Sunday, August 20, 2017

Oregon Top Five

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you will probably recall that I took a trip a few weeks to Oregon. It was fun to use Instagram Story to capture the beauty of the state, but I'm not going to lie: behind the beauty of my photos there was the ugly truth that a lot of the trip was actually somewhat hellacious! You see, we went on this trip with members of my husband's extended family. Our mode of transportation was one minivan for seven people, all of whom either had very different ideas about what to do or, which was worse, absolutely no ideas at all about what to do and yet were constantly objecting to the ideas of others! So my husband and I spent much of the trip crammed into the third row of the minivan at the mercy of the two bad drivers. We just smiled and nodded most of the time, silently praying we would not get in car crash.

Of course, it wasn't all bad and I did get to do some of the things I wanted, so I'm going to focus on the positives and show you what I enjoyed most about the experience by highlighting five things I think everyone should do while visiting Oregon. So regardless of if you find yourself in Oregon to see the eclipse this week or if, like me, you're on a family vacation that could have been ripped straight from one of the National Lampoon's "Vacation" movies, these activities will hopefully offer something for everyone!

1. Visit a historic house

One of the first thing I did when I found out we were going to Oregon was to look up interesting historical houses in the area. At the top of my list was the Pittock Mansion in Portland. This house was built in 1914 for Henry Pittock who owned The Oregonian newspaper at the time. As you tour the house, you will learn the rich history of the Pittock family and what daily life was like for them at the time.

If you're not into architecture or history, which was the case for most of our party, then at least go to check out the amazing views of Portland. This photo showcases not only the cityscape of Portland, but also Mt. Hood in the background. As a side note: you can literally see Mt. Hood from just about anywhere in the state!

Another house that I would recommend is the Gordon House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Silverton. I didn't get to tour it (there's a long story behind that, which I will spare you!) but it's worth just the visit to see the outside, especially if you love Wright's work. The Oregon Garden is also located right up the road from the house, so there's something for everyone.

2. Get a sugar rush at Voodoo Doughnuts

So while we couldn't all agree on going to the Frank Lloyd Wright house, getting doughnuts was something that everyone was excited about. (Sugar clearly brings people together!) In fact, we went to two Voodoo Doughnut locations: the main one in Portland and the one in Eugene. 

Even if you don't like doughnuts, Voodoo doughnuts offers a lot of eye candy from their pretty pink boxes to their strange and off-beat decor. It's definitely worth a peek inside just for the experience.

For those of you who want to get a doughnut, you will not be disappointed! I wasn't sure what to order so I just said, "give me one of the doughnuts that looks like a Voodoo doll!" At first I thought it was just one of those foods people buy that looks cool so you can post pictures of it on Instagram, but their doughnuts are actually very good! My husband and I took it back to the hotel bar and ordered some bourbon to enjoy while devouring the quirky doughnut. We also had fun stabbing it with the little pretzel stick they give you. It was a good way to vent some pent up frustrations with the trip!

3. Drink wine, eat cheese

While driving around Oregon, you might, for a moment, think you are in Napa. There are wineries everywhere! My only regret is that on a six day trip, we only visited three wineries. (I needed a lot more alcohol!)

One thing I will say is that some of the wineries prices are a little steep based on the quality of the wine. Some places were charging Napa prices or beyond for wine that paled in comparison (not that I'm a sommelier or anything!). These wineries also had very pricey tasting flights to match the over-priced wine. Regardless, the wineries and scenery were all beautiful (just check out the sunflowers that we found below at one winery!), so it's worth checking them out even if you don't taste or buy anything.

If there is one thing I love more than wine, it's cheese! The Willamette Valley Cheese Company in Salem is a perfect place to taste cheese...a lot of cheese! I was anticipating tasting maybe six or so cheeses, but they literally give you a piece of every cheese listed on the blackboard below! (There were at least 30 in total!) Even I got "cheesed-out" after making it about two thirds through the list! My tip for visiting would be to be selective and pick the ones you're most interested in trying. Almost all the cheeses, however, were really good!

4. Find a waterfall...they're everywhere!

After living in Los Angeles for so long, I'm always taken aback by places that have a lot of greenery, and Oregon is definitely one of those places! The state seemingly has countless trees, parks and waterfalls. After we landed in the Portland airport, we drove north to see Multnomah Falls, pictured below.

The nice thing about this excursion was that waterfall was easily seen from the highway and located just a short walk from it, so we didn't really have to do much hiking to get there. There's also a beautiful bridge that sadly I didn't get to go on, but maybe I'll save that for another time. I think one might get a little wet crossing the bridge up there but after sitting in an airport for hours and being on a plane, I probably could have used a shower!

There's also a small Union Pacific railway bridge that you'll walk under as you approach the waterfall. A train was crossing it while we were there so I thought I would try to get some "arty" pictures of the train, complete with graffiti, with my camera. I'm all about experimenting with photos, especially while on vacation!

5. Take a ride on the Salem Carousel

Carousels have always held a special spot in my heart, perhaps for two reasons. The first is that I love horses and use to ride a lot. In fact, when I was little and just staring to learn how to ride, I would practice posting on the carousel! The second reason is that I love the novel The Catcher in the Rye, so carousels always remind me of the final scene of the novel with Holden and Phoebe.

The Salem Carousel is honestly one of the more unique ones that I've seen. They have a mixture of old and new horses, plus other animals. You can also visit where they design, carve and paint new horses as well as where they restore the older ones. The people who do these jobs are all volunteers and super friendly! They spent a lot of time talking to me and answering questions. I would definitely recommend taking a spin on the carousel and supporting their work!

Well, here's one last shot of Mt. Hood to conclude my Oregonian odyssey! Looking back at the pictures I guess it wasn't all that bad! I would definitely go back again, but just maybe not with seven people in one minivan. But reflecting on it this moment, I kind of miss them. It's funny. Don't tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.

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