Archives for posts with tag: portland

On Thursday, I headed east to the Columbia River to visit the Gorge and all the falls. For those of you interested in geography, the Columbia River divides Washington and Oregon, and the mountain ranges and waterfalls that surround the river make up “the gorge.”

Let’s list the things that went well to start off the trip:

  1. Everything
  2. More specifically, I was upgraded to a sweet 2012 Ford Escape for no extra charge, and included XM Radio (wassup T-swift?!)
  3. It was yet another beautiful 80 degree, clear sky, no humidity day, and the ride along the river was absolutely gorgeous

Let’s list the things that didn’t go as well:

  1. Nothing. Except picking the wrong exit for a lunch break, that resulted in a 4 mile detour. Story of my life

I was headed to the Columbia River Gorge Guest House, aka the home of Steve and Elsie. (And this is where I give a plug about how everyone should visit and stay at Steve and Elsie’s Guest House.) Just picture a Shadowood-like house in Oregon. And if you’ve never been to Shadowood, picture an awesome cabin on 44-acres of land, surrounding woods, horses (not at Shadowood), a bonfire paired with s’mores and great conversation. Steve, a retired 69 year old maintenance manager and lifelong cowboy, and Elsie, a 55 year old Special Ed teacher, decided to open up their 5 bedroom house as a B&B, a wedding venue, and even a makeshift garage sale. Steve said at first it was there way of making use of the empty-nested house and make a little extra money. But later, he admitted he keeps doing it because he lives for meeting new people and hearing about their life stories.

When I got there, Steve showed me the ropes, and sent me off on a hiking trail that would lead me to the most beautiful views of the gorge. He was right. It was unreal. Just wait for the pictures. Then after dinner (at a restaurant on a marina I won’t recommend b/c it wasn’t that great), Steve and I made a bonfire and shared stories over s’mores and Diet Cokes. (helloooo perfect night)

It was a low-key night, but it was exactly what I needed. There’s nothing better than taking a day to chill out, recharge, and take in the surroundings. I’m not necessarily a ‘nature girl,’ either. I mean.. I hate spiders. I’m afraid of ticks (who isn’t?) I’m not the best hiker (but geez, after 4 hikes in 6 days, I’m getting there), and I’m a terrible packer and don’t think I could ever “back-pack” somewhere. But I do like what nature and a break from society can do for the ol’ soul. I enjoyed talking to Steve and listening to some of his stories. I enjoyed being able to open up to someone who is essentially a complete stranger. And I enjoyed getting the opportunity to see such amazing scenery, which literally at times, made me stop and say to myself, “I can’t believe what I’m seeing here.”

This day has been my favorite part of the trip so far, hands down. It was amazing. It was refreshing. It reinforced my reasoning for coming out to the West Coast. And it was exactly what I needed.

Columbia River Gorge Guest House. Check them out on FB, and visit them whenever you’re in the area.

 
 
The Guest House. Maggie. And some of the things Steve has found along some of his hikes. What an eye!

 
Green Stanley Thermoses. When Steve first started out with no money, he kept using these thermoses that kept breaking on him. So once he finally got some money, a nice green Stanley Thermos was his first purchase. You can say the green icon is more than just a sturdy liquid container to him.

 
 
So here we have myself, trying to capture how dang windy it was at this particular viewpoint. Not pictured: a very steep cliff. But I mean come on, the view was worth it, wouldn’t you say?

 
 
Views along the way of the hike. Mt Hood is in the background, but she’s a little camera shy.


So this area used to have a house on it. But the gorge bought the land, cleared it, restored it to its natural setting, and now has this cool circular seating area in its place, with an even cooler view. I see a Phase 29b at Shadowood in the future :)

 
 
Some artsy pics on the tail-end of the hike.


So yea, hungry horses are scary. I didn’t get the “make sure to feed them outside the fence” memo, and I was definitely cornered a few times by some rather large horse-friends. All a part of the experience, though……right?


Sub-par meal, but delicious beverages and a cool photo to make up for it!

  
Ohhh the stories that come out from just sitting around a bonfire. One of my favorite past times for sure.


Until we meet again my friends!

Nope. I’ve never hiked before. Or at least I don’t have a vivid memory of hiking in the past. Just something about constantly having to walk uphill, never really knowing how long 4.5 miles is really going to take, and the possibility of tripping over tree roots has never really been on my list of to-dos. But here in Portland, people hike. So, I hiked. A man from Bailey’s Tap Room suggested the 4-T trail, which stood for the four T’s that make up the route. Trolley, Tram, Trail, and Train. And I though, hmm, 3 legs of the trip don’t require any physical exertion. This is my kind of hike.

And let me tell you, one leg was plenty. My butt still hurts. The 4 mile hike kicked more than just my butt, too. But here’s what I learned from my first hiking experience:

Don’ts (not sure how to really go about the apostrophe placement. Emily and Mom, don’t kill me)

  1. Don’t just bring a half a bottle of water. Yes, I’m an idiot.
  2. Don’t start off wearing a jacket, assuming that it’ll be colder as you go up. Yea, I was really hot.
  3. Don’t feel bad that 60+ year olds are passing you, and that they are jogging. Just hope that this is their first time, too.

Do’s

  1. Do it! The view is worth it.
  2. Bring a camera and a notebook (if you’re the reflective type like myself)
  3. And seriously do it, no matter how badly your body will hurt the next day. It will make that grilled cheese sandwich and maple syrup bacon donut from Voodoo donuts taste that much better. Wait what?


Excitement paired with fear. 0% soreness

 
The walk to part I: Tram. And, the Tram


Ah, the view of Council Crest Park. The highest point of the city.


85% soreness

   
Yea, I wasn’t joking about the grilled cheese and maple syrup bacon donut. Highly recommend both. Interesting facts about these two places: the Grilled Cheese Grill offers a sandwich called “the Kindergardener” where they cut off the crust for you. I definitely know people way older than 5 that would prefer this option. And Voodoo donut, the possibilities of donut toppings are endless. I saw some with fruit loops on it, chunks of oreos, and yes, bacon. It’s like french toast, on a donut.

 
After a quick nap and shower, I headed over to happy hour on the river. I was unfortunately seated next to a few Gamecock fans, but the lady from South Africa who talked about how excited she is to visit me in Virginia was a much better companion.

And to go off of my last post about how small the world is. Let’s talk about the bartender that night went to school at non other than Mills Godwin HS. Class of ’92. Unreal!

Not to mention, the restaurant had some pretty tasty sampler beers. (Yes, I sat down at a bar, by myself, and ordered the sampler of microbrews. But I soon gained a new friend, so I did not drink alone the entireeee night :)) Let’s just focus back on how ridiculously crazy it was that another Henrico County citizen was at the same rando bar as me in Portland.


See ya downtown, on to da mountains. (Next few posts will be about the Columbia River, waterfalls, and the gorge.)

They do it differently over here. People are laid back. Cars stop willingly for pedestrians. Bikes outnumber cars. Trolley tracks line the streets. A food truck is the new 5-star restaurant. Black tights seem to be the ‘in’ fashion. Vendors give homeless people free meals. No sales tax (winning). And nobody seems to care about how much money you make. They are just interested. Interested in you, your story, what you like to do, and if you liked that locally-brewed beer they just recommended.

This is my kind of city!

So instead of renting a car and driving to all the hotspots, I took a run around the river. (Which really was more like a slow jog that involved some walking and quite a few breaks for some snazzy pics.) The ‘run,’ however, included a stretch across a pretty narrow steel bridge that also contained the busiest road in the city. And.. I’m afraid of bridges. And heights. But I went through with it. And even stopped for a few seconds to take a very shaky picture so I could remember this terrifying experience. Go ahead and laugh, but this was just a little moral victory for me in my book :)

Then instead of going to an expensive restaurant that was recommended online, I went next-door to a hole in the wall sandwich shop. A terrific decision. A tasty tuna sandwich and root beer, combined with even better conversation with some locals. Falling upon goldmines like this is what has been making my trip worthwhile.

Now I have also been hitting a few of the tourists spots, like happy hour at Portland City Grill for the best view of the city (thanks to Trish!), but for the most part I’ve been trying to be a part of the crowd, and stick to the everyday activities. I’ve got to say, I’ve enjoyed the pace of life around here, and being just plain interested in everything Portland has to offer.


My view from my hotel. Baller status. Thanks K$!


The start of continuously making my body ache. I.am.out.of.shape.people.

   
A few views from my trot around the river.


Geese and birds fill the cities. Put a bird on it Portland!


Here’s that shaky pic from the bridge I was talking about.


Bunk Sandwiches. Eat there.


My friends from Bunk Sandwiches sent me east to some of the neighborhoods to take in the culture and check out the cool shops and restaurants. We also like to refer to this activity as people-watching. I haven’t gotten my stalking-picture-taking-skillz mastered yet, so I took a picture of some bikes instead.

 
And Laurelhurst Park. Designed by the same person who designed Central Park. Also can’t forget that it was Sept. 11th, and several people were showing their American pride that day.

 
For happy hour, Phillip’s aunt treated me to happy hour at Portland City Grill. I was told I was pretty fortunate since it was a clear day and I could actually see Mt. Hood. Sorry that my phone doesn’t let you see it, though :-/


What the sign says!

I’m not going to lie, when I stepped off the plane in Portland, I had a 2 minute freak out. I was actually on the west coast, by myself, with no real itinerary. What did I get myself into? The 2 minutes seemed like forever, but they passed nonetheless, and I continued on to baggage claim. After getting my bags and hopping on the Max train, (public transportation in Portland is dabomb) I look out the window, and what do I see on the window ledge? 4 paper cranes. You have got to be kidding me. (For those of you just tuning in, the HSD staff were the ones that encouraged me and more or less pushed me onto the plane for this trip, so seeing the Japanese paper cranes was just a little reminder of the support system I have back home :)) It was also a sign that I was in the right place, that this trip was meant to be, and that everything would be OK.

It was about 1pm by the time I checked into my room, and I was already a bit jet-lagged and super hungry. Airplane peanuts only go so far :) So I headed out into downtown for lunch at one of the infamous food trucks, and thus began the trip.

Now, when you’re traveling alone, three things are very helpful:

1. Nice people – If you ever go to Portland, have been to Portland, or have just heard about Portland, you might have picked up on the notion that Portland people are really nice. Well, ‘really nice’ is an understatement. ‘Overly helpful,’ ‘extremely welcoming,’ and ‘super friendly’ are more like it. Yea, maybe the 3 maps and suitcase triggered a lot of it, but still.. everyone I met was easy to talk to and happy to help. Whether it was figuring out the streetcar system, giving suggestions on where to eat or what to see, or just striking up a conversation to pass the time, I never felt alone. So if you want to get your feet wet on the solo-travelling, Portland would be a great starting point.

2. A map – yes, GoogleMaps is nice, and having an iPhone was lifesaving at times, but I’m talking about an old-fashion, hard copy map. There’s nothing like whipping out a map that covers your entire placemat and the person next to you at a bar, and figuring out your next move. Yea I looked ridiculous and automatically labeled myself as a tourist, but it actually ended up acting like my own little wing-man. Not only did it start interesting conversations, but it also seemed to be quite the friend-magnet. After the first day, I didn’t use it as much since I was getting more acclimated with the area, but I still never left home without it :)

And 3. Coincidentally being in the same city as your BFF from middle school, who you haven’t seen in who-knows-how-long. There’s nothing like traveling 3000 miles to reunite with an old friend. Thanks to FB, we found out there might be a chance we’d be in Portland around the same time. So without hesitation, I texted Amy as soon as I landed, which happened to be about the exact same moment she was pulling into the city. We met up at a local brewery, and caught up on the past few years. We’ve tried several times to get together while we were both living in VA, but I guess there’s something about being in a completely new city that makes everything work out. It was the perfect start to my Portland trip, and it was just like old times. Not to mention, her boyfriend Will happened to meet up with a friend from his study abroad program, who ALSO happens to work for Portlandia. NBD people. (All you non-believers, see below for proof!)


Not only did I eat on the street with a pigeon, but I also tried a burger with spam on it. Drinking the sauce as we HSDers like to call it.


Bailey’s Taproom. Local beers, low price, and the most awesome digital diagram. Shows you the name of the beer, where it’s from, what color it is, how much alcohol percentage each beer has, and how much is left in each keg. Technology these days.


Amy and I reminiscing about my middle school haircut and how insane it was to meet up under such crazy circumstances. Check her out on Instagram to see all the pics from her 5-week roadtrip!


New friends, old friends, and Portlandia employees. Not pictured: our older friend David, who is a successful shrink in the Portland area, and may or may not have given me a peptalk about where I am in life, and what to do next. His going-rate is about $3/minute, so we paid our dues for his 45 minutes of time with a $3 beer. He didn’t even finish his beer.

Ha! Proof!

 
And here’s the infamous map. With photo proof that it brought along a new friend.