Oregon – Days 1-8: Ocean Breeze, Sweet Treats, and Keeping Portland Weird

So, fun fact: Oregon, like New Jersey, has full service gas stations. However, unlike New Jersey, I didn’t know this beforehand… So of course, I started to get out of the car while the attendant was coming to see me and it resulted in an awkward conversation wherein I kept the door half open and talked to him through the door rather than shutting the door and rolling down the window like a normal person…whoops.

My first night in Oregon I stayed with my 100th Couchsurfing host! Yep, I successfully managed to stay with ONE HUNDRED complete strangers and not die. Woo! Go me!

The following day I checked out the High Desert Museum in Bend, OR. It was cool, but I definitely wouldn’t spend $15 to do it again. While I was there there was a live demonstration with a porcupine. Porcupines are so cool! Did you know that a porcupine’s pointy looking hairs are not actually their quills? They’re not. The quills actually lie flat against the porcupine’s body and stick up when the porcupine feels threatened. Porcupines have over 30,000 quills, but don’t have any on their face or on the bottoms of their feet. A porcupine’s quills have antibiotic properties. The barbs on the quills are microscopic and will continue to burrow as the muscles around them are used, which can be quite dangerous if the quills approach internal organs. Also, a baby porcupine is called a porcupette. How cute.

Tumbleweed, my porcupine friend, High Desert Museum, Bend, OR.

Tumbleweed, my porcupine friend, High Desert Museum, Bend, OR.

The High Desert Museum has numerous volunteers dressed in period costumes. I did not know this beforehand. I kept running into people in period costumes and thinking they were part of the set. This one guy scared me half to death; I was just about to take his picture thinking he was a super life-like mannequin, when he moved and said hello. Oy vey.

After the museum I drove to Crater Lake National Park. Oh. My. Wow!

Crater Lake, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon.

Crater Lake, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon.

Unfortunately, I only got to soak in this magnificent sight for a few minutes before the clouds descended and covered the entire lake in fog. It was totally worth it though, even if it did start snowing after that. I mean, it’s May, but I’ve totally been chasing winter this whole trip, so why wouldn’t it snow in May too?

On the drive to my host’s house after Crater Lake I nearly died. No joke. I was on a two lane highway and had just passed a semi-truck. Someone in the oncoming traffic lane decided they also needed to pass a semi-truck. Only, as soon as they were in my lane I was like, hang on, you DO NOT have enough room to pass that truck…

Apparently they were not as good at math as I am. They accelerated. Toward me. I took off my cruise control and thought, Oh, hey, this is it. This is the moment I die in a head on car accident. Huh. When they were less than a hundred feet in front of me I was like, Ok, I guess they’re not going to go back in their lane… I guess I’ll just pull over… And let them continue to drive down the wrong side of the road…?

So I started pulling over onto my shoulder, meanwhile the semi-truck they had been trying to pass was pulling onto their shoulder to give them room to go back in their own lane. We were like fifty feet from each other, both driving at at least 55mph when they also decided to pull over into my shoulder!

I’m like, What. The. Heck! Are. You. Doing?!  So I pulled back into my own lane and two seconds later passed them as they came to a stop on my shoulder. Meanwhile their semi-truck had pulled over on their side, my semi-truck is right on my tail and all the traffic behind all of us is getting backed up. What. A. Cluster.

I have no idea how or if they managed to get back into their own lane of traffic from the wrong side of the road and facing against oncoming traffic, but I survived, so there’s that. It was utterly terrifying though. Afterward I sat and thought about how I just accepted that I was about to die rather than trying to do anything about it. That might have been the most unnerving part of the whole thing. Then again, there was a semi-truck right behind me in addition to the one approaching me in the other lane, so I didn’t really have a whole lot of options.

I spent the majority of the following day driving. I did some work in the morning and then headed to Salem, OR. My host and I went out for dinner when I got there. We went to Taproot Lounge and Cafe and I had a beer called Hootenanny Honey Basil, and yes, I did pick it just because I liked the name. Thankfully it was pretty good. The food wasn’t bad either.

I took the scenic route to Portland the next day, by way of the coast. My friend Molly had recommended I check out Cape Kiwanda, a sand dune, next to Pelican Brewery, so I did.

Whoa.

One of the super neat things about my trip is that I frequently find myself going somewhere and having no idea what to expect. As such, I am often pleasantly surprised by how awesome things end up being. Cape Kiwanda was no different. I thought, oh, cool, a sand dune with a nice view of the Pacific Ocean, that sounds fun.

After a pretty strenuous trek up Cape Kiwanda, I learned just how much room I had in my shoes, because they were full to the brim with sand. I stopped at the top to catch my breath and nearly lost it again when I took in the view.

View from the top of Cape Kiwanda, Pacific City, OR.

View from the top of Cape Kiwanda, Pacific City, OR.

I won’t lie to you, when it was time to head back down the dune I was bummed. Hiking up had been such a feat and I’d watched people earlier nearly fly to the bottom. But, before I was sad for too long, gravity said, hey, trust me, this will be fun. I took a step and it was a bound. I kid you not my steps had to be six or seven feet apart. I felt like a giant galloping down that hill. I would step and my foot would slide in the sand and then take another and my next foot would slide. It was so much fun that as soon as I got to the bottom I promptly considered going back up just so I could come down again, but I didn’t.

Instead I went to the Tillamook Cheese Factory. I took myself on a tour, waved to some of the workers, sampled some cheeses, and then treated myself to an Oregon Strawberry ice cream cone. I mean, where else was I going to get Oregon Strawberry ice cream? 😀 So. Good.

I arrived in Portland and finally got to see my dear friend Molly and meet her boyfriend Gabe. I remembered calling Molly back in August of 2015 and saying, “hey, if I do this crazy road trip can I come stay with you when I get to Portland?” She, of course, said yes, and here I was nine months later in Portland. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it’d been so long since I’d originally asked and I couldn’t believe I’d actually made it this far either.

We had Thai food for dinner and chatted and caught up and then there was a knock at the door at 11:15 p.m.. We all looked at each other wondering who could be knocking so late.

Turned out we didn’t know who she was at all, she was just some girl. Some girl knocking on a stranger’s door at eleven o’clock at night high on something and asking to use the bathroom. While Gabe tried to call her a ride home, she passed out on the front step and trampled the garden. The place Gabe called wouldn’t take her after she’d passed out and she wouldn’t tell us where she lived or let us call her a cab and she wasn’t leaving, so Gabe had to call the police. Eventually she realized we’d called the police and she wandered off.

Throughout this entire ordeal I sat frozen on the chair in the living room. I knew if I got up I’d be super stressed out and go into fight or flight mode. It wasn’t my house or my responsibility, so instead I just sat there, trying to stay calm for Molly and Gabe.

As I sat there I pondered how similar and yet how different that girl and I were. I’d never been to the point where I had to knock on a stranger’s door to ask to use the bathroom. Though I have knocked on a number of strangers’ doors. I’ve never had to spend the night out on the street though I’ve technically been homeless for nine months now. I’ve never been without somewhere to go or someone to call, but I wondered what that would feel like. In that moment, it hit me really hard how incredibly fortunate I am to be who I am, where I am, and have all the people in my life who love and care about me.

The next day was pretty chill in comparison to the previous night. I worked on my blog and looked up flights and was otherwise productive. That afternoon I went to Multnomah Falls. I think it’s the tallest waterfall I’ve ever seen. So. Freaking. Cool!

Such a long fall! Multnomah Falls, OR.

Such a long fall! Multnomah Falls, OR.

I explored the surrounding Columbia River area and checked out a couple more waterfalls. Then I decided to find a place to sit and write some postcards. I chose the Oneonta Gorge. There was this pileup of trees blocking view of the river flowing out of the gorge. I was feeling adventurous so I walked across the river on a fallen tree trunk and hopped across a few rocks. I walked along another tree trunk to get to the pile of trees. I climbed up and over the pile and am so glad I did. It was magical. Nature untouched by man. Simply wonderful.

Oneonta Gorge, Columbia River area, OR.

Oneonta Gorge, Columbia River area, OR.

When I made it back to Molly and Gabe’s Gabe had made a wonderful dinner for us. I’m pretty sure it might have been the fanciest thing I’ve ever eaten. Seriously. I don’t even remember what all it was, but it was delicious, and looked like it could have been served at a five star restaurant. Yum!

The next morning Molly and I went to Council Crest Park to check out Portland’s skyline. Then I spent a couple of hours roaming around Powell’s Books while she went to class. I’ve been to a number of bookstores on my trip, but I seriously considered moving to Portland just so I could go to this bookstore all the time – it’s that AWESOME (and huge)! Oh, yeah, did I not already mention it’s an entire city block? The bookstore is an entire city block! And it’s like four stories tall! So. Many. Books! I literally spent the first hour and a half in the Young Adult Fiction section, just to ‘check it out for a minute’… So. Awesome!

After Molly’s class we went to Alberta St. for Last Thursday and saw lots of hippies. Also there were bubbles. Huge bubbles. Bubbles that crossed the street and danced over cars bubbles. Amazing bubbles. Beautiful bubbles. I love bubbles!

Bubbles, Last Saturday, Alberta St., Portland, OR.

Bubbles, Last Saturday, Alberta St., Portland, OR.

While on Alberta St. we went to Salt and Straw, the famous Portland ice cream shop. I tried the Pear with Blue Cheese and the Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper but I went with a scoop of Petunia’s Coconut Mint Chip Whoopie Pie and a scoop of Chocolate Gooey Brownie. Cheese in ice cream is as weird as it sounds. Everything else was So. Good. The samples they gave us were huge, in contrast, the cone seemed a bit skimpy…

Salt and Straw's skimpy ice cream cone, Portland, OR.

Salt and Straw’s skimpy ice cream cone, Portland, OR.

Molly, Gabe, and I went to Meat Cheese Bread the following morning for brunch. Then they took me on a tour around town to see different murals their friend Klutch had painted. I love street art, so this was especially awesome. This one was my favorite:

This was my favorite of Klutch's murals, Portland, OR.

This was my favorite of Klutch’s murals, Portland, OR.

We went to Voodoo Doughnut, and while I really wanted to get the Cock and Balls, because it was funny, and basically my usual donut, it was $6. I refuse to pay $6 for a donut no matter what it looks like…so I settled for the Portland Cream, which was pretty much the same thing, but shaped like a donut and with frosting eyes.

Voodoo Doughnuts's cock and balls donut can be yours for only $5.75...Portland, OR.

Voodoo Doughnuts’s cock and balls donut can be yours for only $5.75…Portland, OR.

Molly wanted to take us to the Chinese Garden, because her school has free passes, but all the passes were checked out when we tried to go. Lame. We peeked in through the walls though, and it looks pretty awesome. Instead we went to the Rose Garden. Wow. So many colors and smells! It was wonderful.

Fun fact: did you know Oregon is home to the nation’s first non-profit pub? Indeed they are! Oregon Public House is a non-profit pub. How cool is that?! I didn’t even know that was possible, but apparently, it is. Neat!

My last day in Portland Molly and I took her pal Stanley, the dog, for a walk at Mt. Tabor Park. It was a beautiful day and Stanley was such cute company. The clouds finally cleared and I was finally able to see Mt. Hood. Whoa! Now, that’s a mountain! Later Molly and I went to the PSU Farmer’s Market, where, of course, I tried all the samples and bought more ice cream, because, why not? Then we went and checked out the Saturday Market and finished my trip to Oregon with some Indian food to remind us of old times when we used to go to the Indian place right around the corner from my apartment in New York. Oh, good times.

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