June 5 – 7
We woke up early to get to Portland and enjoyed a short drive inland through the mountains, hills, and beautiful nature. The drive from the coast to the city was a little over an hour, which was pleasantly surprising! We didn’t know a single soul living in Portland, so this is one of the cities we opted to stay in a hostel. Hostel life is interesting – you never really know what you’re gonna get, but with our Portland hostel – we lucked out!!
We stayed at the HI Portland Northwest Hostel, which we booked only because it was one of the few that had availability and seemed to be within walking distance to most of the city. We arrived to a beautiful, old, restored victorian home and already our Portland experience seemed heightened. We checked in, browsed the activity board, claimed our bunk beds (we had a room with a set of bunk beds and a curtain for privacy), and set out for coffee. We quickly realized we didn’t know a damn thing about Portland, so when we passed by a head shop we dropped in and made friends with the homeboy behind the counter. He gave us the basic layout of the city – the Willamette River divides the city West to East, and Burnside Street divides the city North to South. He was pretty amazed when he learned what we were doing and gave us “mad props” – which seemed pretty legit coming from a dude like him.
We started in the NW area and had some bento boxes at a yummy asian bistro – (insert memory of confused conversation with waitress about Katsu-Don LOL). From there, we were fueled and ready to walk. We happened across some local thrift dives, and much to Brad’s chagrin, thrifting in Portland is AMAZING. I had a really hard time NOT BUYING EVERYTHING, and opted for some super cute 60’s clogs from Living Threads that I just couldn’t take off after trying on.
To cheer up Bradley boy, we hit up the famous Food Truck Row we’d heard about on TV food networks. Portland has over 600 food trucks in the city – and that number is still growing. They’re everywhere! They are also famous for their donuts, so we sought out Voodoo Donut, which was certainly worth the wait – (The glitter on the walls outside told me it would be worth it.) The dough alone was to die for, and all the funky quirky donuts and decorations make it a pretty cool experience. They have spinning display cases showcasing all their goods, which was what helped determine our order: One Maple Blazing Blunt, A glazed donut (classic), Chocolate coconut cake donut, and a (get ready) Chocolate/Peanut Butter/Rice Krispie Treat Donut. Can you guess who ordered what? The blunt donut was our fave, and the glazed came in second. Talk about a sugar high!!!
We returned to our lovely hostel abode to freshen up for the night and set back out on the town late afternoon. We went to Bridgeport Brewing, one of Portland’s hundreds of local breweries, and ordered spinach artichoke dip and a flight to try the different beers. We ended up ordering a pitcher of the Trilogy #1 (AMAZING beer), which every drop of was delicious, and finished with a glass of ginger hibiscus beer – which reminded me of my Mom and is possibly my new favorite beer ever??! I’ll always remember the lady at the table across from us with the bangin’ bangs, and the table next to us with the couple that announced they were pregrant to their friends (so cute).
We left around 8 and aimlessly wandered out into the street where some kind of festival was going on. There were jewelers, craftsmen, photographers, AMAZING musicians, and artists of all kind. We stumbled upon a dude playing a Kora beautifully, but this cello player a couple blocks down is what really stole my heart. His name was Martin Watkinson, and he had curly white blonde hair. He was from Idaho and had a lady from NY there singing on some of his songs (she wasn’t great), but when he played, his music was such an exploration of sound. It was like a river of music flowing from his bow and with his effects pedal, it just became a wonderland (with a really great beat). A humble, uplifting, rhythmic beat that just puts you in a good mood! If musical notes could tell a story, his would be the perfect surmise of the bubbly characters, beautiful nature, and undulating landscapes of Oregon. We stood there for a moment, and Brad nudged me to go but I just couldn’t – I felt entranced. Music for the heart & soul – I felt that shit DEEP. And by such a young artist, fresh into the city and dressed in rags, living minimally but in my eyes he was something extraordinary. I was in awe, clearly, and still am – every time I pop in one of his two CD’s I picked up, which became our soundtrack for the next couple of days as we drove North into Washington.
We eventually veered off from the festival and deeper into the city. It was close to 10 PM at this point, on a Thursday, but the city was still lively as ever. We heard some magical fairy tunes (???) in the distance, and decided to follow them. The music got louder and eventually we came upon a (brace yourself) SYMPHONY of Xylophones!!! Their melody was like if Mario Cart met Bonobo . . . yea, marinade on that for a minute. So many talented artists just randomly playing 12 xylophones on a street corner on a Thursday evening – and THAT was the moment I knew I loved Portland. I asked them what their story was, to which they simply responded they just all love to play the xylophone, especially together, and why play in a private space when they can share the music with others. And there you have it!
Which is a perfect segue into how incredibly friendly and nice the Portland community is. We stopped by an REI store earlier that day and made at least 4 friends, and it was so refreshing to see such a kind community in a city environment. I swear it’s something to do with Portland’s connection and sustainment of nature throughout the city that keeps everyone so happy and down to earth. Nevertheless, we finished the evening off with a beer, a pizza & a ceasar salad, and made our way back to the hostel. That night we were so giggly and high on life – maybe it was the donuts, maybe it was the music – but we laughed and laughed and annoyed our fellow bunkers until we fell into a most peaceful, comfortable slumber.
The next day we woke up and sadly, checked out of our hostel. We drove around the city as a final farewell, and up into the west hills – which are soooo beautiful! Truly Portland’s treasure. Home to Forest Park, Washington Park, the Hoyt Arboretum, Portland’s famous Rose Garden & Japanese Garden, and the cutest neighborhoods you ever did see, I was just dreaming of what it would be like to live there. I wanted to explore EVERYTHING, but we could really only do one – so we stopped at the Rose Garden, home to some of the most beautifully bloomed roses in existence and smelling like absolute heaven. Roses in every single size, shape, and color, and with a view that overlooks the entire city and on to Mt. Hood – our next destination.
We made our way back down and over one of Portland’s many awesome bridges, on our way to the Columbia Gorge. It was at this point that I realized I never really knew of the beauty of Oregon. For me it’d always just been that square-ish state between California and Washington, but I knew as we were nearing our exit that I absolutely had to come back at some point and spend some serious time exploring. There is just so much there quietly waiting to be discovered.
Oregon, I’m on to you . . .
xoxo, Tent Girl