Portlandia!

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Portland, Oregon

Our original plan was to drive out to Mount St. Helens on our way down to Portland.  Unfortunately, traffic was awful and it took us way longer to get to the area.  Mount St. Helens is still active, which means there is no lodging within thirty miles, meaning the drive out and back will take a few hours.  So we readjusted and decided to head out there the next day with Justin, Michael’s brother.  J goes to school a little ways outside of Portland.  Both of our siblings were on the West Coast with us for a part of this trip, which made it extra-special.

Anyway, feeling guilty after our mass donut consumption, I forced Michael into going climbing with me.  We found a rock gym just outside of Portland, in Vancouver, WA and spent some time bouldering.  The place was nice, but there’s just something to be said for your home rock gym.  You know the employees, you know the routes, you have goals you want to accomplish.  So it was good, but nothing super special.  Still on our guilt mode, and aware that we’d have more donuts to eat later that night, we found a cute little vegan restaurant that shares a space with a yoga studio.  Prasad has vegan, raw vegan, and vegetarian fare for people with an appetite, that want to eat clean.  I got a “Dragon bowl” with quinoa, tempeh, avocado, black beans, sea veggies, greens, and cabbage.  Soooo delicious.  The nice thing about Prasad is that they won’t turn away a hungry belly…The Mighty Bowl is offered for a suggested donation, meaning you can pay whatever you like for it.  Hopefully this keeps at least some people from going hungry and malnourished.

We walked around Portland for a bit, and then hit one of the famous sites in the city.  Voodoo Donuts.  At this point I should mention that most days that Michael is away doing his tour thing, I have no idea what city he’s in.  Sometimes I’ll call him and HE doesn’t know what city he’s in.  He’ll just wake up and there they are.  But in each city, they have a designated food spot.  And based on the food spot they instagram or are headed towards, that’s how I know where he is.  Sad but true.  Wingin’ it or Watercourse means Colorado.  Blue Plate Diner means SLC.  Slows means Detroit.  Taco Bus means Tampa.  Voodoo means Portland.

And can I briefly also mention that I hear about all of these awesome delicious places, and never get to EAT there.  I’ve seen way too many pictures of buckets of donuts from Voodoo.  So even though I already had a donut that morning, I WAS FOR SURE EATING AT LEAST TWO MORE.  No regrets.  We waited patiently in a short line while I decided just which two I was going to eat.  Some kids were playing nontraditional instruments for dollars in front of the entrance, and impressed us with their skills on the saw.  So Michael, stocked with fresh two dollar bills from some Asian currency exchange place, decided to gift these musicians with a two dollar bill.  The one kid laughed and was like “REALLY?!” and gave us a strange look.  As we moved on in line, I noticed that they happened to be singing the entire time “You can give me your……..You can give me your……But please just don’t give me, your two dollar bill”.  Great.

Anyway, back to the donut.  I had a Memphis Mafia which is technically a banana fritter with peanut butter and chocolate sauce drizzled all over it, topped with chocolate chips.  And it was the size of my face so Michael and I split it.  And got an oreo topped yeast donut for later.  Nom.  Totally worth feeling sick afterwards.  Voodoo definitely makes delicious donuts, but I didn’t get to try a simple maple bar to see how it compared to Top Pot.  Oh well, next time!

Memphis Mafia

Full and incredibly sleepy, we headed to our hotel.

Saturday we headed to Forest Grove to pick up Justin for our Mount St. Helens adventure.  Justing directed us to Ape Caves, about an hour and a half drive from Portland.  These caves are actually lava tubes formed from eruptions thousands of years ago.  They were discovered in 1947.  We spent a short time exploring the lower cave, which dead-ends after a bit.  Then we spent over two hours hiking through the upper cave.  The upper cave definitely takes some work since there are boulder piles twenty feet high in some areas plus an eight foot lava fall you have to climb up.  Some people hike up the mountain to the sky light and enter there to climb down the upper cave into the lower one.  Personally, I hate climbing down things, and felt going from the lower caves to the upper caves made it easier to scale the boulder piles.  Then we exited through the sky light and hiked quickly down the mountain.  If you have a headlight, take it.  It’s SO DARK in the caves and while we picked up some cheap flashlights, I would have much preferred having both hands to balance.  Also, you’re underground so it is COLD.  Wear really warm clothes.

Skylight Entrance

Once out of the caves we explored the National Monument and park areas and found another really cool suspension bridge a bit further passed the parking area.  Really, the sights there were unlike anywhere else.  I mean, the only volcano I’ve seen prior is Vesuvius so that’s all I have to compare it to, but it’s totally different.

Brothers

Mount St. Helens

PortMountHelens

We headed back to Portland for some Thai food, and then decided to see a movie.  Sometimes while on adventure vacations, it’s really nice to just hang out and do something normal.  We got to see some of J’s campus, which is incredibly eco-friendly compared to BU.  Played some pool and then went to bed.

Sunday morning we headed back into Portland to catch our flight home.  In order to have a great end to our trip, Michael hunted down the best possible brekki place.  Broder is a Scandinavian kitchen that serves baked eggs, smoked trout, Scandinavian pancakes, all involving local ingredients and fantastic pickled items.  I’m a huge pickle fan – I’ll eat pretty much any veg item pickled.  And to top it all off – they had fantastic coffee, which you could sit and drink next door in their lounge while waiting for your table.  Complimentary stump town coffee for the win!  If you’re going to Broder for breakfast – get there super early!  There was a line outside the door ten minutes before they even opened.

We rushed off to the airport, and headed back to PHL via SLC.  What a trip.  Can’t wait to go back :).

Ciao ciao,

JT