Monday, October 17, 2016

A Journey to the Pacific Northwest

Justin and I drove to Portland last week, and we fell in love with Oregon. This is my journal entry that I'm too lazy to format into past tense. :) 

October 8, 2016
 Today Justin and I had the perfect day in Portland. We made not plans beforehand, but somehow we pushed the right order of buttons that created a Felix Felicis-like effect where everything was completely lovely. We drove for fifteen hours to get here and it was really tiring but we made it! I’ve never gone somewhere just to go there, and especially not with somebody else. We kept saying, “We’re here!” We decided to pick up and take a trip, and here we are!

Today we woke up and then decided to go on the underground walking tour for Portland. We drove downtown and AHHH. They have so many old buildings and sidewalks and whatnot mixed in with the new. We drove across the Williamette River on this huge bridge, and then parked by the river. We walked several blocks and found the Merchant Hotel where the tour started. Our guide was Jake, who was sassy with pink hair. He enjoyed puns and I loved him. It would take so much energy to be a guide at such a place, where you have to be ready to deal with all the smart alecks. Jake was both peppy and prepared.

I loved the tour! We heard about crimping, the legend of the Shanghai tunnels, “seamstresses,” speak-easies (Portland unofficially introduced Prohibition three years earlier than the rest of the country to frame minorities :o), and other “underground” facts. There are some fascinating stories and characters in that city, which was built by loggers and sailors who kind of wanted to scare/disgust other people away. 

The tour ended with us going downstairs at the Merchant Hotel, where they used to keep people that they’d knocked out in their opium dens before impressing them into naval service. It was so small and crowded and OLD. We also saw where this old opera house used to be and this is so my jam. That was so much fun. I loved walking around the city and hearing the stories. I know that I’ll come back here again.

After the tour Justin said, “How about we go to the coast?” I googled ‘beaches near Portland’ and the first one that came up was the one that got plugged into the GPS, Cannon Beach. The drive was about an hour and half through BEAUTIFUL country. THERE ARE SO MANY TREES HERE. Sometimes we’d be driving along with the tall, thick trees lining both sides of the road and then there would be a break and you would see through to the valley and the trees are mostly green but tinged with yellow and AHHHHH. The rivers are great as well. Forest is my aesthetic; the fog rolling through the trees was out of control. So beautiful.

We got to the city of Cannon Beach and were like “pls help us locate the beach.” When we turned the corner that let us see the ocean I literally YELLED. So excited. The beaches here are not the beaches in California or Florida; they are not warm or welcoming, they are blustery and raw and STUNNING. The power of the ocean is overwhelming. 

It was cold and windy but when Justin and I finally found access to the beach (thanks, yahoo answers) we RAN onto it and towards the waves. I love all the shades of color you get in the ocean. There were birds calling and waves crashing and UGH LOVe. There was a HUGE rock about ten feet out that had to be thirty feet tall, like a small island. There were smaller rocks around it. It made me think of the eastern seaboard, though I’ve never been there. They were so impressive. 

I can’t describe how it felt. It was like a VIVID moment. I felt so carried away in the day—the trip was something I wanted to happen and we just showed up at the ocean and it was EVERYTHING. To be there, running down the beach, laughing with the giddiness of it all—I felt ALIVE. The rawness of the weather made the experience more valuable, somehow. Justin said the same. We would occasionally be hit by bursts of exuberance that caused us to yell or run or skip because we could. 

We trekked all the way down the beach to the great rock, and then turned around to find we had come much further than we realized. (Also we took pictures of the rock and selfies and Justin took pictures of me with my wild wind hair.) We ran slash walked slash struggled back towards our parking lot, stopping to pick up shell fragments and admire a paraglider and dogs and children. It was a long walk back but we made it.

We had parked at the lot of a restaurant named Mo’s. By the time we made it back we were starving and decided to eat there. It was SUCH A GOOD CHOICE. It was a homey place that serves fresh seafood and Justin and I were in love with it. We got shrimp and mashed potatoes and clam chowder and bread and hot chocolate with whipped cream on it. IT WAS ALL SO WONDERFUL. The clam chowder went straight to my soul and I was LIVING. Justin and I were just like AHHHH WHY IS OREGON SO ENCHANTING. We kind of both really want to move here now. The food was SO GOOD YUMMMM. And there was a view straight onto the beach so we could watch the waves turn from black to teal to white, the cashier loved my Drop Beats Not Bombs shirt and I LOVE IT HERE.

I can’t get over it. We just came here. Because we want to. And it was a perfect day. Just perfect. 

October 9, 2016

To finish up the Portland trip Justin insisted I get my trip to Powell’s City of Books. THIS STORE. It takes up a city block and has three levels and SO MANY ROOMS AND UNCOUNTABLE BOOKS. We had two hours and only saw about forty percent of it and that wasn’t thorough at all. I want to go back. I want to work there. I want to make a book list so long it unfurls like a comically long parchment in a cartoon. Powell’s, in other words, is life. Near the end I was freaking about because I had to choose a book and there were so many. I ended up going with The Heart of the Matter because Graham Greene.

After Powell’s (I’ll come back for you, my love) we drove up to Seattle. The drive through Washington was gorgeous with the fall leaves and the sharp mountain outlines. Justin was swayed and started to think he might want to live in Washington. I remained Team Oregon, but I would definitely do some outdoor exploring in Washington.

While the drive to Washington was beautiful, neither of us were as sold on Seattle as we were on Portland. Portland stole our hearts and refused to let go. Seattle’s parking garages were hell and we saw more hipsters in the half day we were there than in Portland total soooo.

We took the underground tour of Seattle, which was an excellent choice. Our tour guide, Keyon, was HYSTERICAL. The kind of person you want to hang out with for hours and just make each other laugh till you’re sick. Justin and I both adored him. “Now we’re standing right here next to this ghost. Seriously, what is that?” “It smelled almost as bad as Tacoma does today.” “I am telling you right now: I am not willing to die for this tour.”

The tour took us actually under the city, which was left after the major fire destroyed early Seattle. So cool to see that side of the city, and the ruins left behind. We were underneath the sidewalks and could hear people walk over us. 

The most #relatable moment with Keyon was when we were climbing the stairs out of one of the basements and congregating as a group in the alley. Keyon leaned his head in to yell, “Is anyone still down there?” and there were people still down there in fact he had yelled directly in their faces. Keyon stepped away from the door and covered his face with his jacket like DON’T LOOK AT ME I mean same bro. Justin and I were dying.

We didn't do much in Seattle as we were TIRED by the end of the day, but it was nice to be in a city I'd never visited before. Watching Criminal Minds in the hotel and eating Jack in the Box was a welcome relaxing end to the day. Although the fifteen hour drive back to Utah the next day was not the most fun in the entire world, we made it without incident. It was a delightful break from the daily routine, and I feel confident in saying that our first real vacation together was a complete success. I can't wait to go back.