Posts Tagged With: Oregon

PDX and the PNW

The Oregon Coast is beautiful, and it’s shame we didn’t get to spend more time exploring it. Like a lot of places so far in America, we need to come back one day. Without even looking around Yachats, we were on the road the morning after Crater Lake. The stretch of coast we did drive up was awesome, with the obligatory stunning lighthouse / cliffs / sea / yet another whale sighting vista stops.

Awesome Oregon

Awesome Oregon

Turning inland, we got to McMinnville, and stopped there to meet some friends we’d met in Fiji. Eric and Erin have just returned home to the US after almost 3 years living away in Korea and then NZ (see, it could have been worse mum). We had a great lunch with those guys, and then a tasty and super strong craft beer, before pushing on to Portland. So many people had told us how cool, fun and generally weird it is and in our 3 days there it didn’t disappoint.

Erin, Laura and Ben Franklin

Erin, Laura and Ben Franklin

We stayed in an AirBnB about ten minutes out of downtown, with an amazing woman called Judy. She was a brilliant hostess, cooking us breakfast each morning and giving us lots of good info and tips about the city. It was like staying with family or a friend, and the room and bed were super comfy too! We arrived in the early evening, and caught the bus into town. We knew Oregon was famous for crafty beers, but we didn’t know it was the 27th Annual Oregon Brewfest that weekend, right on the waterfront. So, new (and totally impractical for long term travel) beer glasses and beer tokens in hand, we sampled a few beers each and soaked up the atmosphere. Things could have turned ugly when Law asked for cider and I thought we’d be run out of town, but we managed to find a berry fruity ale instead!

Brewfest selfie

Brewfest selfie

Berry nice ale

Berry nice ale

The following day we explored the city, which was experiencing a bit of a heat wave while we were there. The views from the Rose Garden in the west hills were amazing, over the city out to Mt. Hood on the horizon. Downtown, we got ridiculously lucky and found a free parking space, and proceeded to spend the day ticking off all the touristy highlights.

Mt Hood overlooking the city

Mt Hood overlooking the city

Posing in the roses

Posing in the roses

The enormous Powell’s Books, which fills an entire city block almost, was amazing. We spent a couple of hours browsing and reading in there, and managed to limit ourselves to minimal purchases. A very cool place. From there we headed into the Saturday Market, full of craft things and people performing and generally keeping Portland weird. In the afternoon we had coffee at a cool little independent place, lunch from food carts and queued for about 40 minutes in the baking sun for the world famous Voodoo doughnuts. Totally worth it.

Prepping for the return to work

Prepping for the return to work

As the sign says...

As the sign says…

The voodoo queue

The voodoo queue

Totally worth it!

Totally worth it!

The next day, we got out of the city and had some fun in the nearby Columbia River Gorge. The river divides Oregon and Washington, and houses (of course) some amazing scenery. Having not gotten around to doing this in NZ, we decided it was now or never for white water rafting and we spent a few hours getting wet, cold and working out on the river. We went with Wet Planet Rafting, based on the White Salmon river just across the border in Washington. The half day trip was brilliant, lasting about 4 hours and really good fun.

Crossing the border

Crossing the border

Ready to get wet

Ready to get wet

The guides were great, bantering with us and each other, and making sure everyone was safe. The rapids weren’t too extreme, from class 2 to 4, and some of them felt pretty epic. At one point we had to get out and walk alongside a waterfall that was too high to go over, with the option to jump off a 20 foot ledge on the other side. Obviously I was straight over, and I was very proud of Mrs H for following suit and not wussing out like a few people did! The river was pretty cold and flowing quite fast, but the helmets, wetsuits and life jackets kept us alive!

Husum Falls, bigger than it looks

Husum Falls, bigger than it looks

At the end of the day, we went over the 10 foot high Husum Falls. This was optional, and the guides warned people it could all go upside down, but we braved it anyway. Just as the boat got vertical we hit the water with a shock, but everyone managed to stay aboard our raft. An awesome end to the trip. After this, we drove back the scenic highway along the river, passing by waterfalls and vista points constantly great scenery. At the end of the day, we were knackered and Judy, being the amazing hostess she is, cooked us dinner!

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

The Columbia a River vista!

The Columbia a River vista!

Nowhere near enough time there, but brilliant few days in Portland.

Cannon Beach, some angry clouds

Cannon Beach, some angry clouds

Moving on the next day, we hit the coast again at Cannon Beach for a picnic, then Ecola State Park. Amazing coastal scenery here and best of all was Indian Beach, the place that was used instead of Belles Beach at the end of Point Break! More than worth the $5 park fee. That night we stayed in Astoria, home of one of the greatest films ever made. It was still pretty hot out, but I made Law walk a couple of miles in the evening to find 648 38th Avenue. Why? Because this is the house they used in the Goonies! And for Film Studies bonus points, we passed by the Astoria Elementary School which is where Arnie worked in Kindergarten Cop! Geek overload.

Lose something bra?

Lose something bra?

A sharp whistle gets the kids in order

A sharp whistle gets the kids in order

Goonies never say die... And apparently also like Israel

Goonies never say die… And apparently also like Israel

Awesome

Awesome

The next couple of days, the last ones of our road trip with the car, were spent on the Olympic Peninsula. We quickly ran out of superlatives on this blog for scenery, but again this was just amazing. From Astoria we crossed the 4 mile long bridge into Washington, and cruised through the forests and logging towns until we got to Lake Quinault. After a bite to eat we had to take a dip in the stunningly clear blue water, flanked by the pines and spruces and with Mountains on the horizon.

Lake Quinault

Lake Quinault

Post lunch dip

Post lunch dip

That wasn’t it for the day though, and making the most of the glorious weather inland we stopped at the Hoh Rain Forest and went for a walk. The trails here pretty flat so while we discussed my impending joblessness and Law’s impending new job same placeness, we enjoyed the huge trees, hanging moss and glacial river. Nice.

Thinking about office work

Thinking about office work

Gnarly mossy trees!

Gnarly mossy trees!

Pushing on, we didn’t stop in Forks, the home of Twilight and a pretty grim looking town altogether, and got to our accommodation in another cabin in the woods. This one was the winner, thanks to the unexpected and deliciously homemade breakfast that awaited us in the fridge! That night, braving the grey mizzle and wind, we drove down the road a bit towards Rialto Beach. The weather just added to the wildness of the place, with huge cliff stacks and whole trees of driftwood. Huddling together and drinking our wine from a plastic cup, we spotted a pod of dolphins and watched them play about in the surf for the next half an hour. Another of those holy-crap-unforgettable-type moments.

Rialto Beach 'sunset'

Rialto Beach ‘sunset’

Proper Cornish picnic weather

Proper Cornish picnic weather

Dolphins!

Dolphins!

Another long blog so far but we are nearly at the end of our trip so are fitting a lot in! This is the last bit, I promise. The following morning, the skies on the coast had cleared and we went back down to Rialto. It looked totally different in this weather, and with the tide low we walked to the end and climbed through the hole in the rock. It has a real end of the world primal feel with the cliffs and trees and I took a lot of photos. A lot. Also, seeing as we hadn’t done this yet in the states, despite passing by Venice and Malibu, I made us get in the sea. It was very, very cold!

Rialto with views

Rialto with views

Anti vampire weather

Anti vampire weather

Textbook wide arm pose

Textbook wide arm pose

Cold!

Cold!

I took a lot of photos

I took a lot of photos

Bald Eagle, looking rather majestic

Bald Eagle, looking rather majestic

Driftwood trees

Driftwood trees

For the twi-hards

For the twi-hards

After removing my finger from the camera long enough to drive, we turned east into the park. Lunch and another, warmer dip in Crescent Lake, and then up into the mountains to Hurricane Ridge. After doing the short trails around the visitors centre, and despite the relatively late time of the day, I convinced Law that a hike up Hurricane Hill would be a good idea. A sweaty mile and a half uphill later, and the panoramic views of the Olympic Mountain Range, endless forests, the Straits of San Juan de Fuca over to Vancouver Island and Canada (our next stop) and all the way out to the Pacific proved me right. The mountain goats wandering around helped make my case too.

Warming up after the sea

Warming up after the sea

Olympic views

Olympic views

Forgoing shopping to hike

Forgoing shopping to hike

Mind-blowing meadowy mountains

Mind-blowing meadowy mountains

Horny

Horny

Looking at Canada

Looking at Canada

Yet another vista

Yet another vista

Reservoir Goats

Reservoir Goats

Bambi lost

Bambi lost

This meant we got in late to Port Townsend which we’d like to have had a more time in, but the huge fish burgers and wine gave us a nice taste of the town and were a great final meal of our US roadtrip. The following morning, we drove down to Bainbridge early, caught the ferry to Seattle and said goodbye to the mighty Nissan Versa after 3180 amazing miles.

Back to backpacking

Back to backpacking

Categories: USA | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On the road

Spoiler alert: this is a long blog with a lot of pictures. Blame America.

The day we left San Francisco, the city was wet and grey so we we were glad to have done the cycling in the sun the day before. But as we got further north, and the sun came out we had a great day of road tripping. Highway 1 continued to wind around the coast, and the scenery was just as spectacular as the Big Sur. Surf beaches, mountains into the sea, cliff stacks and ridiculous views all day. We stopped for a picnic at one point, and once again saw a whale swimming by!

Big Sur NoCal style

Big Sur NorCal style

Not the worst looking picnic spot

Not the worst looking picnic spot

Bodega Bay was a cool little town to stop in, and we had some tasty chowder at The Birds Cafe, named after the fact that Alfred Hitchcock filmed some of the classic film there.

Spot the tourist

Spot the tourist

At the end of the day we stopped in Fort Bragg. It wasn’t the nicest motel in the world, or the prettiest of towns, and the weird smell of Indian food clashing with weed kept wafting into our room! But it was fine and cheap, and the free pastry in the morning was alright.

The American motel experience. Funky smell!

The American motel experience. Funky smell!

The following day was another load of epic driving, and through some more of the most stunning scenery. After another stretch of coast, we turned inland at the end of Highway 1 and into the Redwoods. These are some of the tallest trees in the world and the road felt endless as we cruised through the thick forests. After the coast, the sea of green that surrounded us so different. We drove through the kitchy Chandelier tree, that had a tunnel cut through the trunk for carriages back in the day, and tourists with $5 today!

Tough to keep your eyes on the road

Tough to keep your eyes on the road

She just squeezed thru

She just squeezed thru

After this we pulled off the highway, and took the scenic Avenue of Giants. This is a 30 mile stretch of road twisting through the huge trees. There were various groves to stop in, and we spent a lot of time wandering amongst the trees and craning our necks. It’s impossible to capture the scale of the Redwoods in pictures, but we tried!

Big wood

Big wood

Sum bleddy stump!

Sum bleddy stump!

They're this big

They’re this big

That night, we stayed at a campsite just outside Crescent City right in a Redwood forest. Drinking wine and having a picnic outside our cabin and seeing the sun set on the trees was a pretty good end to a couple of epic days of driving. From the craziness of LA to the coast and now these trees, via Yosemite, California has got a lot going for it!

Awesome name for road

Awesome name for a road

Glamping in the Redwoods

Glamping in the Redwoods

The next day, we hit the road early pushed on into Oregon. Since seeing an image of Crater Lake in a Reader’s Digest type book as kid, I’d always wanted to go there. We weren’t sure we’d fit it in as it was quite a detour from the coast, but we are so glad we did! The drive out there was awesome, as we slowly climbed through more redwoods and forests, passing by a river gorge and a lot of crazy looking Sasquatch chainsaw-made statues. Also, we learned the states have some different laws – so far no sales tax (awesome), and you aren’t allowed to pump your own gas here.

Laura didn't believe until she saw this evidence

Laura didn’t believe until she saw this evidence

However, as we got higher and closer to the park, the skies got greyer. Crater Lake is supposed to be an amazing sight – as the name suggests, the lake is at the top of a mountain in the crater formed when the volcano exploded thousands of years ago. It’s water is entirely made up of snowmelt and rain, and is some of the purest in the world. When we got there on the afternoon after our early start we saw… nothing.

Our first view of the lake

Our first view of the lake

The whole top of the mountain that the lake lies in was swamped in super thick fog! The scenic 30+ mile drive around the rim, which we started and then abandoned, had visibility of about 10 feet – it was crazy! So, after joining the crowds of slightly angry Americans in the visitor centre (”And you’re saying you’re not sure if the weather will clear!? Great thanks”. The poor park rangers got this and worse) we headed back to our cabin in the woods and drowned our sorrow with a huge meal in the diner across the road.

Fortunately, the next day was the complete opposite. We got up early, and the sun was out and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Our first proper sight of the lake from the rim was breathtaking. The water is so blue it’s hard to describe, and we stopped a few more times on the rim drive to take photos and just stare gormlessly from different angles. But, in the spirit of making the most our time in the area, I had found out what the highest mountain in the National Park was and made us climb it!

First proper view!

First proper view!

Happier with this weather

Happier with this weather

The Phantom Ship

The Phantom Ship

Mount Scott is just under 9000 feet, but it wasn’t too difficult a hike. After an hour of switchbacks and sweating, we were at the top. The views were incredible. The lake is obviously the big draw and dominates the western view, but staring in all directions was awesome. We could see some of the Cascade Mountains, tipped in snow, and all around were endless green forests and no sign of civilisation. Incredible and so worth it. Plus, because it’s a hike and not too easily accessible, there were hardly any people up there!

Not for everyone first thing in the morning

Not for everyone first thing in the morning

To the top, past snow!

To the top, past snow!

Leading the way

Leading the way

Worth the hike

Worth the hike

Amazing

Amazing

After climbing to the highest point in the park, we did the next obvious thing and got to the lowest. The lake itself is only reachable by one trail because the sides of the crater are so steep and unstable. Boat tours are available but expensive, so there were quite a few people trekking down to the small dock at the base of the trail. But just beyond the dock, the path moves on to the most natural cliff jump spot I’ve ever seen. Yeah, you can climb down to dip your toes in the safe way, but really when else are you going to get to jump into the crater at the top of a volcano, into the deepest and purest lake in America?

Hoping it's deep enough

Hoping it’s deep enough

Hell of swimming pool

Hell of a swimming pool

Surprisingly it wasn’t that cold, and I was quite happy swimming around peering into the stunning blue depths. After drying off and hiking back to the top, we found a quiet spot on the rim for one of our most scenic picnics yet! Crater Lake, like Yosemite and some parts of New Zealand and the rest of this trip, is one of those wow places that we’ll never forget.

Crater Lake...

Crater Lake…

Another decent lunch spot

Another decent lunch spot

Epic

Epic

But that wasn’t all our fun for the day. After leaving the lake we had the small matter of a 200 mile drive back west to the coast to deal with. Continuing Oregon’s trend of being really damn good looking, the drive was amazing. The entire way wound down through the trees, along rivers and gorges and was just stunning. When we finally hit the coast, the pretty continued. First the huge sand dunes, then rough and rugged coast with forests right down the cliffs into the sea and picturesque lighthouses. After a bite to eat in Florence, we watched the sunset into the Pacific and finally made it to our motel in Yachats in the dark.

Back to the coast

Back to the coast

Risking RSI from too many selfies

Risking RSI from too many selfies

In these four days we racked up a lot of miles, and could have hit Portland, our next stop, in a much more direct route. But this section of the road trip was just incredible. Long driving, windswept and wild coastline, the tallest trees on earth, huge American portions of food and unique natural wonders. The best zigzagging detour ever.

Sunset from Cook's Chasm, Oregon

Sunset from Cook’s Chasm, Oregon

Categories: USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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