Monday, January 14, 2013

Winter In The Valley

I love winter time in the Willamette Valley. I know that might sound strange coming from a native Texan who moved from a sunny, warm climate to this one, but I do.

I even found myself actually anxious for winter and the rains to start back in August of last year. Weird, huh?

Something about the winter time here is really enchanting to me. The fog, the storm and winter clouds - the damp moss that seems to cling to everything.

I love photography and I think the Willamette Valley in the winter time is probably every photographer's dream. The atmosphere is moody, the colors are saturated.

Try it this winter. Grab your camera (or your phone camera) and start really looking at things around you. That nut grove down the road. Look at the tree limbs covered with deep green moss and how the colors change with the various lighting shifts that happen throughout the day.

Winter beauty is everywhere. All you have to do is open your eyes.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The new issue comes out tomorrow

Let me tell you, it's a great feeling when the latest issue goes to press. I checked proofs today and the new issue will start hitting the streets tomorrow.

It also marks the start of our 4th year publishing Willamette Valley Life. We started the publication smack dab in the middle of a recession and here we are still at it!

I'm already planning the spring issue, so if you have any ideas that you would like us to consider for subject matter, let me know.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Farewell To Summer

I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready for summer to be over. There are so many things I’ve put off because something else got in the way. I only made it to the beach a couple of times this summer. And the hammock on the back deck? I think I took a swing in it once or twice. I’m trying not to beat myself up over it, but in the land where the sun doesn’t shine nearly long enough throughout the year, I should probably be given a fine of some kind.

For all of you who procrastinated and ended up in the same boat as me, this issue has some great ideas to help you ease slowly into the next season.

Mention the word “raptor” and what do you think of? If you’re anything like me, I bet the first thing that popped into your mind was a velociraptor from the film Jurassic Park. Nope. The raptors I’m talking about reside at the Cascade Raptor Center near Eugene and are birds of prey. Freelance writer Sara Grant got an up-close look at a few of these amazing birds at a recent trip to the Raptor Center. You can read about what she learned in this issue.

Writer Suzanne Reingans is an avid hiker and explorer of all things outdoors here in the Willamette Valley. This lady knows her hiking trails, and to prove it she has provided a short list of some of her favorite hiking trails within a day trip of The Valley.

Salem rocks! Yes, you heard me right. Back in the 1960s a local teacher by the name of Ed Dougherty got tired of hearing from his students that there was nothing to do in Salem, so he started booking dances at Walker Middle School in 1962. Before he knew it, he was a major concert promoter bringing national acts to Salem like the Doors, Sonny and Cher, The Yardbirds and many more music legends of the time. Writer Cindy Dauer sat down recently with Mr. Dougherty, and he shared some of his favorite memories of a very unique time period in The Valley’s music history.          

As the summer winds down and fall moves in, get out of the house. Enjoy the sunshine we have left and the beautiful fall leaves that are popping up everywhere. See you in the New Year with our third anniversary issue!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Last minute road trip to the beach

One of the really great things about living in the Willamette Valley (there’s a lot) is the ability to get to the mountains or the beach in a short amount of time. That was a problem in my native state of Texas. It was 4 hours to beach and 12 hours or so to the mountains from Austin.

My wife Dawn and I took advantage of our proximity to the beach this past weekend and decided on a lark at 2:30pm on Saturday to head to the beach. It was a fabulous break from our routine. It was clear and sunny in Lincoln City and we were able to find a front row parking space at Roads End State Park just outside of town.

A trip to Mo’s restaurant for some clam chowder and seafood was the perfect end to our trip. We headed back to the Valley before it got dark, refreshed by a little change of pace.

Read more about Roads End State Park here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Visit to the Columbia River Gorge...Bonneville Dam and Horsetail Falls

I love to go exploring and yesterday proved to be a great day to do some around the Columbia River Gorge. I visited Horsetail Falls and Bonneville Dam for the first time and it was quite the education.

Horsetail Falls is part of a string of falls near Multnomah Falls which is the main tourist attraction. Horsetail is easy to get to and also easy to get up close to...the other falls are not quite that easy.

After a visit to the falls I took a short detour to Bonneville Dam. This is quite the place. The dam is huge and has a really interesting history that you can learn all about at the visitor center. Also in the visitor center you can either take the elevator to the rooftop for a great view of the entire area or down to the bottom floor to observe fish swimming through the fish ladder (where they are counted).

All in all, a super day trip to share with your family.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Meeting Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel

I got the opportunity to meet Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel earlier this month at a meet and greet prior to the band's concert at Rice Auditorium in Monmouth. Super nice guy and very tall (or I'm very short).

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sunday Loop

Sunday should really be a day of rest.

I have trouble sitting still and not doing the million things and ideas that spark in my brain on a seemingly continual basis. Sometimes, even I get tired of thinking and need to just unwind and do a little of what I've termed, "free range driving." The idea is basically to see how lost I can get in the Valley and see what we can discover.

Thankfully my wife Dawn has lived with me long enough to realize when I really need this and will often suggest it without my asking. So yesterday, with a floor that needed vacuuming, a yard that needed mowing and all the other little 1,001 things that needed doin'...we jumped in the van and headed off.

The Willamette Valley has a million things to see - if you purposely go out into it with your eyes open and your camera ready. We first drove to I-5 and headed north of Salem to the Newberg exit and headed west. I've traveled these roads a lot over the last eight years that we've lived here, but I always hope to find a road that I haven't discovered yet. Thankfully there are lots of those and we found a few.

It wasn't a long trip. We drove through Newberg, Yamhill and Carlton before making our way to McMinnville and then on 99 to Rickreall before heading home.

What do I get out of it? First I get to visit with my wife after a super hectic week. Second, I get to slowly exhale as I watch the calming green hills, orchards and assorted farm animals pass by. It only took a little while, but the relief I felt was long-lasting.

Try it for yourself next time you need a break and let me know what you discovered.