Simply Oregon

People are tired of staying home, but not all can easily get out of the house and enjoy the peace of quiet and solitude. But here, a 10-min drive will get you somewhere with greens, colors, wildlife, and nature songs like creek water and bird calls.

Came from a densely-populated city, this natural and wild environment is fresh air for me. When I left Taiwan 30+ years ago, the only bird I ever noticed is the sparrow and now ‘new’ birds are being added to my list of hundreds regularly.  Frogs are nothing uncommon but I have never seen 8 of them in a short walk, and, it’s my first time seeing a toad.

Back in April, the strawberries from the local farms are absolutely godly delicious. I don’t buy lbs or baskets, I bought flats (12 baskets) to enjoy them fresh, make fruit desserts and jams. Even in a gourmet store, you cannot find homemade jams with authentic (non-hot house) and fresh strawberries.

When the strawberry fever is diminishing, we have Blueberries to expect for July-Aug. Lots of organic farms as well as U-pick places. The large (kids call it ‘Jumbo’), juicy, and sweet blueberries are fearlessly tempting to kids and adults.

The United States is one of the main hazelnuts producers in the world and Oregon produces 99% of the American hazelnuts in the beautiful Williamette Valley. Not only possesses high nutrition value, but Hazelnuts also have a distinctive flavor that does not exist in other nuts.

A relaxing Friday, nothing dramatic, simply Oregon.

A Past-Due Post

It’s a summer July day. Sun is aggressively scorching the ground. I took a morning walk to skip the heat and now in the shade, being combed by the breeze and listing to the fountain water sound. Oregon summer can be hot but never been intolerable. Temperature ranges from high 50 to low 80 in a day is normal and this comfortable range lasts from June to September or even October.

I had my first real estate listing in March, sold the house on the second day of my first open house, the absolutely last weekend before the open house was banned due to coronavirus.  A second deal came to me while I was working on the first deal. As a result, first deal was closed in April and the second one in May.  Real Estate is a brand-new advendure for me and I’ve invested my mind and soul into it. An intensive couple of months plus the coronavirus spread have made me wander my second move.

Short-Earred Owl

Work has never bothered me, but days without camera were hard. I kept feeling that I missed something, I think, due to lack of creativity output regularly. Not pursuing perfect bird images, bird walks give me chance to easily stay in touch of my camera and the Nature. So we made a camping trip to the wildlife refuge. Have not camped for years, I was concerned that we might miss lots of essential items, but as it turns out, we have brought everything we need, had a great time and now in the process of planning any trip.

MacGillivray’s Warbler

Walking through the trail with birds flying, calling and singing from both sides of the trail is an amazing experience. For bird lovers, any discovery of a new bird is rewarding. So many targets are within the range and some of them are so colorful… at some point, I did not know where to aim my camera. Wablers are my favorite, but they are small, move fast and hard to be photographed.

Cedar WaxwingCommon Yellowthroat is commonly-known, but I have never seen one. Not until recently I began to identify their call and unexpected, I was able to capture a few shots. Besides Cedar Waxwing, this cute warbler has become my new love.

Common Yellowthroat

After a long pause, I am glad that I am back, blogging and sharing. More about Oregon Life to come.

A Balanced Life

My listing was on the market for less than 5 days,  a full price offer came on the second day of the Open House. This was the last weekend when Open House was still a typical real estate event. Now coronavirus has thrown all business and personal life into a haul and chaos except some essential categories, including housing-related constructions. I am grateful that my listing is now closed.  I just made an offer for a Buyer, and the offer was accepted. Now I am onto another journey in real estate.

After months of recess, I finally picked up my regular camera and went out to the local garden to capture some spring colors. It was total relaxation and rejuvenation to my soul. Luckily I live in a less-populated state and can still enjoy the outdoor space away from the crowd.

Joggling between photography and real estate, creativity and reality, I found balance in my life. It can be challenging sometimes, but I feel fulfilling and rewarding.

Stay Home

Where do I begin… I had my first listing in Oregon. Oregon announced the first case of coronavirus… My birding trip was canceled… I had the first open house and accepted a full price offer on the second day of the open house… Eugene and Springfield area (where I live) had the first and second case of coronavirus earlier last week and both were dead!… Oregon announced the state of emergency last Wednesday, today re-enforced ‘stay home’  and I am now homebound and working from home.

It might be difficult for some people not to constantly connected with the family, friends and the social circle. Otherwise, it is a good time to simply relax, ponder and find a focus on something that you don’t normally do or something that you wanted to do, but have not had chance to do.

Sunrise at Crater Lake

Haven’t done a lot, but I always like black and white images from which you are drawn to focus your mind on fewer details than being overwhelmed by colors and details.

Spark Lake

Took a short drive to Spark Lake with my daughter and her family last year, I ended up with hundreds of kids’ pictures. My attention went to every single move of the kids. The scenery was ‘just’ background for the little ones. If I am not staying home now, quiet and calm, this image would not pop up on me.

A Foggy Morning

We should stay home away from the crowd, but we don’t need to stay away from nature. This pond is only 15 mins drive away from my house.   I can come here to listen to the bird’s chirp and watch the ducks play.

Diversity

Twenty-five years ago when I decided to move to Oregon, my whole family objected to the ‘crazy’ idea. I met a new in-law at the wedding. He earnestly shook my hands (happy to know you) and immediately lifted his eyebrows in uncertainty when Oregon was mentioned. “Oregon? will I ever go there?”

Oregon is close to my California siblings and a natural and peaceful place to be. That’s all I knew. Honestly, I also had my doubt and a small degree of uncertainty and fear. Having been traveling all over the countries on business in my youth, I was so used to be the minority. But living is not the same as visiting.

The proof is, I am still here after 25 years and I am still loving Oregon. Eugene is legally defined as a city. She might be a small town in the eyes of New Yorkers, but the size does not impact the growth of diversity. I smile whenever I see cultural integration, the Westerners are engaging in Eastern art.

It’s entertaining and joyful to see Caucasian kids dressed like Asians.  Colors are always wonderful, but the traditional fan adds its magic. Not just for curiosity, more Caucasian kids are learning Chinese Kong-Fu which cultivates strength, resistance, and practical self-defense skills. And, for the photographer, the motion blur created by the dance and kong-fu performance is very interesting.

 

If not for the annual Asian Celebration (the 32nd), I won’t have any idea about the varieties of ethnic groups living in town. People are so friendly and neighborly here. I have never felt that I am a minority. I am simply part of the community.

My goal of writing these blogs is to unveil the mystery of Oregon living and share with you what we do, where we go and daily life in general.

Oregon Lifestyle – what to do?

A clear and bright winter day is precious since Oregonian’s slogan is ‘rain or shine, business as usual.’ We packed up our cameras and went on a birding drive. Within a 25 mins drive distance from home, we had great fun ‘capturing’ various flyers.

In Oregon, when you are out of the house, you are quickly stepping into nature. When the birds sing, you can hear it. When they fly, you can easily follow them around.  Western Meadowlark is about, but they are usually too far away for a clear shot. Just when I thought I finally grabbed him standing in the perfect light (and close enough), he suddenly turned his head, and my click sound scared him away. Luckily I was able to record their songs.

Spring lambs are out running after their Moms. The adults are hairy enough to be sheared.  The bird buddies enjoyed being cushioned on their backs. Here I see not only nature but also harmony among the creatures. Very often, I feel I am inspired and touched by mother nature. It is the life in Oregon that drives me to observe all these amazing things behind nature.

I live in the 3rd largest city Eugene where there might not have abundant job opportunities like Portland, but the work-from-home folks and people who are in public services still have plenty of jobs to pursue. Many private small businesses offer a family-like working environment where the task becomes a pleasure and co-workers like your family or friends.  With its central location, you can travel north or south to other big cities. Go west to the Pacific Ocean (the famous Oregon coast) and east to Central and Eastern Oregon, the high desert area where you go for recreational activities, e.g., hiking and skiing. *Oregon is unique for its versatile geological features, you see it all in one state. In addition to the 50 hiking trails within reach, there are 100 miles of biking trails. Imagine biking along the river…

Portland, including metropolitan areas, covers a significant ground. Obviously, it is the business and career central. However, unlike other big cities, Portland is beautiful, natural, and has easy access to the nature-enhanced living.   Columbia River Gorge, Willamette River, Mount Hood, and countless scenic sites by the river, on the mountain top, or solely around the city.

Salem is the 2nd largest city with the typical capital city ambiance, clean and organized. If you like to have steady government jobs, this is where you want to be. In fact, you can commute from other smaller towns with short driving distance. Usually, ‘downtown’ does not translate the pleasant feelings, but it’s enjoyable to hang out downtown Salem classic neighborhood and riverfront.

Eugene is a college town, cultural and intellectual. It is also a center of artists who create unique artwork and art pieces. I like the ‘just right’ population size, the easy and fast access to nature and the friendly residents here.

(Oregon Lifestyle – 3)

Oregon Lifestyle – 2

On the recent trip to California for a family matter, I saw California is not as brown as it used to. The snowfall has passed down south, and water enriched the land.  Interstate 5 is the primary channel to connect California and Oregon. I barely used my camera inside California, but when the scenery began to change, and I constantly had the urge to raise my camera, I know I am closer to home in Oregon. This time instead of going all the way I-5 north, we decided to take Hwy 97 north… and pretty soon, my camera battery was exhausted.

Born as a Chinese and cultivated as one, I have a strong tie attached to the culture and am so easily attracted to that smokey and dreaming ambiance in a traditional Chinese brush painting. We could not stop at the freeway, and the windshield is filthy. The wind blew hard, an attempt to open the sunroof failed. So I began to shoot through the window.

I like things to be natural, authentic, and less man-made.  The above picture has a blue hue out of the camera, and the image below is almost black and white.

It came the sunset time, the golden tone was coated on everything. So pure and so original.

We love to photograph birds because Oregon has so many of them. The region we drove by was frozen solid, but Raptors are aggressive predators, and they were almost the only ones around besides a couple of Bald Eagles whose white head stood out on the snow.

I hang out with many seasoned birders, but I have to confess that I don’t make efforts to identify the birds or keep track of the bird count. I simply enjoy them and care mostly about how the image turns out.

Oregon lifestyle – why live in Oregon?

When I moved to Oregon more than two decades ago, one of my sales reps said to me, “What’s in Oregon besides Nature and Sports?” She said, ” Oregonians have nothing to do, and that’s why you go to the ball games.” I know it is our work relationship that she did not want me to leave California. And yet, deep inside, I was unsure myself if it was the right move. Then self-employed, I can live anywhere, why Oregon? Then self-employed, I could live anywhere. I was longing for peace and tranquility. Oregon is close to my California siblings. The green nature was calling.

I pulled my girls from their circle of friends and sustained their complaint, ” There are barely malls here and the boys all look so pale, no nurture of sunshine. ” Soon enough, they made friends in new schools and the comfort of mild weather bring them smiles.  The first thing I noticed myself moving here is the service quality offered by the retailers. The clerks are more caring and customer-service oriented. This is still true up to this day.

Oregon Coast

Here in Northwest, there are distinctive four seasons. You enjoy the mild spring and fall with the warmer and cooler pattern. Summer can be hot but dry, has never been scorching and sweating hot. The temperature all year round is within a comfortable range.  Speaking of Oregon, people often question about rain.  In fact, it does not rain all day long, and the vast green is a major reward. It may snow in wintertime, but very rarely and the snow does not stick for days. People here are actually longing for snow which will give kids a few fun days to walk on the snow and do a bit of sledding.

Four seasons :

Instead of going to the restaurants and shops, we go into Nature birding, camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, river rafting, rock climbing, skiing, and anything else Nature can offer.  Hiking and biking trails are around town and within reasonable reach. A healthy lifestyle comes natural living in the surroundings as such.

Trinity Lake

There is a reason why I become a photographer.  You may have heard that Oregon is the photographer’s haven. No shame to gain this name.  When my Taiwan college friends decide to have our reunion trip to Oregon, I was completely unsure of the outcome. To the end, I was confirmed and reconfirmed that the Oregon trip was an unforgettable one.  In the Northwest, we are granted a beautiful and natural living environment and have easy access to the mountains, rivers, waterfalls, creeks and even deserts. Geographic features vary from one region to the other within the State.

Sunrises at Crater Lake

The weather is nice. The scenery is awesome. The service quality is better. But how about Job opportunities? What to do here besides outdoor activities?  (to be continued)

 

Merry Christmas !!!

and Celebrate the coming New Year 2020.

It has not been a prolific photography and writing year due to my new real estate endeavor. I hope to plan and manage my time more effectively in the coming year. Double 20, double duty. At this point, I am going for it, no giving up.