Third Week in Oregon

Things were warming up. Though the mornings still started off cloudy, cool, and grey—by mid-day the sun was in charge and the temperatures allowed for less clothing. The weather in Portland must’ve looked at the calendar and realized that the first day of summer was early this year. The difference was palpable.

On Saturday Lance went hiking with Michael, who still works at Digital Fusion the company Lance once contracted with. Their chosen trail led up to Indian Point which provided them with a stellar view of the Gorge. But as one might imagine, it was a bit of a climb to gain the necessary elevation. Needless to say, they earned their pint o’ brew that day.

Along with descriptions of the view and the various critters they encountered Lance recounted an exchange he and Michael had with a group of Boy Scouts. As they came off the trail Lance and Michael paused to chat with tail end of the group. When they asked the stragglers where they were headed with their backpacks, the first boy answered with a sigh, “To Hell.” The other scout chimed in, “And damnation.” Can’t you just picture those two red-faced, sweaty teenagers trudging up the hill? Hysterical!

My day involved much less exertion, for I headed to the ocean. Curiosity led me to drive across the 4-mile long Astoria-Megler Bridge over the Columbia River to Washington. I spent the day wandering the Long Beach Peninsula. The beach runs 28-miles north from Cape Disappointment State Park to Leadbetter State Park at the peninsula’s terminus. Locals claim their beach is the world’s longest (hence the name) though I think that fact is in dispute. Regardless, it was a lovely stretch of sand.

The coastal weather’s disposition was much less sunny than inland but I didn’t mind. I was pleasantly surprised by the Discovery Trail, an 8-mile multi-use path that snakes through the dunes connecting the towns of Long Beach and Ilwaco to Cape Disappointment. Along the route were fun fish-shaped bike racks, interpretive signs, benches, and sculptures commemorating adventures of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. An impressive undertaking with plenty of beach access along the way.

Much too soon it was time for me to head back and meet up with Lance and Michael. Lance and I returned to our home base, freshened up and went out in search of food carts for dinner. Since it was Portland, which happens to be food cart heaven, we didn’t have far to go. We were finally able to try the famous Whiffies “deep-fried hand pies” which we’d heard so much about. And in a burst of caloric excess we grabbed an order of poutine (french fries covered in gravy and cheese). Yep, we’re all about the health food!

By then we were ready to roll into bed with our food coma. Alas, we were forced to walk off our heavy dinner by nudes on wheels. A parade of roughly 10,000 naked bike riders separated us from our apartment. It was Portland’s edition of the World Naked Bike Ride in which cyclists are encouraged to ride “as bare as you dare” in order to promote bikes as a form of transportation. As the procession snaked through downtown we were amused by the enthusiasm of the participants, many of whom decorated their bikes and their bodies. Every size, shape, and age were represented and many means of non-motorized wheeled transport including unicycles, trikes, recumbents, tandems, skateboards, rollerblades, and even a shopping cart! Everyone was having a great time. And we were pleased to see that most people wore their helmets. Safety first!

The next day we drove out to Long Beach—I wanted to show Lance the area and do more exploring. First stop was the Cranberry Research Foundation and Museum. I didn’t even know they grew cranberries out there. Cranberries were first planted on the Long Beach Peninsula in 1883. Less than 10% of cranberries in the U.S. are dry harvested and most of those come from Oregon and Washington. The fresh berries that we buy in November are dry harvested, since there is less fruit bruising. I love learning new things!

Our drive along the peninsula took us through Willapa Bay, famous for oysters, as the towering piles of shells attested. Near the end of the road, tucked back in tall trees we passed an ornate set of gates. Intrigued, we took pictures and made a plan to research the property later. Turns out the gates led to a 600-acre compound called Leadbetter Farms owned by Craig Tillotson of Nu-skin fame. If you like monsters in your lake, gargoyles, a fake lighthouse, sleeping in treehouses, and living in a barn then this place is right up your alley. According to a website it is available for rent!

We watched the last of the day fade while strolling the beach. As we wandered along we couldn’t help but notice all the chunks of styrofoam in the high tide line. The recent surge in debris has been traced back to Japan, a grim reminder of the massive and deadly tsunami that caused so much damage on March 11, 2011. The Japan Tsunami Marine Debris program (run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is coordinating efforts all along the Pacific Northwest coast to collect items and track down the original owners. Brochures advised beachgoers to approach items with care and to be aware that corpses or skeletons could be among the flotsam. Sobering thoughts.

The rest of the week the sun continued to shine. Lisa and I tackled more Letterboxes and I’m pleased to report we were quite successful. Not only was it fun to be out sleuthing around but our searches took us to some interesting locations. We also felt it was imperative that we check out the different microbreweries that crossed our paths. No shortage of those in Portland.

Thursday evening found us picnicking with Gino, Lisa, Lisa’s friend Valerie, Andrew, and Leah in Lone Fir Cemetery, a historic place full of Portland’s pioneers. I know, a rather unusual spot, eh? But we were there to attend the Portland Actors Ensemble’s production of “The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.” It was riveting. The entire presentation far exceeded expectations! Here’s a neat little tidbit for you: you might know Curt Hanson (who played Polonius in this play) as Mr. Perkins in The Goonies.

There’s always something interesting in Portland!

Photos: View our photographs from Third Week in Oregon.

Dates: We visited, explored, and noshed in these fine locales June 16—22, 2012.