For those that know me well, I doubt it will come as a tremendous surprise to find out I really enjoyed Portland, and the culture and people were right up my alley. However, before I dive into that I will pick up from my last post. After our bike ride we went back to the car and continued on to the diner. The lunch there was great, I had a sausage and egg sandwich, which was completely homemade (the best!) on brioche. Something was so satisfying about that lunch after the ride and the mediocre breakfast we had. After a solid hour relaxing and enjoying our food it was back on the road again, with our sights set on Portland.
We had only about an hour of our drive to the city left, so needless to say it went by pretty fast after that breather. We hit Portland at about 11am and the sun was shining this time! We stopped at our camp ground for the night and made sure we got our spot for that evening. This was on the outskirts of the city, where numerous campgrounds were available as it turned out. We stopped in a nice wooded area which had loose dirt filled plots all staked off with rocks around the perimeter. It looked like a really great spot to spend the evening later.
After getting that all squared away, we continued on into a place we had heard about from our friends: the Columbia River Gorge. We drove into the scenic area and decided to take the longer ways around. Wow, this place was gorgeous. There were tiny waterfalls lining the side of the roads and gorgeous woodlands around. We stopped regularly getting out and hiking into the brush to see more waterfalls (and often being greeted by spectacular views like the ones in the picture here).
This was one of the most beautiful places we visited on our entire journey around the US, and it deserves to be seriously talked about. I recommend the Gorge to anyone travelling in the Portland area as it’s just breathtaking. The scenic highway climbs up the mountains and gives you spectacular views of the ocean, trees, and covered woodlands. It’s really a one of of a kind experience.
After the Gorge
After we finished up at the Columbia Gorge we headed into the city to check out a few watering holes and obscure places we had heard about. We stopped at a coffee shop that also had a laundromat attached to it, inside of all places. This was quite strange, but as it turned out, was more or less just how a lot of things in Portland are. People are out and about, and biking around constantly. Along with this, they do a lot of more “hipster” things, like drinking coffee on their Apple laptops, while their clothes are in the washer.
Portland is a city full of smart, educated people and the average level people live in the city appears to be quite high. It’s not necessarily that people there make a lot of money or something, but more they live a certain “upper middle class” lifestyle with technology, good clothes and love to socialize. After the coffee shop we hopped over to have lunch and a beer at a nearby pub and tried out some of the local brewed beers. They had some great choices, lots of IPAs of course, and we relaxed for a few hours. What happened after will be covered in our next post, as there was more to come with our experiences in Portland.
After a great afternoon at the museum we headed out to Kerry Park. This park is on the outskirts of the city and offers some stellar views of Seattle. It seemed like the clouds may roll away for a bit this afternoon, so we were hopeful we’d have a nicer afternoon than morning weather wise. We had plans to bike around the park a ways, but it was not really feasible to do so once we arrived as Kerry Park is rather small, and a bit smaller than we predicted prior to arrival. Going up the hill, we instead walked around the park and took in the city views. It was a very pretty location, and we wound up having snacks on a bench and looked out over the city.
This was a great way to close out the day, on its own, but after about 2 hours in the park exploring and enjoying the views, we decided to head into the city with our friends for a bar/pub crawl and check out some of the watering holes. Unfortunately off the top of my head now I don’t recall any of their names, but the beer selection in Seattle was excellent at every place we went. They were all incredibly delicious and locally made beers. This had been one of the things my boyfriend wanted to explore most during this cross country trip, the local beer varieties. This is not something we had a lot of time and exposure to until this point, having been camping and in national parks for much of our trip so far.
There are a lot of great local beers and bars in Seattle, and this was without a doubt one of the better parts of the trip for us. We drank until around 11pm and then headed back to our friend’s place to sleep off the bender and a day of travelling around the city. Our friend was a huge help, and it was awesome to spend two nights in a real bed and use a real shower. The next morning we got up early, said our goodbyes, and continued on.
Onward to Portland
Riding out from Seattle at about 7:30am, we headed to Portland. This was a fairly short drive, at least compared to the Western plain states we just passed through. It took us about 3 hours to get there from start to finish. The Oregon coast was incredibly beautiful on this drive, however. About half of the way there, we stopped and biked around the coastline for about an hour and stopped and got lunch at a local diner afterwards. As many of you may know, I had been using a particularly effective HCG drops treatment to help me lose weight for some time during this trip. I used HCG to help me burn fat, during exercise, and also build up leaner muscle. I had been on this diet for much of the trip, though I wasn’t following the normal super diet protocol as I was using it build muscle instead of burn just fat.
As a result of being on this protocol, I tried to avoid too strenuous of activity on a daily basis, unless I had a lot of calories to offset the fat burning properties of using HCG. So we limited our time that day, since we hadn’t exactly eaten very well all day, to maybe 30 minutes to 1 hour at a time. After about an hour I was exhausted and we needed to find real food to eat for lunch, not campfire food. So the diner was welcome relief. However, Portland is where we were headed, as we had heard nothing but good things from friends about it. As a little bit of a “hipster” ourselves, we were hopeful it would jive with our lifestyles.
Barreling over the hills of the Pacific Northwest, hungry and tired from a very long drive out of Montana, we finally saw the skyline of Seattle peaking above the horizon. Certainly was a beautiful evening, but we were both extremely tired and in no mood to “enjoy” the overcast clouds and Mt. Rainier on the horizon, though it was beautiful in retrospect. We quickly called our friend who works in the area, and had an extra bedroom we could stay, and trekked over there as soon as we could. This was about 20 minutes Northeast of the city, but fortunately it was a fairly easy drive.
I wanted to shower in air conditioning, and I wanted a home cooked meal, and I wanted to put my feet up on a coffee table for a change (the little pleasures? I suppose that’s what I craved most). I suppose I’m not cut out for long periods of time out in the wilderness, though those days were amazing in all of their own charming ways. We arrived at about 7pm PST and I thanked our hosts and hopped into the shower right away. They owned a great apartment between the Microsoft Headquarters in Redmond and the city, so it was really a great place to stay. Wow, I cannot describe how awesome it felt to shower after so long camping out and taking showers outside, with cold water, and toweling off in the wind. We wrapped up the showers, went out to a pub as a treat for our hosts and crashed at 10pm, just like you’d expect us elderly folks to do.
Our First Day in Seattle
Yeah, there’s no doubt that Seattle is overcast basically all the time. Our first day there, however, had some sun peaking through the clouds on two occasions while we were out exploring the city. Much like Portland, Seattle certainly wears its “try pants”. A city full of the socially conscience, it was a very enjoyable experience go visit the sights.
We woke up early and headed to the Space Needle hoping it wasn’t going to be too busy so early in the day. As it turned out, this was a good strategy, particularly on a Tuesday, We rode the elevator up and looked out over the city and Mt. Rainier peaking above the horizon as the sun was coming up. It was indeed a beautiful way to start the morning of this city tour.
We were lucky to have native friends in the city, as they pointed us to all of the best places to go that we likely wouldn’t have thought of if we had been there on our own with only tripadvisor to guide us. Our friends recommended we head to the museum of flight, which is apparently a really awesome place, so we headed over there after grabbing breakfast at a local hot spot (I had pancakes, which were great!). We made it to the Museum of Flight around noon, and this place was huge! There was a ton to see.
There’s tons of planes, of all types, and from all eras at this museum. Everything from SR-71s to pre-WWI planes were on display in the main building. We spent at least 2 hours inside there before trekking outside. There museum goes on and on, and you could spend a solid 6 hours there if you’re interested in learning more about aerospace. After about 3 hours checking planes out we headed back into the city for some parks, and other sights. This will be covered in the next post.
Days spent in Glacier National park were an incredible time, and afterwards we wanted to get out of the cold, damp weather outside and find some more civilized refuge. Unfortunately, it’s not like there was any close by. We were forced to trek to Washington from Montana to get to Seattle, where we had a friend who offered a roof over our head for a few days. Problem was, this was a good 10-11 drive from where were.
This wasn’t going to stop us, however, from getting there as soon as we could. So we got up very early, before the sun was fully above the horizon and packed up our camp. The boyfriend drove for the first 5 hours, but after that his back was sore, understandably. I picked up the slack for the rest of the trip. This was a beautiful drive into Idaho, but we didn’t stop anywhere as we were sick of the lack of real showers, and wanted some real food for a change instead of made over a campfire (not that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy that when we started). Civilization awaits, and I was not full of patience to wait for it to arrive.
Amazing views dotted the landscape as we drove, and I enjoyed it the entire way. Views like the one below were commonplace, and you even forget how beautiful the area is after seeing it for so many hours on end. Yet, looking back shortly afterwards I realized there was much to see here, if we had the stomach to stop during our trip. Ultimately, we both missed civilization a bit, after weeks in the brush. Missed reliable internet, and all the trappings of society. I suppose that doesn’t make us “real” outdoorsy people, eh?
Pacific Northwest, a Beautiful Car Ride I Wish I Saw More
The car ride though the northwest was amazing, and I really haven’t written much on the car driving itself. I typically hate driving, but I realized on this trip that what I really hated was traffic. Driving through beautiful terrain with few people around can actually be a fantastic, albeit tiring, experience. There’s nothing like stopping in the middle of the desert, kicking your legs out the door, and having a packed lunch on the side of the road. It’s a truly “American” experience. You can drive from deserts, to snow covered mountains, to rolling planes all in a day. There’s nothing quite like the experience of such changes in landscape. The only place I know of that offers something similar is New Zealand.
As we went over the rolling hills and hour after hour passed, fortunately only having to stop for gas once due to the nice fuel economy we got in the car at the time, we saw Seattle break through the horizon. The trip itself was great to get there, and some great music/time with a loved one, but ultimately it was good to walk into a city with restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations and warm water to shower with. After almost a month in the middle of nowhere cooking over fires, and making the most rudimentary meals, having something home cooked… sounded like heaven at the time.