ROAD TRIP – PART 2: OREGON
There is honestly no better way to describe Oregon’s coastline than ‘Highway to Heaven’, beach after beach, lighthouse after lighthouse, bridge after bridge, it never failed to stun. Driving up Highway 101 and taking various (slightly off road) detours to the ocean was the best possible way to see the state. We only spent 3 days there but I quickly fell madly and deeply in love with it. The people, the food, the views, the places, everyone was so welcoming and everything was so beautiful. So much so that I would happily up and move there now!
Day 9 to 10: Highway 101
The majority of our time in Oregon was spent on Highway 101 just driving up the coast and there is definitely a reason this post is called Highway to Heaven, because that drive is truly one of the most picturesque and beautiful ones I’ve ever done. Beach after beach, I just kept falling more and more in love with Oregon. I’m a sucker for an amazing view of an ocean, a sandy beach and wildflowers, and that’s exactly what I was treated to for the 2 day drive from Crescent City to Portland, with a short but sweet stopover in Newport. Waking up both mornings, in Crescent City before entering Oregon and in Newport, to the sight of the Pacific Ocean was the absolute best. I swear in a former life I was a mermaid or some form of sea creature, because despite my lack of swimming ability I love the ocean and being in/near water. Maybe I’m just wishing I was that cool in a former life, we’ll never know. Day 8 began with a paddle in the Pacific Ocean at Gold Beach, and there’s no better way to wake yourself up than freezing cold water. Then we were just Lighthouse spotting for the rest of the day – Coquille River, Umpqua River and Heceta Head Lighthouses. Bridge spotting is also pretty easy to do when you’re constantly driving from place to place over many inlets and waterways – Isaac Lee Patterson, Bullards, Conde B McCullough Memorial, Umpqua River, Siuslaw River and Cape Creek Bridges (and they’re just the main ones we crossed). Also turns out I’m a big fan of Conde B McCullough’s architecture, most of those bridges are his designs and they are amazing, Cape Creek being my personal favourite. Houses, bridges, lighthouses, I’m a huge fan of everything the Pacific Northwest has to offer – my nerdy, architecture, design loving brain is obsessed with it all.
Our last stop for the day was at the Sea Lion Caves just outside Florence – it was pretty foggy so I couldn’t see very far or spot any of the Whales that can be seen on the coast, but it was so interesting to read all about the Sea Lion’s migration patterns and to see so many sitting on the rocks. Then it was onwards to our stopover for the night, the lovely seaside town of Newport. After our delicious evening meal the night before, at the most amazing family run restaurant (I can’t remember the name, but you have to stop there, the quesadillas are the best and the chocolate cake is delicious!) and a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean from breakfast, we were on our way again and back on Highway 101. First up, another lighthouse and another bridge obviously – Yaquina Head Lighthouse and Yaquina Bay Bridge. And the trend continued, our first stop for the day was at Cape Mears Lighthouse, probably my favourite so far, the sky was clear meaning the view of the ocean was perfect. Our next and last stop on Highway 101 was Cannon Beach, a place that is at the top of nearly every ‘place to visit guide’ online for Oregon and it is SO worth it. It felt and looked a bit like Cornwall to me, and the freezing cold ocean felt like England too. All 4 of us even had a nap, for nearly 2 hours, we were clearly very tired after our lunch. After waking ourselves up a bit we headed to the main shopping hub next to the beach, which is just a short drive up the road, the North end of Cannon Beach. I highly recommend the ice cream at Osburn’s Ice Creamery, the Maui Waui sorbet was delicious! There are also some really quaint independently run stores, with so much jewellery that I loved and could’ve bought all of. So to stop myself we had to leave, so it was onwards to Portland…
Day 10 to 11: Portland
We arrived in Portland in the early evening of Day 10 and I was beyond ready to explore this city. I can’t say why, but I was most excited to see Portland and fall in love with it, which I did. We stayed on the outskirts of the city centre but walked downtown for dinner, my architecture obsessed brain was loving life! There is something kind of international about Portland, it didn’t feel like I was in the USA as much anymore. Call me crazy, but it felt very European to me, I don’t know why, but I can only assume it was the buildings, the trams, the various cuisines, the river and the bridges – it all felt familiar and I loved it. Maybe it just felt different to all the other places – the forests, waterfalls, busy cities, seaside hotspots, popular national parks and beaches – we’d visited and that’s why I thought it felt foreign. I don’t know why I felt it, but I loved it. We had pasta for dinner in the dreamiest building, then walked down to the main square just before sunset (which was actually under construction so there wasn’t much to see). Just as we were crossing the bridge over the interstate to our hotel, I noticed the faint outline of Mount Hood in the distance and my goodness it was amazing. This country, this state, this city, it just keeps on stunning me!
Day 11, waking up in Portland, ready to squeeze a lot of sightseeing into only 4 hours, off we go! First up, catching the tram and touring the city a lot quicker than we would have on foot. We took the tram all the way to the opposite side of Portland, uptown and on the east side of the river. Then we walked back along the bridge, with a perfect view of all the many bridges crossing the river, it was seriously impressive. Each one distinctly different from the other. Continue walking downstream towards the city centre and you’ll reach the ‘Portland, Oregon, Old Town’ sign, the perfect tourist photograph spot, obviously. And much to my brothers pleasure, it was just round the corner from the Oregon Ducks (the State University team) store, but I’m not going to lie I was also looking forward to it. So much clothing and such little money. Portland Old Town was by far my favourite bit of this city, I fell so quickly in love with the buildings, the signs, the shopping and the food, mainly the food. 11am isn’t too early to indulge some insanely amazing doughnuts right? Who cares, it was so worth it. Voodoo Doughnuts has stolen my entire heart, I loved doughnuts before but I’d never tasted something so good until then. Viscous Hibiscus was delicious! Although, I do have a feeling if I was ever to visit again, or even if I moved there (in my dreams), I would easily double my body weight just from gradually working my way through their menu. Our last moment in Portland was spent walking back along the river to the hotel, taking a lot more pictures of the many bridges and buildings, and then having to say goodbye to my favourite city of the trip so far. Half a day wasn’t long enough, Portland, I will be back!
Day 11: Colombia River Gorge
After a morning of exploring the city it was back to hustle and bustle of a tourist hotspot, this time the Colombia River Gorge. There is honestly nothing that can compare to it – endless waterfalls, picturesque views and unreal sights. It was majorly impressive. We crossed the Bridge of the Gods, which itself is insanely impressive and allows for some amazing views up and down stream, and then we entered the state park. The first waterfall we encountered was Horsetail Falls, then onwards to the main attraction, Multnomah Falls and it really was amazing but also insanely popular. So we decided to park up at the next waterfall, Wakeena Falls, and walk back along the hiking path to avoid the parking queues. That turned out to be a very smart move on our part. So off we went on our, what I was told would be short and flat, walk to Multnomhah. But where did we actually end up going, very high and very uphill, along the 6 mile hiking route over the waterfalls rather than along the bottom of them. Thankfully we didn’t walk the full 6 miles, probably only about 1 mile, but still much to dismay because I really don’t do uphill walking, I’m a big girl who’s not made for that. Just don’t tell my dad that I actually enjoyed the view from the top, because then he’d use that as a justification for mistakingly taking us the wrong way.
So back down we went and along the half a mile flat trail to Multnomah. Luckily, it was worth our detour because the bridge allowing you to stand half way up the waterfall gave us such an aiming view of the waterfall. It was mightily beautiful. Very busy but very worth tackling the crowds for the perfect picture and a walk along the bridge. Next up was the walk back to Wakeena and back to Jeff the Jeep, so we could continue along the waterfall trail. We then walked down to Bridalveil Falls, where an impromptu (most probably for instagram) swimwear photoshoot was taking place, it meant we couldn’t go for a paddle and/or swim, but the water looked so cold that I didn’t mind. And lastly, a very short stop at Latourell Falls, lil bro and sis didn’t even bother getting out the car, but this waterfall was actually my favourite. It wasn’t busy, there were various lookout points and it was pretty darn impressive. It was obvious that the bro and sis were done for the day, but on our way out of the park we had to stop at the Crown Point vista – it made our last view of Oregon a pretty spectacular one, overlooking the entire Colombia River Gorge. If you are ever near Portland, you need to take the hour’s drive to see the river and the waterfalls, a road full of nature and beauty, what’s better?
So that concluded our time in Oregon, only 3 days spent in the state and I really wanted to stay. Portland has stolen my heart, there’s nothing better than a trail full of waterfalls and the Oregon-Pacific coastline is unbelievable. The Pacific Northwest just keeps getting better and better, so there’s no doubt in mind that I will have to go back. And yes, I keep saying that, but there’s just so much beauty that I’ve yet to explore so I need (and want) to go back. Next up, Washington state…