From 100% humidity and 55 degrees to 75 then 88!  The itinerary was Crescent City to Portland, with a lunchtime stopover in Salem.  All fog was left behind as we drove north and over the state line.  I really loved the countryside – so many quaint towns along the I5.  I know.  For people who live in California, the I5 has the reputation of being more of a trucking route than picturesque.  In Humboldt and Del Norte counties, and definitely in Oregon, that is far from the case.  Although you still have the trucks.  There is a definite style that speaks of NoCal, and then it slowly but surely transforms into an Oregon state of mind.

Oregon SkyJust look at this cloud pattern.  To say that I was entertained by nature was putting it mildly.  There are towns that are not even listed on the map, each with their own charm and personality.  Cows, horses, sheep, goats hang out in the front “yards”, fresh laid eggs are advertised for sale, “buy local” signs abound, farmer’s stalls pop up on all sides of the road.  Life couldn’t get better.

State CapitolThe temperature had climbed to 97 degrees inland when we stopped in Salem.  Still cooler than Phoenix. We took care of business first and had a recovery lunch at The Brick, a local bar and grill. Then it was on to tour the State Capitol Building. Self-guided touring, which I typically prefer.  Huge murals depicting pioneer events that helped shape Oregon.  Phenomenal marble and granite throughout. An original copy of the sheet music for Oregon, My Oregon, which is the state song.  Pinkish marble walls mix with granite accents.

Oregon RotundaI get a big kick out of rotundas.  So here is the shot of the Oregon rotunda.  One of these days I will get a camera that can capture the whole circle. The ladies room has doorknobs with the state seal embossed on them.  Oregon’s state capital building has burned down twice in its same location in the past 150 years.  Does lightening strike twice?  They do seem to have gotten past that problem in the current age. Avenue of the Flags dominates an exterior park – flags from each of the states, as well as all the Oregon-based Indian tribes.

Oregon sunset, from hotel roomBy that time it was fortunately only a skip to Portland from Salem, by comparison.  And it was a long day.  It’s hard to get one’s bearings in Portland proper.  It seems as though they squeezed a bunch of freeways and access to the freeways as an afterthought, and introduced one-ways to improve the traffic flow.  We kept crossing a freeway, driving a block or two, and then crossing it again to enter.  In spite of the quirky roads and our temperamental GPS, we found the hotel and crashed for a well deserved rest.

Portland RoseBright and early the next day we made the pilgrimage to Washington Park, visiting the International Test Rose Garden first.  I have never seen so many roses in one place at the same time! (I’ve never seen the Pasadena Rose Parade, either, but those roses aren’t planted in the ground).  The area is at least twice, maybe three times more than at the Huntington Library and Gardens.  I can’t remember being so overwhelmed as when visiting the Descanso Gardens in Los Angeles, either. And there is also a Shakespeare Garden there as well!

Rose GardenA garden isn’t a garden without the bard, at least for me.  This time he was invited because he openly preferred roses to all other flowers.  I certainly appreciate them more in my later years.  But what is it about cities that start with the letter P and roses? Is it a requirement? Portland, Pasadena – is there a rivalry?

Poetry Stone, Japanese GardenNext stop – the Japanese Garden.  What a calming delight.  Many worthwhile sights, my favorite being the poetry stone. Fish ponds, maple trees and an authentic Japanese Tea House from Japan are just some of the attractions in the garden.  There is an entry charge, but it is worth the cost.  Pacing ourselves, we walked the grounds for a good hour – reverse walking the trails produced a different perspective.  Dappled sunlight added to the ambiance of the experience.

Piittock Mansion Pittock Mansion was built by the founder of the Oregonian newspaper, Henry Pittock.  Completed in 1914, it had all the modern comforts of the day, with a stunning view of the bay, downtown, and Mount Hood.  Electricity, fireplaces, summer sleeping porches, showers, a tea room, panoramic views – the list is endless.  Yet all the rooms exuded a comfortable air.  Wearing shorts did not make one feel out of place in the environment.  Made me want to ring for tea.

By this time we were starving – it was early afternoon and time to recharge. Emmett had his heart set on visiting a local microbrewery, the Bridgeport Brew Pub.  It occupies what was once a rope factory.  The problem was that it was closed for a private party until 4PM. So we walked about town till we found the Daily Cafe in the Pearl section, on 13th Ave.  Fresh local food, I can still taste my eggplant sandwich.  Emmett had the daily special – a fried green tomato sandwich.  The tea reminded me of Red Envelop, which we have only ever found at Zao’s in Palo Alto, California, which has since closed its doors and taken its tea with it.  I cut off the tag from my bag and stored it in my purse for future reference.

Columbia RiverHaving walked our dogs off, we took off on a ride along the Columbia River and crossed the border to Washington State – Washougal, to be precise.  And to do more walking.  Washougal has great access trails to the Columbia RIver – and there were a lot of people both on the water and fishing out of it too. Nearby was the Pendleton Outlet – which we earmarked for the tour the next day.  Walking can drive up thirst.  Amnesia Brewing Company on Main Street was there to help.  Slow Train Porter was good, but my favorite was the Anthem Local Cherry Apple Hard Cider.  It’s made in Salem, Oregon.  Going to have to keep my eye out for that one once we are back in Phoenix.

Hoyt Garden of SolaceIt’s no fun hanging out in a hotel room, especially when it stays light out hours later than it does when at home. Something about which parallel you call home. Hoyt Arboretum is a favorite local park that is very large and is open till sunset every day.  It is also home to a Vietnam Veterans Memorial for 751 Portlanders that died in the war, plus over 70 POW/MIA veterans.  Very well done, it was another peaceful and thought-provoking memorial.  We also enjoyed the Overlook and Wildwood Trails, passing many evening runners and dog walkers.

Mt. HoodEnjoy this view of Mount Hood!  Don’t forget that it is also a volcano.  Oh yeah.

Previous: More of the Northern Coast

Next: Portland Day Two

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