Boardman Tree Farm
I’ve been checking my phone for quite awhile but that night, I kept checking my phone out of anticipation and excitement. It was 2am and the time had finally come for me to get ready for a road trip that Toby and I’ve been wanting to go on since last year. We had packed everything into the car the night before — camping gear, food, photography equipment and plenty of snacks to keep our stomach full. When Toby woke up and got ready, we hopped into the car and off we went, but first… coffee!
We spent four-hours of driving in the dark while Toby slept and I drove. For most of the trip, all I could see was the headlights and the road in front of me with very few cars around. The fog had come out to play making it hard to see at times, but I couldn’t help myself but look up and see the stars twinkling into the night; it was a peaceful drive. Dawn started to roll in, the sky began to brighten up and Toby woke up to keep me company for the rest of the way to our final destination. By this time, we had crossed over the Columbia River into Oregon and our excitement fueled our energy because we knew we were getting closer. Finally, we could see a small patch of yellow hidden between thick patches of fog in the middle of nowhere; we knew we were here — Boardman Tree Farm! Thousands of Poplar trees were lined up in identical rows for as far as the eye could see, it was nothing short of stunning!
We had arrived just before sunrise as scheduled, and used the time before sunrise to quickly scout for locations. Off in the horizon, the sun’s glow became stronger by the minute, prompting us to rush and grab our gear. We knew we didn’t have a lot of time left to prep and get into position before the sun came up. Naturally, Toby was in his element and disappeared into the fog to chase for ‘the shot’. I didn’t see him for another 45 minutes until the sun finally broke over the horizon but one thing was for sure — golden hour had arrived!
During the first couple minutes, it felt as if the Earth stood still. The air was crisp and fresh; the sun peaked through the trees as the fog softly wrapped around the trunks; the leaves whimsically danced their way down from the sun-kissed canopy to the yellow covered ground, almost as if we were in another world. We knew we were in our happy place because everywhere we looked, there was beauty which inspired many of our creative photos taken that day. One of my favorite parts of this day was the amount of laughs we had in the few hours we were there — there was a lot of laughing!
When the sun fully rose to the sky, the Poplar trees became so yellow and beautiful. By noon, we were exhausted and starving — but before we left, we made sure to take a long pause to enjoy the moment and take in the views of the beautiful trees. We groggily made our way to the small town of Boardman, Oregon and discovered only one diner open next to the highway. When we first entered the diner, the local folks stared at us as if we were in a horror movie. Many of their eyes followed us all the way to our table in the corner and then things resumed as normal, adding more mystery to an already odd experience. It’s probably unusual to see Deaf people around these parts, but then after all it was Halloween this weekend, maybe we were in on a joke we didn’t know about? At least, the food was delicious as we happily stuffed ourselves and refueled our energy reservoirs with some more coffee!
It was time to hit the road again and I was practically brain dead from the four hour drive. Toby took the wheel but he hadn’t driven a manual in years. He had to relearn how to drive it first before taking on the road and — — it. was. hilarious! He was rusty at first, but it only took a few minutes before we were back on the road again. Exhausted, I wasted no time falling asleep, even though Toby woke me up a few times to catch some gorgeous views along the Columbia River. In a blink of an eye in what was actually only two hours, Toby woke me up as we arrived our next stop: a beautiful campground surrounded by many trees in full fall foliage! After driving around the campground loop a few times, it was time to decide where we would set up camp, which was next to a Willow tree, my childhood favorite! The campsite had sweeping views of the Columbia River Gorge with train tracks on both sides of the river. The view was easily one of the best parts of the trip. We quickly set up our tent and then left for a quick mini road trip to Hood River.
The sun was setting and golden hour came back to greet us for the second time in one day! We enjoyed driving through the Hood River Valley passing through multiple orchards, farms with glimpses of Mt. Adams, Mt. Saint Helens and Mt. Hood. We had stopped several times to capture the beauty of the landscape and the sun had finally set over the horizon. Even though we had already driven so much, it was time to head to our last stop and unwind at a local brewery. Little did we know how shocked we would be to see how beautiful Mt. Hood was up close since we have never been this close before. The view was perfect as we celebrated the day with good beer and food. A local dog kept us company outside as dusk turned into night.
After dinner, we went back to our camp and started a fire. The railroads on both sides of the river were busy and entertained us from our campsite throughout the night which was perfect for Toby because he loves trains! Fun fact: his great grandfather and grandfather worked for the railroad in Ohio. It was no surprise that by the time I went to sleep, Toby kept snapping away with long exposures as trains passed by under starry skies. He got some great pictures!
The following morning, we had started to pack up and were bummed to discover that my car battery had died! We were planning to leave early to catch some snaps in the valley, but there’s always next time. Lucky for us, we were able to get some help from the sweet campground hosts to revive my car. The car ran for awhile as we finished up packing and I decided to turn off the engine since it was more than 30 minutes… and of course, the battery died again! After asking the hosts to come to our rescue, my car was running once again and we refused to turn the engine off. We finally took off to head back to Seattle, but first it was time to get a new battery so we wouldn’t get stranded.
On the way back, we talked about how fun the trip was and how alive we felt being fueled by adventure! I am so glad we made it to the Boardman Tree Farm. The farm might be a bit of a drive from Seattle but it’s so worth it! When fall comes around next year, take the opportunity to see the farm before it is too late… There’s been news floating around that the tree farms might cut down soon to make way for dairy, so it’s now or never!