After leaving Olympic National Park, stopping in Kurt Cobain’s hometown of Aberdeen, WA (coincidentally, not intentionally) for a delicious lunch at a Latin place called La Salvadorena, and realizing how much we didn’t feel like driving 4 hours to Mount Rainier National Park, we ended up outside of Portland. Instead of spending more money on a hotel room, we just paid 20 dollars to camp in a little town called Battle Ground, a half hour or so North of Portland. We got in and though we needed showers pretty badly, changed for a night out at a local winery called the Rusty Grape, where we paid a bit too much for wine and cheese. It was fun, and we ended up grabbing a little more beer before heading back to the campsite after dark. We slept in the car by choice, because it is a quicker breakdown the next morning and we honestly really sleep well in it.
The next day, we drove into Portland and finally got the showers we wanted, did laundry, and took naps before walking to Burgerville for lunch. It was awesome! Fast food with better ingredients, and it was tasty so we were impressed. At night, we walked across a bridge from our hotel to a weird fair that was going on called the “Rose Festival” but quickly realized it wasn’t something to make a night of. We were especially shocked to see how many homeless people were in the park, and they had seemingly tight-knit communities, making it a true lifestyle choice.
Portland…is underwhelming. We expected a lot from it based on the hype it receives, but to be honest, it isn’t a particularly pretty city, it’s industrial looking and along a pretty meh river. Anyway, we walked further into downtown, the supposedly “hip” spot called the Pearl District, and we popped into a shop or two as well as the famous Powell’s Bookstore. Grant wasn’t very excited about a ginormous, crowded bookstore, so we kept moving. We ended up going to dinner at a fresh fish place called Jake’s, and we liked certain things like their Crab Bisque but weren’t blown away by their salmon dish. We walked to Voodoo Donuts to see what all the hype was about, but the line would’ve taken at least an hour so we decided a damn donut isn’t worth that kinda time. Grant told me his only wish before his 25th birthday was to not get stabbed, so we opted to take an Uber back to the hotel instead of walking through the sketchy park again.
The next day, we drove to the Japanese Gardens and Rose Gardens that were supposed to be pretty cool. The roses were really beautiful, and LOTS of people were out to look at them with family for the long weekend. We walked up to the Japanese Gardens and at the top of a steep hill you realize you have to pay to enter, which we did because we already put effort in, haha. They were pretty, but nothing that special and the sheer amount of tourists to dodge through was just the opposite of “zen.”
We left there to get street vendor food at the block of food carts downtown (there are about 60 different ones) and I chose yellow curry at a Thai cart and Grant got Indian. We then decided to check out the other Voodoo Donuts location, that was way less crowded and the wait wasn’t terrible. The prices weren’t too high surprisingly, and they were pretty delicious (despite Grant getting his old man order of an old-fashioned cake donut and vanilla with sprinkles….yawnnnn). I got a peanut butter and chocolate oreo donut as well as the typical “voodoo doll” donut with raspberry filling. We eventually headed back to the hotel and grabbed some beer nearby, and the bartender told Grant his license was going to expire on his birthday tomorrow – so we’re kindof in a pickle.
Our last day in Portland, we checked out the Alberta arts district and since it was Memorial Day, getting food for breakfast/lunch was damn near impossible. It was Grant’s 25th birthday, so I wanted to make it memorable. We ended up eating at a cafe called Random Order with some good pies and paninis, then drove to get ingredients for Mimosas. We checked into another hotel (thanks for the membership points, mom!) and realized there was a teen beauty pageant happening in the ballrooms! We definitely wanted to see some of that, so we drank our mimosas and headed down to the young girls judging that was going on. It was a wild experience, and such a funny subculture to be involved in. We had a gift card to Yard House, so we took the MAX metro downtown to eat there for dinner for birthday drinks and grub. Eventually, we went back to the hotel to enjoy the teen beauty pageant judging.