When I pulled out of the parking lot of the Medford Holiday Inn, I was beginning what would've been, for anyone else making the trip, about a four or five hour drive to Portland. But this is me we're talking about here. There was no way in Hell this was going to be a simple four or five hour drive.
My first stop was in Grant's Pass, Oregon. I'm not entirely sure why I wanted to stop there, but figured it was as good a place as any. Not wanting to drive around town looking for things to shoot, I stopped into the Chamber of Commerce to ask about where in town a photographer might go for something good to shoot.
While I forget her name, the woman was very pleasant if not remarkably unhelpful. She kept telling me about all of the sculptures in town I could shoot. Well, that's not really my thing, so I graciously accepted the maps and brochures she gave me, made a donation in their donation box, and found the door.
There's really not a lot going on in Grant's Pass, Oregon. I did find some cool things to shoot, though. First, I came across some very old, very rusted cars. The funny part is that they were for sale. I'm a big fan of restored classic vehicles, but I think these may have been beyond hope. Even still, though, they were something to shoot that was out of the ordinary, and isn't "out of the ordinary" what we like to find from time to time?
|A 1947 Plymouth. I have no idea what model is was, but it could be yours for $4,700.00..|
|I forgot to note what kind of car this was, but it, too, was for sale...|
|Looking through the broken back window...|
Serving as further testament to how much isn't happening in Grant's Pass was a mill-factory-thing that I found. It was absolutely desolate, and I remember being struck by that, given the fact that this was a weekday; just a normal business day. There was no business happening here, though:
|A cool place to shoot, thanks to the fact that it was, from all appearances, completely abandoned...|
And, for whatever reason, Grant's Pass is, apparently, big on cavemen:
So, while the photo ops in Grant's Pass were a bit tame, I did get a tip from the nice lady at the Chamber of Commerce. She told me to go up to the next exit, north on I-5, and go left off the exit ramp. She explained that ten or twelve miles down the road would be some great scenery.
She was right.
After weaving through the thriving metropolis of Merlin, Oregon, I found myself upon Hellgate Canyon. Chamber of Commerce Lady was dead-on. This is what I'd been hoping to find.
Hellgate Canyon is in the Rogue River Valley, and it's awesome. It's just freaking awesome. With 100 foot high cliffs, and rapids below, it offered up some spectacular photo ops:
Now, you may say to yourself "Wow, that sure is neat, I've never seen Hellgate Canyon before."
And you would be wrong.
I'm aware of two movies that were filmed here, at least in part. The most recent one is "River Wild", which stars Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon, and ends with Kevin Bacon's body floating down the river as Streep is flown out of the canyon in a helicopter. The second movie I know of is one which you've undoubtedly seen and, if you haven't, shame on you. Remember the scene in "Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid" where Paul Newman and Robert Redford jump from a cliff to elude trackers, and yell "OOOOHHHH SHHHHIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTT!!!" all the way down?
It's no mystery to me, at all, why Hollywood would come here. The area is absolutely breathtaking.
Leaving Hellgate Canyon, which was certainly the highlight of this trip, I made my way further north, to the small town of Sunny Valley. Sunny Valley is home to the only covered bridge in all of Josephine County. The bridge over Grave Creek was, at one time, one of over 450 covered bridges in Oregon. By 1977, though, that number had dwindled to less than 60:
|Looking through Grave Creek Bridge...|
This whole area was absolutely serene. This is the most visited covered bridge in all of Oregon, primarily due to its proximity to the I-5 freeway. But it was completely peaceful and relaxing, and it makes for a great photo op. Covered bridges were once extraordinarily common in this country and, now, their numbers are dwindling.
After stopping in Sunny Valley, and spending about an hour shooting, I took a look at my watch and realized that my daylight was dwindling and, if I was going to get to Portland before the sun went down, I'd better get back on the road.
This day was, by a wide margin, the best "photo day" I've had in quite some time. I think I may be saying that more often now, at least for a while, as I begin to explore the pacific northwest...