To the Northwest with My Love

So we got to Portland hoping to get a sense of whether or not we could see ourselves moving there in the future. We thought we’d like that its chill, the weather doesn’t get too extreme, and that people value a healthy environment. Our major concerns were cloudy, drizzly days and the potential difficulty of finding jobs.

When traveling we like to couchsurf when we can. With couchsurfing, you make a facebook-like profile telling a little about yourself and your interests and offer to host travelers in your area and/or request to crash with locals when visiting somewhere else. It is one of the most incredible networks of the the most incredible people on the planet. You get to know a place from the inside out and connect with others in the process.

We landed in Portland, and our couchsurfing host offered to pick us up at the airport at 2am. Gave us a quick tour of his literal little mansion and oriented us on how to navigate the public transit to get to and back from downtown the next day.

We spend the next couple of days taking it easy enjoying the food carts, window shopping, drinking coffee and browsing the world’s largest independent bookstore. We stayed until Saturday to catch the artisan market, grabbed a maple bacon doughnut at Voodoo Doughnut, rented a car and headed out to our next couchsurfing host out on the Oregon coast.

We spent two lazy days on the coast doing a whole lotta not much. Caught a sweet vegetable quesadilla in Seaside and then headed down the coast to see the California Redwoods and to see if we needed to consider moving to one of Oregon’s sleepy costal towns.

It took us two days of winding roads along the costal cliffs and strong winds to make it down to Eureka. In Eureka we stopped at a Oaxacan Mexican Restaurant where I came from their Garlic Prawn Quesadilla. Definitely try that at home! We ventured down the Redwood scenic highway and it was amazing. It was like being in another age. It was sorrowful to feel how disconnected life is from the earth. I hope we can soon settle closer to the earth and stars and past.

After leaving the Redwood Forests we drove up through Grants Pass to Eugene where we stayed one night with a middle-aged couple with three smart, quirky kids. We shared their chili, talked young adult lit., and learned about the Mrs’ invention and production of the fold-flat lunchsense lunchbox. Eugene was a cool town, but we learned that come spring it has the worst grass pollen counts in the world, potentially knocking it off our to-live places because of my wife’s asthma and terrible allergies. Allergy shots could be in the cards.

They thought we might really like Bend, Oregon since my wife and I are particularly attached to the sun so we decided to drive the two hours out to Bend on New Year’s Eve and then make it back to Portland the next day to fly out. How could we justify not seeing Bend if we were this close, plus I knew there were hot springs on the way, I just maybe could convince my wife to stop at. Turns out Oregon has a pretty strong culture of enjoying the state’s many hot springs nude. I have had a thing for hot springs since visiting a 16th century Turkish bath in Budapest a handful of years back. This definitely had potential.

We stopped at the hot springs. When we pulled up there was a cute young couple outside their station wagon. It was exciting not knowing what lay ahead. I imagined it could be spiritual/semi-erotic/healing experience as American Natives may have enjoyed the warm waters for thousands of years.

With it being unknown and a certain time of the month, we decided to play it safe and wear swimsuits. Reaching the springs therewas a mix of older men, a few middle-aged women with boys and a couple asian tourists. Suits were a good option, though I would have been more aesthetically integrated to have worn my black boxer brief trunks rather than a big pair of surf shorts. Oh well. We enjoyed the waters, walked back through the forest to the car and headed off at dusk for Bend. 

Reaching Bend we got Papa Johns, messed around in the pool at a Quinta Inn, and rangin the New Year by holding our breath and each eating a dozen green grapes before 12:01. The next morning we drove around, stopped at REI, but couldn’t quite imagine living there. It seemed surprisingly average and unimpressive for supposedly having the most millionaires per capita in the whole US. I didn’t actually fact check that claim. I could potentially see living there to raise vicuñas but otherwise not really.

We left for Portland taking the quickest route back across the high desert and unwisely–we would learn–across Mt. Hood on Sunday, New Year’s Day. The mountain was terribly icy and all the city skiers were trying at once to get back to the city for Monday. We were at a standstill for over three hours not making three miles progress on the mountain. Coming on six o’clock we began to worry we’d miss our eleven o’clock flight.

Soon after seven we made it to the point where we were freed down the mountain and hurried on in to return the car and catch the red line to the airport. We were exhausted but thrilled to have had so much time and fun together. I must say the neon Portland sign was a welcome sight. Up until that day the trip was relaxing but that day gave me the weight of travel.


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