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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