I made it guys. I’m drinking coffee in a genuine Seattle coffeehouse (Fuel Coffee 1705 N 4th St) using their WiFi to work on my travel blog.
Life is great.
The drive here from California was beautiful and the land was something magnificent I had never seen before. I had never known what it’d felt like to drive through a bowl of trees (Mt. Shasta National Park) or around the circumference of a volcano (Mt. Hood) to admire it from every which angle.
I even passed a plastic cow on a barn welcoming me to the hidden 51st state, the “State of Jefferson.”
I’ve never felt more self sufficient, more empowered than traveling on my own budget (about $50USD/day including fuel, food, shelter, tickets and fares), being my own small ecosystem within the larger urban infrastructure, and doing what I want, when I want, and feeling no guilt about it. I’ve earned this and I’ve trained for this. All those miles I’ve been running have made me a great urban crawler, and being from the Bay Area, I am a beast hill master.
The first day I left the Bay Area around noon, and the drive (including three stops for gas, food, and directions) took about 10 hours, although I didn’t get to Portland until midnight. I loaded my music library onto my SD card and seriously had a blast road tripping and listening to all the albums I haven’t had time to enjoy.
My first stop in Oregon was for gas, but I didn’t even know I had crossed the border yet. The attendant came up and started pumping my gas and I asked him where I was. He informed me, “you’re about 150 miles into Oregon from California.” Must’ve missed the “Welcome to Oregon” sign.
I’m staying with couchsurfer hosts in Portland and will be stopping back to sleep at their dorm on Saturday night.
I woke up early the morning after I got to Portland because I was anxious to explore the city. One of the hosts I was staying with was going for a run, so I joined him exploring a 4.5 mi route circling the bridges of the central Willamette River that drives the maritime commerce in the city and hosts all Portland’s bridges. The city isn’t that big and throughout the course of the day I probably walked the length of the commercial areas (Waterfront, Downtown, Pearl, Chinatown, Uni) several times, each time taking about 25 minutes or so, if I’m rushing.
I spent that first day in Portland exploring the urban sights, striking conversations with strangers (I think of them as IRL quest givers and life as a reality MMORPG) to find out what the major things to do were.
Something interesting happens when you ask different strangers the same question: What’s your favorite thing to do here? People will usually give you the tourist sights of course, but then they’ll always add an interesting local insight that you might not ever get from a guidebook. And, depending on what kind of place they recommend, you can get a little insight into their personality.
Some of my favorite recommendations:
– eat at the Portland food trucks
– go to Powells Books, the largest used and new bookstore in the U.S. (I loved this one)
– go to a strip club (Portland reportedly has the most strip clubs of any urban area, but also has the cleanest ones too!)
– take a picture at Voodoo Donuts (but get your actual donut from elsewhere cuz this one is too sweet? I haven’t verified this one yet)
– the zoo! (I didn’t get a chance to do this one)
– Hoyt Arboretum (I could spend a lifetime here, more on this later)
So I made my way around town wandering where it felt like the traffic and energy and architecture were taking me and I ambled over to Powells books.
I COULD LIVE IN POWELLS BOOKS.
There are so many books organized into different sections across almost 9 distinct warehouse sized spaces. The entire store spans a city block and stands 3 stories tall. There is even a RARE BOOK ROOM. The books in there are museum treasures that you can actually touch and even buy! So cool.
The best coffee drink I had is the Coffee Shrub at Barista (an award winning coffeehouse in the Pearl District). It’s iced coffee steeped overnight with a touch of balsamic vinegar and sparkling water topped with a kiss of ginger and lemon over ice. Considering it was like 80 degrees average all day, it was a great iced coffee drink.
I spent the night checking out the bars but was back to my sleeping place early to shower and prepare my plans for the next day.
Traffic’s starting to pick up in Seattle as people wake up to work. Coffee’s getting cold and I better get back to the hostel if I want free breakfast ;P
Portland Part 2 coming soon