Leaving Portland, we wanted to see the Oregon coast for the first time ever, so we actually drove northwest and back into Washington State so we could cross the long bridge into Astoria, Oregon. The drive was beautiful.
Here's the bridge across the Columbia River over to Astoria. It's too long to fit in one photo.
And this is the portion leading right into the city (under repair, thus the coverings on the left side).
We didn't actually stop in Astoria as we wanted to see as much of the coast as we could and get some quality beach time in, so we continued south from there along Oregon Coastal Highway 101.
Friends Terese and Rick recommended that we check out Cannon Beach, and we're so glad we listened to them. There are many possible places to stop along the way, but this was a real treat.
We were hungry for lunch when we arrived so started with that. We found this great little authentic Mexican place where we could have Paisley join us outside while we ate. The food was delicious, and the setting perfect. And Paisley loved it too!
Proceeding down to the beach, we found it absolutely stunning and incredibly wide. Just look at it!
The houses along the seashore looked like something I associate with Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard -- not that I've ever been either of those places! They were charming and beachy, though, and I am sure they cost a pretty penny.
I was determined to get my toes in the Pacific Ocean, and I did. And yes, it was boo chilly!
We ended up walking a long ways down the beach to get to the far side of Haystack Rock so the sun would be right for photos. Here it is to the left in the photo below. Note that the haziness in the photo is from sea fog and not camera blur or a smudged lens!
Haystack Rock is on the right below with smaller rocks to the left....
The crashing waves were awesome!
After enjoying our long beach walk, we had room for a little dessert, so walked back into town and spied this cupcake place, Simply Cakes. Sounded good to us!
Paisley was hoping we might bring her something. Sorry little girl, not this time!
I got a chocolate-peanut butter filled cupcake for myself and a chocolate-raspberry filled cupcake for Barry. We inhaled them. So so good!
Hitting the road again and continuing south to our destination for the night, tiny Rockaway Beach, we stopped several times along the way at overlooks to take photos. The scenery speaks for itself. Beautiful beaches and mountains side by side -- stunning!
Up next: Rockaway Beach!
Portland, OR Day 3: We take the Max downtown, see some sights, and eat more doughnuts (after a healthy vegan lunch!)
Our third and last full day in Portland dawned drizzly, gray, and chilly. Just the kind of weather Portland is famous for, I guess! We decided to take a well-earned day off the bikes and see the sights another way.
Barry had figured out that one of the Max (metro) stations was within easy walking distance of our hotel, so once the rain stopped, we headed out on foot and actually figured out how to use the automated ticket machines to buy a day pass for each of us.
After a short wait, our driver "Max" arrived. "He" provided an easy and comfortable ride to downtown. So much more relaxing than driving and allowed us to see more Portland sights along the way.
We got out at the Union Station stop to look around some.
I'm still not sure I understand all the plaques and references to "The Green Man of Portland" (I know, I could google it, right?) but to me it's just another part of what "keeps Portland weird". I like it!
Here are a few things we saw just strolling around downtown. It's an eclectic and interesting place, and we especially appreciated all the trees growing everywhere. It's a far greener downtown than we've experienced in most big cities.
Before too long, we were feeling a bit peckish, and a natural choice was the food trucks that grace downtown. Good food at good prices!
Although there are plenty of good choices, we were both drawn to "Sonny Bowl" and their nutritious vegan food. You have to love a place with a hand-written note on the menu board stating "No ripe avocados today...sorry to bum you out." Portlandia, anyone?!
We both went for the "Blackbean Bowl", consisting of black beans, cilantro-lemon sauce, kale tossed in tahini dressing, topped with jicama-carrot-radish slaw in cumin-lime dressing and walnut faux-rizo, served over brown basmati rice. At $7 for a large, it was a DEAL. I would have been fine with the $4 small size, as it turned out. It was absolutely delicious but was a lot of food and quite filling. Who says vegan has to be bland and boring?
Barry also got a Kale-Mango smoothie, at $4 for the small size. It was delicious (I had a sip).
We enjoyed our lunch right by the Willamette River.
A little something sweet after lunch sounded good, and although I never thought I'd eat another doughnut after our first day in Portland gorging on Voodoo Doughnuts, somehow we ended up there again!
It's gotta be the voodoo.
We learned that every Thursday they offer a special doughnut filled with one of "Kelly's Jellys". This week just happened to be Habanero Jelly, so of course Barry had to try that. He's showing it off in the photo above. I tried a small bite and found that it really wasn't as hot as I expected. The Mexican Hot Chocolate doughnut coated with sugar and cayenne that we tried on our first visit was hotter. But it was tasty!
Here were today's selections. Oh so yummy. There's nothing like eating a virtuous vegan lunch and following it with a doughnut, right?
Of course we took most of these back to the hotel. We were stuffed!
As we were walking around trying to burn off a few doughnut calories, this sign on the side of a building caught our eye. I can't imagine why.... ;-)
We rounded the corner and came upon this bike shop. We wanted a couple of Portland souvenirs, so this was our kind of place to find some. We also enjoyed talking to the friendly guy working there about cycling in Portland.
Our Portland swag! A magnet, sticker, and a t-shirt for each of us.
We were pretty tuckered out by this time so caught the Max back up north to our hotel. A rare selfie!
We had a great few days checking out Portland, but it was time to move on to the Oregon coast the next morning. Stay tuned as this was one of the most beautiful places we've ever visited!
Before too long, we started a long, gradual ascent into the most beautiful mixed conifer-hardwood forest, dripping with moss and a zillion ferns. It was so incredibly green and lush. I've never seen anything like it other than in the rainforest in Belize...and that was hot and humid. This was cool and humid!
Just look at all these ferns! I've never seen so many that I recall.
Here's a long restored train trestle we got to ride across. It reminded me of one on the Virginia Creeper Trail -- about the same length and curve.
The grades along the trail were gentle until we got to one place, where multiple switchbacks tested our hearts and lungs. This was a workout! We first went down a series of switchbacks, then after a road crossing, up another, shorter series. We knew that on the way back we'd have to do this in reverse, with a longer climb. I was already worried that I might have to walk part of it.
Arriving at the northern terminus of the trail, we crossed another bridge in a park, then rode into nearby downtown Vernonia, a cute small town.
We stopped for lunch at a Mexican cafe right on the main street, where we could eat outside and keep our bikes nearby. Perfect!
I enjoyed some fish tacos, and Barry scarfed down the two-enchilada (chicken) lunch special.
Refueled, we hopped back on the trail and headed south and back to Banks. Even though it was a challenge, I'm pleased to report that I did make it all the way up the switchbacked climb without stopping or walking. I was definitely huffing and puffing though!
On the way back, I stopped to pick some yummy blackberries for dessert. I just love the berries in the Pacific northwest!
After our ride and cleaning up a bit, we met our friends Terese and Rick from Vancouver, WA, just over the Columbia River from Portland, at a unique place for dinner, Pok Pok. It was really fun to catch up with them and to try such an interesting restaurant.
This was not like any Thai food I'd ever had -- no Pad Thai on the menu! Pok Pok serves northern Thai food, and even though it was all different to us, it was all delicious! I had a pork and rice dish and green papaya salad, while Barry went with a chicken curry noodle soup. I also ordered another pork/veggie dish from the special menu of the day for us to share. I ended up with way too much food, but I did the best I could and managed to finish most of it.
For dessert (as if I needed any!) we popped across the street to an amazing local homemade ice cream place, Salt and Straw. The creative choices were incredible! Pear with Blue Cheese anyone?
I wanted something simple and soothing after all that spicy Thai food so went with a scoop of Double Fold Vanilla and one of Sea Salt with Caramel. Barry was feeling more adventurous and tried the Chocolate Gooey Brownie and Stumptown Coffee & Burnside Bourbon (that's a mouthful!) They were all divine!
It was definitely a full day for us, but we still had one more day in Portland to fill. Stick around to discover how we did just that!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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