will this allow me to be my whole self?” The one with a family and other interests that take priority? If not, then I will most likely move on. Life is far too short to have your priorities accommodate less meaningful obligations day in and day out.

This past weekend should win awards. My good mood is its residue.

After hiking for hours around pure gorgeousness with the wife and puppy, it seemed appropriate to toast with a black ale from 10 Barrel.

Getting back to the working world this week… It’s been a while, actually. Thankful there are weekends like this one to keep the balance alive.

Geocaching is basically year-round Easter Egg hunting for grown ups so we figured it would be an appropriate Easter activity after church.

We found ourselves an awesome National Parks pin, a pine cone, and a coaster spelling out our next destination.

Good Life Brewing Co. was great and Bend was such a fun and wonderful little city. It’s quiet and small, but definitely not in a dull way.

I couldn’t have asked for a better Easter Sunday this year. I’m so glad we decided to make this the weekend we took off for Central Oregon… We spent hours around all kinds of gorgeousness.

We did a sunrise breakfast, then church. After lunch at a brewery sand some time at a dog park, we decided to hunt down waterfalls.


Typically Tumalo Falls is a pretty easy spot to drive most of the way. Road closures, though, meant having to walk two miles each way with snow coming down, on and off with the sunlight.

We spent hours waking and chatting and Beignet found out that snow is pretty much the greatest thing ever. And after a good while of enjoying it, we were treated to a killer view.

The Painted Hills

Deanna trusts this one a little too much.

We were camping over the weekend and while I was setting up the tent, Deanna convinced me Beignet baby could handle some off leash time.

I let her run to Deanna, who missed the leash. Instinctively, Beignet instantly found the biggest mud puddle she could and engaged in her favorite activity of splashing around in it.

She came out filthy, looking like a chocolate dipped shortbread cookie. We tied her back up.

Here, my friends, is her puppy shaming mugshot, guilty of so many things.

“A party without cake is just a meeting.”

– Julia Child

“A party without cake or s’mores is just a meeting.”

– Julia Child, Philippe Remix

So happy to have gone out for our first camping weekend of the season. It feels so good to be back in tents and roasting marshmallows and oyster mushrooms. May many more follow this summer.

Met with an old friend this weekend. We got reacquainted, did some of the things we used to do back in our school days, and spent some quality time. It was good to see that although I don’t see very much of it these days, things haven’t changed much on the inside.

And it was pretty cool seeing Matt, too.

Lovely journey back to 2003.

List your favorite parts of right now.
–Dallas Clayton
Sounds like a good idea, Dallas! Let’s see here.

I love being hours away from my first half marathon… Kind of makes me want to stay in shape forever. I like that I met a bunch of new friends this morning and I like the conversation I just had with Deanna. I like Beignet when she starts to get sleepy and curls up tight. I like the way the cookbook I’m thumbing through smells. I like the pictures throughout it. I like the freedom to doze off as necessary.

I feel really good after actually writing all that up.

Your turn.

Smith Rock last month and this month, the Painted Hills. We’ve been making good progress on our quest to see the Seven Wonders of Oregon.

I love the adventures that living in this state lends itself to.

I like being where I am right now and it’s a gift to be able to say that.

Once upon a time, this was a forest.

Now, it’s basically Mars.

Seven Wonders of Oregon status: three down, four to go.

A little effort went a long way to get to see the Painted Hills from this angle.

I’ve been loving our weekend adventures a lot lately. Last time I did a quarter of grad school, it felt like the hustle was squeezing out the space to do other things to remind myself that I my entire life wasn’t my 9-to-5

It’s hit me that we’re now just about halfway through the spring and nothing has felt lopsided, it’s been a much more balanced return.

I will always be a believer in mixing things up in whatever way you get the chance.

Mt. Hood

The Oregon Coast

Came by Ecola State Park on a quiet Sunday early in the summer. Big Sur style scenery, Oregon style tranquility.

I think I have a new favorite natural part of the state.

Considering how many gorgeous spots Oregon has to offer, that’s saying something.

Crater Lake

I think this is part of drifting further and further away from the age of 19-20, but I feel like it’s gotten harder and harder for me to find new music that I’m blown away by. It feels like a few years ago, I was constantly being wowed by one new music discovery after the next.
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There have been a few artists lately though that I’ve taken a liking to.

Novo Amor reminds me a lot of that one time Jónsi put out a solo album. His music sounds like the soundtrack to an epic cliff overlooking a fjord.

Givers & Takers isn’t exactly a new group, but I missed out on their debut a couple years ago and so they’re new to me. I’m liking what I’ve been hearing.

And I didn’t see it coming at all but Big Grams is a team up of Phantogram and Outkast’s Big Boi of all things. I don’t love every song, but so many of them are just great.

It’s official! Deanna and I have completed our quest to see the Seven Wonders of Oregon. And we did so in one year!

The Columbia River Gorge – September. Tried to see as many waterfalls as we could in one swoop and spent the night at Cascade Locks.

Smith Rock – March. Our first outing with Beignet. We hiked the whole thing, and she loved it so much nobody noticed she walked till her foot pads were raw.
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The Painted Hills – April. Went with Matt, camped just outside of Bend. Nice overnight’er.

Mount Hood – May. Climbed most of it with our friend Ben.

The Oregon Coast – June. Went here to celebrate our first wedding anniversary.

Crater Lake – July. Took a spontaneous day trip and drove the perimeter of the lake. Unfortunately, there was a big fire nearby.

The Wallowas – August. Spent a weekend driving off into Eastern Oregon. Beautiful places out there.

Made it to Crater Lake for the weekend!

I’ve been really wanting to visit Oregon’s only national park since moving up here, and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get around to it. But hey! It finally happened.

Unfortunately, right around this time of the year people Oregon does a pretty bad job of not being on fire. Good outing, still!

We’re a really small family, and only two-thirds human, but I love it.

One of the best parts of this summer has been the sheer amount of quality time I’ve been able to spend around Deanna, largely cracking up at whatever Beignet’s been doing. It’s my daily life and it’s gotten pretty simple, and I love every bit of it.

Doing things slower, taking things slower, and soaking everything in matters more and more to me over time. It’s a really rewarding thing to learn how to do.

“Love the quick profit, the annual raise, vacation with pay. Want more of everything ready-made. Be afraid to know your neighbors and die. And you will have a window in your head. Not even your future will be a mystery anymore. Your mind will be punched in a card and shut away in a little drawer. When they want you to buy something they will call you. When they want you to die for profit, they will let you know.”

“So friends, every day do something that won’t compute. Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing. Take all that you have and be poor. Love someone who does not deserve it.”

–Wendell Berry

This brilliant quote speaks for itself. Wendell Berry, errybody.

Checked off another wonder of Oregon… and the one that I’ve been trying to visit for over five years. Crater Lake.

When I studied in Argentina during college, I remember my roommate told me that Crater Lake was the most beautiful place he’s ever been. He lived in Washington, so I figured his standards were pretty high. And all the pictures and everything I saw since seemed to confirm. That Blue.

I was surprised to find that Crater Lake was a national park seemingly more meant for a day visit. Driving the rim was gorgeous and pretty easy, and Deanna, Beignet, and I had a great time. We also got to explore some of Roseburg on our way back and now we have so many more places we’d want to eat.

“The blessing is outside your comfort zone.”

–Ashley Hicks

Thankful for this. I didn’t expect this, but the month of August turned into a month of waiting. I found myself unable to make plans beyond September and I found myself actually enjoying that boundary.

One of the things I’ve been believing real strongly in recent days is that life needs some room for big leaps of faith and ideas that push the boundaries of logic and reasonable plans. Unless your finances have room for faith, unless your schedule has big blocks of the unknown, unless you regularly face big risks, you miss out on the biggest blessings of life.

One of the things I love the most about Deanna– she and I have always been really good at having fun with each other.

I notice this a lot in the summer, when we both have a little more flexible time, and all sorts of activities outside the house keep inviting us more and more. Our past few weekends together have been pretty fun sweet and enjoyable.”

I remember way before I got married somebody saying that in some ways being married is like a really, really long hang out session, so you might as well marry someone you can be good friends with and with whom you have a lot of fun. Yes. I’m all about that.

“Being heard is so close to being Loved that for the average person they are almost indistinguishable.”

–David Augsburger

It always amazes me that there are some things we could do that are really such simple choices that would completely change things for another person. Really listening. Going through a “routine interaction” like checking out at a cash register with the goal of acknowledging the humanity of the person working it by being sincere with the “how are you” type talk.

The few times I’ve managed to take these extra steps have made for such positive interactions. It’s just hard to make it a habit, huh? So worth working on.

Before there was Pokémon Go, there was Geocaching!

Now that there’s Pokémon Go, we use two phones when we explore new parks in new cities. One for pocket monsters and one for buried treasures.

We found some hidden in this tree in Roseburg.

The Wallowas

I’ve heard the Wallowas refered to as the Oregonian Alps, so naturally, I wanted to head over there last weekend.

Great mountains and backpacking trails that stretch for days. Literally. It was hard for us to find a hike that could be done within a couple hours.

We weren’t able to stay for very long, but this place was gorgeous- and I’m glad the Seven Wonders of Oregon campaign included something from the less visited Eastern Oregon.