Oregon – You Little Beauty

We just got back from a 3 week trip to Oregon. Friends moved there 10 years ago and invited us to visit.

Our first sight of what was to come was from the ‘plane window. The stranger in the window seat pointed out the mountain and the shiny waters of the two lakes beneath it and urged us to go visit. He turned out to be Kevin Rankin, the US-born drummer for a UK-born band: A Flock of Seagulls and had friends in common with our friends – which we discovered at the baggage carousel. Obviously.

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon
Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon by Toula Mavridou-Messer

Our destination was Portland – an incredibly vibrant city, full of coffee shops (very few offering decaf oddly), local breweries (very few offering low or non-alcoholic brews), cafes, independent cinemas and bookstores, ice-cream and doughnut stores, vintage and thrift stores, music and comic stores, the Willamette River, bridges too numerous to mention (and oh so beautiful. It appears that I have a thing about bridges…!), green and open spaces, defined neighbourhoods, fabulous live music venues, art! art! art!, wonderful and interesting people and scenery to die for, viewable from various vantage points at every turn.

Our trip was memorable mainly but not leastly for this one fact: it was totally effortless to have the most fantastic and restful time with friends who could not have been more generous, funny, hospitable and welcoming to us.

Our friends have two teenage children (at various wonderful stages of their lives – we shared first job interviews and acceptances with them) and two Irish Red Setter dogs.

The dogs enabled us to go for numerous soul-soothing walks; locally (at the Arboretum, the Pittock Mansion, Forest Park) and further afield; at Sandy (along the river with the snow-capped Mount Hood watching over us from a distance), at Cascade Locks, the Wahclella Falls, the Columbia River Gorge, Hood River, Mirror and Trillium Lakes and so on.

We felt like we saw everything and then some.

We arrived on July 2nd. On the 4th we celebrated Independence Day with their in-laws, in a sunshine and flower-filled garden, eating delicious home-grilled foods and catching up on ‘life.’

The evening of the 4th was spent down by the river-side at the Blues Fest, listening to live music (including the amazing Canned Heat), eating felafel and watching the fireworks exploding high into the night sky. The atmosphere was electric and joyful.

*Please enjoy my images from Oregon, available as prints here PHOTOS. Post continues below.

The following days saw us visiting (in no particular order, as the magic melded into one perfect discovery of all things Oregon):

  • Petroglyphs in Washington State at Horsethief Butte
  • Art (including crazy, wonderful chess sets) at the Maryhill Museum of Art
  • The Maryhill Stonehenge War Memorial (yes, it really is a thing. Who knew?)
  • The Columbia River Gorge
  • The Dalles Dam & Bridge
  • Wahclella Falls – an astonishing hike and view and the waters so refreshing that when I stepped into the rushing water (by accident as I slipped off a small rock whilst taking photographs), I felt like I had gone to heaven and wanted to stand there all day long; cool feet on a long, hot summer’s day. Mmm.
  • Thunder Island Brewing Company at Cascade Locks for the most perfect and delicious lunch by the water, who also offered treats for the dogs!
  • The Audebon Society – to see the wild birds they are so carefully and wonderfully caring for and rehabilitating, where possible.
  • Bagdad Theater and Pub, so we could sit and watch a movie whilst food and drink was served directly to our seats.
  • Hollywood Theater so we could see Dunkirk on day one of its release in all of its 70mm gory glory.
  • Salt and Straw and Ruby Jewel ice-cream stores.
  • Mississippi Street Fair experiencing all sorts of original art, music and local energy
  • Nike Biketown bicycle ride (for 16 miles…ahem) along the river
  • Astoria for frozen custard
  • Cannon Beach and the most amazing volcanic rock display in the form of Haystack Rock
  • Fort Stevens State Park and the amazing Peter Iredale shipwreck on the beach
  • Voodoo Doughnuts for a box filled with the craziest yumminess including the bacon doughnut
  • The Doug Fir for a giant Cobb Salad…and one of the very few decaf coffees to be found
  • Laurelthirst for fabulous live music with Lewi Longmire and his band
  • Jesse Reno and his exciting contemporary-primitive abstract narrative art
  • Sauvie Island where I discovered Apple Butter for the first time in my life at the Pumpkin Patch Market
  • The Pearl for a visit to Anthropologie, Oblation and various other wonderful shops and being ‘ladies who lunch’
  • A death-defying walk across the St John’s Bridge (aka Captain Marvel’s Sky Bridge) as trucks thundered past only inches away and we could feel the bridge wobble hundreds of feet in the air beneath our feet. It was terrifying and not something we would recommend (because we are wimps and vertigo is not our friend!)
  • Ate tantalising fare from food trucks
  • Devoured the biggest ever ‘loaded’ hot chocolate at the Timberline Lodge (where they used the exterior for the hotel in The Shining)
  • Drove by the ‘Twilight’ house
  • Searched the Chris Haberman mural in Milwaukie for the nod to the Cleveland Browns…

…and so much more.

The most memorable moments also include the valuable time we spent at home with the family, sitting on the deck, making s’mores on the fire and being bitten by mosquitoes!

Still recovering from jetlag and wondering how long it will take to save up for the next trip.

Thank you Fells for everything!! You have no idea just how much we love you and appreciate you sharing your time, home, family, pets and state with us!


If you have a space on a wall, are looking for a gift and are interested in any of my images from our trip to fill that requirement or just want to browse, please visit The Wild West Art Store on Etsy (and search ‘Oregon’). There are so many images that are on my hard-drive that will be edited and added over time, so do check back. If you are after something specific, please do let me know as it may be waiting for a nudge for me to post it up!