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Ask a Local: Julian Gray

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Proving that Tualatin Valley Rocks

Four years ago, Julian Gray was offered his dream job in Tualatin Valley. Luckily, Tualatin Valley ended up being a dream location for him and his wife, too, with farmers markets, nature walks and excellent restaurants all within walking distance of his new home base.

But first, let’s go back to that dream job. For a geologist (and really anyone), the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals is a playground of the earth sciences. As Julian zeroed in on geology at the tender age of 12, his position as the executive director for the museum seems—some may say—written in the stars. Julian followed his early-found passion toward a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, a role with the U.S. Geological Survey and into nine years with the Tellus Science Museum in Georgia. So, what makes the Rice Northwest Museum such an exciting jump for a geologist like Julian? In his own words, “The Rice Museum is a real Tualatin Valley treasure.”

Beyond the well-earned accolades of the museum (It’s on the National Register of Historic Places! It’s an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution!), Julian speaks of the Rice Northwest Museum more poetically. “Each of the thousands of specimens on the shelves is a page from a scrapbook,” he says. “It comes with its history of formation in the earth, the story of the miner or collector who discovered it, and how it came to be acquired by the Rice Museum.”

Julian details his favorite specimen; mineral from the copper mines in Bisbee, Arizona. “The beautiful malachite specimen was smuggled out of the mine in a miner’s lunch pail and traded later that same day to a barber who collected minerals,” he explains. “The barber offered the miner haircuts for life in exchange for this now famous mineral specimen. The museum’s namesakes, Richard and Helen Rice, later purchased the entire Bisbee barber mineral collection—including this rock. Today, most of that collection is on exhibit.”

In addition to his rock hound profession, Julian and his wife relish Tualatin Valley life. Their passion for the outdoors, music, fine dining, baseball, and entertaining friends is well-suited for our little pocket of Oregon. Julian says, “We never tire of seeing Mount Hood on the horizon, or being so close to the Oregon Coast, or the dozens of fine local wineries.”

Julian’s Recommendations

As a Tualatin Valley local, Julian is well-versed in not only geological phenomenon, but also the best sports, markets, and theater in the area. We asked Julian to share his picks in his own words:

Hillsboro Hops

There is not a bad seat in the house and you can enjoy great baseball and see the major league stars of tomorrow play today.

Hillsboro Tuesday Farmers Market

We enjoy the fact that we know and can talk to the person who grew the fresh food we enjoy.

Bag&Baggage Productions

Hillsboro’s professional theater group, Bag&Baggage Productions, performs thought-provoking productions in their new home, The Vault Theatre, in downtown Hillsboro. This is must-see theater.

As a true expert in not only geology, but also in Tualatin Valley, we trust Julian’s recommendations wholeheartedly.



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