Keep It Weird: Portland, Oregon – December 2016

At the end of 2016 I went to Portland, Oregon. I had always dreamt of going to Oregon and after my trip to Seattle I had the “Pacific Northwest bug.” We stayed for four days, four nights and explored both in Portland and around it. Most of our days were spent outside of the city, surrounded by nature, but the city was pretty fun too. After spending so many winters in Colorado, it was exciting to experience winter in Oregon where the water doesn’t freeze over and everything is just so green.

Here’s a recap of everything we did:

Flying into Portland, I knew it was going to be a good trip judging by all the clouds rolling over the city. I’m a sucker for clouds.

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After we landed, we were itching to get on the trail so we headed straight to the Metlako Falls trail. We figured it’d be cold but we didn’t realize how slippery it’d be. For a portion of the hike there was even a wire rail along the trail to make sure we didn’t slip to our doom. It made the hike more thrilling yet scary! (photo on the left taken by my friend)

We didn’t make it to the end of the trail but we were satisfied (and it was getting dark) so we turned around and went back to our Air BnB to clean up before going to dinner. We stayed in the South East portion of Portland, just below SE Powell Blvd and Mt. Tabor Park and it was lovely! For dinner, we went to a quaint, late-night pub called The Observatory.

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The next day, we thought about doing more backcountry hikes but we weren’t equipped for it (no YakTrax/spikes nor a car with snow tires), so we decided just to head out to the Columbia River area. We had intended to drive on Highway 84 but by a happy accident we discovered the Historic Columbia River Scenic Highway. I’m so glad we did! Our first stop was at the Women’s Forum Overlook which was probably the best view I’ve ever seen. With the fog rolling in and views of both Oregon and Washington, I couldn’t be happier.

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A nice lady at the overlook shared her map (first one) – such a good stroke of luck! Later on we also found a similar map (second one) at one of the trail heads:

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We continued along the scenic highway and stopped at the Crown Point Vista House where it was clear one minute then incredibly foggy the next.

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We made our way to other view points and then made a longer pitstop at Latourell Falls, where we decided to hike to the Lower and Upper Falls. It was beautiful! So green, perfect weather, and the waterfalls were really full.

From there, we went on to Bridal Veil Falls State Scenic Viewpoint which had a trail to the waterfall as well as a trail looping around the edge of the bluff with a lot of outlook points. The sun was starting to set as we walked around which made it even better. (right and bottom photo taken by my friend)

Our last stop on the route was to the iconic Multnomah Falls. It was cool to see in person but with so many people there, it was hard to get a good look. Here’s a photo without the people cropped out to show you what I mean:

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But there’s a good reason why so many people visit. Multnomah is quite the sight! And the gift store is pretty cool too. Sometimes touristy places are touristy for a good reason (because the place is great) so don’t discredit a place just for that reason!

With the sun setting in our rear view window, the Columbia River on our right, and the heat blasting inside the car, we returned back to town. A perfect end to a great day.

Except the day wasn’t over! We went to a Southern-style restaurant called the Screen Door for dinner and it was delicious. But the place is very popular so be prepared for lines!

On day three we took another driving tour of the area except this time we went west toward Astoria. We went to the Astoria Column. Rising 125 feet in the sky, you could see practically everything! But climbing the steps (all 164 of them) up and down was kind of freaky. It was then that I realized I may have a fear of heights. It was worth it though:

Our next stop was the Lewis & Clark National Historic Park where we saw a replica (made in 2006) of Fort Clatsop, a winter encampment and the last stop on the Lewis and Clark Expedition for the Corps of Discovery.

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Then it was time to see the coast for the first time so we drove down the 101 Highway to Ecola State Park. I’ve always felt that forests going right up to a beach would be beautiful and Ecola State Park did not disappoint.

To get a closer look at the beach we drove to the town of Cannon Beach. We walked along the shore near Haystack Rock for a little bit but turned around after awhile because it was really windy and wet. Still all smiles though!

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For our last stop along the coast we ended up going to the Tillamook Cheese Factory. I love cheese and, even better, I love ice cream made with real cheese. The tour itself is self-guided and not very long, but getting to eat ice cream at the place it was made was a real treat (get it?).

After going back to our Air BnB to clean up, we headed out for the night. It was New Years Eve so we wanted to do something! We had a delicious dinner at an Italian restaurant (possibly Gino’s Restaurant) and then went on to our final destination for the night: The Bible Club speakeasy.

Back in the day when prohibition was a thing, a “speakeasy” was a drinker’s refuge and was often disguised to get past the cops (this one was “bible club” themed). There was live music, gold balloons, and fruity drinks. Shortly before midnight they passed around champagne and when the clock struck midnight, we rang in the New Year. It meant a lot to me to be starting off 2017 while on a trip because it made me feel like I could do it. I could dream about going somewhere and then go do it. I could create the life I wanted.

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On our last full day of the trip we stayed in Portland and explored the city. We took a walking tour to learn about the various buildings and area, including Mill Ends Park, the world’s smallest park  (yes that little piece of nature):

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Back in 1948 the area was intended to be a place for a light pole. But when no pole was placed and weeds started to sprout, Dick Fagan, a columnist for the Oregon Journal, planted flowers. According to him, the park was “the only leprechaun colony west of Ireland.”

Of course a trip to Portland wouldn’t be the same without some donuts and Powell’s Books. Powell’s is similar to Barnes & Noble but it includes used books and it’s so large, it even has a map! For donuts, we heard: if you want the novelty go to Voodoo but if you want quality go to Blue Star Donuts. So we went to the latter and had a good time, but I’m sure Voodoo Doughnut would’ve been great too!

So that’s my trip to Portland. It was full of spontaneity, variety, good food and epic scenery. If you get a chance to go to Portland, I highly recommend it!

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