Road’s End Workshop, with Paige and Corey: Travel Log No. 4

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We last left off in Colorado, and I have to give thanks to the state that housed us the longest! But we left for the Northwest and the Pacific Coast with so much excitement. As the rest of the country faced heat waves, we chased 70-degree weather through Oregon and Washington.

Before we begin, I want to reiterate our goal to protect nature and live a Leave No Trace (LNT) lifestyle. The newest amendment to the LNT guidelines condemns the online tagging of areas that would be harmed by an influx of visitors. Did you see all those photographers and Instagrammers trample the super bloom earlier this year? We have to cross our fingers that those flowers will continue to return with the same magnitude. This is one example of many, and it’s not our intention to encourage anyone to seek these spots for anything besides self-fulfillment. We take photos everywhere we go, but the purpose behind our travels is to grow as people, learn new cultures, and enjoy what Mother Earth has created for us.

Why do I say this? Because I think my favorite place in Oregon is a real gem that not many people know about, and we want to ensure that all our readers respect the area (and encourage others to do the same).

Oregon

One of our new traditions when exploring a place is to seek out 4 x4 and off-road trails. We’re paying a bunch for this fancy new truck of ours, and Corey likes to put it to good use! Abiqua Falls, just south of Portland, is accessible to anyone, but unless you have a 4 x 4 vehicle with decent clearance, you will be hiking the 6 miles, and I’ve heard horror stories of photographers getting lost here after dark. If you have the right car, you can take the drive all the way down to the gate and park there. You have to backtrack a couple of yards to see the trail (I made the mistake of hiking in past the gate the first time I visited), and then comes the tricky part of making it down the half mile to the river’s edge. You’ll stumble into many off-shoots and forks in the trail, and my best advice is to always go left. Feel free to take the other trails, but many of them lead to steeper cliffs and tough climbs. If you stick to the left, you’ll still have to face some steep locations, but the terror is far less. This hike requires the use of ropes, but friendly travelers have already secured them for your use. Once you Tarzan your way down the rocky slope, you walk along the water’s edge, heading upstream. Before you know it, the trail opens up and rewards you with a magnificent view, the 92-foot tall Abiqua Fall. When we got there, a family was heading out and a group of teenagers was just packing up, after what looked like a long day of swimming. We were fortunate, and had the place to ourselves.

Abiqua Falls
Abiqua Falls

One of the most surreal moments on our road trip, so far, was re-experiencing Government Cove. It’s right off I-84 and less than an hour from Portland proper. The cove juts out into the Columbia River Gorge and has the perfect view of the sunset. This location is primarily used by people fishing and is always quiet, which made it a prime spot to host a small workshop. The surreal aspect of it all is that a year before we hosted that workshop, I was standing in the same place, looking at a very similar sunset, and devising a plan to purchase an airstream and tour the country. The idea was born there, and returning to the same spot was humbling, exciting, and a clear representation of how far we had come.

Government Cove
Government Cove

If outdoor photography isn’t your cup of tea, I have a recommendation for the next time you’re in the area. I was finally able to set up a time to visit The Portland Studio, created and maintained by Nicole Mason. I’ve always wanted to shoot in this sun-drenched room, but never had the opportunity—until now. When a friend reaches out and asks you to shoot her new line of self-care products, jump on the opportunity and reserve yourself a spot at the Portland Studio. They provide multiple props, plants, tables, work spaces, seamless rolls, and even a couple of wooden backdrops on rolling casters. They change the colors of these wooden backdrops, and often, so you’re always rewarded with a new experience. I was finally able to check this off my bucket list and I suggest you find a way to do the same!

The Portland Studio
The Portland Studio

Okay, so clearly, we didn’t spend all our time shooting while in Oregon. The moments where I didn’t have a camera in my face, I had a fork in my hand or a cup of coffee. This section of the travel log is for my foodie friends, and I stand by these recommendations! To begin, you need to treat yourself to a Reggie sandwich from Pine State Biscuits. Their homemade biscuit sandwiches are a highlight for me anytime I travel to this area. I even remember a moment, years ago, when I was there for B&H. A coworker got the Reggie to go, and a customer at our booth accidentally knocked the little paper box to the ground, spilling the sandwich and breaking my co-worker’s heart. But it was too good to let go. It was extremely necessary to make an emergency trip back to Pine State and refill his order. It’s that good. 

But if you’re looking for more of a sit-down and sit-back type of dining, you have to stop by Screen Door. I might be biased because my little southern heart sings for fried chicken, but Screen Door has some of the best southern-style eats in Portland. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, though! It’s so delicious that the line forms early and wraps around the corner. Plan accordingly. If it’s a hot cup of coffee or a specialty latte you’re looking for, then a few places come to mind. We enjoy collecting bags of coffee from different spots on the trip and a favorite of mine is Stumptown or Heart coffee. You can find their blends being brewed all over the city and if you’re hoping to sit, enjoy some ambiance and damn good coffee, then I recommend hitting up the Stumptown location connected to the Portland Ace Hotel. You can grab your brew and head into the lobby of the hotel for a picturesque scene, large comfy couches, that day’s newspaper and something great spinning on vinyl. Don’t forget to hit up the photo booth on the way out for some tangible memories!

Washington

We began moving our way up to Washington state, the last west-coast state on our tour (catch ya next time, Alaska!). We began researching their camping policies in hope of finding the perfect spot to boondock. We hit the jackpot with the DNR campsites! The Department of Natural Resources hosts multiple campgrounds through the area and the only requirement is the $30 Discovery Pass. Once purchased, you have access to multiple locations throughout Washington and can typically stay for up to 14 days (always check first to be sure). Our chosen site, Bear Creek, was just off US 101, between Forks and Port Angeles, with restrooms and a local restaurant right next door. We were in a prime location for exploration. Lake Crescent was only 30 minutes to our east and 30 minutes to our west was the coast and all its magnificent beaches. The only downside to staying in a rainforest was our continuous battle for solar. Though bothersome at times, we learned to embrace the experience and build a good fire. We slept when the sun slept and drastically reduced our electricity usage. Some moments are harder than others, but the hardships we face on the road help teach us new ways of life and remind us of the footprint we leave behind.

Olympic National Park

Our first stop inside Olympic National Park was Hurricane Ridge. Probably not a huge surprise to many, considering the grandeur of it all! We were drawn to this place and there was no way it could disappoint. The ridge line was filled with flowers, the trees were basking in the summer sun, and the view went on for days. The designated trail we intended to take was closed the day we came, so instead of forging our own path and directly going against the Leave No Trace code of conduct, we took it as a challenge and found beautiful spots at the open picnic area, only 1 mile from the visitor center parking lot. The sun set behind the ridges of the Rocky Mountains and gave us an incredible first taste of the park. We devoted the next day to the coastline, driving for miles and stopping every time the sun made an appearance through the dense, fog laden forest. The southern-most points we ventured to were Kalaloch Beach and Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach
Ruby Beach

Our friends, The Mandagies, had told us about The Tree of Life and convinced us we needed to mark it as a stop on our route. The towering tree holds onto the earth’s crust, because the sand and rock separate below. Its roots, like desperate hands, clutch to the grassy land above, allowing passersby to view the inner workings of its determination and refusal to fall or fold. We continued on our drive, with Ruby Beach as our next stop. We enjoyed climbing over the piles of fallen trees and driftwood, holding onto each other for support as locals made it look easy. 

The Tree of Life
The Tree of Life

The reward after the scramble was a large, open beach with towering rock formations and tide pools. Corey showed off his rock-skipping talent and we took photos as the waves crashed on the rocks and threw a light mist into the air, illuminated by the low-hanging sun. As we drove, we stop to see some of earth’s greatest attractions, like the Big Cedar tree, standing 175 tall (and 1,000 years old), and the Hoh Rainforest. After recently leaving the tundra area in Rock Mountain National Park, we felt honored to experience another ecosystem. We suggest walking the .8-mile loop, Hall Of Mosses, and being humbled by some of the tallest trees in the world. We will offer fair warning that, in July, the parking lot was full to the point of overflowing. We made our last adventure in the park a simple and relaxing one. We woke up with the sun and took the trail to Marymere Falls. The parking lot for this walk is right next to the Storm King Ranger Station, a building that has become a photo favorite. From there, you take a walking path under the major road and enter a thick forest with a refreshing scent that would make any candle-maker envious. The sun created spotlights for us as we walked, alone, along the trail. The midway point of the loop allows you to walk alongside Marymere falls, and scale the opposite side as you continue on your way. You’re given beautiful views from the base of the waterfall, all the way to the top, and then you start your journey back toward the main road, crossing bridges and streams as you walk. If we had more time, we would have dedicated an entire morning or evening to Storm King, but that’s an adventure for next time.

Lake Keechelus
Lake Keechelus

Our next destination took us to the opposite side of Seattle. The trees began to thin out (as much as possible in Washington) and we made it a priority to find better solar. Even with fewer trees, we knew most spots would offer very limited sun activity, so we came up with a solution and drove the airstream out onto a dried lake bed. We didn’t venture too far, in case the sand was loose or deeper than we thought, but we tucked ourselves into a spot and finally felt the welcoming warmth of the sun. Our campground, Lake Keechelus, raises almost 100 feet during the spring months (due to the local dam), but we were fortunate to be in the area after the water recedes, revealing an underwater landscape. Many lakes in this area show remnants of old logging culture, and the tree stumps can be seen jutting through the water. This was the case at Lake Keechelus, and it offered us a surreal landscape, one so appealing we decided to see another in the area that resembled it, and host a workshop at Rattlesnake Lake. This spot still had enough standing water to kayak and swim through, and the shoreline was covered with families grasping for the last taste of a pacific summer. We were able to walk the path around the lake, and discover small alcoves and hidden beaches. We shot along the lake’s edge and even ventured into the water, making those iconic tree stumps part of the shooting experience.

Diablo Lake
Diablo Lake

Before continuing onto Montana for the next leg of our trip, and workshop route, we took a detour to North Cascades National Park. Even though this was a quick trip, really just passing through, we made sure to stop at Diablo Lake and take in the views. We made note of some “Instagram-famous” photo locations that were on the other side of the barrier, and wandered the parking lot until we found an established trail, between the bathrooms, that lead to a grassy lookout. I’ve heard tales of small weddings and elopements happening at that spot, and with the crystal-blue water and towering peaks as your background, I see the allure and encourage everyone to incorporate a little nature into your nuptials... with a proper permit, of course! Now onward, toward Big Sky Country.

Have questions? We have answers!

We’ll be taking questions over the next couple months and addressing them in a special blog post! Send us your question at this link and check back to see if your inquiry is picked for our blog post! And be sure to check back every month for a new episode of the Road’s End Workshop, with Paige and Corey

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