I love living in San Diego. The sunshine, ocean breeze, and the year-round coastal weather make it one of the best place to live in the continental US. However, one thing that I missed the most about living in the Midwest was the green trees in the summer. So my roommate Pop, my cousin Pat and I decided to go to a place that combine the beauty of the Pacific coast with the greenery of the Midwestern states for the Fourth of July weekend. That place was Oregon.
You can click on the panoramic images to see the larger version of the photo in the lightbox and on the maps for information and direction on the various places we visited.
Day 1 - Portland
We arrived in Portland in the afternoon. It was a beautiful small city; I'd say similar in size to Minneapolis. The first thing I noticed as we drove around the city was that there are so many traffic circles with either a statue of some important person or a fountain in the middle. In fact, there is a statue of a French Heroine (Joan of Arc) in the middle of a round-about on a street named after a Mexican-American civil right activist (Cesar Chavez) which, of course, make total sense...
Among the things that you can find around Portland are: food trucks, donut shops with long lines, fixed-gear bike, and of course, "hipsters".
Day 2 - Columbia River Gorge & Mount Hood
Per the recommendation of our lovely Airbnb hosts, we had breakfast at the Waffle Window on Hawthorne Boulevard. Our destination of the day was the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area located one hour east of Portland. Along its 80 miles length are many waterfalls, hiking trails, and a windsurf town with brewpubs. We originally thought the day would just be an easy-going, drive-and-sight-seeing kind of day but ended up hiking through treacherous trails to see waterfalls. Actually, the trails were not that difficult, we were just not at all prepared for them!
We actually met a group of Thai students at Oneonta Falls. They teasingly asked us after seeing the way we dress:
After the hike, we go dried off at a local brewery in a windsurfing town Hood River. We continued our journey south pass Mount Hood, the highest point in Oregon, stopping at a few locations to take pictures before looping back to Portland in time for the Fourth of July firework.
Day 3 - Oregon Coast
It took us about an hour of driving around to find breakfast as there were lines everywhere on Sunday morning. We ended up getting some donuts at Blue Star Donut. Pro tip: go to Hawthorne location, no lines!
We took it easy in the morning by sight-seeing and shopping around downtown Portland. Oregon is a shopper haven as there is no sale tax!
Two-hour drive to the west is Astoria, a coastal town located at the mouth of the Columbia River. The weather here was surprisingly nice compared to hot summer heat we experienced inland in the past two days. Our first destination was a stationary converted boat, tuna beer-battered fish-and-chip shop called Bowpicker. There was no escape this time as we spent almost two hours in line. It was well worth it the wait though!
One of our goals of the day was to capture images of the sunset along the Oregon coast line. We did some research online and found a lot of beautiful sunset photos of two locations: Wreck of Peter Iredale in Fort Steven State Park and Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach. So these were the stops that we made.
We arrived at Haystack Rock right in time for sunset. It was pretty funny that we actually splitted as soon as we walked onto the beach because we were trying to one-up one other on who would get the best photo. I, of course, think I got the best one!
If you clicked on the map you will see that the last location on Day 3 itinerary that has no name - a newly-established Pinolo Gelato. Sandro, the owner, serves THE BEST gelato I have ever had. His chocolate gelato is a must have if you visit Portland.
Day 4 & 5 - Crater Lake
It has been a marathon so far in terms of the number of places we visited and the amount of driving we had to do and the last two days were no exception. We got up early to prepare for a 5-hour drive south from Portland to Crater Lake National Park. Half of the drive was an uneventful drive along Freeway 5 to Eugene, the home city of University of Oregon. The other half was through a series of small one-lane freeways through the beautiful redwoods.
The drive was well worth it! The Crater Lake was beautiful. So beautiful in fact that almost all the photos that we took of the lake with turns out really great, even the ones from our camera phones.
An activity that everyone must do while visiting Crater Lake is to jump into the lake. To do this, you must take a 30-minute hike down to the boat landing where there is a small cliff hanging over the lake. The drop was only about 2 stories high but as you can see in the video, I was all tensed during the jump.
See the thick dark clouds in the background? It started to rain and then hailed heavily as we hiked up to the car! The hail was about the size of a Skittle except it was not colorful and caused you pain! At the time all we could think about was to get back to the car as soon as possible so I unfortunately did not get any photo of it. I think it actually took us as much time for us on the way up as it did on the way down. Of course it stopped hailing soon after we reach the top of the trail...
I will leave you with a short video clip that Pat did for the trip. You can find some of his beautiful videography work on Vimeo.