Portland is known for hipsters and outdoorsy people. My friend from uni, Bridgo was always travelling more than me we always seemed to be in opposite hemispheres. Bridgo had only moved in a week before so it was pretty crazy that we made it work. She had just moved into a huge apartment with her gorgeous very friendly budgie Frankie. She had the two most important pieces of furniture, wine glasses and a rug, that was all we needed for the next few nights.
Brad and i got out and tried to get out and see a little bit of the city, we went to Washington park to see the roses, most had been pruned because of the season, and rain. We went to walk the riverfront and RAIN. Powells book store and coffee shops were a drier places to spend the afternoon. In the evening we only had to brave the rain between breweries as we went on a self-guided brewery tour.
Brad had really wanted to learn more about coffee, since we loved consuming it. As an early Birthday present to him we went to a Barista Basic course at Nossa Familia coffee roastery. Erica, our Master barista coffee extraordinaire was fabulous. There was only one other participant in the class so we go to ask a lot of questions and focused more on tasting coffee and learning how the flavours can be varied. it was really fun, and the coffee was delicious. The next day we all felt like proper coffee snobs ordering cortado brevis and macchiatos. We attempted to go to Bagby Hot Springs, which was luckily a beautiful drive about 90 mins from the city. Luckily the drive was worth it because, when we got there we discovered that heaps of other people in Portland had the same idea and were waiting in lines to get their soak on. This wasn't just an open river natural springs but man-made wooden tubs in the middle of the forest. Still really cool, but not really our thing to wait in lines, we went wandered around waterfall instead unfortunately not warm though.
The next day we were again hesitant to leave the comfort of a warm space and go back to drinking wine out of plastic cups. We felt like we really had the authentic Portland experience, rain and all. Thank-you Bridgo, was so sweet to explore, taste and skip through the streets of your new city.
We thought we should probably compare some Oregon wine to the Canadian wine we had and stopped at “Alexi Vineyards” just outside of Silver Falls. The taste host recommended a local hike, “the trail of ten falls” which we did the next day. You can never see too many waterfalls, I think we must have almost seen every type after this hike. We got to walk under a few of them here if the wind was blowing the wrong direction you got a little wet, but it was, of course, raining anyway so we were already wet.
Brad immediately liked Bend, it had a cool vibe, it seemed like there was a lot going on in the community and with mountains and ocean close by there would be so many outdoor adventures. Part of our trip was to discover and think more about where we wanted to live, we had talked a lot about how we would like to always try and balance career and lifestyle. Bend seemed to have that. It did help also that it wasn't raining for the day we were there so just seeing sunshine made everything better. Brad wanted to move here. but the next day was showing sunshine and we were attempting to go to one of the snowiest places in North America, “Crater Lake”. So we had to take the opportunity while it was there.
It was Brad’s Birthday who doesn’t want to go see America's deepest lake on their birthday? This is usually a pretty easy task you can drive from the visitors centre 1.5 miles along the rim trail uphill right to the lake. Unfortunately for us, even though the sun was shining there had been a lot of snow over the last few days. It is one of the snowiest places in the US and averages 43 feet per year! We thought we would hire snowshoes, nope they only have those at rim village, which is where we were trying to get to, damn it. The rangers told us people had hiked up and there were a few paths we could follow. I wanted Brad to get his Birthday present so we rugged up and set off. The first part of the path was easy enough to find, but it would be two steps up then DOWN, we would sink into sometimes waist deep snow, it was so funny. There was no way we were looking cool walking in this. It was tough and slow going. We stopped and wondered many times if we were going the right way. Wasn't until about an hour on literally trudging through the snow we saw another couple. They were on Cross country skis seemed to be doing it much easier, they said they were making the path. They apologised for the path going all over the place, they had no idea where they were going. We trecked on saw some Aussies that had managed to hire snowshoes from a neighbouring town. We saw a guy who had tried to hike to the top in slip-on boat shoes, I guess he made it he was hustling back down when I asked him how he was going he showed me he said “ I can't feel my feet” he lifted a foot out of the snow and showed me he was just wearing socks. A stranger was not too far behind him carrying his shoes, he couldn't believe he had got that far. As we climbed the last steep 100 m the path was well carved and probably easier without the snowshoes. We saw the rim I waited for Brad so we could catch out breath and see it together and it was INCREDIBLE! Immediately worth the hard slog.We had also seen a couple of lakes but this one was ridiculous, we sat on the edge of the fence and looked down into the big drop, the water was dark dark blue, I guess due to the depth. The contrast to the snow was so dramatic. We had a snack and tried to stop our hands from freezing. We had made it just in time before what looked like snow clouds started to roll in. As I always say if you really work for it, you will appreciate the reward so much more. The way down was so much easier, you could pretty much run on your heels and let yourself sink. We had been in the snow for a couple of hours I tried to go fast to keep my body temp up. My feet were starting to freeze through my wool socks and waterproof boots, I couldn't imagine how that guy was going in socks! When we got down the parking lot was full with cars, people wanting to drive to the rim, of course they were ploughing the road and were hoping to get it open that afternoon. We weren't upset the adventure was fun. I hoped they did open the road, I would hate for more unprepared people to attempt a steep very cold snow hike. I saw the sock boy sitting in the back of an ambulance in a thermal blanket.
Here are the hike stats, pretty darn slow:
We ate at a very homey diner in a log cabin down the road, I got Brad some boysenberry pie as a substitute for birthday cake. It was getting dark around 5 pm, we were going to make our way to the coast and decided we would find a hotel halfway. For the first time the fuel light came on in the car. Of course when we were in the middle of nowhere in the dark, no phone service. At the start we weren't worried, Dad always told me you probally still have at least 80 miles before we really run out. Brad started keeping track of the distance, 30 miles in found a small town, no gas station. 20 miles another smaller town , a gas station, YES! oh nope, gas station closed. We had to decide if we were going to sleep there the night and wait for it to open, or risk it. We kept driving. It was tense, we were trying to stay positive, it was so dark and we did not see another car. Brad was trying not to rev too much. Then at the 78 mile mark we found it! So relieved. Thanked the guys working there for being open.
After the amazing day at Crater Lake was what I think one of the toughest parts of the trip so far. Rain rain and more rain. Brad Nicknamed the state “ORAINAgon”. When you're living in a van rain is tough. You can't escape it. You don't want to go walking around in the rain knowing that you won't have a place to put your dry clothes and warm up. Defiantly hard to keep our sprits high when the sky just kept falling. It was a slow day as we drove towards the coast. We had heard all great things about the Oregon Coast, I am sure it would have been beautiful in some sun. The sky cleared when we woke to drive to California.