Kim Cooper Findling grew up on the Oregon Coast and has lived in Central Oregon since 1995, making a career out of telling the stories of the Beaver State's people and places. Some of her many titles include editor of Central Oregon Magazine, and author of Days Trips from Portland: Getaway Ideas for the Local Traveler and Chance of Sun: An Oregon Memoir. She is also an ambassador for Travel Oregon’s Ask Oregon program, and has written for numerous publications, including Horizon Air and High Desert Journal. She won the 2011 Oregon Quarterly Northwest Perspectives Essay Contest. We caught up with Kim to talk travel.
What is your favorite place in Oregon, and why?
That’s a tough call for someone who loves this entire state as much as I do. If I must choose a favorite, it would be the Oregon Coast. I grew up in Coos County and though I’ve lived in Central Oregon for as long as I lived at the beach, I am still an ocean girl at heart. Newport is my longtime go-to destination: to relax, explore, and breathe the salty air. I first stayed at the Sylvia Beach Hotel the year it opened 27 years ago and have been back at least once a year since. The author-themed rooms and funky old ambiance aren’t for everyone, but it’s home to me! I love the whole vibe in Nye Beach; I love noshing on the delectable pastry at Panini, grabbing a beer and a pot pie at Nana’s Irish pub, catching some live music at Café Mundo, walking the beach for hours at a time, and watching hundreds of common murres fly off Yaquina Head with the wind whipping. All of it together is always reliably restorative.
What's currently at the top of your travel bucket list, and why?
Even in four decades of devoted exploration of this state, there are a handful of Oregon destinations I’ve never experienced. These include the Opal Creek Wilderness, the Owyhee Canyon, the Oregon Vortex, the Pendleton Roundup, and the exact center of the state, Post. My grandmother climbed Mount Hood in 1938, and summiting the state’s tallest peak is also something I aspire to, though I don’t know if I’ll ever do it because I’m afraid of heights!
What was the worst/weirdest/craziest trip you've ever taken?
I once attended a writing retreat in a rundown, rodent-ridden cabin on the Imnaha River in the Wallowas with a group of strangers. There was a Native American poet and recovering heroin addict who built a sweat lodge in the back garden, a grandmother who had recently shot a deer nearby and wanted to feed us as much of the meat as possible in four days, and an aspiring but directionless young writer who spent most of the time gathering apples from the yard and making fairly dubious applesauce in the kitchen. I was six months pregnant at the time and found the experience as a whole to be fairly unpalatable, but at the same time I was blown away by the peaceful, inspiring, absolutely stunning landscape of the Imnaha Canyon in October. As surreal as it all was, I actually got a lot of great writing done on that retreat, and count it as one of my most interesting Oregon experiences.
Visit Kim Cooper Findling's website for more information: kimcooperfindling.com