Plenty In Portland

Rocks (L)It’s often a commonly accepted fact that friends move, relationships change, and people are on to new pursuits. Although this may be the case, visiting my friend, Caitlin, in her new residence of Portland, Oregon, I find we still have similarities that made us friends. Caitlin was often my partner-in-crime while living in Denver, Colorado, and while staying with her in Portland, I find we’re still a duo with a mission. This particular mission came about after visiting the Denver Aquarium for Otter Week. Around every corner, we expected to find countless otters swimming and jumping into the water. Unfortunately, we left with only two otter sightings. An aquarium employee later informed us Otter Week was about awareness and conservation, not about what Caitlin and I refer to as “a plethora of otters.” Since the employee could only offer coloring books, Caitlin and I left, disappointed, but that didn’t dampen our spirits. With a new destination to explore, Caitlin and I are determined to find a plethora in Portland. Would Portland disappoint us? Here’s exactly what we discovered:

Gardens and Parks

Archway at the Lan Su Chinese GardenIf there’s one thing Portland does well, it’s cultural authenticity within its gardens. The Lan Su Chinese Garden, is considered the most authentic Suzchou-style garden outside of China. Meant to represent the relationship between Portland and Portland’s sister city, Suzchou, I can’t stop thinking of how both Lan Su and the Master of the Nets Garden in Suzchou have carved windows and elaborate wooden doors. Enjoying tea and mooncakes with Caitlin, I look down at the garden’s pond and think of the Suzchou canals I once traveled on that passed by the pockets of everyday Chinese life.

Bridge at the Portland Japanese GardenFinding peace, harmony, and a connection to nature is not only prevalent in Lan Su Chinese Garden. Nestled in Washington Park is the Portland Japanese Garden, a garden former Ambassador of Japan to the United States, Nubo Matsunga, declared to be the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan. Throughout the pathways of moss, trees, ferns, and raked sand, there’s a feeling of tranquility and balance. Rather than run through the garden, I find it more inspiring to slowly take my time from the Strolling Pond Garden with the Moon Bridge to the Sand and Stone Garden. Although I’m met with spurts of rain, it seems all the more magical and transformational.

Peach and Yellow Roses at the International Rose Test GardenAcross from the Portland Japanese Garden, the International Rose Test Garden continues my trek of tranquility. A collection of over 10,000 rose plantings and over 600 varieties of roses, this garden is filled with shades of fuchsia, peach, yellow, and deep reds. Established in 1917, this 4.5 acre garden kept me intrigued as I carefully sought to capture the feel of each individual rose color and petals. The rain may seem to hinder my enjoyment, but I welcome it as my photos collect the details of rain droplets. These are details I can only hope will be captured in my photography.

Beaches and Waterfalls

Haystack Rock After seeing Caitlin’s photos of Cannon Beach on Instagram, this is at the top of my list. Seeing it in person even exceeds my expectations as huge rocks and cliffs arise from the shore. Approaching Haystack Rock, birds circle in the air around the barnacle and moss-covered rocks that loom above us. After exploring among the rocks of Cannon Beach, Caitlin and I are delighted to discover more beautiful landscapes along the highway. There’s definitely no lack of greenery and trees hanging over trails to the shores.

The beach isn’t the only place we find water and trees. Starting at Vista House at Crown Point, the views of the Gorge from up above showcase more of the lush, green mountain sides and waterways. Eager to see more of the mountains, Caitlin and I head along the highway to a trail from Eagle Creek to Punchbowl Falls. We stop nearly every five minutes and seize opportunities to view and experience another majestic waterfall before we hike to our final destination. It’s no ordinary hike as tree branches seem to elegantly drape over our trail for the sun to peek through to create a picturesque scene. I’m careful not to look down too often at the beautiful canyons and creek below as my fear of heights starts to creep in. Punchbowl Falls is a welcoming site to the end of our hike as we relax our feet in the cold water and cool off in the shade.

Downtown Activities

Food Trucks (L)After viewing a cityscape of Portland from the best spot, Pittock Mansion, I’m ready to head downtown. I had a long adventure walking up steep and winding hills attempting to find Pittock Mansion via Google Maps directions and after failing I have no desire to venture out unless I have a reliable local like Caitlin. Luckily, Caitlin is off work and ready to visit what Portland is becoming known for: Food trucks. Although Caitlin and I go on a Monday evening, when most food trucks are closed, a few were open for us to savor. Caitlin’s choice? The Baby Cheesus a patty melt with American and Colby Jack cheeses, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard, and a 1/3 lbs. burger from The Grilled Cheese Grill while my delectable delights included Chicken Pad Sew Lew. There’s plenty to taste at the trucks from Greek to Moroccan to Creole, and it would be a great way to travel to another country everyday!

Powell's BooksFor further entertainment, Caitlin and I wander to a place that could provide us with adventure, fantasy, and fiction. Before you scratch your head and wonder what I mean, know that where we ended up was none other than Powell’s Books. This isn’t your ordinary bookstore. It’s possible you could spend days among the multi-level store filled with bookshelves of fiction, sci-fi, travel, religion, philosophy, cooking, and children’s books. Within a few minutes, Caitlin and I lost track of one another, only to meet up at the cash register with more than we intended to purchase.

It’s safe to say that Portland did not disappoint us. It seems nearly everywhere we went there was a plethora, whether it was nature, greenery, food, or books. I’m happy to say Portland left me with more than a coloring book. It left me with a renewed sense of adventure and admiration for the Pacific Northwest. It’s probably also safe to say that Caitlin and I will be looking for a “next” destination that includes lots of otters.

This post is a part of Photo Friday hosted by Pierced WonderingsSweet Inspiration hosted by Repurposing Junkie, My Sweet Things, Kreativ K and The Boondocks BlogWeekend Wanderlust hosted by A Brit and a Southerner, A Southern Gypsy, Eat Work Travel, Justin Plus Lauren and One Modern CoupleMonday Escapes hosted by Packing My Suitcase and My Travel Monkey, and City Tripping hosted by Mummy Travels and Wander Mum.

Pierced Wonderings
My Sweet Things
Weekend Wanderlust 2
Packing my Suitcase


  1. Caitlin

    This is awesome Brooke! I can hold onto this post for years to come so we can remember our adventures!!! LET’S FIND OUR PLETHORA OF OTTERS!

  2. melina bee

    I used to live there and miss it so much! I even got a rose tattoo partly to honor the city of roses and so I feel I can carry it with me wherever I go. lovely guide to such a special place.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Hi Melina,
      I’m so glad you enjoy my post and shared my love of Portland. I think it’s wonderful you have a tattoo to remind you of a place you love.

  3. laurenonlocation

    You captured Portland so wonderfully 😀 That Baby Cheesus sounds just delightful! I agree that eating at the city’s Food Carts is a great way to transport yourself to other places 😀

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed Portland and the Food Carts! Hope you have lots of great travels planned in 2016!

  4. bettyl - NZ

    Sometimes, we look for one thing and end up with other great things as you seemed to have done! The city sounds like a great place to explore.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Portland is wonderful to explore and there are a couple of things I missed. I hope I can go back soon and see more, like you mentioned! 🙂

  5. Mary-The Boondocks Blog

    What a beautiful city. It seems to have everything and lots of greenery which is really important in any city. You did an excellent job capturing the raindrops on those gorgeous roses Brooke. I don’t think I will ever have the opportunity to make it to Portland but I can enjoy it through you. Thanks for sharing with us I am pinning and sharing also.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thanks for your wonderful compliments and for sharing this post! I loved Portland, and although you won’t be able to visit, I’m glad you can enjoy it through my writing and pictures.

  6. Clare Thomson

    So great to read about Portland. It’s somewhere I’ve always fancied visiting and I hadn’t even heard of those gorgeous looking gardens. That book shop is definitely on my list of must-visits alone! #MondayEscapes

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Powell’s Books is incredible! I love it and could spend hours there. I hope you can visit Portland soon, there’s so much I missed and hope I can make a revisit someday.

  7. MummyTravels

    The garden is wonderful, you would definitely find yourself transported to China. And i think I’d have been hoping for a plethora of otters too – they are so cute. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I agree. All of the gardens are incredible in Portland and they do a wonderful job of making you feel as though you’re somewhere else. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Cultural Wednesday

    Powell’ books was one of our Portland highlights too # CityTripping

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Excellent. Powell’s Books is one of my favorite places in the world. 🙂

  9. WanderMum

    Who needs a plethora of otters when have waterfalls, food, books and a great friendship. I’m not hugely familiar with Portland but it clearly has lots to offer! #citytripping

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Every time I visit Portland and Oregon I fall in love with it more. As you mentioned, there’s plenty of natural wonders to see!

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