I was very excited to get to the West Coast, mostly because I’ve heard so much about this area but visited only two cities on my previous trips– San Francisco and Los Angeles. That’s why I decided to dedicate one month, half of my US trip, just to explore this area on my way south to Mexico.
Spending 4 days in Seattle was great and now I was exciting to see Portland, but I didn’t want to plan anything specific this time, well I almost never do but I actually didn’t know anything about Oregon except that it’s suppose to be beautiful and people are nice.
The distance from Seattle to Portland is very short, so I had a chance to stay away from the highway and go to the mountains without being short on time. As I already mentioned in the previous post, the ride from Olympia peninsula to Portland was very beautiful – passing near the mountains Reiner and St Helens, beautiful lakes and riding on forest roads, and all of that without seeing too many people. It took me twice longer but was definitely worth it.
St Helens story is particularly interesting, it left me amazed how powerful nature can be and how absurd our sense of stability on this planet. If you not familiar with the eruption, take some time to watch this video at least.
I met Scott, my couchsurfer host and his roommates at the evening, I was tired after the long day of riding so the next few hours we just spent talking about the city and also about our life of course. Scott recently quit his job and decided to make a documentary, so now he is happy about new direction. All of us agreed that it’s very important to take a break and check with yourself if your life goes in the right direction and if you are happy, but unfortunately not too many people do that.
Scott lives in the southeast of Portland and some very hip and young neighborhoods located there, so the next day I spent exploring the area which means chilling in coffee shops, getting food in local restaurants, checking out little funny stores. My conclusion – this place is one big hipster heaven.
It was late Friday afternoon and it was a time to go to my next hosts Ben and Gale that lived in the other part of the city, southwest, where lives most of the Jewish community. The reason why I wanted to spend this weekend in Jewish community is upcoming Tisha Be’Av (9th of Av) the fast that commemorates destruction of the first and the second Temple. I’ll tell more about this in my next post.
Ben and Gale are wonderful people, they grew up here, now in their late fifties they are still typical Oregonians – liberal minded, active outdoors, healthy eaters and in general very nice and welcoming. I spent with them the next few days, fasting, making food, biking, boating, talking and getting to know each other.
I was glad that I had the chance to experience Portland in this way, and the city and its citizens made a very good impression on me. There are many interesting neighborhoods, waterfront is very relaxing and Washington Park is gorgeous. Also it was a very good feeling that I didn’t need to drive to move from place to place, the city is walkable and bikeable, bus and tram system is very easy to use, even if you have a bike with you. They can to recycle and compost almost everything. Even the weather was nice – little bit gray in the morning, sunny and warm afternoon. But the most important are the people of Portland – almost everyone that I met was very nice, I was able to make new friends pretty fast and spend a great time with them.
On the last day I went boating with Ben and then continued to ride few more hours into the Mt Hood national forest to chill and Bagby hot springs that located 1.5 hours southeast from Portland. That was Ben’s suggestion and I’m very happy that he told me about this cool spot. It’s located in the forest and you need to hike 30 min from the parking area ($5), the springs are open 24 hours and I could camp a few hundred meters from them. My day ended with a nice forest ride, hike, dinner and after that when it got dark, long bath in the hot springs while listening to relaxing music. Amazing! I slept very well soon afterwards and I needed that because the next day promised to be tough.
My plan was to ride through the forest south to the Crater Lake and then to San Francisco with a stop in Redwood forest.