After Seattle, when we took a detour into Olympia for an all-too-common bathroom break I was surprised at how small town the state capitol felt! That small-town feeling continued as we headed south into Oregon – it wasn’t too much of a change from Washington, except everything had a slightly smaller feel to it. We stayed in the NW area of Portland at a really cute hostel. It was within a few blocks of lots of funky restaurants, bars and shops. I dragged Nick into a Trader Joe’s to buy my fav cheap sparkling wine – he’d never been to one, and found it a bit of a strange place. It had been a long day, so I was pretty low on energy. We found a little place and tried some random beers, had some nachos, then Nick practically had to drag me back to our room with our take-out pizza
Trying to ward off my crankiness and stiffness from riding in the car for so long, I found a yoga studio (Corepower, the same one I go to in Mpls!) and did a hot yoga class. Man, am I out of shape! I felt a bit refreshed afterward, and we walked in to check out downtown. We spent a ton of time at Powell’s, a giant book shop with possibly every new and used book you could imagine (amazing! we need to bring one of these to SA), and I did my favorite thing – wandering around looking at old buildings. It had a much more small-town vibe than Seattle, but was a lot of fun.
The people at the hostel had made it seem like Portland’s famous rose gardens were just a few blocks away…turns out it looked a lot closer (and flatter) on the map! We slogged up the hills, which were luckily shaded from the heat, and finally reached the gardens. As soon as we arrived, I had a serious sense of deja vu – and then realized I had been there before! VERY bizarre – I had totally forgotten that we had made a stop here on our family vacation a number of years ago, but it all came flooding back to me. Portland is a really pretty, flowery city. In addition to the formal gardens, there were even beautiful wildflowers growing along the busiest freeway! Made for a nice drive down to Eugene.
After pitching our tent in a nearby national park, we drove into Eugene, OR to have dinner with my stepbrother, TJ. He took us to one of his favorite restaurants in town called Cornucopia. Great food! There were SO many beers that we were a bit overwhelmed, but we managed to find a few we liked (never actually that hard). We didn’t see too much of Eugene, but what we saw was entertaining – apparently, the saying goes that the 60s never died, they just moved to Eugene.
Next day we went West from Eugene to Florence, then took the Pacific Coast Highway Scenic Route down the coast into California. The scenery was stunning – at times it looked like we were traveling through a green tunnel with the tree branches interlocking over the road. Many of the trees hung heavy with moss, which gave them a kind of eerie look. There were also these amazing beaches, nearly deserted and littered with driftwood. There is supposed to be good surfing, but TJ told us there were some places where the locals are so protective of the beaches that they will do anything to keep tourists away…good thing we weren’t looking to surf. One of the more disturbing things was that we started seeing these signs that told us that we were driving along a Tsunami danger zone, or that we were on a Tsunami evacuation route – as if we could outrun one! Even so, it was one of the most stunning drives – I would have loved to drive along the coast all the way from Seattle.
I didn’t do too much Oregon Trail related tourism, but a small Pioneer cemetery we passed in one small town reminded me of my favorite game back in elementary school – Oregon Trail. I didn’t get to stop in, but I am pretty sure none of the epitaphs could even closely rival those that were thought up by Jefferson Elementary students…meaning I don’t think anyone used profanity of any kind on the headstones. But I could be wrong!