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Trip Report 700+ miles in a whirlwind weekend in Oregon! A trip report...

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700+ miles in a whirlwind weekend to Oregon! Here’s my trip report for a three night trip to Northern Oregon.

I flew with a friend for a quick weekend in WA/OR. I loved it up there and definitely want to go back for a longer stay.

August 27 – Flew from Houston to Seattle on Continental, $257 RT. Smooth flight and upon arrival, immediately picked up a rental car from Advantage (Toyota Matrix, $24/day). The weather was glorious!!! It was around 70 degrees, much cooler than Houston!!! I traveled with a friend who is obsessed with all things related to the “Twilight” movies, so the first day was dedicated to seeing the filming locations that my friend wanted to see. We first drove to Kalama, WA to see the high school. Traffic on I-5 south was the pits. There are several construction zones and it added to our journey. We finally arrived in Kalama and I have to say this high school is very attractive and on a scenic spot. We were starving at this point and grabbed a late lunch at some pizza joint on the main street, something with the name Pete or Poker in it. It was ok. The lady who waited on us was very nice though.

Next stop was St. Helens, OR. This small little town was very quiet. We saw the film sites and my friend got an ice cream on the main street. She says it was one of the best ice creams she’s ever had. I thought the town would be cuter than it was, but the people were nice.

Onward towards Portland! We made a stop by the house that was used for the Cullen house in the movie. It was in a really neat neighborhood with some cute houses. As we headed out of the neighborhood, we encountered a little commercial area and found a wonderful French-style bistro where we picked up some baked goods. It would make for a nice place to have breakfast outside on a weekend morning.

We decided we’d better head towards our hotel. Luckily, for this trip, we had a Garmin. I don’t know how we would have made it without it! I say that, but of course I’ve made it through every other trip before without one, but it really was helpful for Portland and Seattle.

I had bid through Priceline for our Portland lodging, bidding on a three star for $38 near the Portland airport. The bid was accepted by the Holiday Inn on NE Columbia. I’m glad we only paid $38 per room (we each got our own room). If we had paid the regular rate of $100 per night at this place, we would not have been happy. There’s no way this is a three star hotel. It was clean and the bed was good, but the place was very worn out and the bathrooms were in real need of renovations.

After freshening up, we headed to the Pearl District for dinner. What a fun and lively area! I wish we had that in Houston. We had dinner at Deschutes Brewery. It is a huge place and very popular. It was pretty good and then we picked up dessert at Cupcake Jones. I highly recommend the chocolate cupcakes.

We were pretty tired from a long day of travel, both air and car, so we called in a night after a little wandering around.

August 28 – Columbia River Gorge and Mt. Hood day!!! While yesterday was my friend’s day, today was my day and I was excited!! We hit the road to visit the Columbia River gorge. First stop was the Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint. It was beautiful! We took some nice pictures and then headed to the Viewpoint Inn, another Twilight filming location. The owners of this B&B/restaurant were so nice!!! There weren’t any guests there at the moment, so the owner told us to feel free to walk all over the house. This would be a nice place to stay. They also offer restaurant service, so you can always just go for a meal. The outside garden area is beautiful. The view is outstanding. I was really impressed with the place and most especially the owners and staff.

Next stop was the Crown Point Scenic Overlook. This was another stunning place overlooking the river and a must stop! After checking out the visitor center and taking in the views, it was time to head to the falls.

First falls we stopped at were Latourelle Falls. We took the short trail to the base of the falls and of course it was beautiful. There were plenty of people around, but not crowded.

Next stop was Bridal Veils, which was really neat. The sound and power of these falls is amazing. This was a really good little hike, short, but with some good inclines that helped work off the cupcake from the previous night.

Next was Multnomah! It was crazy busy here!! We had a really hard time finding a parking spot, but eventually found one along side the road a little further down.

It felt very festive here, lots of families and visitors about. The falls are amazing! We went up to the bridge, but then got lazy and didn’t go higher because it was getting later and we still had so much to do. We did take our time just admiring the falls and going into the gift shop. I treated myself to some fudge at the little outdoor kiosk. It was pretty good.

Onward to Mt. Hood!! I was really eager to go here. I wanted to ride the magic mile lift at Timberline and ride the alpine slide at Ski Bowl Adventure Park.

It took quite a while to drive to Mt. Hood. It was a very relaxing and scenic drive. As we got closer to the mountain, the beautiful skies turned cloudy and it started to rain. Uh-oh!!! Up, up, up we went towards Timberline Lodge. As we got higher, the clouds broke apart and the sun popped out. We pulled into the parking lot and the mountain was beautiful, with some snow still present.

The lodge is undergoing renovation and isn’t exactly at its most photogenic right now, but that’s ok. Did I say how much colder it was up here??! As we were driving the car’s temperature gauge kept dropping. We went from the mid 70s to the lower 40s. When we stepped out of the car, the wind hit and it was something else! Keep in mind that Houston, where I’m from, has been having a record breaking, hot summer. It was going to be hard to return to the Texas heat.

My friend wasn’t interested in riding the magic mile ski lift, so she headed into the lodge to relax with a book. I walked to the lift area and to my dismay, it was closed!! This was a Saturday, loads of people around wanting to take the ride, but nope, it was closed. It was very disappointing. On the plus side, I did get to meet Bruno, the resident St. Bernard. He was bored out of his mind and I did feel sorry for him having to hang out in the gift shop. He was kind and indulgent though with all who wanted to pet and hug him, myself included.

We were going to have lunch at Timberline, but I was getting concerned that I might not get to do any alpine activity, so we headed to Government Camp where Ski Bowl is located. Wouldn’t you know it, they were closed!!!! The lady in the ticket office said they sent everybody home because of the rain storm. I couldn’t believe they would shut everything down for a rain storm that lasted less than an hour. It was now beautiful! Ay caramba!!! Thwarted again!!!! I have wanted to do a luge/toboggan type thing forever and keep getting thwarted. My last opportunity had been two years again in Zakopane, Poland, but sleet had closed the activities the day I was there. Next time, I’m going to make sure I have two days near a track so if the weather is bad one day, maybe I can make it another day. I was bummed!

We had lunch at Ratskellar, as recommended by the lady at the Ski Bowl ticket office. It wasn’t particularly good, but it wasn’t awful either.

We headed back to Portland. We passed through the town of Sandy which seemed very nice.

We detoured to the Grotto, a Christian sanctuary and park. It was late so we only saw the lower part of the property, but it was peaceful and beautiful. It really seemed like an oasis, in what otherwise seemed like a sketchy area. I wish we could have participated in an outdoor mass. Next time, I will have to check the schedule and plan accordingly. They also have a very nice gift shop.

Back at the hotel, we rested for a while and then went back downtown to wander around. We visited Powell’s bookstore, which was fun. We just meandered around and since our lunch had been so late in the day, we just picked up some snacks at Whole Foods.

My friend was wiped out, so we made it an early night.

August 29. My friend wanted to have breakfast at Carver Café, another Twilight site, so that’s where we went first. If you are a Twilight fan, by all means, drive by and take a picture of the outside, but don’t eat here. The service is hostile and excruciatingly slow. And, the food isn’t even good. Other people got up and left and we should have as well. We wasted a lot of time here.

Next was the Pittock Mansion. This is a lovely mansion on the top of a hill with beautiful views of Portland. This is definitely worth a stop. The home is really pretty and pleasant. Wish I could live here!!!

Onward to the Rose Garden and the Japanese Garden. The rose garden is truly spectacular!! I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many roses in my life!!! Loved it!!! This is a must see attraction, in my opinion. The same can’t be said for the Japanese Garden. What a letdown! And $9.50???!!! Not worth it at all. I am perplexed by all the rave comments I read before the trip. I’ve seen much better Japanese gardens elsewhere and would not recommend these. At least the rose garden made up for it and they are right next to each other and the rose garden is free!!

Time to head to the coast. We drove to Cannon Beach to visit Haystack Rock. What a cute little town this is!! It was quite busy and I wished we were staying overnight here because it would have been fun to have had more time to wander the main street. We stopped in a candy shop, but otherwise just spent some time walking the beach. It had gotten very cloudy and windy and the beach was cold.

Back to the car to head to Astoria. There were two attractions I wanted to see in Astoria. First was the Flavel House. The lady staffing the ticket office and gift shop was so very nice!!! People in Oregon are so pleasant!! Drivers in Oregon are so much nicer and less aggressive than my home state; it was such a pleasant change!!!

The house was really neat. You wander through on your own. This would have been a fun house to grow up in.

Next was the Astoria Column. On the way up the hill, we encountered a mother deer with two youngsters. They were munching on the grass of somebody’s yard. I got out of the car and got some great pictures. The youngsters were adorable, just like Bambi. We hope and pray that they stay safe from cars and predators.

Astoria Column is a monument at a great lookout point. It’s about 164 steps to the top and then you are rewarded with an outstanding view. Boy was it windy up there. I felt like I could blow off into the wind.

The column is impressively decorated on the outside. I tried to study all of the scenes using the zoom on my camera. Binoculars would have been handy!

Time to make our way to Seattle. When I worked up this trip, I failed to note the driving times. It was quite the trek from Astoria to Seattle!

By the time we made it to Seattle for our final night, thanks to construction delays on the freeway, it was 8:30 p.m. My friend was not feeling well by this point and we just checked into our hotel without going to dinner. We stayed at the Moore Hotel located on 2nd Street. It was a good price and the rooms were clean, but the noise!!!!!! It was awful!!! The sound of big trucks thundering by all night was terrible and I didn’t get much sleep. I would never stay here again because I need my sleep!!!

I got up early to see a little bit of Seattle before we needed to head to the airport. I walked down to Pike’s Market area and the merchants were just setting up. I wandered further to Pioneer Square. Heading back to the market, it was taking shape. The flower stalls are amazing! I couldn’t get over the cheap prices and great quality! Here in Houston, you pay a lot for sad looking flowers. If I lived in Seattle, I’d be buying myself flowers each week. Heck, if I had been staying in Seattle for more than that one night, I would have bought a bouquet to enjoy in my hotel room.

I then walked to see the Space Needle, but wasn’t able to go in because it wasn’t open yet. Bummer.

I eventually had to head back to the hotel to meet up with my friend and head to the airport. Be sure you allow plenty of time to clear security in Seattle because the lines were frightfully long!!! The lines were certainly the longest and slowest I’ve ever experienced in the United States.

I really enjoyed a taste of this part of the country and will certainly return. I only had the tiniest sampling of Seattle, but I can say that I truly loved the Portland area and am eager to go back. Next time I will allow a week!!!

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