Travel Photography Great Basin
Grandmother and grandfather emigrated from Norway and made their way to Oregon. My mother was five years old, and her younger sister just one. My grandfather was a hunter and a fisherman, and he took the family out every weekend across the Cascades and into the Oregon desert. Grandfather was entranced by Native American culture. At Grandmother's home in Minnesota farm country; you can understand Grandfather a bit, just by his books on Native Americans, the Mayans, the Foxfire Series.
Almost everyone in my family has lived in Oregon at one point in their life. Mom and her sister were majorettes in the Portland school system; for six months the two of them traveled in Norway as celebrities; the first duo to introduce baton twirling to the country. Big brother went to college here; his first week he nearly burned the dorm down and made the front page of the paper. Hans started a band, joined the Forest Service, and adopted Oregon. At one point, he pronounced that he had little need to ever travel outside of the state.
Hans, like big brother Andre, grew up with admiration of Grandfather's life; for his hunting days in Oregon, for the way he could use every part of the animals he killed, for his Indian crafts, and his dream to make his farm a self-sustaining entity.
Perhaps then, it’s ironic that Hans is leaving Oregon.
We want to get out on the road and do some fishing before he leaves the state. We want to get to the southeastern corner of Oregon, maybe cast some flies and catch some trout in the state's great unknown desert.
When I drop by Hans' place, I expect him to toss a couple duffle bags in the back. But, it's only a matter of seconds that my truck is being rearranged, to make room for his chairs, his table, his luxury double stove. "We're leaving this behind," he says, handing off my gear to his girlfriend.
After meeting the folks of Tryon Farm that summer, Hans asked me where I wanted to go in Oregon; he'd make it happen.
So we paddled down the Tualatin River; a meandering river that lulls through the Willamette Valley and Portland exurbia. Then, down the upper part of the Willamette River, which flows north and dumps into the Columbia River in Portland.
Seeing Oregon by canoe and kayak had an impact on me; because it matched the kinds of things Jenny and Brenna were trying to teach the city with their organic farm.
We paddled down those rivers picking blackberries and salmonberries from the river's edge; talking about fishing and which mushrooms were edible. We talked about agricultural runoff, and how to identify a mint plant. We talked about the possibility of eating from the river; about the clubs that specialized in exploiting fruits that fall onto public property. We talked about the Himalayan blackberry; an invasive blackberry species that does so well in the Portland and Willamette Valley areas that it has literally begun to choke out vast natural areas.