Portland Oregon / October 2012

Jack and I spent 4 days in October visiting Portland. (I had previously only been in the airport, so it weakly counted as a state I’d visited).  Everyone had exclaimed what a beautiful area it is, and we were lucky to get four sunny warm days to play tourist. By staying in the suburb of Beaverton, we were approximately one hour to the coast and about 79 miles to Mt. Hood, east of Portland.

Portland is on the Oregon/Washington border, which is separated by the Columbia River. Within minutes of leaving Portland, you are in dense pine forests leading to the Pacific coast, or hilly scenic Cascade Mountain range foothills heading east to Mt. Hood, which towers majestically over the city.

Portland is a quirky, artsy, smallish big city. We laughed at the bumper stickers proclaiming “Keep Portland Weird”. It seems that many hippies from the 60’s have made Portland home. Old VW vans are everywhere! The people seemed very laid back and friendly. The city speed limit of 25 mph and highway 55 mph limit drove us crazy while we were there, but it seems to be a reflection of the culture.  No one seems to be in much of a hurry. Jack is planning to move to Portland next year. He chose our restaurants each evening in neighborhoods that he was interested in researching. We had the BEST dinners!

Our second day was spent driving to the coast and stopping at Seaside and Cannon Beaches. Seaside has a 2 mile long promenade. We strolled along, enjoying local (what else?!) coffee. After walking the beach and photographing the monoliths, including the gigantic Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, we ate lunch at a charming cafe. There is also a puffin colony and many protected tide pool areas there. On the drive south along the Coastal Highway, we stopped at Tillamook to do a self-guided tour of the Tillamook Cheese Factory. We sampled the cheese (which I had just bought at our Burnsville Costco at half the price ha ha!)

Monday was Mt. Hood day. Just east of Portland, you follow the Columbia Gorge along I-84. Only ten miles down the road, you come to Multnomah Falls, the second tallest year-round waterfall in the country. We ate a HUGE breakfast at the Multnomah Lodge, with the waterfall as our backdrop. Highly recommended! Then onward towards Mt. Hood. We erroneously followed some messed up signs and ended up at the top of Larch Mountain. We were the only ones there and decided to take the short hike to see if there was a good view. OMG: we were “ON  TOP OF THE WORLD”!! You could see the entire Cascade Mountain range: they are all volcanoes, including the recently erupted Mt. St. Helen. Our “mistake” ended up being the highlight of the trip, we decided.

Our final destination that day was Mt. Hood. At 12,000+ feet, it is the tallest mountain (volcano) in Oregon. We drove up up up to the Mt. Hood Lodge at 7,000 feet, a popular ski area. We had determined we were going to do the 2.5 mile trail there. The guidebook described it as “easy”. The hotel clerk looked dubious and said it was “moderate”. She gave us some sketchy directions and off we went. We repeatedly lost the trail and trudged  vertically straight UP in ankle deep sand. We were above the tree line and the landscape looked just like Mars. It was incredibly strenuous, made worse by the altitude. And no signs. We had to backtrack often. Jack would not give up so I followed him and kept falling further behind, cursing often! FINALLY we made it to the summit. Happily anticipating going DOWN instead of up, I of course forgot how hard it is to descend when you and your legs are exhausted! Note to self: don’t go hiking with a strong male who is 30 years younger than you are! HONESTLY.

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip. Since we’ve returned, it has rained there most of the time: in fact, the last two weekends in Portland have received many inches of rain. We were so lucky! It does rain there from November through April. We have our cold winter: they have the rainy season. Jack claims he prefers the rain and mild temps. Good thing.

Here are some photos that both Jack and I took.

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