Oregon, iPhoneographed

I have been in Oregon for the past week, first in Portland and now in Bend. Except for half-days of work here and there, it’s been somewhat of a vacation, and despite the recent Memorial Day holiday in the US, the roads of Oregon have been pretty tolerable. (I’m realizing, perhaps, that horrible three-day weekend traffic might just be a California thing.)

From Portland, we drove on the Historic Columbia River Highway along the Columbia River Gorge to Hood River, then south through Mt. Hood National Forest and into central Oregon. Snow-covered Mt. Hood, off in the distance, is an impressive sight.

I’d been to Portland once before this, on a trip in 2008. Exploring it this time around, it’s a gorgeously green city, and I’m in love with the leafy residential streets and adorable bungalows in Southeast Portland. But it doesn’t feel like a city I could live in. Too small? Too homogeneous? Too wholesome?

Bend, actually, feels a bit too wholesome — if that makes any sense. It’s incredibly picturesque, and I love the immediate access to the outdoors and the opportunity for such an active daily lifestyle, yet despite my love for both, I don’t think I’d quite fit here. I’ve been to Bend twice, but both were very short visits — so it’s been nice to hang out with a good friend and her husband and kids, and enjoy the hot weather along the Deschutes River.

Looking forward to summer.

Pioneer Courthouse Square sign
Signpost at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland.

Our Airbnb in SE Portland’s Ladd’s Addition was an awesome basement full of quirky art.

The door into our bathroom at our Airbnb in SE Portland.

Basementbnb-living room
Part of the “living room” in our Airbnb.

A painting on one of the basement’s brick columns.

Bathroom ceiling-selfie
Our Airbnb’s bathroom ceiling was a collage of paintings, mixed media, newspapers, and more.

Lan Su Chinese Garden
The Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland’s Chinatown.

Voodoo Doughnut exterior
Donuts at Voodoo Doughnut. We ended up buying six: two glazed, two Portland Creams, one chocolate, one old-fashioned maple. And yes, we bought too much.

Voodoo interior
I’ve since spent the following five days walking and hiking off the donuts I ate.

Cider tasting
Flights of cider (and dominoes) at Cider Bite in downtown Portland.

Multnomah Falls
The view of Multnomah Falls, which is on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge.

Top of Multnomah Falls
At the top of Multnomah Falls — a 1.2 mile hike up. The view of the falls from the top is pretty anticlimactic, but the hike itself is beautiful.

Deschutes River
A Memorial Day hike along the Deschutes River Trail. I’m amazed and jealous that people in Bend have access to this right from town.

Sunbathing on my stand-up paddleboard on the Deschutes River.

Fishing on the Deschutes
Fishing on the Deschutes River.
All photos taken with an iPhone 5s.


Published by Cheri Lucas Rowlands

I am an editor at Longreads. For over a decade, I've worked on curation, editing, and storytelling projects across Automattic, including WordPress.com.

46 thoughts on “Oregon, iPhoneographed

  1. This post perfectly embodies why I get upset when somebody sees a beautiful photo and immediately asks what camera it was shot on. It’s not the camera, it’s the person behind the lens. You took some gorgeous photos!

  2. Yaaaa, you capture my home State perfectly ~ nothing quite like it 🙂 The great thing is your creation of a photojournal with the iPhone as the foundation… Never thought I would like using a cell phone as a camera (and I still feel a bit cheap and sleazy doing so…), but wow ~ the iPhone offers an immediate capture of scenes that are a bit rare…and does so in low light, without a whole lot of thought other than a good photographic eye. 🙂 And wow, is often the result. Truly amazing – and pretty cool. Great shots!

  3. As a young man I drove the Old Scenic Columbia River Gorge Highway when it was the only way to follow the Columbia. It was very narrow and very windy.

  4. iPhoneographed? Amazing & Beautiful! …in love with pic: #1. “The Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland’s Chinatown.” – the tree & lily pond; #2. The view of Multnomah Falls, which is on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. – the falls. and #3. “Sunbathing on my stand-up paddleboard on the Deschutes River.” – Sweeeeet!

  5. first of all, I wanted to say amazing post, the pictures are so mesmerizing. That basement, though… it is so amazing, at first, I thought it was some sort of quirky cafe or something until I read your caption. I’ve never been to portland but after seeing all your amazing pictures I feel like it’s a trip worth taking. I’m originally from Pakistan and northern Pakistan the Naran Valley has rivers like that, at first I thought it was the Naran valley, but then I saw that it was Portland. like I said it is a trip worth taking. if you were to move there would you move there?

  6. Beautiful pictures of Oregon. We were there several years ago and stayed in Bend. Then traveled across to Coos Bay and rode on the sand dunes — incredible. We also thought the Lava Butte in Bend was a very interesting place, pretty and stark at the same time. Love the pictures.

  7. TO us Oregon is a paradise as there is so much for us all to do here’ Music festivals’ awesome Fishing,’ Kayaking’ We have awesome waterfalls here’ Multnomah Falls’ is one of many top rated awesome waterfalls in our State. There is also Abiqua Falls,’ Sweet Creek’ Falls,’ Metlako Falls,’ Upper Downing Creek Falls’ Majestic Falls’ White River Falls,’ Punch Bowl Falls,’

    ‘And Cheri’ my favorite of all Oregon water falls’ is Sahalie Falls of the McKenzie river. Pouring over lava rock plunging 100 feet’ Like some of the Many Waterfalls of ‘Silver Falls’ Park’ You can walk in behind’ Sahalie Falls’ if your athletic and careful’ just to behold in sight and feel the vast cool mist it is spiritual and wild and that is an understatement.

    ‘It is upon highway 126 between Eugene and Sisters on the way from ‘Bend’’ and upon the season Scenic loop highway 242’ ‘The McKenzie – Santiam Pass Byway. Sits the Dee – Wright Stone tower Observatory upon top of this stone tower is centered upon its round roof patio with safety retaining wall a stone table with a huge brass disk with marker points pointing out many of the Cascade Volcanoes you can see many of them from atop’ the Rock Observatory. And the best part about this tower is in the summer time, when there is a meteor shower, the Sky in all directions is a vast awesome star field, and I mean vast’ and when there is a meteor Shower, it is awesome and that’s an understatement.

    With about ten or so other couples it’s a show never to be forgotten. Oregon’ Idaho’ and Washington State are Paradise.’ Of which the State of California cannot even hold a candle to in comparison. Cheri there is a life time of good experiences to be enjoyed here is Oregon. And Oregon has 400 miles of awesome beaches’ many lone beaches’ where we rent beach houses and fly our kites, and romance at Fireside of Wood gathered bond fires with friends. I have lady friends that are always relocating between Napa Valley and Portland,’Oregon.

  8. Oh my God these photos are amazing, thank you for posting! The woods blew me out of the water, and I love the one of you where you can see your feet (I think you were floating?) 🙂 Anyway, I’m currently taking a look at where I “fit in”, and your comments at the beginning are really helpful for me. Blessings.

    1. Yep, I was lying flat on a stand-up paddleboard, floating on the river. Was lovely!

      Glad that you enjoyed the post; I have spent the past several years thinking hard about where I fit in — both in regard to a geographic location as well as my physical home/space. I’ve blogged about this a lot before but feel I will continue to do so — thanks for reading.

  9. Gorgeous shots – that Airbnb looks amazing! For the last few years, I’ve felt like I’d like to visit Portland – no idea why (I’m from Melbourne, Australia), I just feel like it’d be a cool place… certainly looks gorgeous in the summer!

  10. The only time I’ve been to Oregon is when I’m flying to the South Pacific and have to stop at the airport in Portland. I think that one of the slogans for the area is “Keep Portland Weird.”

    I suppose that I should take some time for exploration. The paddleboard trip down the river looks like something I would enjoy.

    That Airbnb stay looks interesting. A fire hydrant? Do the owners have dogs?

    I’ve got a former high school friend who moved out to Portland from Florida. He and his family love it out there. He’s a professional photographer. I’ve seen some of his shots of the area, and they are gorgeous.

    1. The Airbnb owners didn’t have dogs — but a really loud 18-year-old cat that we could hear meowing and walking about above us (we were in the basement). The hydrant looks like some of the ones on the streets in the city.

      The Deschutes River is wonderful for paddling and kayaking! I wish we had time to explore more outside of Bend.

  11. What a great trip! We loved VooDoo donuts and Multnomah Falls, but we never saw that fabulous sign in downtown Portland. Oh, well. Guess we need to go back. (But not to that AirBnB. Loved it, but might not be able to sleep with all that art!)

    1. Yep, I agree the Airbnb location isn’t for everyone! There were creaks from the floorboards above, the sound of water (lots of exposed piping down there), and of course not much natural bright light. But definitely a good find for someone into this sort of lodging.

  12. I use to live in Salem until I was 12. I miss it so much sometimes. My dad moved out to NE Oregon, near Pendleton. I think it might be time for a road trip. Thanks for sharing your pics!

  13. Amazing photos! And I’m inclined to agree with you on the “too wholesome” thing. I’m a Pacific NW native and always love to return there, but I think all the greenery and friendly people might be a little too boring for me to make it my permanent residence. All my years in Los Angeles have given me an edge! 😉

    1. I hear you! I moved out into wine country about a year ago, and now live in a small town of under 10,000. But, having said that, I’m still very much a city person, though prefer big and chaotic — one that swallows you whole. I suppose I like those two extremes — laid-back and super-chill, like where I live now, but also the far other end of the spectrum: NYC, Hong Kong, Tokyo… So Portland — while lovely — isn’t quite the right kind of city for me.

      And as for the “too wholesome” thing, I feel the same — I do prefer a place with more of an edge. And grit.

  14. I’m working on a reservation on a houseboat in Amsterdam right now through airbnb! There’s no fire hydrant in the bathroom though. I am more and more amazed at how well my iphone takes photographs. Especially in very low light.

    1. Houseboat in Amsterdam sounds cool!

      Yeah, I’ve been happy with how this iPhone takes pics — I’ve had it for 3-4 years now and it still works 🙂 I feel like I should invest in an actual camera (before I moved into my tiny house I gave away all of my film/digital cameras) but at the same time I no longer want to carry anything else while traveling.

      1. These days, I always try to stay in apartments rather than hotels, so much more…wonderful. And right…I do not want to lug heavy camera equipment with me any more. There are some photos you just can’t get with a phone, so I do carry a camera, but not with lenses and tripod any more!!

  15. Oregon looks like an incredible place. I’ve never been, but have been longing to visit for a while now. So much greenery that we don’t have in California. I’m curious why you feel you wouldn’t fit in Bend, and what you mean by “too wholesome.” Thanks for sharing your trip!

    1. Hi Tiffany! I started to answer this in another comment — I guess I prefer cities/towns with more of an edge/grit/chaos. I love visiting places like Bend, but ultimately don’t feel they fit my (life)style.

      1. Ah, that makes sense. I think I’m the exact opposite, where I’d prefer to live in a quieter place, but enjoy visiting edgier cities. I also don’t like in-between places..

  16. Ahhhhhhhhh. Gorgeous photos! And gorgeous scenery. I’m a Pacific Northwest kinda person. We arrived back in Vancouver last night. Can’t wait to get into the leafyness.

  17. Superbe reportage sur cette magnifique randonnée. Merci de nous faire partager votre amour de la nature et de la photo.
    Bien cordialement.

  18. omg that trip looks amazing and I can’t believe those were all taken with a phone! Great job savoring all the sweetness!

  19. Did you get to the Boneyard brewery in Bend? When we went a few years ago, it was down a residential, dead-end road. I get the out-of-place feeling in Bend, from my brief time there. It doesn’t quite seem like a town belongs there. Still I need to go back, thanks for the appetizers Cheri.

    1. Sadly we didn’t have time to visit any breweries beyond Deschutes Brewery (I know, I know — what an original choice). It’s crazy how many craft breweries there are — super-cute places, too.

      Interesting comment — “it doesn’t quite seem like a town belongs there.” My husband said a reverse comment while we were driving from Bend to Sisters, as we saw a number of imposing snowy peaks in the distance. “They look out of place,” he said of the mountains. But I think your remark is spot on. It’s the town, it’s us, that doesn’t belong. The mountains fit here just fine.

      1. Don’t feel bad about just going to Deschutes — it’s easy to pooh-pooh them as ‘corporate’ or whatever, but I always have a good time there at the one in Portland and yes, we went to the same one as you in Bend. Good food, good, fresh beer. You always have to leave something on the table for next time, I think.

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