Portland. The land of craft beer and gourmet donuts, and home to all things weird. Our trip from Seattle to this beautiful city nestled in the woods was uneventful, which is a good thing when relying so heavily on your vehicle.
Our first stop was Bonita’s cousin Rani’s house, where we figured we could set up in the driveway for a few days and explore the city from there. Little did we know Rani was going to turn her whole house over to us for the duration of our stay! Once we arrived and some introductions were made, Rani and partner Luke took us out for our first taste of Portland’s famous beer. Ecliptic Brewing didn’t disappoint and provided a great spot for us all to visit, and for Luke to educate us in the Cascadia Independence movement, which would unite Oregon, Washington and British Columbia into one laid back, rainy country. Our gracious hosts also provided some great travel recommendations for Portland and beyond.
That night we took some hot showers and slept in a bed without worrying about anyone shooing us away, making for an amazing sleep. Equally nice was the ability to wake up and work in our host’s house without having to track down a cafe. Once Dalaney was done work for the day, we set out to see some sights. Though we’ve suffered no lack of trees along the trip thus far, we were nonetheless excited to see the Redwood forest just outside the city. So we set out for Hoyt Abroureum on a short hike to see all Oregon had to offer. Thankfully we lucked out and the weather cooperated with us, not raining at all during our stroll through the woods. It was downright temperate out there, but we still had the entire forest to ourselves and didn’t see another soul on the trail as we hiked around.
Upon seeing the enormous ancient redwoods we were satisfied and although it was starting to get dark we set out in search of the fabled “Witch’s Castle”. A short drive away we found the trailhead, but by now it was pretty dark. We agreed that it would just be a short journey then we would head back into town, but almost immediately we realized we were in over our heads. The trail was steep and longer than anticipated (which reminded Bonita of a similar trek in India that certain Perrys will remember) and in the pitch dark we had only our dying cell phone flashlights to see by. You’d think we would have turned back, but we figured it was just around the corner. Plus we are both stubborn and like to see things through, so we persisted. We arrived at the ruins that were sufficiently creepy. Immediately we spotted evidence that someone had been there recently, and maybe even had temporarily set up camp. Some underexposed pictures were hastily taken before Dalaney spotted something or someone in the bushes (which Bonita denies), we decided we had better leave.
The entire pitch dark walk back up through the trails was spent wheeling around on our heels to shine a light back into the darkness whenever we heard rustling behind us. We barely escaped with our lives, in Dalaney’s opinion, but Bonita was fairly certain that he is prone to exaggeration. Once back in the safety of our van, we nervously laughed about the ordeal and figured we had better get some food in our belly and leave the witch's castle behind.
Driving straight into the heart of downtown, we were drawn to the spot that all tourist’s are drawn to in Portland. A beacon of sugary goodness lured us from afar, and we answered the call. Voodoo Donuts offered a plethora of donuts in various shapes, sizes and flavours.
We justified getting a dozen by telling ourselves that we would share our bounty with our resident hosts, but even as we were walking away with the large pink box we realized we had probably bought too many donuts. A good problem to have. Upon leaving we explored the area a bit more, checking out the “Keep Portland Weird” sign and the Kit Kat Club just around the corner. We had heard exotic dancing was a must see in Portland as well, since they had so many niche clubs spread throughout the city. We settled for convenience and a place with good sandwiches. As far as strip clubs go, it was nice! Very friendly staff, who immediately recognized us as people who don’t usually frequent strip clubs. Maybe it was our polite clapping. Also, we were almost the only people there at 8:00 PM on a weeknight.
In any case, in our short visit we ticked off a bunch of Portland staples: Beer, donuts, trees, and strippers. We headed back towards our home base to gobble up some gourmet donuts before bed. The one with fruit loops especially stands out but they were all pretty good, for the novelty if nothing else.
In the morning we set out early, taking the city bus to the world’s largest bookstore: Powell Books to work. They have a great cafe nestled amongst the millions of books there, so we set up shop for the morning to get some design work done. We were eager to explore the massive 3 storey structure packed with books of all shapes and sizes, keen to find a book for Bonita to dig into. Many an hour was spent just wandering through the stacks, but we eventually settled on “Himself”, and we’ll keep you posted on how it is.
Once we were satisfied with our purchase, we left the world’s largest bookstore in search of the world’s smallest park. And it’s a good thing we had our eyes peeled, because this park built for Fairies would barely constitute as a median in other cities. We braved the traffic whooshing by to get some park photos.
By now it was raining pretty steadily on us, but nonetheless we took a stroll by the water and looped through the city, seeing the “Portlandia” statue along the way. It wasn’t a giant Fred Armisen statue as we had hoped, but it is still an impressive figure perched atop a building.
That evening we had planned to meet up with Rani and Luke again, and since we are all movie buffs and it was Oscar season we met up at the Living Room Theatre to see “The Post”, which was better than any of us anticipated I think. Rani treated us to a lovely supper at the theatre, which was an intimate affair. Very cozy, and aptly named as it felt like we all piled into a large living room to watch a movie together. When we arrived back home we tried to pawn off some of our day old voodoo donuts on them, and even though they are residents probably sick to death of them they shared a late night sugary snack with us. We all turned in for the night, as they had to work in the morning and we had a big drive planned...
You see, ever since Seattle we had this crazy idea in our head (crazy even for us) to drive down to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Beyond the obvious awesomeness of Carnivale we figured it would be warmer and sunnier down south, and our solar panels could use some juice. The main problem was that it would screw up our original plans of continuing down along the coast, and we had a very limited window of to get down to Louisiana in time. We’d have to pull some major driving shifts and skim over some states pretty quick, but you probably already know that we went for it. So in the morning we set our sights southwards once again, and drove off leaving Portland and our wonderful hosts behind.
Will they make it to New Orleans in time? Will their van run into mechanical difficulties along the way? Will their solar panel mysteriously stop working as soon as they encounter sunshine? What of Idaho? Will they eat a potato?? Find out in the next installment of the ADVANTOUR blog, coming soon!