All posts by scottmcnamara

Scott is a wedding photographer based in Portland, Oregon. He focused primarily on wildlife & nature photography, before shooting his first wedding in Alaska, in 2003. His work has been featured in many publications and he has traveled the World in pursuit of unique and fun weddings.

On Eloquent Liberalism and the Failure of Portland

On a recent trip to visit family in Burlington, Vermont something struck me.  There are a lot of refugees (my mom is active in supporting the refugee population).  According to conservative logic, that would equate to a lot of people living “off the system” and getting government checks for nothing. And a general downfall of ‘murica.

Fast forward a day or two and after a walk down Church Street I was amazed at the number of retail stores designed to sell the stuff the refugee population made.  Amazing textiles, baskets, artwork, and clothing.  It was refreshing to see an outlet for the cultural value this population brings to Vermont.

Another thing I noticed?  The abundance of community gardens.  These areas of open space are given by the city to people that want to raise their own produce.  The number of folks I saw walking these rows with baskets on their heads and vibrant clothing was a stark contrast to the old brick walls and green mountains in the distance.

It is no surprise that Burlington is a liberal anchor in a sea of liberal cities.  It has born the likes of Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (Ben and Jerry’s co-founders) and other liberal monoliths. But what was a surprise is how Burlington has pulled off something amazing – an eloquent version of liberalism.

Not once was I asked for money from a junkie.  Not once was there an ANTIFA protest blocking the streets.  Not once did a Prius sit in the left lane on highway 89.  Not once was a tent city of homeless even seen. And, more importantly, the refugee population seemed happy and engaged.  Almost as if the entire system was done the right way.

In contrast, I look at Portland, my local city.  The city that made me disavow my liberal identity.  It is a city where anger is the new cool.  If you are white and not angry about how “underserved” or “underprivileged” other people are, well, you just don’t belong here.

It’s a city where every morning, I walk past tent cities full of homeless people that shoot up heroin in safe centers. I step over sidewalk chalk with angry scribblings of last nights protest-du-jour, the pending rain our only hopes to remove it from our collective memory.

It’s a city where ANTIFA literally calls the shots while the police sit idly by, their hands tied by an insane mayor. Oh, and the same police refused to assist federal agents during a protest at their local facility, too.

The contrast of these two cities could not be any sharper.  And, while they share similar DNA (I have often called Portland “Burlington on steroids.”), Burlington has proven that liberalism can be done well, and done right.  And I am proud to say the liberal side of my political foundation was built there. Back when Vermont passed one of – if not the – first civil union bills in the nation.  A political anger that is kept in check and leveraged only when truly needed, which avoids Portland’s issue of crying angry wolf.

Maybe the conservative base should examine the areas where liberalism actually does win, as an example of what is possible.  And how it can be so eloquent.

 

Alvord Adventure

One of my bucket list items, the Alvord Desert has always intrigued me.  The desolation.   The harsh environment.  The wide open spaces.  The hot springs. So this year, we finally went to explore it ourselves.

After loading up the Land Cruiser, we hit the road for the 7 hour journey ahead.

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The Land Cruiser creeping at Whole Foods.

We had to stop at Whole Foods in Bend, OR for the typical vegan overland chow – Beyond Burgers, Beyond meat crumbles, Chao cheese, cold beers, and all the fixins.

After passing through Burns, we began to experience the desolation we had been craving so much.

Continue reading Alvord Adventure

Trail Day: Tillamook State Forest

Today I joined my offroading friends for a day of wheeling in our “back yard” trails.  It was a big day for me and my rig, as it marked the first time I was meeting up driving a Toyota.  This group of friends had grown and bonded over our common JKs – build parties installing coil overs, and offroad/camping trips in Moab, the Rubicon, and elsewhere.

So it was a moment of truth for me – was selling my JK and buying a 25 year old Land Cruiser a good choice?

After the initial ribbing and airing down was over, we hit Archer’s Firebreak.  This was an awesome trail choice – Archer’s was my favorite trail in the JK, and one I led every year for the Jeep Jamboree.  So I had a lot of history with it and knew it well.  However, I had never wheeled it in anything other than the JK.  Now I was in a Toyota.  And an automatic.

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Me following a comp-cut JK on one tons and 40s.  Seemed like a good idea.

The biggest difference for me this time, was that I would bypass the burly stuff.  I was without rock rails, skids, and confidence in the new rig.

Continue reading Trail Day: Tillamook State Forest

Exploring the Upper Deschutes Canyon

Oregon has a lot of hidden gems when it comes to campsites.  I recently found a canyon on Google maps, where the road closely followed the Deschutes river, and dead-ended.  Being an early season shakedown run this seemed like a great option.

So I called my buddy Jesse and his overland-ready Dodge Ram, and we hit the road.

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At the first gravel road on the journey.

We drove from Mt. Hood through the town of Maupin and made our way to the BLM access road that would wind along the river, going deeper and deeper into the canyon.

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The road was very well maintained, even given the early-season conditions.

The road is dotted with many little campsites.  We slowed at each to see which one would lend the best experience.  We wanted something off the road yet close to the water.  We were surprised as we rounded a bend, to have a herd of cattle in the road.

Continue reading Exploring the Upper Deschutes Canyon

Restaurant Review: Sweet Alchemy [Vermont]

Growing up in Vermont, most places I considered “vegan” were stereotypical hippie joints – local co-ops bathed in patchouli oil, incense, and Birkenstock footprints.  And, while many places in the Green Mountain State still resemble those icons, the vegan scene in Vermont is changing.

On a recent trip home, we pulled our car into a non-descript parking lot in Essex.  The property is shared with a nursery/greenhouse. A small sign over a beautiful deck read “Sweet Alchemy Bakery and Cafe.”

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From the outside on this chilly Winter day, so far the experience was quintessential Vermont – from the rolling frozen hills in the distance, to the barn-esque design of Sweet Alchemy.  Once inside, the warm, sweet smells of a talented baker completed the experience.

Continue reading Restaurant Review: Sweet Alchemy [Vermont]

Engine Rebuild for a 1993 Land Cruiser

So last year I purchased a 1993 Land Cruiser FZJ80 in Bend.  The vehicle was in really good shape, but as a dedicated family overlanding rig, I was concerned for reliability for a 25 year old vehicle with over 260,000 miles.

Last January I decided to pull the motor out and do a complete rebuild.

I pulled the engine out in my shop at home with countless tools, about 300 ziploc bags, and the help of dear friends.

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Not even kidding. All screws and parts were organized in ziplocs.

After the first night, I had the front clip and hood off with some engine components.

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For organization, I used the aforementioned baggies and also a ton of blue masking tape with letters written on them.  The other end of the hose/item would have the corresponding letter so I knew where everything connected later.

Continue reading Engine Rebuild for a 1993 Land Cruiser

Restaurant Review: Hip City Veg [Philadelphia]

Spending a week in Philly has been an awesome chance to get out and check the vegan scene.  So far it has been an awesome experience.

Shortly after landing at PHL, I hit the road and had dinner at Hip City Veg on South 40th.

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The spot was super nice, and had seats in the huge front window for epic people watching.  I arrived later in the day, even after dinner, so the place was pretty empty.

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The next challenge was to choose something from the menu.  It isn’t a super expansive menu, but there was a decent variety of things.  After hearing rave reviews of the Disco Chickin Sandwich, I ordered one up.  I added a side of sweet potato fries, and the mysterious black bean dip.

Continue reading Restaurant Review: Hip City Veg [Philadelphia]

Lots of Changes at Offroad Vegan!

I have taken a little breather from writing new content for the blog.

A large part of that is due, in part to….wait for it….selling my Jeep!  That’s right, I sold my Wrangler.

A lot of people asked me why.  Basically it was a combination of things.  Primarily, I was just a little bored with it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Wranglers.  And I will have another one.  But for now, I wanted something different.

Second, I was bored with rocks.  I have done the Rubicon 3 times, Moab 3 times, and countless trips in Oregon and Washington.  I want to try overlanding and exploring with the family, not just bouncing off rocks.

And last, I want to learn something new.  I have worked on my Jeeps for many years, and want to learn something new.  In addition to overlanding, I want to try a new vehicle, a new platform, and even a new brand.

Continue reading Lots of Changes at Offroad Vegan!

What Happened in Vegas Does Not Stay in Vegas

Well, here we are yet again.   Staring down the harsh reality of yet another madman killing many people for no reason.  The videos I have seen, show it was in fact a massacre.

And, yet again, the media and the majority have shifted focus away from the madman himself, and put the responsibility of the event on the weapon – and the millions of Americans that own the same exact rifle.  Myself included.

Even on NPR this morning, people were barking the familiar rhetoric of gun control, and passing “tougher” laws to prevent these shootings from happening.

Want the reality?  You will never be able to pass ANY law that will prohibit these events.  They will continue to happen.  There are two primary reasons for this.

Continue reading What Happened in Vegas Does Not Stay in Vegas