A brand dedicated to camping vibes is a brand after my own heart. Norquay brings a love for the outdoors together with great design in their collection of canoe paddles. The Montreal-based company selects the 100% cherry wood paddles from Teal Paddles in New Liskeard, Northern Ontario, which are then hand finished, marked with a cow brander, and topped off with a leather harness. I can see their paddles fitting in perfectly on the lakes of Oregon or simply mounted on a wall, a reminder of summer when winter has descended.
At the end of May, Marcus and I drove to Central Oregon to spend my birthday weekend at The Lodge at Suttle Lake. The resort has a beautiful main lodge and boathouse restaurant, with private cabins scattered around the premises. We rented a small cabin a short walk from the lake and dined the first evening at the restaurant. Due to a mixup, our reservation was lost, so the manager opened the second floor and gave us a private meal with a view over the lake. The ambiance was amazing, complemented by delicious food and a bottle of wine. After our meal, we headed back to sit around the fire and roast birthday s’mores.
The next day, my parents joined us for a hike around the lake, although the water was too cold for a swim. In the evening, we cooked a meal of chili, cheese sandwiches, and roasted kale over the fire. With s’mores for dessert, of course. On Sunday, we headed to the nearby town of Sisters, an Old West style town with a mountain range for a backdrop. We visited a few antique shops, enjoyed lunch on a sunny terrace, and grabbed coffee at the legendary Sisters Coffee Company. And then, we headed over the mountain and back to Portland.
When making the decision to move back to the States, one of influencing factors was the beautiful nature of Oregon. I have traveled to many countries, but am still astounded by the beauty of my homestate. There is an amazing variety here: mountains, forests, beaches, deserts, peaceful lakes, roaring rivers, and waterfalls. Marcus and I have been taking full advantage of our proximity to nature since our arrival three weeks ago.
Little North Santiam
In our first week here, we went on a hike with my sister Alyssa and our dog Tauri to the Little North Fork, along the winding Santiam River and through the thick forest. It’s an easy hike with clear pools and waterfalls.
On the first weekend, we hiked with my parents and Tauri around Shellburg Falls. It’s an easy 2.8 mile hike past two impressive waterfalls.
Maxwell Butte Snow Park in the Willamette National Forest
On the second weekend, Marcus and I drove to the Cascade Mountain Range to go snowshoeing at Maxwell Butte in the Willamette National Forest. It was our first time snowshoeing and it took some time to get used to walking a bit off kilter. Next time I will definitely start with fewer layers – you get warm fast! – and go on a day with a denser snowpack.
After brunch with friends last Sunday, we met Alyssa and went to Hoyt Arboretum, a forested area in Portland’s Washington Park. I have always loved the Wildwood Trail, but this time we also explored the Magnolia Trail, lined with the namesake trees, which were about ready to bloom. Definitely a reason to return in the coming weeks.
Oregon Coast: Pacific City and Neskowin
On Monday, Marcus and I went to the Oregon Coast with Tauri. Our destination was Haystack Rock at Pacific City. We were greeted with blue skies and warm winds. We hiked down the beach, Tauri and Marcus running through the waves, and had a picnic in a remote dune area. We returned and treated ourselves to a pint on the terrace of the Pelican Pub & Brewery. Then we headed to Neskowin, a quiet beach area with a view on Proposal Rock.
We returned to the Cotswolds for the remainder of our trip for a second round of rolling hills and sunny weather. Our base was a bed and breakfast in Gloucester, a town with fantastic pubs, easy access to nature, and an impressive cathedral.
The highlight of the Gloucestershire region was the Forest of Dean, an ancient woodland said to have inspired J.R.R. Tolkien while writing Lord of the Rings. Wandering among the trees, you could almost sense the motivation for the Ents. We made our way to Woorgreens Lake, but had to take a detour when we came across a wild boar and her piglets scavenging for food.
The next day, Marcus and I visited several nearby towns, such as Cheltenham and Painswick, centerpieces of the Cotswolds charm. In the morning, we slowly made our way to Bath to return the rental car and then took the train to London for the last night. For as much as we saw, there is still much more to explore.
Our fantastic UK road trip has been over for about a month now. I spend a lot of time planning for each holiday and when it’s over, I can’t help but start planning for the next. What are you upcoming travel plans?
The sunny weather stayed with us as we drove to North Wales on a narrow road, barricaded on each side by stone walls. I distracted myself from the terrifying proximity of oncoming vehicles by taking in the dramatic landscape and countless sheep grazing on the hillsides. We stopped for afternoon tea at Pont Yr Afon Gam Cafe, surrounded only by sheep, a stone bridge, and a swift-moving creek (images 2 and 9).
Our destination was the town Betws-y-Coed, nestled in the foothills of Mount Snowdon. We stayed in a Shepherd’s Hut, again right in the middle of nature, with an ideal view for watching the sunsets. The first morning, we discovered Cwmni Cacen Gri (The Welshcake Company) and their delicious assortment of griddled Welshcakes. Another culinary highlight was The Silver Fountain, where I ate my favorite meal of the trip, Welsh style wild rice with roasted tomatoes. Wales was amazing. One of the many reasons I love to travel is the opportunity to go to new places and discover new things. To put myself in unfamiliar territory in the chance that I might discover something new about the world and myself. It’s the best of places that you long for when you leave and dream about returning to someday very soon.
After leaving Bath, we headed one hour north to The Cotswolds, an area filled with rolling hills, stone cottages, and green meadows. We rented a yurt in a field owned by an organic farm to be in the midst of nature. Our days began with the sight of cows grazing on the fog-covered hills and ended around a campfire with the last bits of sunlight streaming through the trees.
We hiked through fields, spotted a fox, climbed over stone walls, cooked dinner on the campfire, and enjoyed the pubs and farmers’ market in Cirencester. And we discovered the Budding Pale Ale made by the organic Stroud Brewery, one of the best drinks we’ve come across yet.
There is an interesting tension in the photography of Callum Ross. At first glance, the scenes of nature in his images appear to be calm. But between the quietness, there is a sense of anticipation, waiting.
Ross left his homeland Australia to study photography in the UK in 2010. During that time, he produced the series West. Here, I speak with Ross about his imagery, inspiration for West, and the themes within it.
How did you get into photography?
Callum Ross: I’ve always been very involved in photography. My first infatuation with taking pictures began when I was a child with a Kodak disposable, trying to capture whales from the headland.
Could you describe a bit of your photographic journey over the past year, being enrolled in a dedicated study and also undertaking this in another culture?
Callum Ross: I spent the better part of 2010 furthering my photographic studies in Plymouth, UK. Moving to Plymouth was the most challenging and rewarding experience. My influences and inspirations broadened dramatically, and I really defined my photographic approach. I studied with the most beautiful people, who’s photographic work I really admired and drew from. Pursuing what you love in another culture opens your mind to a whole new realm of ideas and possibilities.
What is the idea behind the series West? How is it related to your earlier series La nature d’être?
Callum Ross: I’m interested in that initial moment of desire to search beyond the floor of consciousness for a broader awareness of being. ‘West’, I think subconsciously further refines these ideas. Being foreign to my surroundings, ‘West’ allowed for a deeper connection with the natural world, and portrayed a sense of journey within the landscape.
From what I have seen, your photography often captures scenes in nature. Why are you drawn to this? What themes are you exploring?
Callum Ross: From a very young age I’ve spent a lot of time in nature, so I guess I’ve always been drawn to places where nobody else goes. Its almost like a longing for freedom, my own little escape. Different themes are always evolving and operating within the work. I definitely aim to explore transfiguration, and the way the human mind struggles to break from the external world into a sort of internal one.