Who are we

We are a family of 3 who took a break from our routine. Usually we live in Scotland but February to the end of July 2011 we were on the road in North America for 6 months. We are Mark (also known as Dad), Rachel (also known as Mum... and a whole bunch of other names... my usual at-home blog is here) and little h (10/11 years of age during the trip).

Monday, 13 June 2011

Oregon – so much to see, so little time to write about it…

Powell's, Portland

On 1st June we drove into Oregon mid-afternoon. We stopped for the night at Grants Pass – a place where everything is about the river (the Rogue). We stayed two very peaceful nights there, ate two very good dinners and went for a lovely trip on the much-mentioned river (we saw bald eagles but only had the snapshot camera so couldn't get a decent picture). Grants Pass is surrounded by mountains – very striking – and we enjoyed the stop very much. Our photos from there are here:

Entering Oregon & Grants Pass

On 3rd June we headed north. Another beautiful day and we stopped for a picnic lunch alongside the Umpqua river. We were heading for the Oregon coast and in particular the Oregon Dunes area. When we got there we climbed giant sand dunes, took a walk through fascinating vegetation to the beautiful wide beach (much like an Angus beach from home!) and there was hardly a soul about (which made it even more like an Angus beach..). We moved north again after that and spent the night just north of Florence in a place on Heceta Beach with gorgeous sea views aplenty. Our pictures from this day on the coast are here:

Oregon coast

On 4th June we had a crazy busy day. We’d managed to get hold of a local we’d met back in Massachusetts and had arranged to meet up… but first we had to visit the Sea Lion Caves and the rock pools of the Oregon coast north of Florence! We managed it all (and grabbed a great sandwich from a fantastic hippy café in Waldport – Oregon does hippy well, leave your neckties at the border, so they say...) and then met our contact more or less on time… up by Mary’s Peak mountain (back inland). Our charming guide for the rest of the day showed us the mountains, his city (Corvallis) and even took us out for a lovely dinner by the Williamette river. And then we had to say a big good-bye (how quickly you can make the best friends!) and head to the hotel we’d booked in Portland for that night. It seemed a bit daunting (so late, so tired!) but it was a beautiful drive up to that city with a great sunset en route so we enjoyed that too. We got to the Portland Hotel (a totally groovy place in the, don’t laugh, Nob Hill district – also known as Northwest Portland) and then we pretty much collapsed. It was a packed day but a really good one – Oregon is so friendly and green and beautiful. Pics from this day are here:

Leaving the Oregon coast

We’d booked two nights in Portland and had a great time there too. We took the immaculate streetcar from next to the hotel into the centre and stopped first at the enormous Powell’s bookstore. This is possibly one of the best bookstores we’ve ever been in. I loved the mix of new and second-hand books on the shelves (a price for everyone) and it is clean and friendly and just perfect. It was Sunday brunchtime and I stayed mainly with h in the kids section - it was full of kids with parents and grandparents, all talking excitedly about books and related matters. I heard one girl say to her Dad proudly “Look 2 books and I’m still not up to $10!” I wish every town and city had a Powell’s (independent, successful, busy, inspiring) - it really is a marvellous place.

After time in Powell’s we walked through the old centre/Chinatown (pretty quiet as it was Sunday), got a sandwich in the excellent Peoples’ Sandwich of Portland (all Soviet style décor – very well done) and then reached the Waterfront (very busy with fairs and music and fountains and food – particularly busy as it was the Rose Festival). We soaked up some atmosphere (Mariachi band, bluegrass band, funfairs, a million cyclists etc.) and then walked up to the quieter area known as South Park Blocks. I visited the art gallery whilst h read some of her Powell’s booty and Mark… rested his eyes. Then it was back on the streetcar to the hotel and an excellent take-away curry in the room/suite. We really only spent this one day in Portland (visa time was ticking away so we moved into Washington state on 6th June) but it was enough to get an idea of what a busy, friendly, alternative city it is. Good food, good books, good public transport – the first of a trio of great North Western cities (we like Seattle and Vancouver too). But before we get to those two… here are our Portland and leaving-Oregon photos:

Portland, Oregon

So, one more US post and then on to Vancouver, B.C. (where we are now).


Titus said...

I have to say the only thing I could conjure from my memory about Oregon was the Oregon Trail, but wow! I love the look and feel of it all, especially Portland. Bookstore fab, a rose festival, great chair-o-plane.
And Mark's a mason: who knew?

Rachel Fox said...

Portland is the city of roses apparently. It's a lovely place. And the rest of Oregon... Scotland with better roads? Maybe.

The Bug said...

OK, now I need to go to Oregon too - it looks gorgeous!

P.S. Love the picture of H in the cowboy hat & beach towel - for some reason it makes me think of Zorro :)

Rachel Fenton said...

It strikes me that it is more than likely you could travel an entire continent in the time between my blog visits. I imagine you'd have made a grand pioneer.

I'd love to get my mits on that book store.

Isn't comaparing somewhere to Scotland treason, punishable by a stint in the stocks and a fruiting?

Rachel Fox said...

Oh Bug... we have a story about Zorro... and of course it means 'fox'!

And Rachel... well, I did say 'maybe'.