Portlandia!

We were long overdue on a trip to Portland, Oregon.  Over the years we’ve met so many friends who’ve lived there or who were moving there.  It always sounded like a place that we would love.  And we did!

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Portland is one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world, so food was our number one priority!  Of course our first stop had to be the super-famous Voodoo Donuts!  They have regular and vegan donuts there.  I never used to be a huge donut person, but somehow in the last couple years I’ve become a super-fan of these creamy, dreamy delights.  With their funky creative looks and flavors, Voodoo did not disappoint.

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The rest of our two days was spent mostly wandering around seeing some of the sights and eating more.  Highlights were vegan chicken wings (really!) from Fire on the Mountain Buffalo Wings, shopping and coffee and pie from the Vegan Mini Strip Mall (which consists of a coffee shop, a grocery store, a vegan clothing boutique, and a vegan tattoo shop), ice cream from Salt & Straw, and the most amazing vegan pizza ever from Virtuous Pie.  Seriously, go there.

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Maple Fennel and Roasted Strawberry from Salt & Straw
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Virtuous Pie amazingness

We also enjoyed checking out all the amazing street art around town!  We especially loved the Alberta Arts District where we each found a mural of our favorite animal that perfectly matched the shirt we were wearing.  Crazy!

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Oh, and Portland also has a vegan strip club, which we didn’t have a chance to make it to.  I guess it’s great to be able to support veganism no matter what other activities you’re into!

We took a break from the city one morning to drive down the Columbia River Gorge, checking out several beautiful waterfalls along the way.  We ended our drive at Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks, a PCT and road bridge spanning the river and crossing into Washington state.  Sadly, about one week after our visit, the whole north side of the gorge area was set ablaze in a careless human-caused wildfire and the views will never be the same.

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Multnomah Falls

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Back in Portland, we drove up to Pittock Mansion to watch the sun set over the city.  Our visit was too short so we’ll definitely have to go back for more someday!

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Solar Town – The Great American Eclipse

Road to Solar Town
Driving into Solar Town

As soon as we entered Oregon we could tell that this thing was going to be huge.  Every car was loaded down, tents and coolers strapped to the roof.  The Great American Eclipse, as it was being called, was turning small towns across the nation into giant festivals with fields full of thousands of campers.  Several years before, a few farmers near Madras, Oregon had noticed that the eclipse would pass right over their fields.  More than 5000 campsites were sold just in those fields, with other farmers hosting similar events nearby.  We arrived on Saturday in the evening; the big event to happen Monday morning.  The place was already a mad house and I believe we took the last available space, with many more people circling for spots.  Solar Town was the name of our event and Solarfest was happening in the town a few miles away.  We were already super efficient and competent campers so we had ourselves some chuckles at everyone struggling with their new tents.  The town was simple with portapotties and free showers, along with a variety of food vendors that we never sampled because of the long lines and our tight budget.

We had fun meeting our neighbors and even got to hang out with our friend from home Kelly, who ended up being camped in the next field over!

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Check out Mount Jefferson in the background from Solar Town!
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Sunset in Solar Town
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Party in Solar Town with old friends.

We made a short video about our experience so you can get a taste of what it was like.  We didn’t actually get a shot of the eclipse happening because we didn’t really try to.  We wanted to be fully present.  But you can see Solar Town and see our reactions to the wonder!  We both cried when totality happened.  There was nothing that could have prepared us for those moments.  If you ever get the chance to witness an eclipse, DO IT!

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Crater Lake National Park – Clean, Clear, Deep, and Blue.

 

Entering Oregon was something we were super excited for.  Carrie hadn’t been there yet, so it was her 44th state.  Headed towards Crater Lake National Park, we found a free campsite in a quiet spot on the shores of Klamath Lake and set about relaxing for the afternoon.  We had been using a site called FreeCampsites.net which was hit or miss.  Make sure to read the reviews and find recent ones.  The sky was again smoky from distant forest fires which created a cool haze.  After dark we had to escape into our tent because the mosquitoes were intense.

the way to crater lakeIt the morning we got an early start and made our way north, passing through beautiful empty spaces.  Getting close to Crater Lake National Park we passed many cyclists racing up to the lake.  It looked like a fun ride, but grueling.   Our first view of the lake was very impressive.  I had been here before as a child and enjoyed it then just as much.  My family tells me stories of how I talked about it for weeks.

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Crater Lake with Wizard Island in the middle

crater lakeCrater Lake was created almost 8,000 years ago by the collapsing of a volcano.  It is the deepest lake in the United States, at 1,949 feet deep.  There are a couple of beautiful islands, Wizard Island being the most prominent.  We drove around to the north side, which took a lot longer than expected but was a stunningly beautiful drive.

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Carrie at Crater Lack National Park, Oregon

We parked at the top of the Cleetwood Trail, the easiest way to the bottom.  I had also heard from my father many times about how he had to carry my brother and I back up this trail after the whole family went to the base.  It was much easier now with full-sized legs.  There trail was just over a mile one way and we were quickly at the bottom.  The water was icy cold still even though it was August, but Carrie just had to get in so she cliff jumped off an awesome rock.  You’ll see it in the awesome trip highlights video we are making!  You can never complain about blue blue water and rocks, no matter how cold.

On the way out we joined the traffic headed north for the big event.  It was eclipsing time and we were pumped.  Stay tuned for stories from Solar Town