Planning & Prep
After taking a trip to Iceland with my brother and friend, we began looking at the next adventure. This time, we decided to keep it inside of the country. We also kept the trip duration to a 4 days over a long weekend. The plan was to visit the Pacific coast and concentrate around Portland Oregon. Since we had already gone through the experience of booking an inter nation trip, this turn would be much easier.
I started my trip on a Wednesday afternoon. My brother and friend would have have arrived earlier that day, and I was able to get a flight after work. I was departing from Fort Worth TX. I left work and had food and headed towards the airport. Flight was destined to leave at 6PM, but after hefty delays, we did not get underway until after 9PM. The airliner had some sort of strange vibration and the pilot refused to depart. Better safe than sorry. After the 3 hour flight, I arrived after 1AM. Luckily the rental car counter was still open. I managed to snag one of the last vehicles, a new Dodge Grand Caravan.
As I drove the van out of the airport, I noticed I was putting the first ever miles on this vehicle. Wow, it was new. After a 40 minute drive from the airport, I arrived at the area my brother and friend were staying. I drove through Portland and saw the landscape for the first time. Because it was dark, I could not see much, but lots of trees. I was not even tired, and kind of hungry due to the time change. I decided to find a local 24 hour cafe called Sesame Donuts. I went in and entered an old-timey mom & pop donut shop specializing in sesame donuts. I stayed there for a couple hours and had some tea. After around 4AM, I went to the AirBnB and finally unpacked. By this time, it was only a couple hours until morning so I decided to stay up the rest of the night and get a little work done.
My brother and friend arose and I got to greet them for the first time! Good to see them. We started the day with some of the breakfast items provided by the accommodation. Robert was the name of our host and he was an especially gracious host. We were staying in the basement of his home, and a separate living quarter than the household. He checked in on us from time to time to see how we were and to give recommendations for activities.
Unfortunately I had to work this day due to an un-expected work project that popped up. This meant that I had to stay back this day while my brother and friend explored. We rode out together in the minivan, and I was dropped off at a cafe called Clearing Cafe. This place was great. I was able to get some london fog tea and muster through this work day. By this point I was getting tired and would need all the caffeine in order to get through the day. The day progressed and I decided to walk around and grab some lunch. I went to an Indian cafe next door to the coffee shop. Afterward I walked around and found a Starbucks to work a little more until my brother and friend arrived. We would ride over to the Japanese garden of Portland.
They arrived in the afternoon and we rode up a mountain in Portland to explore the garden. We paid admission and started the ascent into the grounds. This garden was relatively new to the city and exists on the grounds of an old zoo. We took a guided tour through many types of garden. We saw traditional structures of asymmetric design, a tea garden, a fish pond, abstract, and bonsai. The tour lasted approximately 1 hour. We then visited the tea house on-site and each of us enjoyed some time of drinking tea in the garden. The tea-house was magnificent as it overlooked much of the gardens in the wooded area. I could really see how the garden existed. The area was wooded with many very tall trees like much of the area, however, the garden existed underneath it all. It created an interesting effect being under such large trees. I drank some matcha that I agree is the best I ever drank in a lifetime. We finished up our tea-time and then headed down and back to town. We found a pizzeria on the route back to our accommodation and we enjoyed a pizza together. At this point it was after 10PM at home, because the 3-hour time difference, but it was still daytime here. What a long day! We drove back and got some rest.
This day was the adventure day because we planned to drive over to the pacific coast and explore. We loaded up the van and headed off. We took an alternate route through the forest in order to stop at Astoria. This would bring us through beautiful countryside and mountains, until we meet the Columbia river. The drive took around an hour total. We arrived in the small town of Astoria for breakfast at a place called Pig’n blanket. This is a greek-style breakfast place with a menu of all choices. Time to live it up, and get the pancake breakfast! Yumm! We then went into town and walked around for a bit. An interesting town with a city strip of shops and existing small-town feel. However there is also a boardwalk section that runs trolley service and a pretty scenic walk to see. There were sea-lions in the water too.
After finishing up in Astoria, we continued the ride towards Lewis & Clark park. This was further up the tip of the Columbia River. We entered the grounds of the park and for the first time, I saw some of the historical significance of this trip. The pioneers had navigated with rudimentary technology, but some of the maps created were so elaborate. The camp they established was functional. We walked through a re-creation of it and got to tour for a little area. The people here are so friendly. I remember just chatting with some of the other visitors and workers here.
We finished up the tour or Lewis & Clark and hopped back into the van to continue to the coast. We hit the first town called Seaside. This relatively small beach town made me feel like I was on the Jersey shore. I don’t know, it just had that feeling, minus the large crowds. We walked around and saw the water for the first time. Then we grabbed some drinks at an Eden cafe. We loaded back into the van for the last stop, Cannon Beach. We parked right up to the beach. In fact, all parking is free here. Much unlike the east coast where everything is pay. We got out and hung out at the beach for a while. We even ate some fruit on the sand, and saw some of the most beautiful rock formations here. The large rock sticking up in the water was where Goonies was filmed. The weather was pretty mild, being mostly cloudily the time we were here. However, to say we went swimming was an understatement. We all changed clothes and took the plunge into the cold waters. It was cold but exciting as the frigid waves touched and we plunged underwater. After that swim, the outside air felt much warmer =)). We wrapped up at the beach with some Kung-Fu type stretches and yoga type stretches on the sand.
We departed to head back into Portland and found a local distillery in Cannon beach for dinner. We had our only beer drinks of the trip at this joint. We packed and rode back to Robert’s.
This day was our last day in Oregon. We decided to start the day off with a trip into the Columbia River gorge. This was headed east and through some of the most spectacular scenery the area had to offer. We did a hike called Bridal Veil falls. It went straight to a wonderful waterfall going downhill. We got quite a few good shots here. Afterward, we did another hike called Latourell Falls. This one, a bit longer was also very scenic and went uphill towards a great cascade of water. We wrapped up at the Columbia gorge and headed back into Portland to check out a Chinese garden. We Headed downtown into Portland and this was my first time seeing the city. It looked pretty eclectic and a large street art scene. I noticed the always-large line at the local Voodoo Donuts. The Chinese garden occupies only one city block, but despite being right in the city, is a spacious and quiet reprieve from the city. We toured this garden and saw a much different type of garden, accompanied with some live Cambodian dance performances. We also enjoyed an afternoon of tea at this place and it was great. This type of tea was different and Chinese style, being from a clay pot instead of a cup. We finished up tea-time and headed to the van to plan the rest of the day.
Because we did not have this day totally planned out, we did know what to do for the afternoon on our last day. We decided to take a ride over to the WA side of the river and see what kind of hiking was available outside Vancouver WA. Just on the other-side of the river, WA had a different hiking experience that was certainly enjoyed by all. We did a hike up to Beacon Rock. A single rock outcrop along the highway. This one was just seen along the drive and we decided to give a shot. It did not disappoint. A great view from the top! We headed back into Portland to conclude the trip.
Nearby the airport was a neighborhood called Alberta. We found a neat street to park and check out during our last night. Got some good food here and then headed towards the airport. Our flights were at midnight, overnighters back east. The trip wrapped up, and we had a plesant experience getting through this airport at night. We boarded and saw each other off. My friend and I joined on the same flight to Texas, and said goodbyes as we arrived 6:30 AM. I had the whole Sunday in FT worth so I got some caffeine for the drive and found an accommodation to get some sleep
What a great trip! I hope to do more weekend ones like this with friends and family and what a truly blessing it is to be able to see the countrysides!