Lost In Oregon
I have always wanted to drive from Los Angeles to Oregon. I have heard how beautiful the drive is and I was looking forward to making the journey for the Future American President project. However, as life would have it, I didn’t have the time to do the drive from Los Angeles to Oregon. The end of the summer was approaching and kids were going back to school soon, so I flew to Seattle, Washington, rented a car and drove down to Oregon.
The movie, The Goonies, was popular when I was growing up and one location in the movie stood out as a great location for a photo shoot. I set my Google maps app on my phone to Cannon Beach, Oregon and started the drive.
I wanted to photograph two families in Oregon and hoped I’d meet the right families during my drive. I stopped from time to time at different locations and at one point found a popular waterfall attraction. While there, I admired the different post cards with incredible scenic views throughout Oregon and purchased one that caught my eye. The location was stunning and I wondered if I could find this location. I looked on the post card and tried to see if it was on my way but it would take me off my course by a couple of hours. I decided to give it a shot and try to find this beautiful location and prayed I’d meet a family there as well.
Two hours later I arrived at the location I thought might be the place in the post card but found it was not. I drove around and found myself lost in Oregon, but lost in the most amazingly beautiful neighborhood I could imagine. The views were incredible in every direction, so I felt I must be in close. After driving around for a while I decided to stop and ask for directions, someone I rarely do. Normally, I’d never stop at a house and ask for directions but there was no gas station to be found for miles.
I pulled into a driveway when I saw a woman off in the distance, and asked her for directions. She gave me general directions and as I was about to leave she inquired what I was looking for in particular. I showed her the postcard and she said, “This could have been taken from many places around here, even from my vineyard.” I hadn’t noticed before but as I looked up the hill, there was a massive vineyard with beautiful Mt. Hood in the background. The view was stunning. She asked why I was looking for that particular location and I explained that I was a photographer working on a project and I hoped to find a family at this park to photograph with this wonderful location in the background. She said, the view wasn’t a park as I had hoped and that she doubted families went there. It was just an amazing view but the view could be seen from many locations. Then she asked if I had examples of my project. I pulled out my iPad to show Future American President and the different children from around the country. She loved the project and said, “I know of a family with a beautiful daughter and I think she’s future president material. Would you like me to contact them? If you like, you can photograph her here”. As I looked around her views were amazing. I said yes, if they were available. She called her friend and left a voicemail message when no one picked up, then offered to show me the grounds until her friend called back. As she started to walk me around the vineyard, a little girl came out of the house and ran to her. I could tell after a while the little girl suffered from a slight disability and I asked the woman if the child was her daughter? When she said yes, I said, if you don’t mind, I’d like to photograph your daughter for the book. Her eyes started to tear and she said, “Well, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but my daughter has a disability.” I said, “actually, that is why I’d like to include your daughter in this book, so other children with disabilities feel included.” I told her about the other children with disabilities included in Future American President, and her expression is one that I will never forget. She said “I’d be honored to have my daughter in your book.” Moments later I was setting up my strobe light and looking for the right location to create a powerful image.
After the photo shoot, she asked where I was staying. When she learned I was hours away, she said she and her husband have a guesthouse on the property and that I could stay there. She showed me the guesthouse, which was ten times larger and a thousand times more beautiful than the hotel I was staying in, but all my luggage was back at the hotel and closer to my final destination. I reluctantly declined but told her thank you and that I wished I could stay with them that evening. We spoke for a while longer and I learned they had just sold their home and vineyard and where moving to a place with less rain. After talking with both the mother and father, who’d just returned home, I said my goodbyes and wished them well during their move.
As I drove away I wished I could have stayed longer with them but I was thankful to be able to connect and include their daughter in Future American President.
Always Dream Big