Although it seemed like Brooke would never want to leave the redwoods, there was much still to be seen. Having traveled through only one of thirty-something states on our list, we knew that we would need to keep moving if we wanted to have even a chance of getting through it all. With that in mind, we broke out of California and headed farther north, finally marking the end of the first chapter of our trip.
Technically, we had been in Oregon for two nights before we made it to Eugene but we didn’t actually do anything in Medford except sleep. With California behind us, we set our sights on Portland. We never expected to find such a cute, peaceful town on the way there. Brooke connected with Paul and Kristin, some extremely hospitable Couchsurfing hosts in Eugene. They are a fabulous pair and were happy to give us a place to sleep and shower despite Brooke coming down with a fierce case of strep throat. Around work and a trip to the urgent care for something less over-the-counter, Paul and Kristin talked with us late into the nights about religion, education, politics, travel, real estate, Oregon cities, and more. They were amazing and we are grateful to have met them. By Friday night, we had committed to seeing Portland on our three-day weekend and hit the road once again.
Portland was probably the most engaging city we’ve visited so far. It was a weird, colorful, chaotic, localized type of fun. After picking up some antibiotics for Brooke (having already suffered for 3+ days), we cleaned ourselves and the van and prepared for a weekend of adventures. With cameras charged and anticipation high, we heeded Paul and Kristen’s advice and checked out the Portland Saturday Market. The Portland Saturday Market is “the largest continually operated outdoor market in the United States,” according to Wikipedia, and features over 250 booths. We saw leathermaking, resin art and jewelry, furniture makers, painters, sculptors, and photographers. We saw home-grown tea, home-made ice cream, and more food trucks that we had time to smell. We saw some crazy clever, innovative crafts and funny recreations of popular board games. We saw everything. We talked to everybody. I think I collected 20 business cards, websites, and Instagrams to follow. Portland has its own subculture and it was impossible to resist. We spent hours at the Market on Saturday and rewarded our legwork with none other than the legendary Voodoo Doughnuts.
With a line that wraps around the building, you might wonder how the wait can be worth it. Save yourself the trouble – don’t. They were the best doughnuts we have ever had. They were perfect. Voodoo Doughnuts is extremely representative of Portland in terms of weirdness and satisfaction. We passed on flavors like “The Gay Bar” and “Dirty Old Bastard,” opting instead for the traditional Voodoo Doll and two others. They were clever and cheap and were SO TASTY. The staff was friendly and fast too. Voodoo Doughnuts gets 10/10 from us.
Brooke and I were tired but couldn’t wait for more. On Sunday morning, we headed back to the Market to see the other half that we didn’t have time to see before. After finishing up there, we wandered around the nearby waterfront park and explored Portland’s Old Town. We meandered through Fab Fountains and walked back towards Powell’s City of Books. We were in awe of the bookstore and picked up some comics we hadn’t been able to find before.
On Sunday night, Brooke was feeling better (thanks, medicine!) and we spent some time deciding what to do on Memorial Day. We intended to visit Lavender Valley near Mt. Hood but it was closed. Brooke’s Pinterest turned her on to the Columbia River Gorge on the central part of the Washington/Oregon border and so off we went. After accidentally driving to the middle of the the region on the Washington side, we learned that it’s actually an 80mi scenic stretch that occupies both Washington on the Wind River and Oregon near Mt. Hood. We decided to see Elowah Falls and drove back to Oregon to park at the trailhead.
Elowah Falls Trail
Even though the hike was only 1.6mi round trip, we felt like it was more remote. It didn’t seem like a short walk would ever be able to transport you to a natural site like this. A well-maintained path winds up, down, and around the hills by the river, taking you through various creeks and slides until it ends at the falls. It was unbelievably gorgeous. The weather was humid here but we hardly noticed, especially not by the time the cold waterfall mist hit us. We met ~10 friendly hikers (and their dogs!) and took a bunch of photos. I had fun setting my tripod up in the middle of a creek to take some more long exposures. Brooke was taking photos too, climbing around with me and enjoying the luxury of having a throat that doesn’t bleed when you eat.
Having successfully invested all the time in our extended weekend, we expended the last of the sunlight on Monday driving to Vancouver, Washington. We missed out on Crater Lake and the Lavender Fields but agreed they’d be more vital the second time around. We didn’t fully understand how we could have spent six weeks in California and only one in Oregon but it didn’t stop us from loving it there just as much.
We’re relaxing in Vancouver to send out some mail we’ve been neglecting while we plan our route to Seattle. We’re well-fed, well-rested, and seeing and learning new things every day. This has been an incredible experience so far and Oregon was no exception. Until next time, know that everything is fine.
P.S. By popular request, Brooke and I are going to try and get smaller updates posted between the big posts so that we don’t have 1-2 weeks of downtime anymore. Have mercy, and thank you for your patience.