CHRISTINE AND JORDAN IN THE PNW: DAY ONE

5 Sep

Finally time to get on these Oregon posts! Lets back all the way up to the Wednesday that I flew out. I left Indy at 7:30 and had a layover in Denver. During the flight I realized that with another 2+ hour flight ahead of me I needed more to do than just read. In Denver I purchased a workbook with tons of word puzzles and the like in it and it was the best $5 purchase ever! Haha it made my next flight from Denver to Portland fly by! When I finally landed it was 11pm in Oregon which made it 2am back home. I wasn’t done traveling yet though. Christine had to work the night shift at the hospital and wouldn’t be home until 7am so I caught a cab from the Portland airport to Vancouver, Washington, where Christine’s apartment is. It was a 15 minute cab ride and they dropped me off at her complex where I wandered for the next 15 minutes trying to find the exact building she lives in. By the time I made it through the front door I was ready to collapse! I quickly unpacked, found an adorable note from my husband tucked into my suitcase and then passed out.

I was awoken at almost 8am the next morning to my best friend holding a bottle of champagne!

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Haha we were so excited to be together that this called for a bubbly drink first thing in the morning. 🙂 The two of us sat on her back porch overlooking her very nice complex and talked and talked for the first couple hours of the day.

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It was the perfect way to start our visit. Christine had a bikini wax scheduled that I accompanied her to and I had to sit out in the waiting area while it took TWO hours!! A great deal longer than either of us expected! By the time it was finished Christine was exhausted (remember, she had been working all night) and I was ready for some sightseeing. We already had a plan in place for the day since we knew this would happen so she went off to bed and I took her car off for adventures. As soon as I got out of Vancouver I spotted the famous Mt. Hood!

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I only had to drive 30 minutes to find myself in the Columbia River Gorge, home to tons of waterfalls and tons of trails to hike. Some of the waterfalls don’t even require hiking to as they are literally right off the road as with the first one I stopped at, Wahkeena Falls.

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It was a little ways back there and I could have hiked to it but I had other things on my agenda! I immediately knew with how beautiful everything was that none of my hikes would disappoint me.

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Despite the enormous crowds and the fight to find a parking space, I knew I absolutely had to do the next stop in my plan- Multnomah Falls.

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Do you recognize that bridge? This is perhaps the most photographed falls in all of Oregon.

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You don’t hike a trail to get to this one either! It is just a very brief walk off the main road and let me tell you, even on a Thursday afternoon there were hundreds of people here. Most of the Columbia River Gorge is not so overrun but this area is a tourist mecca complete with gift shops and food stands and throngs of people with their cameras. Luckily that meant I had someone to take my picture for me. 🙂

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You can take a trail to go up onto the bridge but I passed that up and got out of the throngs of people to hike somewhere more solitary.

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MUCH more solitary! This is the trail to Elowah Falls and I only saw like 7 people the whole time I was on this! Any pictures of me are now being taken via my camera on my tripod, a very handy thing to have when hiking alone. I set off marveling at the size of the trees and the sheer amount of them all around.

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It was the perfect weather day for hiking- sunny and warm but not too hot. I had never done something like this by myself and I both really enjoyed the solitude yet at the same time wanted someone to share all the beauty and adventure with. I started descending into the gorge with a series of very sharp switchbacks taking me down.

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I also stopped for photo ops. 🙂

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Before long I heard water and came upon the beautiful Elowah!

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These falls were mystical and magical and breathtaking. The water came down forcefully from so high up and by the time it neared the pool it was very misty and blew around so that it sprayed you some even standing way back. It felt like something out of an elvish story. Here is a picture of the falls coming over the edge of the gorge:

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I just stood there grinning like an idiot and thanking God for creating such beautiful things in this world!

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I lucked out and the only people down there left when I showed up which allowed me lots of free rein to photograph whatever I wanted, however I wanted.

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It was one of those moments I will never forget. As I hiked back out of the gorge I started considering my next move. I had done my research, which is how I knew I wanted to hike to Elowah, and I knew there was a connecting trail off the one I was one to Upper McCord falls. For a split second I considered not doing it since I was a little tired and knew there were other things I could see that were less of a hike to get to. THANK GOODNESS I convinced myself to do it!! While the waterfall wasn’t as exciting on this one, the trail was infinitely better. For every step down I took to get to Elowah I was taking about 4 straight up ones to get to Upper McCord but when I came out of the woods finally to broad, open views of the Columbia River and Mt. Hood and the surrounding area it took my breath away.

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I was utterly captivated and once again, so grateful. Now that I have been there I can’t imagine not having seen and experienced what I had the opportunity to on this hike. My trail was narrow and precarious and so incredibly high up that there was even guard rail in some places.

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Perfect. 🙂 As I got closer I could see Upper McCord spilling off the edge into the vast nothingness of the punchbowl.

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I don’t think these falls even have an ending pool because they just go right off the cliff to nowhere. As I got closer I saw the falls along with the only people that I saw on the entire hike to Upper McCord.

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I would prefer a remote hike to one overcrowded with tourists ANY day. They left and I walked over the top of the falls to get a few shots.

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Then came the hike back down which, of course, was infinitely easier than the hike up!

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I still had some time to kill after this hike since I was trying to let Christine catch up on sleep as much as possible. This led to my checking out an impromptu stop where Horsetail Falls was RIGHT off the road.

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All I had to do was walk across the street and see it. Amazing how accessible something so beautiful is out there! I sat on a bench and talked to my husband for a good half hour catching up on our days (over the 3 hour time distance) and telling him all the beautiful things from my hikes. I can not WAIT to get him out to the PNW to experience these things himself!

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It was early evening by the time I left the gorge and headed back toward Vancouver. I made a stop at a scenic viewpoint to grab a couple of pictures closer to the Columbia River, which is absolutely gorgeous.

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I returned to Christine’s and showered then woke her up at 7pm completely elated with my day’s adventures. I showed her all my pictures and we had a little champagne as the sky darkened and then it was time for adventures of our own. We changed and headed to Portland for dinner at Departure, a small-plates restaurant on the rooftop of a hotel with wonderful views of the city at night.

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I love Portland!! It was perfect sitting up there at night at our little table for two, reading our menu by battery-operated candlelight and sipping crafted cocktails. We chose 3 small plates to share and each one was excellent. We had crispy pork belly with pumpkin seeds, crystallized ginger, cilantro, tart cherries and some type of sauce:

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A brussels sprouts bowl:

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And an unagi beef sushi roll (which is eel in case you didn’t know!):

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Not a bad bite! The decor inside Departure was also very cool with a long, lit up hallway leading under the arched tunnel that takes you into the restaurant.

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Once we finished eating we wandered aimlessly around Portland’s business district wondering where to go if we wanted to have a drink. Finally we realized this was not the right area for that kind of thing and took a taxi less than 3 minutes away to a place bustling with nightlife! Christine and I tried out two different places and had decent drinks, saw lots of interesting people and Christine even braved a swing that goes out over the crowd! Only in Portland…

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Me and the short skirt I was wearing said NO. WAY. Haha. We went to one more place that we had heard was a 90’s throwback bar called Jones. Sadly this place was absolutely empty, like we were the only people there empty, because we liked the vibe here! Their name on the wall like a giant lite-brite (please tell me you know what a lite-brite is), cassette tapes inside the light fixtures and even The Princess Bride playing on the TV’s.

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We could have stayed here a good while even without the crowd because really all we wanted to do was talk to each other anyway but sadly since they were so dead they decided to close early and we got shoved out the door. We were leaving Portland and had called it a night when we drove past the famous Voodoo Doughnuts. If you have never heard of them look it up! They have been on the Food Network and the Travel Channel and have been on Zach and I’s list of travel food places to visit for years. They are known for (what else) having crazy good doughnuts and some unique creations. When Christine first moved out there I had told her to check this place out but she had never been because there is literally always a 2 hour line out the door. For some reason, at 2am on this random Thursday, there was no one. I mean NO ONE. We hadn’t been planning on stopping but we decided this was too good to pass up.

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We walked right in, went right up to the counter and as if things couldn’t get any better they rang a bell and yelled out something about “voodoo dolls” and next thing we know we were each handed a FREE signature voodoo doughnut!!

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We were as happy as two girls can be about free doughnuts. 🙂 We ate most of them right then and there and let me tell you, they did not disappoint! It was the perfect ending to our first night together.

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We went back to Christine’s and laid in bed talking until after 4am like two high school girls, which is basically what we feel like when we get together. When we finally said “We HAVE to stop talking now and go to sleep!” for the 50th time we drifted off with smiles on our faces about how absolutely epic this trip already was.

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