On Valentine's Day we left Vancouver after I got out of work, stopped at Red Robin along the way for a *romantic* little V-Day din, and arrived at our Portland hotel around 10:30ish.
After I put in a workday from the hotel room on Friday we went out to dinner at Grain & Gristle with our friends Simon and Emily. I had their burger, which was deeee-lish, and my dinner companions enjoyed their $2 craft beers. [There was one total "Portland moment" when our server was describing a ridiculously terrible-sounding, served-at-room-temperature beer with oysters and truffles in it that made us all chuckle.] We dinner-capped next door at the bar Tiga, where I boldly ordered a virgin Shirley Temple, continuing my tradition of doing what I want.
On Saturday morning Dave and I went to the Prescott Cafe for breakfast - this was on Simon's recommendation because he knows that Dave and I can be slightly turned off by the over-the-top, exaggerated menu items at many of the "typical Portland" breakfast places. I don't need a softly poached egg served with braised pork belly and plum sauce on top of a bed of shaved kale (is that even a thing?). I just want some over-medium eggs and bacon. Turns out that Prescott Cafe is exactly the kind of down-home place that I like to go to for breakfast... the food there just happened to suck, unforch. Ya win some, ya lose some.
After breakfast we scooped up Simon and went out to do some adventure gear shopping at Next Adventure and REI. As a Valentine's Day present, David got me an AWESOME new soft-shell jacket, which I got a ton of use out of over the next few days. #holla
On Saturday evening, we dropped Simon off at work (at Valentine's, which is apparently the place to be, y'all) and then headed to Target for a massive haul because it's so much cheaper to buy our basics in Oregon than it is to buy them in Vancouver. We bought sooo much awesome stuff like canned tomatoes and black beans and pasta and peanut butter. So much peanut butter.
Also while in Portland, doughnuts were definitely on the agenda. Me boo and I both have definite sweet tooths (sweet teeth?) and when we first moved to Portland in January 2012, we went a little overboard with buying doughnuts several times a week. The habit cooled off eventually but never died completely. Everyone hypes up Portland's Voodoo Doughnut, and while I do enjoy their doughnuts, the place is really more of a tourist trap than a necessity. I might have gone there if the line wasn't literally down the street when we drove past it. But why wait for that when you can just get Tonalli's anytime of the day, with hardly any wait at all??
|. get ya donut noms on, ladies! .|
On Sunday morning we checked out of the hotel early and headed over to Simon's house to scoop him up again. From Sunday morning to Wednesday morning, we'd be adventurrrring!
Our big plan was to drive east/southeast from Portland to the desert to see what we could see of the John Day fossil beds (which had been on my list of "things to see in Oregon" for almost a year), and then southwest from there to Smith Rock State Park to camp and hike for a couple of days.
Here are some of my favorite pics from our drive to the desert on Sunday... Definitely click on all of the images below to see their larger versions!
|. the A is a reflection in the glass from my UMASS t-shirt. |
i don't want to talk about why this window doesn't roll down .
The fossil beds have different sites, so we chose to drive to the Painted Hills... because doesn't that sound like a cool thing to see? Well they were:
There was a bit of excitement when we nearly ran out of gas as we were making our way to/from the bowels of the Painted Hills. The fact that none of us had service or even any battery left in our cell phones was a nice touch to this challenge, especially since we were basically out in the middle of nowhere. We eventually cleared that hurdle, finding a gas station in the nick of time. Dave ended up needing to put 14.93 gallons of gas into his 15-gallon tank. Eesh. #closecall
From there we headed south to Smith Rock State Park, where we had plans to camp at a Bivouac Camping Area - meaning that you'd park your car in the parking lot and then bring your camping gear from there out into basically an open field intended for random tenting. In the darkness we could barely tell who else was staying in the field and had to use our head-lamps to locate a place to set up our own tents. Did I mention that there were no open fires allowed at the site? Because there weren't.
We set up our tents in the darkness, unable to see our surroundings at all. I knew that when we woke up in the morning we'd be surrounded by some pretty sweet shit...
... And we were:
There were a ton of people rock climbing all over the rock that day, which for me was a bit insane to see. Tiny figures scattered across a dominating, sheer rock wall, hundreds of feet in the air, trying their best to pretend that it was totally normal for them to be doing so. A real trip, for a non-climber like myself.
This ascent kicked my ass, for some reason. It was steep, but it was short. I had to stop a few times to catch my breath, and I wasn't even hiking quickly. Once we made it to the top of this part of the trail, however, it was mostly just fun adventuring from there.
|. boys and rock .|
|. simon and i.... and rock .|
After our hike we were a little beat and the weather was getting a bit chilly. So what did we do? Well we went to go see A Good Day to Die Hard. Because nothing says, "You're on vacation!" like Bruce Willis and binge-eating Reeses Pieces.
We decided that night that we'd leave Smith Rock the next morning (Tuesday) - rather than Wednesday morning as we'd originally planned - because it was starting to get pretty freaking cold and without being able to have a nice roaring fire at our campsite, that was slightly less appealing. No matter - we had a secondary adventure planned in no time: We'd head out to the Oregon coast to try to snag a yurt at Cape Lookout Campground in Tillamook, OR. A yurt is a cabin-esque structure with canvas walls, bunks, and - most importantly - heat. Basically like a hotel, when you're used to camping in a tent.
We woke up early on Tuesday morning, shook the snow out of the inside of our tent (condensation from our breath froze on the tent walls during the night) and immediately started making some coffee to keep us warm while we broke down our camp and packed up the car. We had a long drive ahead of us to get to the Oregon coast!
We arrived at Cape Lookout Campground late afternoon and picked out a yurt from the remaining available:
I tried to avoid being roped into their "homerun derby with a plastic bat and ball in the raging seaside wind" game, but alas, this happened:
I literally didn't hit the ball once, but I swung at it many, many times before finally announcing that this was "no fun" and running off to take more pics.
We spent the rest of the evening hanging out at our yurt around our fire, making different versions of delicious camping food (grilled ham and cheeses, fire-roasted hot dogs, s'mores made with Reese's new peanut butter candy bars in place of the standard Hershey bar... #campingheaven) and trying to scare away the five or six raccoons that were very carefully scoping out our campsite all night long.
|. rascals .|