Rachel H Wright


Staying Active

Just as important as a full night’s sleep and strong cup of coffee, regular doses of inspiration are a necessary part of bringing new perspective and fresh thoughts to my work. Sometimes this involves escaping to the woods for a couple days or retreating to my room with a good book. Other times this is getting out into the city and being a part of things. You know, participating in the community and culture that surrounds me. As the weather worsens and my motivation to leave the house lessens, this all becomes a little more challenging but no less important.

This week is especially notable for great events on all ends of the spectrum, from surfing and local music to the celebrated small press literary scene, and I thought I would share and spread the word. The first annual LitHop goes down on Hawthorne tomorrow (readings and barhopping, the perfect combination), Shaping the Northwest is on Thursday and celebrates the work of local shapers while raising money for surf nonprofits, and Saturday features the Lonesome Billies Third Annual Family Tradition, a fundraiser for My Voice Music, a potluck and gathering of local country acts.

It’s going to be a busy and productive week.

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California Dreamin’

I’m back from ten days of road trip adventuring with Sam and Bessie, the best BMW 318 the world has ever seen. We left early in the morning on the 15th after an epic evening of golfing and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at Edgefield (the two go together so well, no?) and traded off driving shifts as we headed towards the Redwoods. Adventures in Northern California included driving the windy but scenic State Route 1 from its very origins, beach walks at night, skunk sightings, quick dips in the Smith River, and surfing at a sketchy location near Fort Bragg. We then headed to civilization for a couple days, spending time in Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco with friends and family. Barbecues, adorable baby cousins,  flea markets, and tapas awaited us.

From there we shot down I-5 to spend three nights in La Jolla with Sam’s cousins where we experienced the joy of surfing in warmish water, the beauty of Balboa park, snorkeling with seals in La Jolla Cove and so many tacos. After a final morning surf at Tourmaline Beach, we headed north for two nights in Santa Barbara. Though the surf forecast was flat, we had a good time surfing a beach break with an old friend from Breckenridge and ended the evening with a rowdy country show, 7/11 nachos, and a small bonfire on the beach.

In the morning we continued north, winding up SR1 through all the gorgeousness of Big Sur to meet my parents in Monterey. We camped in the hills, ate at the best seafood restaurant ever, walked the beach at night and then I drove at the famous Laguna Seca racetrack the next day. From there we jetted up to Woodside for an annual party that some family friends throw and Sam and I slept under the stars on a trampoline (until it began raining, at which point we crawled, soaking wet, into a tent). The last day was a long, long slog of a drive back to Portland, but the light was amazing and our spirits were relatively high. I came home with a new love for California, plans for upcoming surf adventures, a damp and stinky sleeping bag, and a profound appreciation for my own bed.

BMW 318

Smith River

Fort Bragg

Balboa Park


Big Sur


Off I-5

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Be Back In 10

Days, that is. I’m taking off for a much needed road trip California adventure. We’re packing our surfboards, tent, skateboards and beef jerky. I’m leaving this though. New Janelle Monae! I love this time travel/futuristic/Metropolis thing she’s exploring. She’s so good.

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Shi Shi Beginnings

*Photo: Kyle Carnes Photography

Five years ago, I was a new Portland resident and incredibly excited about exploring the surrounding area. Over a long weekend in the Gorge fueled by music and friendship, I told some friends I wanted to explore the Olympic Peninsula, land of snowy peaks, rain forests and long, stony beaches. A few weeks later, I drove with a couple friends up to Seattle, picked up a couple more friends, crossed the sound on the ferry and went to a place our friend knew only through his father’s tales. That place was Shi Shi Beach.

What began as a single night of drizzly camping hunkered among the pines, sharing food and whiskey and stories turned into an annual tradition that incorporates friends, new and old, car caravans, extensive meal planning, Shi Shi rituals and the magic that can always be found there. This year was no exception.  We saw grey whales feeding near the shoreline, a pair of peregrine falcons feeding on a gull, and at night the sea was filled with phosphorescence that made the crests of the waves glow blue without the moon. This was my fifth Shi Shi trip and while that’s special in itself, this Shi Shi also marked another special anniversary.

A year ago I went in to my editing job on the Monday after the long Shi Shi weekend and was laid off from a job I had held for over four years. It was horrible but also exciting. After some consideration, I decided to pursue copywriting full-time, something I had only done in my spare time.

Starting my own business has been challenging, scary and not without its frustrations. Mostly though, the challenges have been wonderful. I’ve learned so much, I’ve worked with some really great people, and I’ve been able to do something that I enjoy doing every day. Thanks for being encouraging, for working with me or passing my name on to someone who might want to work with me, for buying me drinks when I was broke, for reading my blog, for showing your support. It’s been a great year.

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Summer Surfing

Short Sands

It’s been good. The waves have been small but clean and the sun’s been out every time I’ve been in the water. If it was always like this, a lot more people would surf in Oregon. The beach was so crowded last weekend that you’d think it was California or something. No matter, it was just nice to be out there paddling and even more nice to enjoy a beer in the sun after the session. I love summer in Oregon.

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Be a Quick Study

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I’m so excited to share a project that I’ve been contributing to since the new year. It’s been in the secret zone for quite a while, but I’ve finally been given the okay to share Caitlin McCall’s new line, Quick Study. Born from the space between destinations, the concept of being a work in progress, and the joy of bridging the gaps via bicycle, Quick Study features feminine looks that can withstand a bike commute, a day at the office, a house party, a beach trip, all without changing a thing. Cut from performance-oriented fabrics and designed with intention, the entire line is versatile, comfortable and can be dressed up or down for whatever situation you find yourself in. You can also read more about the clothes here. Caitlin has big goals for inspiring more women to put on dresses and get on their bikes, a revolution I’m fully behind. This could be the moment when history tips towards skirts, heels and bike baskets instead of the terrifying spandex-clad warriors barreling through the bike lanes with extreme calf tattoos. This could be it. Anyway, this was my first naming project, which was super fun and gives me a great sense of motherly pride in seeing the line grow and progress. We’ve been refining the tagline and building up ideas around the brand, so keep your eye on www.quickstudyclothing.com for big changes and dazzling expansion in upcoming months. For now, check out these shots from the lookbook.

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Sun, Water, Pines

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Summer in Oregon is officially here and it’s wonderful. This last weekend I made a mad dash to Central Oregon for my friend Jocelyn’s birthday. Lesson learned this weekend? Camping is always worth it. There are times when it feels like the effort and time in the car cancel out the enjoyment factor, but from the moment we descended from Hood into the piney dry heat of Central Oregon, I was so glad to be out of town. We went to Crane Prairie Reservoir, which holds a  special place as my home away from home as a child. This is where I napped on boats, learned all about “one more cast”, reeled in big trout, read for hours on hot, dusty mornings, listened to loons cry, caught toads and gave them swimming lessons with my brother, watched mist rise from water in the morning, and learned that pitchy knots are best for the fire. As an adult, I’m learning new things and making new memories. You can see Bachelor, Broken Top, and the South Sister from the lake. The pollen was blowing from the ponderosas like bright yellow dust. On Saturday we set out on the water with an inflatable kayak and a raft tied behind, exploring the lake while stopping for swims and frequent wine breaks. We all got terrific sunburns, which while terrible, feels like a merit badge of the summer season. On Sunday morning, Sam and I rowed out to where the dead pines stick out of the water and tried for some trout. No luck but my casting is improving.

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Portland According to Me

For the first time in my adult life I have a piece of artwork in an actual art gallery. This is something that I have always dreamed of but have never really attempted to make happen. However, a couple months ago my friend Ratna (a soon-to-be cartographer) invited friends to make a mental map of Portland for a show she was curating. I went for it. I drew my map. I inked it. I colored it in. I added labels of all my friends’ homes, the first place Sam and I exchanged “I love you” (not where you would think), and all my favorite places to eat, drink, and hang out. Unfortunately I was out of town for the First Thursday opening and have not yet seen the map in its full glory, but fortunately it will be up for the month. If you would like to see it–and all the other cool mental maps of Portland–go to the Will Call Art Gallery at 625 NW Everett St.

Spring Cleanup


If you aren’t doing anything on Saturday, Alberta Street (and I) could use your help. As part of my efforts to both be a better citizen and expand my copywriting skills, I’ve been volunteering with the promotions committee of Alberta Main Street. A non-profit seeking to advance economic development and general awesomeness of Alberta Street, the organization puts on events, supports local businesses, and promotes projects that increase the creative, community-oriented feel of the neighborhood. One of their many events is the yearly Alberta Street spring cleaning, fittingly staged on Earth Day. I helped with the naming and copy on the promotional poster and will be there in the trenches picking up trash and doing my part. If you’re interested in helping out, you can sign up here: http://albertamainst.org/whats-happening/earth-day/

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Teaching versus Doing

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I’ve been snowboarding for over 12 years. In my various incarnations I’ve gone from being a newbie in a half-day lesson riding a borrowed too-big Burton with step-ins, to proud new board owner (Sims y’all) dreading the task of skating to the lift, to regularly sessioning the 10$ Saturday nights at Meadows (the only thing I could afford), to getting my first pass at Bachelor and driving every weekend from Eugene to Bend to follow my friends around the mountain and attempt tree runs, jumps, and rails while failing on a regular (scary to watch) basis. I moved to New Zealand for a year and rode steeps at Treble Cone and park at Snow Park, tore my rotator cuff (an injury that plagued me for years), and hit bigger jumps and rails than I ever would again in my snowboarding career. Then I moved to Colorado and taught snowboarding to kids for a couple seasons. You would think this would be the pinnacle, living in resort town, but something there just kind of fizzled. Maybe it was having to be on the mountain in uniform five days a week. The responsibility of being an authority on the subject. The soul-suck of standing around on a powder day watching kids do the falling leaf. Too much winter, too much slow riding on greens, too much technicality. It drained the love of snowboarding right out of me. I had to leave the mountains and never have enough time to snowboard to remember that I still loved it. I went for the powder and spent all my time in the trees. But I didn’t want to teach snowboarding to anyone. Ever again. It had to be something I did for me.

Of course, declarations like that seldom work out. This last winter I was roped into the assistant coach position at Forest Grove High School. I had a lot of misgivings, but to be honest, the lure of a free pass is what did it. Things I learned right away: High school kids are loud! All the time! They like to yell and sing! I thought, perhaps, that I had made a mistake. But then, like some movie involving a crusty coach, inept kids, and hilarious training montages, I found myself realizing that the whole thing was really, really fun. I saw my snowboarding self of five years ago, ten years ago, in the kids. Their excitement. Their determination to get things right. To go super big. Their seemingly rubber, unbreakable knees. I did the pep talks. The snowboarding isn’t easy but you’re doing awesome talks. The let’s start with a grab rather than a spin talks. Gave them technical advice they wouldn’t remember to follow. Freaked out when they fell in the same sketchy ways that I used to fall. And mostly, more than anything, reminded them to have fun and try to ride with style.

I’ll probably coach again next year. It can be fun to share snowboarding with people who love it.

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