the Oregon trip

We generally take one "big" trip every year off island. In 2011, we couch-surfed around Europe. In 2012, we toured Israel (a tale that's still being told). In 2013, our big trip was to Oregon, a state neither of us had ever visited. 

Quick funny story about that: In 2009, right after audit busy season, NS and I were booked on a west coast cruise that was supposed to leave out of L.A. and head south toward Cabo, Mexico. However, 2009 was the year that swine flu broke out in North America, and every square inch of Mexico was considered infected, even little Cabo. Everybody was freaking out, and before we knew it, the cruise line we'd booked with had completely redesigned the itinerary: Instead of heading south to Mexico, we would be headed north to Oregon, Washington, and Canada.

As we'd just finished out a cold winter season with nothing but miserable weather and long, dark work hours, I was only interested in going somewhere warm that would let me get a tan. Trading Canada for Mexico in early May? That was not a fair deal! "Besides," I said to NS, "Since when did Oregon have a coastline?!"

Yeah. Thank you, Google Maps, for clearing that up for me.

We ended up canceling the cruise. Oregon would have to wait. (We went to Vegas instead.)

Given our inexperience, this year's summer vacation was planned and guided by two of Oregon's finest:

J&S--part of our Cayman family--certainly do their home state proud.

The Oregon tour also included a travel pro: Maryland-native WH.

It took a lot to convince this Cayman resident to visit the States. He finally did so without regret.

And for a couple days, we were joined by the pleasant company of RA, en route to London.

They're practicing for their finger mustache tattoos. Wouldn't you?

Since this post is a summary of the entire two-week trip, I'll give you a spoiler right up front: We loved Oregon.

While we enjoyed the warm, humidity-free July weather, we could see snow on the mountains visible from downtown Portland.

View of Mount Hood from the International Rose Test Garden

Being outdoors and enjoying the natural surroundings is one of Oregon's big draws for residents and visitors alike. Although the state gets a lot of rain throughout much of the year, we reaped the benefits during the dry summer months when the state is green and lush and sunny. At every turn, Oregon was practically exclaiming, "Look what I can do!"

Exhibit A: An afternoon at Stoller Vineyard.

We had a little picnic here, after which I seriously wanted it to be a daily occurrence.

This is also where I learned the game of frisbee golf. If only we had a huge back yard like this!

Portland's downtown culture is green and hipster, with more coffee shops, microbreweries, and fresh juice shops than I could keep track of. I concluded that if you're after anything vegan or anything liquid, Portland offers it.

We maintained a pretty chilled out pace the whole time. NS even had a chance to do a walk-in at a Portland barber shop (his first after his Central America solo-trip) while we rested our feet.

We had a day to poke around Eugene, hometown to JS' beloved Oregon Ducks (and his beloved family.)

"This is what it's like to be in a bike gang."  -WH

After this, we headed east for my favorite part of the trip: Several days spent in Bend, Oregon. The mountains and lakes and rivers and valleys were in show-off mode, more radiant than I could have imagined.

On our way to Bend, we stopped at Blue Pool - an aptly-named area of clear water fed from an underground channel of the McKenzie River. The subterranean path must keep the river's temperature from rising, because even in the summer months, that pool is barely above freezing.

This fact didn't deter the boys from taking the 60-foot plunge.

Not a recommended activity. Seriously.
He made it. We got the picture. I put my big toe in and called it a day. (It might as well have been a pool of solid ice.) We continued on down the road.

Down the road, we hiked a couple of the trails at Smith Rock State Park, taking in the stunning high desert views.

We beheld beauty that only God could design as far as the eye could see.

In downtown Bend, we poked around in little artsy shops while sampling the local flavors showcased by a summertime festival. No photographic evidence was sustained, but at least one in our party had the best grilled cheese sandwich of his life. Other stalls featured handcrafted decorations and jewelry. No one left without emptier pockets and fuller smiles.

In the evening, we all chilled out in a local park.

And here I thought that Oregon's state tree was the Douglas Fir.

The relaxation helped us gear up for the next day's activity: Pickle ball.

These two were the stars of the course. Until the retired folk showed up.   #schooled

Our group's final stop of the trip was a few days in JS' family cabin up in the mountains. This brought back so many memories for me of summers at my grandparents' cabin, which always included scenes like this:

This was our chance to kick back, disconnect (no internet up there), and totally relax right before NS and I headed off on our own to Seattle. Every night we had a family-style dinner, which reminded me of our Little Cayman trip with a similar faces a year and a half before.

During the day, we took advantage of Oregon's natural beauty, the girls going for mountain runs, the boys riding 4-wheelers, me reading a book in a yellow innertube...

Crescent Lake

And all of us--even me!--jumped off a large rock at Crater Lake National Park.

In the evenings we enjoyed the mountain sunsets, grilled food, board games, and hot tub chats.

"I'm part redneck; I know about these things."  --WH

Oregon, you might be the United States' best kept secret. You done stole our hearts.

We're so thankful for our Cayman family--the people we've become so incredibly close to over the past three years. Without these relationships, we'd have probably given up island life by now. Because sun and sand will only get you so far on the happy scale.

It's faces like these that keep us coming back for more.

J&S at Crater Lake

Thanks, J&S, for being entertaining tour guides, excellent chefs, and world-class friends. We hope you never leave Cayman, but if it ends up being for Oregon, we'll understand why.

(But seriously. Don't leave.)

For more fun photos of our travels in and around Portland, Eugene, Bend, and the mountain cabin, click on the embedded links for the related Google+ albums.


  1. Wow, Oregon is beautiful!
    Love the Bike Gang photo =)

  2. I read this post a while ago but commenting on my iPhone is the worst. So now I'm going back to leave a comment :) That first picture of J&S is gorgeous. And Oregon in generally was beautifully captured. Looks like a place well worth adding to my huge to-go list. Love you!

    1. We really loved this trip! I highly recommend OR! xoxo