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
If 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.
Finding 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.
Across 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
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.
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!
For 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 Wonderings, Sweet Inspiration hosted by Repurposing Junkie, My Sweet Things, Kreativ K and The Boondocks Blog, Weekend Wanderlust hosted by A Brit and a Southerner, A Southern Gypsy, Eat Work Travel, Justin Plus Lauren and One Modern Couple, Monday Escapes hosted by Packing My Suitcase and My Travel Monkey, and City Tripping hosted by Mummy Travels and Wander Mum.