Oregon for Work and Play

Oregon is one of those states in America that has too much scenery. From mountains to ocean to plains to wine country and all the activities to go with them. I wish there was a way they could share with other states (but not UT, CO, ID, or MT). Then we can all have similar amounts of cool. Sorry other gorgeous states. You already have enough awesome.Vista at Crater TRD JVWM IMG_0930 copyI’ve had the pleasure of visiting Oregon more than a few times for work and play. Years ago on my first visit for work, I was (ironically) sequestered to the inside of a factory with no windows. I knew then, as I drove from the  airport to location and back again, that I needed to return. Col Gorge TRD JVWM IMG_0750 copyOn another work trip for a photo shoot, I was gifted the task of finding locations for hikers, kayakers, scientists, and bird-watchers. I pinched me too. We started in the Columbia River Gorge (above) and “worked” within scenic overlooks, forest trails, and a few of the many waterfalls (below).

UPDATE September 2017. There has been an awful forest fire in this area. Many of the Columbia River Gorge trees have been lost. Check ahead to see how much of the scenery has been altered.Lat falls TRD JVWM IMG_0972 copyWe traveled along the Columbia River back to Portland.Portland O TRD CRP JVWM IMG_0766 copy - Version 2Portland is a must-stop or if you need to get your city vibe on. Yes, the hip factor thrives here. Do the food trucks, neighborhoods, and the truly local joints.

If not Portland, see other cities of Oregon. Certainly stop in the small towns…

…Newport is one of them. On the same photo shoot, we collaborated with a family at a lighthouse in the morning and researchers among the dunes (doing real work) in the late afternoon. We had lunch near the harbor of fishing boats and dinner with a view of the coast. Yes, my job is occasionally very cool. This gig was one of my favorites and it has since been filed under Production Nirvana.

Lighthouse top TRD JVWM IMG_0783 copyIf you decide to visit Oregon, seeing everything in one trip can be a challenge. On my most recent visit (for fun) we could have taken a week to do the coast only. From Astoria to the California border is about 380 miles – but you’ll easily add mileage along the way to see, eat, shop, and fill your camera with photos. I do know you’ll add extra time to heal your sore neck – from gawking.
Coastal inlet TRD JVWM IMG_0508 copyI could easily fill your screen with more photos and continue to gush about the Oregon scenery but there aren’t enough adjectives – and this is not a travel blog. I would simply put forth that this State is easily one of the top five in America. Vineyard OR TRD JVWM IMG_0893 copyTravel is subjective, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and all human beings have different tastes.  My travel tips for Oregon (and anywhere) are: experience the little things, meet the local people, try something new, see something not recommended by the travel bureau, and create your own scenic overlook. cropped-cropped-crater-lake-nat-park-2011-2x-pano-jamie-vesay-wm-dscf1663-copy.jpgWhether work or play, plan on visiting more than once…

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The Sandhill Crane Migration

Every year in central Nebraska USA, from late February to early April, a spectacle of nature occurs. Earthlings are graced by the presence of four hundred thousand Sandhill cranes, as they pause their migration and stop there on their way north. It is nothing short of magical.

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For me, the trip is a retreat. All devices are turned off, and soon the time seems to slow. The vast open sky gifts you an aerial canvas of panoramic clouds, top-ten sunsets and sunrises, and cool, crisp breathable air.

Certainly if you have the slightest interest in birds, do add this trip to your bucket list. You have no excuse for being too far away. People come from other countries to experience this, yet sadly there are many Nebraskans who have never been…

Time between sunrise and sunset is spent traveling along the country roads. Pull over to a safe place away from traffic (stay in your car!) and enjoy them as they gather in cut-corn fields, eating and socializing, and flying from field to field. Watch for the crane dance, when they jump and frolic and call.

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If you find a road off the beaten path and less traveled, you might see them hanging out – ON the road. And more dancing!

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At sunrise or sunset, be in a crane watch blind on the river. The cranes return to the shallow waters of the Platte River near sunset and roost there over night. They begin a new day by leaving the river at dawn to return to the fields – and the process cycles one more time.

th_Faunas Thread ONE SHEET Crane sunset 1 32415 Jamie Vesay RAW LBLD WM2x IMG_6804 - Version 2Many of you know, beyond my personal retreat to see the cranes, I have been developing a screenplay that is set in this place during this time. The latest is I am turning it all into a book, since it is so freakin’ visual – and the script format has limited my story-telling. Ironically, upon completion of the book, a few first readers will be filmmakers who have expressed interest. There is great hope of making a movie about it one day.

For now, you should plan a visit. Just go. Read my book when it comes out. Then go again. Breathe, see, embrace – enjoy.

Content Copyright Jamie Vesay

 

Chicago for Play and Work

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On a recent visit to Chicago, I was relieved to see the city had been rebuilt since the Transformers destroyed it a few years ago. Okay, not true. While that made for a humorous Instagram caption, it is funny to think at least one person on earth believes that movie was real.

In my opinion, Chicago is a Top three Great American City. At the risk of sounding too much like a travel guide, all I’ll say about Chicago is: PLENTY OF THINGS TO SEE, DO, and EAT.

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Downtown is walking friendly, public transportation is easy, bike-sharing stations are an option, and the food – is of legend. The people I encountered were friendly and hospitable, and that was mostly around the city. There are wonderful neighborhoods – even close to downtown and a whole other list of places to see in the suburbs.

If you are planning a visit, two recommendations will keep coming up: Don’t visit in winter and be sure to take the architectural boat tour.

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Regarding the latter: Yes, indeed do the boat ride. The slow roundtrip amidst the mix of old and new architecture, under steel bridges and through the city is fantastic. Of course, since most of these boats operate in the warmer months, you’re probably not doing this in winter. My boat ride was in September (above) and the weather was fairly perfect. Our tour guide was very informative. It felt like he covered it all: from design or period, to history, to who occupies which space, and where certain movies were shot (and many have been shot in Chicago). He was spewing so many factoids, I didn’t want anybody to ask questions, worrying he or I would miss something.

So, in remembering my visit a few years ago being so pleasant in the warm weather, when I received an invitation to attend a wedding in Chicago – in December, I was hesitant. The simple aspect of flying there and back at that time of year would be rolling the travel dice. But we got lucky and the week before winter officially began – the weather was mild. I even spotted a boat tour. Now understand, it was hardly balmy and the wind whipping through the urban canyons was cold, but no snow. The very top photo is from December 2014.

If you’re headed there for film or photography production work, the crew list and talent pool are deep. As the case is with most larger cities, many capable craft people and top-shelf tools exist. Amenities are ubiquitous. Shop around and ask the right questions to acquire the best fits. Illinois is a film incentives State, so things are busy with movie, commercials, and television projects. Chicago set of Chicago Fire 1214 Jamie Vesay WM photo 5At least two TV shows are filming in Chicago. The good news is (if you’re visiting for fun) there’s a good chance you’ll bump into a film crew around the city. The bad news is (if you’re looking for crew) they might already be working on something else.

Chicago bean view TRD Jamie Vesay WM LBLD Dsize IMG_6097 - Version 2Whether work or play, in winter or warmer, Chicago has a great vibe. I like it a lot. If you haven’t been, visit soon, but hurry – before the aliens destroy it again.

Content Copyright Jamie Vesay