Saturday, October 16, 2021

A Day In The Portland Area

 We stayed in Salem during our time in Oregon because it was centrally located to everything we wanted to do in the state (minus Crater Lake), but we made our way into Portland for a morning of books at Powells, walking around, and donuts from Voodoo. I was not a fan of Portland at all; there was tons of traffic, expensive parking, dirty streets, and foggy, smoggy skies. My children enjoyed Portland, but it won't be on my list of places to visit again. That said, I LOVE all of the hiking options surrounding the city.

Portland proved challenging for solo parent travel with three kids and a dog. Powell's City of Books, the largest independent book store in North America, was a must stop for the minis. Obviously, dogs aren't allowed, so I sent the minis in with cash to grab some books. The dog and I walked around the bookstore, which is an entire city block, while the minis shopped. Allowing my children to be alone, in a large bookstore, in a city we don't kow, was easily the most nervewrecking thing I've done as a parent thus far, but that's what this vacation was about. Learning, growing, and going outside of our comfort zones. It was great for all of us. 

Powell's and Voodoo are must stops while in the city. Voodoo has an online ordering system, but it didn't save as much time as I had hoped. Our donuts were ready to go, but the boys still had to wait in line to pick them up while Elizabeth, Zeus, and I waited in a parking spot for them. Luckily, the line wasn't long or we probably wouldn't have waited for our donuts.

This was our lunch. We wanted to try them all, so we did a taste test. We each took a bite of the donuts and rated them. What I loved most about the dozen variety is that they are all nut free (so we didn't have to worry about the oldest's peanut allergy). The donuts were incredibly filling. I only took a bite out of half of them and had a stomach ache. While not our most favorite donuts ever, these were pretty great. I for one, will never forget cruising down the interstate, my children handing me donuts to try as I drove. 

We had a list of things we wanted to do while in the Portland area, which included hiking waterfalls. Unfortunately, many of the waterfall hikes didn't allow dogs on the trails. We also didn't care to go to Mt. Hood. It just wasn't on our bucket list, plus this time of year, the weather on the mountain can be quite finicky. I had hoped for views of it while in Portland, but the skies weren't clear enough. Admittedly, I didn't do my usual homework on the Portland area, so as we drove along the interestate and into the Columbia River Gorge, we found ourselves asking, "hmm, I wonder where Mt. Hood is?"

We decided to hike Wahclella Falls because it allowed dogs, was just the right skill level to make it a quick hike for us, and it looked beautiful. The entire time we hiked we made note of how weird the weather was. It kept getting incredibly cold, then hot and sunny, and then suddenly downpour on us. We made the most of it, saw the falls, and greatly enjoyed the hike. It wasn't until we were done with the hike, back at our hotel, and looking at maps of Mt. Hood that I realized we were on the northern slope of Mt. Hood hiking! No wonder we couldn't see it....we were on it!

Our last stop of the day was years in the making. The minis have been obsessed with the Oregon Trail for years. Last year we even took a day trip to Rock Creek Station in Nebraska so we could see the wagon ruts (read about that here). On our way home from Oklahoma three years ago, we visited the start of the trail in Independence, MO. The minis asked then if we could see the end of the Oregon Trail sometime. I finally made that happen with a stop at the official end of the Oregon Trail in Oregon City (just outside of Portland). It was a small, easy stop for me, but it meant so much more to the minis. They particularly loved following the giant map on a wall and pointing out all of the places we had been and seen.

Portland won't be my first choice of places to revisit, but overall, we had a great day. Bend, OR seems more our speed and has plenty of hiking opportunities around the area. If we ever find ourselves in the state again, that would be my first choice of places to stay/visit.