(Tuesday, October 4)
My impression of the Northwest, thus far? Everyone here smokes. It’s crazy! For a place that seems so health conscious, an amazing amount of people smoke. I told Eric that if we ever move here, I’m starting an anti-smoking campaign. The tagline? “You’re gross. Stop smoking.”
And that’s enough about that.
Today rivals the paddle boarding day as my favorite day of vacation, although it didn’t quite start out that way. We woke up this morning with hopes for a better impression of Portland. After walking around downtown for a bit, my opinion is still about the same. I’m not loving it. I really thought I would love Portland, probably mostly because of Donald Miller’s books (if you haven’t read them, please stop reading this blog and go pick up his books instead). But in comparison to Seattle, which was super tourist friendly and clean, Portland is just kind of grungy. And I’m pretty sure we are the only people here on vacation. I feel ridiculous every time I pull out my camera.
We had a short list of things to check out this morning, thanks to recommendations from friends. Everyone recommended Voodoo Doughnuts, including some strangers in Seattle. Someone told us that they had once waited in line for two hours to get doughnuts there, so I was a little worried about eating breakfast there, as I’m pretty grumpy until I get a little food in my system. But we walked a few blocks to the doughnut shop and were thrilled to not have to wait in line at all! In fact, they had to wait on us, as we couldn’t make up our minds about what we wanted to eat. You see, Voodoo isn’t your typical doughnut shop. They specialize in really crazy doughnuts with cereal or candy bars on top. Crazy stuff. We finally made up our minds to get a blueberry cake doughnut (my safe choice, in case the others were gross), a triple chocolate (chocolate cake, chocolate frosting, and coco-puffs), a dirt doughnut (raised yeast doughnut with vanilla frosting and oreos), and the loop (raised yeast doughnut with vanilla frosting and fruit loops). Even though everyone said that these doughnuts were awesome, I’ll admit I didn’t have very high expectations. I’m a pretty picky doughnut eater, so I figured I wouldn’t really like them. Boy, was I wrong. The blueberry cake was the second best blueberry cake doughnut I’ve ever eaten (second only to Charlie’s Donut Truck in Alys Beach, Florida). And the triple chocolate was awesome. I might suggest eating these for dessert, rather than for breakfast, but they were delicious. We washed them down with some Stumptown coffee. If you come to Portland, try their coffee. It’s really, really good.
Sidenote: Eric read somewhere that Portland is called “Stumptown” because as the city grew rapidly in the 1800’s, they had to build roads really quickly. They had to knock down a lot of trees, and they would just leave the stumps in the middle of the road. Weird, huh?
Anywho, next we headed to Powell’s Books, which is the largest used and new bookstore in the world (they have over 1,000,000 books!). I’ve heard a lot about this place, and as a book lover, I was super pumped about it. We walked to the store and were a bit nervous, as it looks surprisingly sketchy from the outside. But once we got inside, my goodness, the place was incredible. It was just room after room, shelf after shelf of books. I don’t think I can describe how big it was. Just trust me that it was really, really big and really, really awesome.
After the bookstore, we were pretty much out of ideas as to what we should do downtown. Friends had told us that we should visit Multnomah Falls, so we hopped in the car and headed that direction. Knowing we would be in need of some lunch, we picked out a restaurant in Hood River, a cute little town about 30 minutes down the road from the falls. I don’t exactly know how Eric stumbled upon this place, but I sure am glad he did! The drive to the restaurant was incredibly beautiful. Mountains and the Columbia River were to our left, and more mountains were to our right. And the sun was shining! Perfect!
I think I may be in love with Hood River. It is literally one of the cutest places I have ever seen. It reminded me a bit of the town from Everwood (for those of you who can identify with my love of WB show towns- Stars Hollow and Everwood were my two faves), on a mountain, with views of the river and more mountains. We drove around the town a bit and found apple and pear orchards, vineyards, and several bed and breakfasts. I’m already planning our move to Hood River. And if I didn’t love it enough before lunch, the delicious clam chowder I ate solidified Hood River’s place as the best town in the world.
After the drive through our future hometown, we drove to Multnomah Falls, which is the country’s second-tallest year-round waterfall. My goodness, this thing is big. And beautiful. We hiked a little over a mile (all uphill; we felt the burn) to the top of the falls, where you can see the water plummet over the edge. It was crazy cool. We hiked up a little further to see a few smaller waterfalls, and then hiked back down (which was surprisingly more painful than hiking up). We couldn’t have asked for better weather for hiking. It was sunny and warm, with clear views of the surrounding mountains.
We had dinner reservations at the Multnomah Falls Lodge, which we lucked into purchasing a Groupon for a few weeks ago. If I may offer a bit of vacation advice to the world, sign up for Groupon and Living Social e-mails a few months before you leave for the cities you’ll be visiting on vacation. Then you’ll get great deals on places that may otherwise be too expensive to try! And you’ll find fun things to do while you’re exploring a new city!
Our dinner at the lodge was perfectly Pacific Northwest. We had views of the falls while we ate next to a warm fire in the stone fireplace (and trust me, that fire was much appreciated on a chilly, rainy evening!). We ordered wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon for me, and a Pinot Gris for Eric, and enjoyed warm vegetable soup, steak wrapped in bacon, asparagus, and potatoes. The food was good, but the dessert really rocked our world. We ordered a slice of cheesecake topped with huckleberries. Oh my goodness. Hands down, the best cheesecake I’ve ever eaten. If I had known how awesome it would be, I think I would have skipped dinner altogether and just indulged in an entire cheesecake. Would that have been a bad idea? Perhaps. But it would have been delicious. I think we talked about the cheesecake the entire way back to the hotel.
All in all, today was a perfect day to be in Oregon. We may not be loving Portland, but the surrounding areas have stolen my heart.