This is the first of a two part story from a friend of mine, who recently took a chance and went on an unplanned trip (for her first time) out to Oregon. Thanks for the contribution Erika! I’m happy to share your travel stories with the TravelShus readers!
A Trip to Oregon
Hi, Erika here, guest blogger for TravelShus. As a bit of introduction, I’m a workaholic New Yorker who uses travel as a hard-earned, long-awaited reward for 80-hour workweeks and basic cubicle-induced madness. My husband Seth is one of the same and my constant travel companion. We like to think that though we don’t travel often, we do travel well. One of our recent trips was partially inspired by Annie, and so I wanted to share my experience with her and, in turn, you.
Several years ago I was traveling regularly for work and was able to see a good number of U.S. cities. Among them were Portland, Eugene, and Seattle. I’d long been a lover of Northern California: San Francisco, Yountville, St. Helena, Calistoga. Now I began to realize that there was a different but equally engaging magic to the Pacific Northwest. I’m not sure whether it was the clean air, the constant mist, or the overall friendly and welcoming nature of the residents, but Oregon had left its mark on me, and I knew I wanted to come back to explore. Thus began a several year discussion trying to convince Seth to use one of our few treasured vacations to revisit the Northwest. It finally went down like this.
Erika: I think this summer we’re going to take two weeks and go to Oregon and Washington.
Seth: Isn’t that going to be boring? What will we do?
Erika: We’ll spend some time in the cities, but mostly just drive around and see all the landscapes…and hike.
Seth: Hike? You’re going to hike? Ok. I have to see this.
This is where Annie’s influence came in. I had enjoyed hiking on a very low scale when I was in undergrad at West Virginia University. You basically had to hike just to get to class, so my body was accustomed to the hills, but I also explored some of the local terrain on weekends. However, I’d been back in New York for over seven years at this point with nary a hike since graduation. Seth knew me as a woman who preferred taking the subway three stops to walking 25 blocks, so I can see where the thought of me hiking must have had him intrigued. There was just something about that photo of Annie in her wedding dress and hiking shoes that felt like a challenge. I wanted hiking shoes! In college I had always just warn sneakers. On top of that, I wanted to climb something that would actually require the hiking shoes. I didn’t want to just love the Pacific Northwest as a New Yorker who needs an occasional break from the city. I wanted to earn it; to know that if I ever had the nerve to pick up and actually become one of those friendly and welcoming residents, I could hack it. Flight to Seattle booked, Merrells purchased, backpack packed; we were off.
My travel style varies. Usually I’m a planner with every minute of every day packed. However, I learned once that if you get off that very tight schedule for a few hours, it puts an unnecessary stress on what is supposed to be a relaxing and fun experience. So, though I bought three travel guides, I got on the plane with nothing but that night’s hotel booked and a rough landscape of what I thought we could see in ten days. This, of course, means some days we did more than we ever thought we could do in a 24-hour period, and other days were kind of boring, but the first 72 hours held almost all of my favorite moments.
We arrived in Seattle late on a Friday night and woke up around 5am PDT the next day to a light rain. We were ready for this with our rain jackets and waterproof socks, but as it turned out this would be the only rain we saw for our entire trip. We drove south to Portland and got on the Colombia River Gorge Scenic Biway. Seth’s not a fan of the slow start so as soon as I saw something that might interest him, I stopped.
We quickly made our way from the Vista House to Bridal Veil Falls and then Multnomah Falls where I was going to find out just how much I was actually able to climb before my atrophied muscles gave me up as the pampered city girl I’d become. The signs said 1.1 miles to the top. I’ll admit that this first “mile” was harder than I would have liked, and though we’d walk longer and harder in days to come, it was the most difficult climb for me. I also don’t think whoever put that sign up knows how long a mile is, but I digress.
At this point we were starving but there was still so much to see! We munched on a box of cereal we had taken from the breakfast buffet and powered on. (I would later stock up on protein bars so that little things like eating wouldn’t get in the way.) We stopped a few more times on the Scenic Biway, including the Oneonta Gorge, and wound up at a place called McMenamin’s Edgefield for lunch around 2:30. McMenamin’s is pretty well known in Oregon. They have several locations, brew their own beer, and offer eclectic eating and lodging options. Edgefield felt like the closest I’d ever come to a hippie commune, but I think, in actuality, it wasn’t very close at all. The food and beer were good, but Seth was ready to move on (read: relax in the car while I drove) so I started Googling and guidebooking. Next, we’d be heading to a place neither of us had ever heard of, but will now remain fondly in our memories for a long time. We got back on 97-South and headed to Sunriver, Oregon.
I’m not sure how much there is to Sunriver, but what I know of it is Sunriver Resort, an accidental oasis. We hadn’t meant to make this a luxury vacation, but the resort was an amazing combination of all that we never knew we needed. This could easily turn into an ad for the resort, so I’ll just say that the 3,800 acre property, three golf courses, water park, restaurants, and lodging probably could have kept us there for the remainder of our trip, but we had to settle for a night in the lodge drinking local Pinot Gris (my favorite wine) and relaxing on our back porch or in front of our fireplace (!!).
When we woke up the next morning (Day 2), it was 45 degrees in Sunriver. It was also July 1. I was in awe. We spent a few hours walking around the property which was mostly flat and well-maintained, but equally as beautiful as the bigger sights we’d seen the day before. We encountered a doe who must have been so accustomed to having humans on her turf that she didn’t mind when we played “Who can get closer to the deer before she runs away?” For the record, she never ran away, but would only move when she didn’t like our proximity.
Two coffees later, we bid adieu to Sunriver and found ourselves a few miles from the resort at Lava Butte, a cinder cone and crater that are part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Before we drove to the top of the Butte, we hiked another small waterfall. This one felt exactly like where I’d spend a Sunday morning if I lived in Oregon. There were a few joggers, fishermen, and trucks towing boats, but it was unbelievably quiet and idyllic. Less than 36 hours in and I’d already moved there in my mind; things were not looking good for New York City.
More from Erika in Part 2, coming soon…