A few weeks ago, I hopped on a plane out of Boston’s Logan airport, and headed towards Portland, Oregon. Once I landed, there was no stopping the adventures – I immediately jumped into Sue and Doug’s RV, and we headed off on our whirlwind tour through eastern Oregon.
Our first stop was Multnomah Falls – it was surprisingly busy given that we visited on a weekday at noon, but we managed to find a place to park the RV, and the three of us had a nice hike up to the top of the falls. When I returned home after my trip to Oregon, I was disheartened to learn that shortly after our visit to the falls, serious fires overtook the area. We were lucky to see the beauty of the area before that occurred. After leaving the falls, we spent some time taking care of RV business (I got the full experience!), and ended our day in a campsite near Mount Hood. We were surprised to find, that at the end of the day, we really hadn’t made much progress driving away from Portland.
To make up for our lack of miles made the first day, we had a long drive the next – we had already established plans to visit Doug’s family at Yamsi Ranch. The long drive turned out to be the perfect way to relax and enjoy the scenery (at least for me, who was lucky enough to not have to drive). After we passed over the Cascade Mountain Range, and left their green beauty behind, the next leg of our journey took us through the equally beautiful (although in radically different ways) High Desert. We even had the excitement of driving through Madras, Oregon, which a few days earlier had been swamped with eclipse viewers (they still had all their banners and paraphernalia up). Yamsi is on a beautiful piece of land, and our time on the ranch was divided between enjoying the outdoors and enjoying the company of Doug’s family, who so graciously hosted us.
When it was time to hit the road again, we headed west with an end goal of spending a couple of days on the coast. When Sue, Doug, and I initially began planning my visit, we entertained the idea of stopping by Crater Lake during this leg of the trip (as the national park is conveniently located between Yamsi and the West Coast), but once I arrived in Oregon, it became very apparent very quickly that a large number of forest fires were seriously affecting the locations around us. In New England, where I’ve grown up and live now, forest fires are almost never a concern – that is obviously not the case in Oregon. It felt particularly foreign to see all the fire advisory boards set at “extreme” instead of “low.” The fires were present throughout our trip, and essentially everywhere we went, which meant that often the sky was very smoky, and views were hard (or sometimes impossible) to see. We weren’t sure it would be worth a visit to Crater Lake if we couldn’t see the lake.
However, when it came time to say goodbye to Yamsi, the sky was clearing up, and the conditions looked very promising. We decided to take a shot and set course for Crater Lake. Once we arrived, we were blown away. Sue and Doug have been to Crater Lake before, and their prior trip was when the conditions were perfect. This was my first trip. The lake remained a little bit smoky (but not too much), which created an entirely unique (and still beautiful) viewing experience. We stayed for a couple of hours, and completed one of the shorter hikes to get a better look at the panoramic views. Our luck was pretty phenomenal: for those few hours, the smoke really lifted from the lake, and the views got better and better.
From Crater Lake we continued on to the Pacific Coast as planned. Sue and Doug had friends who had recommended Cape Blanco as a coastal destination. Cape Blanco really exceeded our expectations – the site sits on a cliff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean (and it also happens to be the western most point on the continental U.S.). Continuing the theme of the rest of our trip, we found very smoky skies – but as with the other parts of our trip, the smoke cleared enough to allow us to appreciate the beauty of our location. Cape Blanco offered us a few excellent hiking trails, a lighthouse tour, and a museum of a historical home. We liked it so much we decided to stay for an extra day to take on more activities that we couldn’t fit into our first day.
After our stay in Cape Blanco, we headed back towards Portland to complete our loop through Oregon. Sue, Doug, and I stopped in Oregon City, for a visit with Sue and Doug’s friends, John and Sharon. They were great company – it was a real blast to spend the evening talking with them (and exploring their incredible garden).
The following morning was my day of departure, and so Sue, Doug, and I headed into Portland for one last day of adventure. We had to start our day off with a trip to Blue Star Donuts (I’d recommend the chili chocolate donut!). From there, we walked the short distance to Powell’s Bookstore. I could have spent all day at Powell’s, but for the purposes of this trip I settled for a couple of hours. We then kicked off our afternoon by walking over to Washington Park, and spent the rest of our day exploring the International Rose Garden and the Japanese Garden. After the day’s end, Sue and Doug dropped me off at the airport, we said our goodbyes, and I was back off to Boston.
I think it’s suitable to end this entry by giving a very big thank you to both Sue and Doug for being such welcoming hosts. Both made for wonderful company and guides on a wonderful trip.
For anyone who’s interested, Mo’s album…