Our Time in Oregon
The Oregon Coast
Our first taste of the Oregon Coast - and perhaps our favorite taste - was Cannon Beach. For the first time during our trip, the weather was chilly and gray. A thin mist covered the beach’s horizon, hugging the jutting rocks that erupted from the sand. It was gloomy; but in a way that made you want to wrap yourself up in a sweatshirt, sit on the sand, and become mesmerized by the crashing waves. Campfires dotted across the horizon; the smell of smoke lingering with the smell of salt. It awakened us to the love of a new type of beach; pina coladas and palm trees are great, but when you can have gray skies, the smell of campfires, and the roaring of waves against the massive rocks? We might just prefer that!
The next day, we began our exploration with Rockaway Beach. It was a chilly day again, but decidedly a perfect day for Rockaway to host a kite-flying festival. We walked the beach while the kite fliers were preparing themselves, then found a place in the sand to sit and watch their colorful kites perform tricky maneuvers. We stayed until 11am, because that was when the Pronto Pups cart opened; reportedly, the inventor of the corn dog! How cool is that? We got ourselves a jumbo dog to split, then climbed back in our car to continue the drive down the coast.
Other stops along the way included a hike to Hecketa Lighthouse, a night’s stay in Bandon Beach, and a long drive down the scenic byway. Our advice, when traveling down the Oregon coast is to stop as often as you can - some of the most gorgeous sights aren’t on the map.
Tip: Be aware that, when driving the scenic byway, a lot of the famous beaches are accessible, but you will have to hike down a steep incline. As I was still recovering from an ankle injury, we - unfortunately - weren’t able to do so, which meant - for us - a lot of the scenic byway was just trees!
Crater Lake National Park
In the Cascade Mountains of southern Oregon, Crater Lake was formed by the now-collapsed volcano, Mount Mazama. The entire lake is a collection of rain water and melted snow, so it’s a brilliant and breath-taking blue. (In fact, it’s actually considered the cleanest and clearest body of water in the entire world.) How did it get to be so large? Well, it just happens to be situated in a mountain range that gets one of the largest snowfalls in the USA - an average of 30 feet a year, to be exact. When we visited in early June, half of the park was still shut down due to the snow, and Daniel and I were able to pose by 15ft snow banks. The night before, we had stayed at a lodge at the foot of the mountain and there hadn’t been any snow; it was so fun to drive up the mountain and see the snowbanks appear … then get larger, and larger, and larger. The view is stunning, and it’s worth the snowy trek.
We knew we were going to love Portland; everyone calls it ‘the original Brooklyn,’ after all. And it definitely did have that vibe! Except the people were friendly and the buildings were small. Portland seemed like the perfect place to ‘retire’ from city life; it still had all of the culture, without the crowds. We participated in an art walk, got caught in the middle of a bicycle marathon, visited the Portland staples (like Voodoo Donuts and Powell’s Books) and ate a lot of great food. In fact, our entire Portland itinerary was built by locals (our airbnb hosts, locals we knew before our trip began, and then a surprising amount of locals that we met on the day of - because everyone seemed to love talking about their favorite thing to do in Portland!)
Our favorite Portland Eats:
Hat Yai: We absolutely loved Hat Yai, a unique Thai/Indian fusion. We both helped ourselves to their special: Thai fried chicken and sticky rice paired with Indian curry and rodi.
The Angry Unicorn: We had heard so much about the famous food trucks, so we tried our hand with The Angry Unicorn the next day. We got The Unicorn (of course) which is, according to their menu, “real unicorn meat, bacon strips, a splash of maple, covered with cheddar on a glazed donut.” The flavors were so strong that I could only take a few bites - but those bites were delicious! Daniel and I ate while chatting with the friendly owner of the truck.
Salt & Straw is famous enough that we had to go. I’m not usually one for ‘hoity-toity’ ice cream (just check out my review of Jeni’s in Nashville), but Salt & Straw didn’t really provide any classic options, so I rolled the dice and tried something new. Luckily, the man behind the counter didn't mind that I wanted to taste-test about 5 different flavors. The taste-test that most impressed me was ‘Pear & Blue Cheese’ (can you believe it? Blue cheese ice cream?) But it was absolutely delicious. Daniel tried a few different options before settling on Snickerdoodle; then we ate our treats while walking back to our airbnb. I would absolutely recommend trying some of their unusually combinations; but my advice would be to take your time taste-testing. The employees don’t mind, and you want to make sure you get a flavor you like.
To end our time in Oregon, we decided to try our hand at a 1.5 mile hike that literally had a fatality warning posted at the beginning of it. (Haha!) The hike to Oneota Falls is within a beautiful, moss-covered gorge. And the best part? The river is the trail! Makes sure to bring water shoes or hiking boots, as you're going to be hiking over all the little rocks and stones that line the bottom of the river. At some points, you will be in waist-deep water, and at other points you'll just be ankle-deep. The hike is peaceful and solitary (at least on the day we went.) Water trickles down the mossy, rocky walls around you and bubbles under you feet as you make your way to the gorgeous waterfall at the end of the trail.
The reason for the fatality warning, however, was because of a recent flash flood that had added a significant amount of logs to the 'log jam' at the beginning of the hike. On the day we went, the log jam was around 40ft long - you had to climb up and over. At one point, we had to straight up Simba-walk across a 10ft long log that dangled over murky water. And you had to be careful, because the logs could move, considering they had only been 'placed' there a few days prior by a flash flood. Thankfully, we made it out alive and are able to tell the tale! It's an adventurous hike with an excellent payout (the waterfall) and we highly recommend it.
All in all, we loved our time in Oregon. We randomly happened across some excellent German food, had many conversations with friendly locals, enjoyed our first taste of sweatshirt weather, and 'lived it up' in the state that smells perpetually like a campfire. Think we missed anything? Leave us a comment on our instagram and let us know what you think we should see next time we're in Oregon!