Wandering through Portland, Oregon’s Skidmore Market on a Sunday I saw a fun and self-deprecating shirt announcing; “Paris was too expensive, so I’m in Portland.” Honest, perhaps, but I think I’ll take Oregon.
Portland is an eminently livable city. Green, friendly and relaxed, it is full of pubs. Oregon’s beer culture is widely celebrated and gradually I am learning to accept the ridiculously hoppy West Coast flavours.
At best Portland is a reason to visit Oregon, but it not the only reason. Typical of the West Coast, homelessness is shockingly apparent and the city lacks the unique attraction by which to define itself, yet I could easily imagine living there.
My main reasons for driving into the city on a Sunday was for the airport and to climb at the Planet Granite climbing gym. Hardcore traditionalists may find this gym too sterile, but we loved it (and it is so much better than our facility back in Canmore).
The real thrill of visiting northern Oregon lies about 50 miles (80 KMs) to the east, Mount Hood; part of the great chain of volcanoes through the US North West.
Mount Hood’s accessibility makes it the second most climbed volcano in the world (after Mount Fuji in Japan) and there seems a reasonable chance it will erupt sometime in the not-so-distant future… that is among the many reasons we rented a cottage instead of buying :)!
The main purpose of the trip was for Finn to indulge his love of skateboarding at Windell’s Camp – “The Funnest Place on Earth.” – so far Finn agrees. The camp environment is relaxed, yet organized and seems to attract all ages. Part of Finn’s homework will be a full blog about the experience – stay tuned!
The timing of this camp worked for a few personal reasons. This provided a chance to take a fun road trip with a settled 10 days around Mount Hood before we fly up to Alaska where Finn will ‘help me’ to lead a custom tour through the largest (yet third least populated) State in the Union.
While Finn could have stayed at the camp, we decided to rent a cottage and pick him up at the end of each day. He is busy skating, which left me free to explore as well as get some paperwork done for the University. And the region is fantastic.
We drove down through BC and into Northern Idaho. The attractive community of Sandpoint has become a frequent stop on our drives west and south. Sadly we skipped beautiful Coeur D’Alene this time, in deference to some climbing in Spokane (another city we really enjoy).
From there we drove through Washington State’s remarkably hot central plateau before meeting up with the Columbia River. This magnificent waterway gave British Columbia its name and defines the border between Washington and Oregon. The river starts near Canal Flats in eastern BC and flows north through the Rocky Mountain Trench before turning and flowing south into the United States.
Nearing the Mount Hood region, the valley narrows creating a natural wind-tunnel that draws wind and kite surfers from around the world. The community of Hood River is the nexus for these water sports, but I also recommend a visit for the funky town and ubiquitous brew-pubs!
The area around Mount Hood is fantastic. So far I have really enjoyed climbing at French’s Dome and cycling on the generally good highway shoulders.
We have been here four days now and I have hiked, rock-climbed on excellent basalt and cycled. The best entertainment is, in fact the bird-feeder outside the cabin where the jays, squirrels and crows compete for treats. The summer heat and blue sky undoubtedly helps yet this is one of the few mountains with year-round skiing! The glaciers are receding, but I think the biggest concern would be sun burn.
As travel blogs go, this is far less political than my regular style, but it is just fun to enjoy the magnificent environment. Please contact us if you want to plan a trip to Oregon or the Pacific North West.