A long, circuitous path brought me into and out of St. Johns. I initially moved to the PNW for work. I was in Information Technology at the time and took a position at Nautilus World Headquarters in Vancouver, WA. But that career field wasn’t really for me, and discovering the outdoors of this region solidified it. I decided to quit and attempt to make a living doing as an outdoor writer and photographer.
My wife at the time and I loved Portland and fell head over heels for St. Johns. There was such an honest sense of community there, and the place looked and felt like it was out of a movie. The “Main Street”, the bridge, and Forest Park. It felt like home, and we made it so by purchasing a small condo unit on North Ivanhoe. This was a wonderful time. As I was attempting to get my outdoor writing career off the ground, I worked part-time at Signal Station Pizza, where I was able to meet and become friends with my new neighbors. Then, on my walk home, I stopped in at the Leisure or the newly opened Fixin’ To for a few drinks with co-workers.
On weekends, we would hike in Forest Park, saunter through Cathedral Park, or play disc golf at Pier Park, see a movie, eat some Thai food, etc, etc. I would actually publish my very first hiking write-ups in the St. Johns Review before landing a book contract with Falcon Guides to write “Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon.” I would go on to write two additional guidebooks that featured outdoor activities in or around St Johns with “Best Outdoor Adventures Near Portland” and “Urban Hikes Oregon.”
Unfortunately, my wife and I would grow apart, and we eventually went our separate ways. I would remain in St Johns, however, for another handful of years. All told, I think I spent about 7 years or so in St Johns. I know we all have a tendency to romanticize the past, or our direct relationship to it anyway. But I feel like I did live there during a particularly magical time. When I could get a haircut at Wayne’s Barbershop, buy a shirt at the Man’s Shop, buy a book at the St. Johns Booksellers, and take my family to Our Daily Bread for dinner.
I would find love again with a wonderful woman who lived across town. It was love that finally extracted me from North Portland. Not long after moving in with her in Northeast Portland, we would purchase and move into an off-grid home in the woods of Washington. We lived a humble but glorious existence out there for almost four years. Unfortunately, I lost her and our home to a house fire in February 2022 while I was away for work.
Since then, I have relocated to Tillamook County, where I have been recovering, writing, and healing in nature. Most of my work is now going towards my own platform. A Substack page called “Collecting Sunsets,” where I share essays that cover a broad set of topics including grief, addiction and recovery, travel, and the healing powers of nature. But I always like to work in the community in some capacity. As such, I have recently taken on a part-time role as a Brand Ambassador/Tour Guide at the Tillamook Creamery.
These days, I make it back to Portland at least once a month to do a segment for the KATU program, “Afternoon Live.” as their outdoor and travel expert. And when time allows, slip into the Fixin’ To, Signal Station, or the Tienda Santa Cruz. I’ve also slowly started re-entering the freelance outdoor and travel writing world again, doing the occasional “Hike of the Month” for Willamette Week or travel feature for Northwest Travel & Life Magazine.