On Monday, August 15th, we drove into Oregon, after shedding a tear over our departure from California. It didn’t take much time for us to fall in love with Oregon though, as we took in the breathtaking views of the coastline. We ended up in Bandon for lunch, where we had some delicious clam chowder and fish and chips.
We kept heading north and ended up at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, where huge sand dunes border the coastline. We stopped there for Mike to surf and then got back on the road and continued to enjoy the beautiful views of the ocean. We slept at South Beach State Park that night, just south of Newport. Something we hadn’t seen before: they had a tsunami evacuation route mapped out in the brochure they gave us and there were lots of tsunami warning signs as we traveled the coast in Oregon and Washington…kind of scary!
On Tuesday morning, we continued north and then east to Portland. After registering at our campsite (Champoeg State Heritage Area), we drove into Portland (such an awesome place!). We went to East Portland first, which is a more residential area that has great restaurants. We went to a food truck called Grilled Cheese Grill and ate some really delicious…grilled cheese sandwiches! We then drove into center city and went to Powell’s Books, which was recommended to us by friends we met at our winery tour in Napa. It is a HUGE store with new and used books in basically any genre you can think of. We could have wandered around there (and gotten lost) for hours!
Portland is known for its many microbreweries, so we knew we had to check out at least one during our time there. McMenamins (also Kaitlin’s grandmother’s maiden name) is a large northwest brewer which has some fun pubs around the city, so we headed to St. John’s Pub which had a beer and movie night on Tuesday evenings. We got their burger and beer deal and watched X-Men: First Class in their small theatre – it was awesome!
Wednesday brought another beautiful day (we had hardly any bad weather in the Pacific northwest) and we drove first to Voodoo Doughnuts, a Portland institution, known for its unique doughnut creations, such as a donut covered in Froot Loops!
From Voodoo Doughnuts, we drove to the International Rose Test Garden. Portland has some of the most beautiful and plentiful rose gardens outside of Asia. It was a beautiful area to walk around on a sunny day. They have rows and rows of different kinds of roses (some of which are covered by plant patent applications) and benches to sit and enjoy the view of Portland and Mount Hood. Put it on your list for your next visit to Portland!
After visiting the Rose Garden, we drove into town again to check out one of the many farmer’s markets that highlight Portland’s dedication to locally grown produce. We got lunch at the market and ate in the nearby park, trying to decide whether we should just find an apartment there and then. In the end, there was no apartment searching, but needless to say, we loved it there! It is a beautiful, tree-filled, eco-conscious, active city with lots of things to do for its residents and a personality all its own.
We knew it was time to move on, so after grabbing biodiesel (another reason Mike loved Portland – they had biodiesel!), we drove back toward the coast and ended up at the Tillamook Cheese Factory, where we got free samples of cheese and fudge and bought their fresh ice cream…pretty much some of the most delicious foods all in one place! We also were able to look in at the factory and watch employees packaging the cheese and learn about the process from cow to the consumer’s home. They use fresh milk from local farmers and don’t use any artificial growth hormones.
On Wednesday night, we slept at a campground located a little farther north. On Thursday morning, we drove to Cannon Beach, where we saw the famous Haystack Rock. Cannon Beach is a picturesque town that is a summer haven for many Portland residents. We wandered into a local surf shop, where they told us about a great spot nearby for waves, so we drove to Ecola State Park, where Mike jumped in the water for a couple of hours. What a dream location — beautiful sandbar-breaking waves, working both left and right in a little cove.
From Cannon Beach, we continued north to Astoria, which sits on the border with Washington. We stopped right outside town at Fort Clatsop, which is where Lewis and Clark stayed during their winter encampment from December 1805 to March 1806 before they started back east. We then drove into Astoria for dinner at the Fort George Brewery & Public House. We had a delicious meal and some of their homemade brewed beer. From dinner, we drove to the local elementary school. Why, you ask? Well, a Caruso family favorite movie is Kindergarten Cop and Astoria, OR is where much of it was filmed, including the elementary school. Mike was VERY excited to check out many of the places where the movie was shot.
After Mike had reminisced a good amount about the movie, we drove across the Columbia River into Washington state. The sun was setting and as we looked back at Astoria (Kaitlin looked back, Mike looked ahead at the road), it was draped in orange and pink and looked like a painting.
We stayed at Lake Sylvia State Park that night before heading to Olympic National Park the next day (Friday, August 19th). We’ll continue from there in our next post!