Ben’s sister joined us in Portland and flew back from Seattle, so with her assistance we proceeded to have an amazing time in and around the two cities.
Park Place Café: This was where we spent our first morning out in the east-end of the city. Omar, who owns and runs the café, was super-nice, let us try his amazing baklava, and gave us lots of tips for things to do.
Oxbow Regional Park: While exploring Portland, the three of us camped in Oxbow Regional Park. The park itself is about 45 minutes east of the city, but the campground is at the very end of the park road which added an unexpected, but beautiful extension to our drive. The park road winds through the rain forest beside the Sandy River and pretty much every time we drove it we saw deer.
Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway: The first day Ben’s sister was with us it was rainy, so we decided it was a good day for driving and we head east along the Columbia River Gorge. The drive was very beautiful, with several *gorgeous* views (Vista House was particularly impressive) and numerous amazing waterfalls. We definitely hit our waterfall quota for the trip, stopping and hiking to five or six during the day.
Canteen: Our first meal out in Portland as a group was impressive. Canteen had some very tasty and healthy food that gave us the energy to spend most of the afternoon walking around Portland’s Sunnyside neighbourhood (which is very chill).
Kopi East Asian Coffee House: We stumbled upon this place while wandering and were intrigued by the idea of coffee flavoured with coconut milk, chicory, and makrut* lime. It was phenomenal. Just really, really good. We were all blown away. (*Many still refer to makrut limes as kaffir limes, but kaffir is actually a derogatory and racist term).
Portland International Rose Test Garden: This free garden has more than 600 varieties of roses, and it’s almost a little overwhelming. It’s amazing how many different sizes, shapes, and colours roses can come in. Walking through the garden is a spectacle of sights and smells. Portland has been nicknamed the City of Roses as they are pretty much everywhere. We passed many a traffic circle and road divider thriving with rose blooms.
Khao San: This restaurant serves small plates of Thai street food. Although some of the dishes would appear on a standard Thai restaurant menu, there were some really interesting flavours at work here, and the food was really special. We’ve regularly found pretty great food on the trip, but finding places like Khao San, where the food is a revelatory experience, happens much less often.
Salt and Straw: Regular ice cream is delicious. Vegan ice cream is also delicious. An ice cream joint that serves flights of regular and vegan ice cream is even more delicious. It was soooo good.
Bonus: The Observatory (awesome veggie burgers and exploration themed decor), Pip’s Original Doughnuts (small but so yummy), Voodoo Doughnuts (a great recommendation from Paige and had so many vegan options – see photo above), Powell’s Bookstore (just go, it’s epic), Tacos del Rio (great Mexican food in The Dalles), Portland Farmers Market (a really big market in the middle of Portland State University’s campus), the Pittock Mansion (beautiful views of the city), In Other Words Feminist Community Centre (cool bookstore and gathering space), Case Study Coffee Roasters (good place to hang-out when it’s absolutely pouring rain), Stella Taco (tacos is Austin were delicious, so finding an Austin-themed taco place hit the spot), Alberta Cooperative Grocery.
Cape Kiwanda: We spent the afternoon drinking coffee and walking the beach and cliffs of Cape Kiwanda by Pacific City. The Beach is really beautiful, and walking up the massive dunes into the state natural area presents stunning views of the coast, cliffs, and some amazing sea caves that let loose loud booms as waves crashed within them.
Cape Lookout: We had booked a campsite for one night at Cape Lookout State Park, but if we had only known was a jewel of a park this was, we probably would have found a way to stay longer. The campground is on a long peninsula that separates a marshy bay from the ocean. Driving towards the park we pulled off at a viewpoint where we could see the whole peninsula far down beneath us. Our site was right beside the beach and we drank beers while watching the sunset. We took a long walk along the beach the next morning, and if we could have stayed longer, I think we might have walked all the way to the end … maybe.
Cape Meares: So, this area is called The Three Capes and we stopped at them all. Cape Meares is cool because in addition to spectacular views, it has a lighthouse and Oregon’s oldest known Sitka Spruce which is also called the octopus tree. That’s because instead of one trunk, it has seven or eight all bending up into the sky.
Bonus: Lewis and Clark National Historic Park (we knew embarrassingly little about Lewis and Clark, but thankfully, there’s a historic park where we brushed up on our history), the bridge from Astoria into Washington, Friends Landing park near Montesano (pretty much everything in this park is wheelchair accessible and we took a nice morning walk on our way to Seattle), Obsidian in Olympia (awesome coffee shop and really, Olympia itself is pretty cool, it’s where Riot Grrrl was founded).
Saltwater State Park: This is where we camped while exploring Seattle. The good news is that it’s really close to the city (surrounded by residential neighbourhoods), has a sweet beach, a cute river, and some nice hiking trails. Bad news is that it’s right under the flight path for planes taking off from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. But, even though the jets were really, really loud, somehow both Amalia and I slept super soundly in the tent. The park is also notable for having an artificial reef offshore that is part of a larger marine sanctuary.
Café Flora: A couple of people had recommended this place for brunch. And while in a kind of out-of-the-way part of Seattle, it was well worth the trip. We ate in a large, beautiful solarium with a fountain and had an amazing vegetarian brunch.
Araya’s Place: Why aren’t there more vegan Thai restaurants with lunch buffets? This place was awesome. The food was good, and it was all-you-can eat at a reasonable price.
Full Tilt Ice Cream: More great ice cream. And more amazing vegan flavours. Also, classic arcade games. There were all kinds of really interesting flavours, but maybe the best was Ube flavoured ice cream. Ube is an Asian Yam that’s kind of purple. It might sound weird, but it is actually really, really good!! Amalia had a hard time sharing.
Bonus: Left Bank Books (amazing progressive bookstore right by the main market), Pine Box (a bar that used to be a mortuary that once held Bruce Lee’s memorial service), Plum Bistro (yummy vegan food).