Eastern Oregon 3

If you ever get a chance to go to Wallowa Lake, I highly recommend it. It’s where I ended the Eastern Oregon part of my journey before driving back to Portland for a rest and some Weather Machine shows.

The lake is long, and you have to drive in from the north along the lake all the way down to get to the State Park at the southern end. In the middle of the water, there are platforms with picnic tables on them – there was a big part of me that wanted to swim out to one of them with my guitar, but unfortunately I didn’t bring waterwings for the Breadlove.


Eastern Oregon 2

I’m not certain, but I think I drove around the Steens to get to my next location. I drove toward a small town called Frenchglen via Nevada, dipping south, and then northeast on Hwy 140. Before leaving Oregon, I visited what I can only describe as a giant cliff in the middle of the dessert. I don’t know what this cliff was called, but it stretched from horizon to horizon in an otherwise flat landscape.  I parked near the top to look over the landscape. A young couple had stopped there as well. They asked me if I knew how to get to a certain town in California. I had no idea.

I probably should have made one extra stop for gas, even though my tank was nearly full. I didn’t see a gas station for about 4 hours, and ended up stopping at a few farms just to ask directions toward gas. Each just told me to keep going – it wouldn’t be far.

I don’t know when I got back to the Beaver State (There’s no ‘Welcome Back to Oregon’ sign on the road to Frenchglen), but before long I found the little town I was looking for… along with gasoline. In Frenchglen there’s a small historic hotel where they serve meals if you call ahead. It’s a state park heritage site, so I filmed my song on their front porch and went on my way.


Succor Creek. It and Owyhee Lake are the only two state parks I’ve found that are solely accessible by dirt road… it’s also 20 miles of dirt road. It was a beautiful drive that taught me not to put too much trust in roadmaps.

You can camp at Succor Creek if you like, and I met some people playing board games next to the creek. The water was low enough that I could film in the riverbed, and after I was done I went to find the nearby lake. THIS was beautiful. To get to Succor Creek and the lake I drove along a canyon carved out by a river bubbling at the bottom. The rocks are beautiful out there - red and browns laced in layers of stone.  Outside of the canyon it’s nothing but desert farmland, and you literally have to drive through open grazing land to get to your location. If I wasn’t already driving slow because of the canyon and gravel, I would have had to anyway so I didn’t hit a cow.

The lake, when I finally found it, was amazing. In the heat of the summer, it had mostly dried up, leaving a bed of ivy-like plants for miles. The leaves had been yellowing in the heat, creating a swirling yellow and green canvass across the desert floor.


Eastern Oregon 1

Goose Lake. It’s the farthest you can go south and still be in an Oregon State Park. My trip to Goose Lake was full of stress – I thought it was north of where I found it.

I was headed to Goose Lake to spend the night after a visit to the Pendleton Reservoir and the park near LaPine. Though I haven’t double-checked this fact, it seems likely that the town is named after a great tree in the park (an info sign says that the tree is the largest ponderosa pine in Oregon – thus LaPine).

My plan was to drive down to Goose Lake, spend the night, then take Hwy 140 east and south into Nevada around the Steens, and back into Oregon. But as I drove and drove, I couldn’t find Goose Lake. Right when I was ready to turn around, I saw a sign that read ‘Welcome to California!’ – and right next to it was a sign for the last Oregon State park before Nevada. It was 9:30 and I was out of sunlight, but I made it.

Moral of the story? Don’t turn around until you hit California.

PS – be sure to check out the pictures here from Fort Rock. It’s an amazing place with a ghost town museum on the way to Goose Lake. The scenery blew me away, and I could easily hear coyotes cackling.


Central Oregon


Within an hour drive of my hometown of Sisters Oregon, there are two huge lakes I’d never seen before – Lake Billy Chinook and the Prineville Reservoir. My trip through Central/Eastern Oregon began with those two, and then became an all-out hunt for other majestic hidden lakes of the desert (which we’ll get to in a later post). It’s one of those things about being a local – because you live in a place you take it for granted. I can at least take solace in the thought that I had known about Lake Billy Chinook, but there is no excuse for never knowing Prineville had a reservoir. Both places are amazing – huge and nearly silent if not for a few lonely jet skiers and motorboats. Either way, I’m a better Oregonian for knowing.

In these pictures, you’ll see my brother Tanner (the dude in the blue shirt). The final ‘Back O’er Oregon’ music video is going to feature performances from all of The Weather Machine’s band members, and Tanner was a key force in developing our sound. In these pictures, he’s seen with a guitar he built years ago in our old High School’s wood shop (…you heard right right – he made that beautiful instrument in HIGH SCHOOL).  He’s seen here prepping for filming at Smith Rock.

There are a relatively small amount of parks in the Central Oregon region, but the short stay only made me even more excited to visit again when The Weather Machine plays the Sisters Folk Festival. It’s gonna be a blast.

PS – the guitar I’m playing in the video comes from this region. Breedlove Guitars built it in Bend, and now I have the honor of taking this great guitar all around the region it let it sing.


Video Session w/ 1859 Magazine

When I was in Bend last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with 1859 Magazine to talk about the Oregon music video - it was awesome. If you want to know the background and origins behind the music video project, this is a great place to look… just sayin’.


The Coast!

The southern coast was different in a way I didn’t expect. I’d never been down to Coos Bay and Port Orford, but it’s drier than the north coast and reminded me of Central Oregon… only next to the ocean. It’s a strange juxtaposition in my mind - like a very green version of the eastern part of the state.

Before heading south, I spent 4th of July weekend on the northern coast. One of the first stops was Cape Lookout, where I hiked 2.5 miles in and back out again with my guitar (see top left picture). I sang at the end of the trail in front of my camera, and received a light applause from the two other hikers relaxing there.

Highlights: A little girl and her dad danced to my music at Hug Point, and I sang next to a pony at Nahalem Bay.


4th of JulAwesome Weekend

I think it’s been a week or so. I’ve been staying in Pacific City at Kiwanda Sound between drives up and down the northern Oregon coast. It’s been a great time, and after the sun goes down I get to come home to the sound of Jeremy Murphy and co. recording a beautiful album (if you haven’t heard his music, you should).

So far, I’ve been as far North as Ecola State Park, and I’ve met a ton of people/creatures along the way – including both a pony and a dancing toddler who are DEFEINITELY going to be in the music video. In Oceanside, I was expecting a peaceful, nostalgic visit to my childhood beach. Instead, I have way too much footage of myself trying to keep my camera from blowing over (spoiler alert: it fell over).

I started out in Salem, and the photos here are mostly from the drive between Salem and Pacific City. The shot of the Ocean is from a 2.5 mile hike into Cape Lookout. Also, I was astounded to learn that Oregon has at least 1 ferry.


July 1st

It has begun! Last week I busted out the camera on top of Pilot Butte, picked up a brand new Oregon-made guitar, and then drove back over the Santiam Pass. Now I’ll be heading to Salem in just a few hours.

The next big push will be the Oregon Coast. There are a TON of state parks along the coastal trail, and I plan to get some awesome footage of way-too-many sunsets over the water. It’ll be traffic-madness for 4th of July weekend… but maybe it’ll be worth it if I get some footage of fireworks.

Feel free to message me if you’re in the area while I’m along the coast – I may not get a lot of interweb/phone service, but it’s worth a shot.

*pics above are from Tumalo – a magical land between Sisters and Bend.

-sjs


Brand new guitar. Brand new sticker. (…and brand new “Vine” Account…)

I have a beautiful new guitar. When I decided to go on the road and sing around the state, I was faced with a dilemma – what guitar do I bring?

Breedlove Guitars solved that problem. I now have a brand new cutaway made out of red cedar and rosewood. It’s beautiful, and it was built right here in Oregon. You’ll be seeing a lot of it in coming days.

Imagine you live in a Harry Potter book and you get a brand new wizard wand made of rosewood, unicorn hair, and sparrow feathers (or something) - that’s what playing this guitar feels like. If you haven’t read Harry Potter, then just buy a Breedlove and play it. They’re wonderful.


Oregon here I come…

Hi friends!

Over the course of the next few months I will be on the road gathering footage from all over the state of Oregon in order to make a very special music video for The Weather Machine song ‘Back O’er Oregon.’ I want all of you to be a part of it though, so I made a blog. The video will feature friends, family, and new people I meet on the road as I travel to every single one of Oregon’s state parks. I’ll be uploading photos, videos, and written updates here, so stay tuned and never hesitate to say “hi.” I hope (& plan) to see you soon!

-Slater Smith (band member @ The Weather Machine)