Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bend and Portland

The next couple of days we spent in Portland, our drive first taking us through the town of Bend and along the south side of Mt. Hood. It's a beautiful drive and Bend is a nice little town to stop and have a sandwich. We went to downtown Bend and ate our lunch at Drake Park, which runs alongside the Deschutes River. Erinn and I were both impressed with Bend, its nice little downtown, beautiful park, and views of the nearby Oregon mountains. Drake Park has a big sloping lawn and a path next to the river with ducks swimming nearby, ready to gobble up your leftovers.

Forest Park, Portland, OR
Portland was a little different though. I have to admit my expectations were a little strange having been influenced partly by friends who lived there and partly by the TV show Portlandia. We were expecting nature, eccentricity, a cool downtown, and a small-town feel with big-city amenities. And while real Portland wasn't that far off, it still didn't click with us like I thought it would.

That being said, Portland has many beautiful parks, most notably Forest Park. It's a huge, 5,000 acre park covered in forest just a few miles from downtown Portland. Well worth a visit and a hike.

Downtown Portland is home to many tasty restaurants, food carts, and Powell's Books, a used and new book store that covers an entire city block.

Stonehenge at The Maryhill
Our favorite part of our Portland experience had to be the waterfalls. Take Hwy 30 East from Portland and about in about half an hour, take exit 28 for Historic Columbia River Highway. You'll come across other beautiful waterfalls and hikes along this route, which runs directly alongside Hwy 30. We stopped at Wahclella Falls, Horsetail Falls, and Multnomah Falls. As usual, none of our pictures captured the beautiful waterfalls or the hikes to them. The Wahclella Falls hike is a good one. Not very long and mostly level with lots of great views along the way. We also went a bit past that and saw the full-size replica of Stonehenge (See Above). A bit random, but interesting.

Next we were off to Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier before stopping to spend time with family in Seattle.

Wahclella Falls
Multnomah Falls

Friday, September 20, 2013

Mountains and Craters

I-5 through most of California is not the most scenic route. From the bottom of the San Joaquin Valley in the south all the way up to Redding in the north, this stretch of the I-5 is more than 450 miles of California's hot central valley. California is such a huge state! It has its charms from time to time, with acres of farmland and distant mountains along the east and west. But it's mostly a straight line with little to mark your progress except cows, rest stops, and a Starbucks every now and then.

Once you make it to Redding, the landscape changes quite a bit. You can see Mt. Shasta in the distance and the drive through the mountains by Shasta Lake is beautiful. Mt. Shasta itself is impressive and gives you something to look at while you fill up your gas tank in the small town of Weed.

Mt. Shasta
For us, Mt. Shasta is where we left I-5 and headed north up highway 97 toward Klamath Falls, OR. Eventually, this is where we'd set up camp (KOA - Klamath Falls), but first we made a quick (2.5 hr roundtrip) detour to see Crater Lake.

The drive from Klamath Falls to Crater Lake is very pretty. The highway goes alongside Upper Klamath Lake, through a few farms, and then up the side of a mountain; all of it green and the last part covered in pine trees. It's a beautiful drive which ends in a breathtaking view of Crater Lake.

Crater Lake is the result of the eruption of Mount Mazama about 7,700 years ago, which left a 2,000 ft. caldera that filled with water from rain and snow. It's a very unique lake and the views from the rim of the caldera have no comparison. Definitely a trip worth taking.

We walked along the rim trail for a while, trying not to get our feet wet in the snow, which was melting in the warm weather, causing puddles and mud everywhere. We didn't stay long and went back to set up camp and eat a tasty dinner before settling in for the night.

One interesting bit about our trip up north was the noticeable change in sunrise and sunset. It was June so I was used to long, sunny days, but further north the days are even longer. So when we finished dinner and started preparing for bed around 9pm, it was still light outside. But Erinn and I just played some card games for a while and went to bed early.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Our North West Adventure - 2013

This year we took a long journey up the western United States to experience the beautiful, green landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. For us it was a stark contrast to the Grand adventure we took summer 2012 and to our daily lives in Bakersfield, CA. While last year's trip across huge deserts, famous mountain ranges, and the Greatest of plains was hot, arid, and sometimes even on fire, our trip through Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming was always seen as a vacation, as a temporary excursion. However, our trip to the northwest came with a very different attitude. Not only were we vacationing across the states, but we were also looking for a new home.

Our many years in Bakersfield have given us a longing for rainy days, pine trees, and winter snow. We left Bakersfield on a June day with clear, sunny skies and 99° heat, pretty typical for the San Joaquin Valley. The next two weeks driving across Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia never made it over 80°. Personally, I would love summer if it stayed in the 70s the whole time.

So for us, this was a sampling of what life might be like for us in the future. We're hoping to make our home somewhere up north, where the sun doesn't beat down on us for 9 months out of the year and seasons change when they're supposed to. Where winter means it's cold, but where you also get to wear your winter clothes for more than a couple weeks in January. Simply put, we're looking for a dramatic change in climate and we loved trekking across the Pacific Northwest. I hope to see it again, soon.

Here's my 2,000-picture movie of our trip. Enjoy!