After spending some time in Portland, Erin, me, and my new friends Colleen and Nate decided to take advantage of our rental car to explore
the mountainous countryside. Our foursome had become quite close over the past days… we called ourselves “the misfits”. So after downing eggs benedict at The Tin Shed for breakfast, we stocked up on gas, crackers and cheese and set out on a journey east down the scenic Columbia River Gorge. This famed road winds along the edge of a valley and river which separates Oregon from Washington and the views are insurmountable. Every time we passed a natural rushing waterfall I forced us to stop so I could take it in. The heavy precipitation in the area allows for countless waterfalls to cascade
over rocky edges and vibrant green moss to decorate the rocks and trees. The misfits made a brief stop at The Vista House which sits high upon the river’s edge and usually boasts great views of the surroundings. Unfortunately our timing couldn’t have been worse as we got caught in a torrential downpour and couldn’t see a thing. Our picture is less than perfect… making it actually
perfect for us misfits.
The main event on the Columbia River Gorge is Multnomah Falls –
the second largest waterfall in the United States at 620 feet. The waterfall was
breathtaking and easily trumped the others on which I hitherto wasted memory
card space. The top fall is strong and takes a short drop-off before flowing
into the base of the cliff – separated by a picturesque stone bridge. We had fun
taking photos and emulating romantic couples at the scene.
Part two of the daytrip: The misfits drive further east into the rural town of Hood River – a mountainous escape bountifully dotted with wineries and fresh grapevines. The sun came out for our self-guided winery crawl… We
began at Marchesi winery where we sipped red and white wines and enjoyed the
quaint tasting room hosting views of its abundant grape farm. A few glasses
later, we hopped back in the car and headed for another winery, getting lost in
the winding roads along the way. We ate fresh cheese and crackers to hold us
over until we found Cathedral Ridge winery where we continued our wine-tasting
extravaganza. Next it was on to the next stop in the town of Hood River itself
–The Naked Winery. The place lacked authenticity but we enjoyed the live music
and strange occupants wearing ballroom dancing shoes and showing off their
At this point we were all significantly buzzed and the majority of the wineries had closed… so where to? A brewery of course! We loved tasting the range of house-brewed lagers and playing countless rounds of Apples to Apples until sunset. We later headed back to Portland but not without a detour through Washington and about two hours of traffic. We settled in at a bar in
Portland and continued our Apples to Apples marathon. It had been a fun-filled and ‘gorgeous’ day in the Gorge. Pun intended.
For Photos from Oregon visit the Photos page or click here!
After surviving the snowy drive back the five hours to Portland, (commonly referred to as “PDX” by its populates), my host Erin and I freshened up to enjoy her city. Grabbing some local cuisine with friends, we later set
out to my new friend Nate’s birthday bash at a karaoke bar down the street packed with friends. We sang and drank the night away, taking turns at the mic and celebrating each blissful tune to standing ovations. Okay, maybe not, but the often bad singing was met with some genuine good laughs. I think Erin and her friend Colleen’s rendition of Aladdin’s “A Whole New World” topped the charts.
The next morning Erin and I set out to explore the city in
unusually sunshiny weather. We joined people of all kinds as we waited outside a popular brunch venue, ‘Jam’, sipping complimentary coffee with strangers
turned friends. Over the next few days I would realize the great vibe this city possesses – laid back folks (mostly younger) with eclectic styles congregate at one of a kind restaurants, cafes, bookstores, and re-sale shops which line the streets carrying bicycle-riding patrons to their destinations no matter the weather. After a delicious meal at ‘Jam’, I enjoyed our walk around the cute neighborhoods and then the Saturday market by the river where trinkets and toys are sold at every turn. We joined Colleen and Nate for a beer and snack before touring the campus of Portland State University where they study. All the walking found us begging for respite which we found at an outdoor hookah joint where we smoked fruity concoctions in a pretty green garden and laughed the afternoon away.
We threw on dresses for a night out on the town – first enjoying cocktails and homemade dishes at a house party for a friend where we pretended to be classy in the art-filled penthouse apartment. A drastic change in scenery brought us to the city center and a full out drag show bar. The drag queens performed all night, taking turns lip-synching popular hits and donning outrageous costumes and wigged tresses. We took to the dance floor ourselves quite a few times and before we knew it the night was over.
The next day our group ventured outside the city to wine
country, which I will write about in the next post – but my final day in Portland was one I enjoyed solo. Since Erin had school and work all day, I went out on my own where I read in a cozy café, shopped at the many re-sale shops for vintage garbs, and strolled the impressive bookstore. I took the rent a car into the city center and drove around aimlessly – stopping and walking around when I
saw something that struck my eye. One notable event was my trip to the famed ‘Voo Doo Donuts’where I tried the popular bacon and maple frosting donut much to
I returned the rental car and met up with Nate for a tram ride up to the top of the mountain which boasted views of the cityscape lined with mountains. We enjoyed dinner at a trendy place known for its fresh oyster shots and succulent frog legs. Yum! On Tuesday I woke up at 5am to take a public bus-train combo to the airport for my flight back east where I was pleasantly surprised with an
upgrade to first class. It was the perfect way to cap a perfect long weekend.
For Photos from my Oregon trip, visit the Photos page or Click Here!
Ever since my best friend Erin left the Midwest for the vibrant West coast, I was dying to visit her new hometown Portland, Oregon. So one quick five hour flight and 2 Bloody Mary’s later, I found myself reunited with my gal in a rental car headed for the city center. It was a rainy evening true Portland-style… and a few cold brews at a local hole in the wall where I met some soon-to-be friends and embarrassing performances in pinball capped the night. We had an early morning to follow.
Erin and I gassed up our new wheels
(creatively named “black car”) and set out for our 5+ hour road trip to Crater Lake 230 miles due South. A Lion King soundtrack kept the ride smooth, along with the ever-changing scenery and countless rainbows guiding our way. When we arrived to our adorable one-room cabin tucked beneath towering trees in the middle of nowhere, I knew we were in for an adventure. We had traveled from a bustling city to a snowy escape, and I couldn’t have been happier.
We decided to check out the Crater Lake
National Park itself, thinking the brief appearance of sun would last us the afternoon.
After driving a mere ten minutes deeper into the woods, the sun turned into a full-out whiteout of blizzard. ‘Black car’ did its best to navigate us through evergreens resembling giants from a Dr. Seuss book and snow banks at least 15 feet high. Wow.. There was obviously nothing to see once we reached the park, so we planned for our snow-shoe the next day and began the drive back towards our cabin with the gas tank reading Empty. Woops.
I am happy to report we survived the return
trip by turning our car into a luge and skidding down the mountain on Neutral. (Great job, Erin). Since we still had a few hours until darkness trapped us in our cabin for the night, we decided to rent some cheap snow shoes and gear up
for a lovely hike in the nearby trails. The shoes were a fail (not enough snow) but the trek was gorgeous and caught us by surprise. We trekked a few hours without another sole in sight and discovered cascading waterfalls, rocky gorges,
moss-covered trees, and fresh piles of glittering snow. We warmed our toes and snow gear by the fire while we made fresh salad and sipped red wine to conclude our adventurous day in the wilderness. The cabin was cozy and warm; we were only slightly nervous about being killed by an axe-murderer in the night.
The next morning we filled up on Cheerios and headed back towards Crater Lake. I was less-than-optimistic we would see the beautiful lake itself (it is the United States’ deepest lake at 594 meters; and the ninth deepest in the world) which is a striking deep blue abyss surrounded
by the sharp caldera. We knew we had to hike over six miles uphill to get to the top and see the lake, and we knew there was a blizzard and about 3 feet of snow every step of the way.
Our creaky snow-shoes and willingness to prevail carried us step by strenuous step up the mountain, winding back and
forth and switching off who led the footprints for the other. We were dying of exhaustion after about 3 hours straight, and were unsure of how close we had come to the top (note: bring a map if you do this). Running low on water and blood circulation, we knew we had reached the top, but had to descend before waiting out the storm to try to catch a view of the lake. Oh well, I guess we’ll have to return in a different season. I swear this was one of the hardest workouts of my life, so when we made it down alive and saw another human, we were more than proud of ourselves and our glorious feat.
Our time in Crater Lake was short and sweet. We drove back to Portland that night and were congratulated on our journey with more stunning views and rainbows decorating the sky.
For the Photos from this Crater Lake trip, visit the Photos Page and click "Oregon".