An unexpected trip to the Pacific Northwest

posted in: Blog, Life | 0

Right after we returned from the Southern Caribbean cruise, we found out we were heading to Portland. This trip was just Husband and myself and something we haven’t done since B.K. (Before kids). Husband was traveling for work and I tagged along. You see, Portland was my home many moons ago. I think about it often and dream about it even more. I miss Portland down to my soul. I couldn’t believe that I was going back.

We arrived late, really late on a Friday and picked up the rental car. First we stayed at Aloft by the airport at Cascade Station. Cascade Station appears to be a shopping area developed as close to possible to Washington consumers. There’s any number of big box stores and chain restaurants. Not really what I was after but the hotel was interesting and comfortable. Their lobby was overly hip, but kinda fun for us Midwesterners.

Day one we headed for the mandatory Multnomah Falls visit. The falls were spectacular and we got a taste of the rain to come. We hiked along a trail from Wahkeena Falls to Multnomah Falls. Our favorite fall was the tier fall in between the two. I haven’t been able to find a name for it.

The sun came out a few times. The trees were all blooming, along with the daffodils and other spring flowers. What a glorious time to visit! We headed in to NW 23rd Street to soak in some of the local flavor. I spent a lot of time here back in the day and was excited to see what I could recognize. Much of the area was familiar but some of the big box stores moved in and it’s lost some of the neighborhood feel.

The rest of the day we spent driving around Portland to learn the lay of the land. It helped a lot that I remembered how to get around.

On day two we headed for the coast early. Partly because we were anxious to get there, but also because there wasn’t much to do around Cascade Station. The drive to the coast impressed Husband immensely. The old growth trees, layers of mountains, clear-cut forest, the way the clouds get stuck in the valleys, driving behind logging trucks, a tunnel, and lots of rain punctuated our 1 1/2 hour drive. Cool.

We hit Seaside first to check out the scenery and hit the grocery store. We grabbed fresh trout, kale, breakfast fixings, and a bottle of local vino. We were staying at the Sea Sprite in Cannon Beach in the best room in the house. We had a private staircase out to the beach. It did not disappoint. They even let us check in early. This place was pricey but oh so worth it.

The sun was out when we arrived and the beach was pretty active. We grabbed cameras and headed out. There were a few kite surfers doing their thing. They were fun to shoot and put on a show for us. We walked the beach at least seven times this day.We went out to explore Haystack rock during low tide but it started to pour and we ran back to the cottage.

The weather is interesting in the Pacific Northwest. It changes constantly from drizzle to rain to sunny to cloudy to drizzle…It seemed to change every 15 minutes or so. There’s no point in waiting for it to stop, it just changes. We found that it was best to just dress for anything and head out.

The next day we stayed until checkout. We had a nice breakfast and walked the beach a couple of times. This time the tide was nearly high and the sea was a raging. The entire experience was amazing and one we will not forget.

We were staying at The Orenco in Orenco Station for the rest of the week. Our hotel room was upgraded to a double queen with a full kitchen and a patio. Since I was going to be spending a lot of time here by myself, I was glad to have the room to spread out. Orenco is an interesting place. It’s an intentional community organized around the Orenco Station Max stop. There are a few restaurants and shops, and lots of townhouses and apartments. We both liked it’s walkability but it has a Wayward Pines feel to it. We tried the sushi place, Indian place, pub, cafe, and the patisserie, which was my favorite. I actually got choked up looking at the breakfast menu. Am I a food geek, or what?

I spent the days working away on my next big project (I’ll post more about that later in April.) There’s a New Season’s Market about a block away so I was able to grab groceries. I was surprised to recognize people in the store from my old days at Nature’s Fresh Northwest, but being a super recognizer, I shouldn’t be. Portland is, after all, still a small town in many ways. It still freaked me out. I took a field trip and drove out to Uwajimaya in Beaverton to check out the stationary section. I managed to find my way around enough to find old places I worked and lived. Not much has really changed.

My old pal Sarah came down from Olympia to visit me for a day. We spent four hours just sitting and talking. It was soooooooo nice to reconnect. Friends like her are hard to come by. The next day I spent with my dear friend Molly at the barn with her horses. She dressed me in a barn sweater knit by her daughter, helmet, chaps and boots and then took photos and posted them on Facebook. Only a good friend can get away with that.

Friday we checked out and headed down to Silver Falls to get a dose of old growth forest. It was drizzling and cooler but we were prepared. Driving on the narrow mountain roads, ears a popping, was an adventure. We checked out the lower Northern Falls and then the bigger South Falls. Not a lot of hiking because we were pretty exhausted after travelling so much in the past month.

We stopped by Burgerville one last time for a burger and rosemary fries. Then we headed to the Hyatt by the airport. We were flying out at 5am and it seemed the best place to stay with a 24 hour shuttle. It was the worst hotel experience I’ve ever had and believe me, I’ve had some bad ones. We had maybe two hours of sleep the entire night. yes, it was time to head home.

I learned a lot about myself on this trip. Portland is where I became me in a lot of ways. I had my first adult friend there (Molly). I developed interests that I still have today. My tribe is in Portland. Husband found it really interesting to be around so many people like me. He certainly understands me more now, too. I’m convinced it won’t be long before we return.