Portland: a place where metro areas and scenic parks live side by side; public, multi-stall restrooms can be coed; and being a pedestrian means wielding total and unlimited power.
Upon our exit from Wyoming after the eclipse, we headed into Boise, Idaho, where we’d spend an evening walking around the city and having a great dinner at a delicious locally-owned Asian stir-fry place in an outdoor mall. We ate dinner next to an elaborate fountain that synced up to music blaring from the speakers in the very popular public square. We drove around the downtown area and ooo’d and ahh’d at Boise’s beautiful capitol building and the many, many options for food, drinks, coffee, and so much more.
After a night in Boise, staying in a real bed for the first time in a while, we made our way to Portland. We found an Airbnb to stay in 45 minutes outside of the city. The Airbnb was much less expensive at that distance from the city, especially since we just rented one room rather than the whole place. That also meant that we got to meet a nice, local family and hang out with some of the sweetest cats we’ve ever met. We thought playfully about kidnapping (catnapping??) them, but decided the car is no home for kitties and that we were better people than that. Maybe.
Portland was so much fun. We indulged ourselves in the city life. We had great coffee at the world’s largest new and used bookstore. We shopped around in some of the big city recycled-clothing stores. We toured the world-renowned rose garden and walked carefully through looking for what they said was the world’s “blackest rose.” (Spoiler alert: it’s just red – but very beautiful). When we were tired, we settled down in a brewery or a park and rested our feet. We ate amazing meals from food trucks and great restaurants. We attended neighborhood events like concerts and movies in the park and the Italian Heritage Festival. One of our favorite parts was walking around Hawthorne Street, a hip neighborhood across the river from the downtown area, where charming residential areas blend into artsy storefronts and pockets of outstanding food trucks.
Our tip for exploring Portland: just walk around. We loved getting into the feel of the city and seeing the different areas and the people. The culture is a unique one for sure, and you’re likely to meet friendly people who love the city and are happy to make recommendations. We met one woman whose great, great grandmother had come to Oregon in the 1800’s during the Oregon Trail days. One of the first emigrants to set up in that far-away land.
We were so glad to have visited the Oregon Trail Interpretive Museum on the way into the state so that we could really see the place from a contextual lens. (Thanks for that recommendation, Tammie!) We would even argue that the museum is a must. The creative set-up was so interesting and uniquely interactive. We loved learning about the history, whose spirit embodied all of adventurousness, difficulty, sorrow, contention, hope, and struggle.
Crater Lake was our last stop in Oregon. Seeing the lake whose basin formed 7,700 years ago when a volcano collapsed in on itself was astonishing. The waters were such a clear, beautiful blue because of the purity of the water that makes up the lake – pure rainwater and glacier melt. Walking around the rim was surreal, especially given the smoke that hung in the air as forest fires raged nearby (don’t worry moms- we steered clear!).
We were certainly fascinated by Oregon’s diverse landscapes, fun culture, and pristine beauty. It’s definitely a state that we would visit again.
Our journey’s next stop: California! Check out our next post to hear about our travels through the massive and dynamic Redwood forest, picturesque San Fransisco, and breathtaking Yosemite.
Adventure is out there!