Portland is Fabulous!

Portland, OR

Yes, we are on the road again! This time to Oregon for a short get-away following the 29th annual Big Chill, held this year in Vernon.

We leave Vernon on Labour Day Monday and drive south along route 97 through apple and wine country. Lunch by the lake in Osooyos at a former Big Chill haunt fortifies us for a long afternoon of driving. Most of central Washington state is arid and devoid of trees, the northernmost extension of the Sonoran desert. Wind turbines dot the barren landscape, giving it an eerily science fiction look.

Lake Chelan is such an anomaly that we park and get out to walk along the shore. Evidence of the recent fires scars the surrounding hills.

Yakima is another oasis of greenery, along the Yakima river, where we spend the night.

The next day’s drive takes us adjacent to the mighty Columbia River, which forms the border between Washington and Oregon. A stop on the Oregon side for a bathroom and stretch break ends up being a short hike to a waterfall.

Unusual for us, we arrive in Portland without a hotel reservation. Big mistake. It is a busy weekend in the city with college students and their families. We end up in an expensive, but lovely, hotel downtown. And recoup the financial hit by eating most of our meals from the many food trucks, a trend which Portland famously started. There are literally hundreds of them all over the city. Two chicken tacos for $3 is hard to beat!

Powell’s Books, the largest independent new and used bookstore on the planet, is located on the edge of the Pearl District, an area of former warehouses converted into funky apartments, boutiques and bistros. We spend a lot of our time in this ‘hood. And a few hours in Powell’s. The travel section alone is awe inspiring.

Having loaded our bikes onto the back of the car, and given that Portland is rife with bike lanes, we feel obliged to spend a day riding. We travel 30 kms along either side of the Willamette River, ending up at a riverside cafe for a well deserved beer. Also famous for its microbreweries and brew pubs, we sample as many as we can in three short days.

So many friends have extolled the fabulousness of Portland that we were sure to be disappointed by unrealistic expectations. Not! Portland is fabulous. End of story.

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