Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Simple Living : Keep Portland Weird!

A week before it was time for spring break we were trying to zero in on places to visit.

K2's criteria - # plane ride
K1's criteria - # all inclusive resort in Hawaii
My criteria - # can we stay at home and pop popcorn, catch up on DVRed shows and hit hiking trails (go right ahead and judge me ;-) )

We zeroed in on a car trip to Portland amidst some protests from the young one, who still wanted a plane ride and preferably to Legoland.

About 4 years back after I watched Grimm, I fell madly in love with a city and have had a dream of moving there at some point  in my life (umm...and mind you I had never visited Portland). So a vacation to Portland in my husband's mind was a great idea to prove to me that maybe Sunny California is where we are supposed to be settled (he was so wrong :)). So a week before our trip I send out an email to our work email address and the ideas and suggestions I got from these bunch of remarkable people was beyond amazing...we played it by the ear and had a very rough draft plan of our trip in our heads ( Thanks to Air B&B for helping us keep our plans flexible).

So here's how our vacation played out ( I had 4 pings for the itinerary and to say that my head has grown double it's size is an understatement :) )

Day 1 – Our plan was to leave  the house at 11.00 AM we had tire troubles and by the time we replaced our tires and hit the road it was 1.30 PM. We made it to Redding by 5.30 PM . We went directly to the Sun Dial Bridge and it was so worth the detour. We also walked for an hour in the Botanical Gardens and it was a refreshing break. We then drove to Weed, CA - we were at our Air B&B by 8.30 PM and then grabbed dinner at  Hi-Lo CafĂ© (highly recommended)

Day 2 – Woke up to chickens in the Air B&B clucking while we made our plans for the day. We took a hike to Mc Cloud Falls ( we hiked from the lower falls to the upper falls and the hiking trails are steep, so wear good trekking/hiking shoes) and then checked out Mount Shasta and then ventured into the town. The weather was gorgeous so we decided to pick a boxed  Lunch from Maruti (5 star yelp rated vegetarian indian place) and had lunch by the frozen Castle Lake. We started our drive to Portland  at about 2.00 PM (with a stop in Ashland). We reached Portland about 9.00 PM and had dinner at Circa 33 ( a prohibition era themed cocktail bar with fabulous food!). My son felt very grown up having a Moscow Mule sans alcohol while K1 got to audition his first round of hopper brews that Portland is so famous for. The night view of the city and bridges were just breath-taking and I fell just a bit more in love with the city.

Day 3 – We went on an off-track urban/nature hike to get to know beautiful Portland a bit better - it is called the 4T Trail ( oddly enough I was the first to review this trail on Yelp). We started around 10.00 AM at the Pioneer Courthouse (parked in one of the underground garages there), we took the train to the Oregon Zoo and walked to the Columbia Crest where we had a picnic lunch. The views at Columbia Crest are fabulous after which we took the Aerial tram at Oregon Health Sciences Univ.  and then the street trolley - we eventually ended up on a bus to go to the bookstore. Later on we went to Powell Bookstore ( the smell of books...I will hit up a library or a book store just for that smell...)  and had dinner at Pacific Pie . My husband was raving about the local brews, I will have to take his word for it  as I stuck to the herbal tea but I solemnly promise that the pies (savory - roast lamb and chicken burrito pie) and sweet (chocolate hazelnut bourbon) were the best I have had.EVER. We stopped by at Voodoo Doughnuts (totally taken in by the hype) and waited 45 minutes (we are told people wait in line 3 hours) for our pink box - what can I say - the young one was on a sugar buzz and loved his donuts. My husband discovered a new coffee favorite in Dutch Bros ( just sayin - if you love coffee give this local chain a shot, they are great!)

Day 4 – Was a gorgeous day and we decided to drive down the scenic Columbia River Gorge Area and Multnomah Falls. We wanted to devote an entire day to that experience and Boy! are we glad we did - we were treated to gentle breeze, breath-taking views of the river and the water falls kept us spellbound. We proceeded to the Multnomah Visitor Center and initially decided to do the 1.8 M trek up to the Upper Falls - half way to the trek we decided to go all in and see all the five waterfalls hiking - it was a treat, it was hard for the young one, no regrets but if you have children not used to steep climbs avoid the 7.8M loop. We made it down for a late lunch at the Multnomah Lodge (Wild Caught Salmon Burger washed down with a Blackberry Cider...in case you were wondering) and followed it up with some Retail therapy at the Columbia Gorge Premium Outlet Mall (skip if you don’t want to do consumerish things, but no sales tax wow :) ). Dinner was Thai Food from one of the food trucks - Thai Champa (beyond amazing!)

Day 5 – Drove to Crater Lake - this is a must-see place. The drive there is a little scary with oodles of snow and zero cell phone coverage for 100 miles but if you get over it and focus on the beautiful vistas and scenery - you will love it (this was a mini-note for myself - I really get nervous around snow but enjoyed this trip).  We stayed at the Crater Lake Bed & Breakfast, which was 20+ miles away ( the weather was gorgeous) — we made this plan on the day before with constant weather checking. The weather gods were clearly smiling down at us :-)

Day 6 – Another peek at the Crater Lake (we couldn’t get enough) — then  we were off to Winston Animal Safari. We decided to go home after the safari but you could stay a night at Prospect or Medford and do the trek back home in the morning. On our way back K2 captured a beautiful shot of Mount Shasta with the lenticular clouds on top...a fitting goodbye to an eventful spring break.

I have posted reviews of all the businesses and places we visited on this trip on Yelp

I want to end this long blog post with the wise words of Maya Angelou - “Every person needs to take a day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist a day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” 

So have you planned your next trip?

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