It was July, 1992, when I rolled into Oregon. We drove from Chicago in our red ’87 Nissan Sentra, through flat landscapes and peak summer heat. When mountains began to appear in the horizon, I joked to my friend, “See those mountains there? I bet you those mountains are Oregon.” I was right.
As we crossed the Snake River into Oregon, we celebrated with hoots and a high-five. Moments later, my senses seemed to awaken: the land looked more dramatic and the air even seemed sweeter. I suddenly stopped feeling restless. I felt at ease.
We stopped at Farewell Bend State Recreation Area, a lush green park on the banks of the Snake River’s Brownlee Reservoir, once a significant stop on the Oregon Trail. It seemed like an appropriate place to say goodbye to the Midwest and hello to a new future in the West.
Knowing what I know now, decades later, that feeling of arriving in Oregon was my feeling of home. It’s when my love for Oregon really grew. Now I share that feeling with “Heart in Oregon.” Here are more ways I love Oregon:
When did you first come to Oregon?
I first visited Oregon for a family vacation in 1976. I was 7 years old. We drove up the Oregon Coast and back down the Willamette Valley until we hit Upper Klamath Lake. I remember my parents and I looked eastward across the lake and watched the moon rise above the ridge while it reflected off the lake. In the foreground a deer drank from the edge of the lake. It was surreal.
What about the state attracted you?
Being and avid camper, the outdoors drew me in. While living out of state in Washington, 1992-95, my girlfriend and I drove down every weekend to explore a different area of the Oregon Coast to camp. We were amazed at the beauty of the Oregon Coast and how few people were there.
What’s your favorite place in Oregon?
Wherever I happen to be standing at the time! But if pressed, it would be the Oregon Coast. I’m an ocean baby. The water energizes my body and soul. There’s nothing like gentle waves giving my feet a hug.
My favorite beach? Bandon by the sea. I love the sandy beaches and the monolithic rocks that tower out of the beach and ocean. I also love the caves that appear at low tide. I expect someday to find a skeleton in shackles and chains from One-Eyed Willy adventures. (Yes, that’s a Goonies reference.)
What’s your favorite thing to do in Oregon?
Drive down a street or road I have never been down before. I just love soaking up all of the new scenes on that path. I also enjoy skiing, hiking, biking, clamming, and crabbing.
If you could give one message to everyone traveling to Oregon for the first time, what would it be?
It is the land and natural beauty of Oregon that makes this place special. Remember we are all just visitors. We are bound to protect Oregon. Enjoy and be a steward to the land.
When and where did you first come up with the Heart in Oregon concept?
Spring Break of 2003, outside of what is now Salt & Straw in Northwest Portland, I sat unemployed and my prospects looked meek. I pondered leaving Oregon for “greener pastures” (as if) until I could return to Oregon with financial stability. I said to myself, “But where would I go? My heart is here, my heart is in Oregon.”
With those words, I drew the shape of the state of Oregon with a heart in the middle of it. I knew I was on to something. Much like the pioneers before me who came to Oregon by horse and wagon, this was my place to make my stand.
Where can people find Heart in Oregon?
Heart in Oregon products can be found at many popular retailers in Oregon, such as Made in Oregon, Powell’s Books and the Tillamook Cheese Factory.