As you can tell from our previous post, we almost set camp in the Umpqua Hot Springs to live there as hippies forever. But then lucky for you we thought we’d continue our road trip first – I mean, who knows what Hot Springs Yosemite is hiding huh?
So basically we got to Crater Lake a little later than we should have and missed the sun. Nevertheless, we still got to be impressed by this giant volcanic bowl of very still and very blue water, as well as the little Wizard Island in the middle that has its own little crater (The Witch’s Cauldron). Incredible to think this has existed for over 8000 years, since Mount Mazama erupted. And in case the photos don’t make it clear, it was freezing up there! One of the most windy spots ever.
We took the scenic drive around the Crater to view it from different perspectives and catch some rays of sun between the clouds, before heading back to civilization. As we drove down, we even got to catch a beautiful Vanilla Sky-like sunset.
We decided to quickly go to the Umpqua Hot Springs in order to get to Crater Lake while it was still sunny. Well, that didn’t quite work out. We ended up staying over 2 hours there, because well it was a-w-e-s-o-m-e. We had both been to the Hot Springs in Banff a while ago, and I suppose we were expecting something similar: a big swimming pool and an entry fee. So imagine our surprise and awe, when we started the 15 minute hike up the forest to arrive in the most beautiful, natural and free Hot Springs. A few basins dispersed through the rocks overlooking the Umpqua River – pretty much our version of heaven. But hippie heaven, mixing the chill, the peace, the love and the nakedness (or at least the toplessness.)
It was the ultimate relaxing and worry-free experience. The source of the springs was all the way at the top and every basin filled the next one, like a drop down fountain, bringing the temperature a little lower every time. So we switched from one small pool to another to test the different water temperatures, with a beautiful view and in a beautiful setting. What more could we possibly want? Now, THAT really made us feel on vacation! Needless to say, we reaaally didn’t want to leave and stayed as long as we could. We’re officially on the hunt for Natural Hot Springs now!
It was time again to leave the coast to do the Crater Lake loop. After a quick night stop in Roseburg and a free coffee from McDonald’s, we were on our way to the mountains and rivers on the road to Crater Lake. After a drive through the forest and along the Umpqua River, we found ourselves at the Toketee Falls. A small trail brought us to the viewpoint to admire the two tiered waterfall: 40ft into the first bowl than 80ft down to the river. As we were chatting, a twenty-something boy asked “Do you guys speak English?” and our positive answer was well worth it. He told us about a “hidden” trail that enables you to go all the way down to the river for a way more majestic view of the waterfall. You had to go over the fence (rebels!) and through a few steep rocks but he sure was right, let the images speak for themselves:
We then continued down the coast, following the scenic road just by the ocean. Definitely one of the most fun drives to feel on the edge of the continent and take a look at the numerous rock formations in the ocean. We were really excited about our next stop: the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area – 50 miles of sand dunes down the coast. Following our precious guide, we decided to do the John Dellenbeck Trail and we weren’t disappointed. After a quick walk through the forest, we found ourselves in a completely new landscape. Sand, sand, sand. Mountains of sand, everywhere. And man, walking in the sand is a bit of a work out! But jumps and sprints down the dunes make it totally worth it. We even had a ‘how much sand did you get in your shoes’ competition, Steph won – but I think he cheated.
We quickly visited the Yaquina Head State Park in Newport for a view of the lighthouse, the beach and its numerous rocks sticking out of the sea. As we reached the lighthouse, we met a photographer firmly holding his tripod and camera. He explained that he was trying to a get a money shot of the tail of the whale out there. Whale?! Eager to see it as well, we waited with him and every three minutes we spotted the grey back of the whale and a splash of water. We never saw more and the photographer headed in another direction to find more luck, but hey, it still counts right?
We left Portland to go back to the coast, yes, we already missed the ocean. We reached Newport relatively early, so we headed to the Newport Cafe, which Google told us was open 24/7. We therefore parked on a relatively empty parking lot just off the road and sat at a table in a total seafood decor. The interior was a combination of old American Diner with piles of random items, fountains, plastic fish, bright yellow prices and sea posters everywhere. We basically felt like we had stepped into a giant aquarium filled with anything and everything somewhat related to the ocean. We proceeded to our photo editing session for a couple of hours. Once ready, we asked the waiter for a wifi password and he looked at us as though we had asked for a time machine. “I don’t have the password, the owner never gave it to me! When he hired me, he said, I don’t want to give the password because then people will use it!” Yeah…
For some reason, we completely forgot to take pictures, but if you’re curious you can check out their website here.
We arrived in Portland under a Vancouver-like rain. Finding ourselves on Burnside Street, we randomly spotted Voodoo Doughnuts – one of the stops on our to do list. We jumped out of the car to enter the pink and psychedelic atmosphere of the shop to order some impressive and multi-flavoured doughnuts – proof below. High on sugar, we went to explore Powell’s Bookstore through endless shelves, floors and pages. Definitely the kind of place where you want to grab a pile of books, sit in a corner and spend a rainy afternoon with a good cup of coffee. It would have been really hard to leave the store empty handed so we both picked a book for the trip. Any guesses on what Steph got? Want a hint? Surf. Another hint? California. Yeah, he got Surfing California by Bank Wright, following Peter’s advice of course. By now I think we’ve established Steph’s number 1 priority on this trip, right?
Obviously, we were really late on the writing/developing/finalizing of our blog (sorry for the delay guys!) so we spent the night in Starbucks working on it. Steph coded, I wrote. After a night spent on the parking lot of Walmart (and not the first one, believe me), we continued working on the blog at the library as it was raining more than ever. And as soon as the weather cleared up, we drove to the Burnside Skatepark, a world renowned skatepark – thanks to Tony Hawk – under the Burnside bridge. We watched the boys crowd take turns in jumps, tricks and rides for a little while, appreciating the urban atmosphere of the spot. We then headed to Alberta Street for a walk along the cute shops, stylish urban art and edgy coffee shops. Our very first stop? The ice-cream place Salt and Straw, of course. Home made ice cream and the smell of freshly baked waffle cones: it was basically Disneyland. I bet you’re curious about what we got now, huh? I went for sea salt and caramel and Steph for peach and walnuts – and yes, it was as good as it sounds. Do I talk too much about food?
After strolling through the street, we went for locally crafted beers and cider with Philou, a Belgian snowboarder Steph had met on a previous trip to Oregon, and his friend. It was definitely lots of fun to chat about travels and life on the cozy outdoor patio of Cruzroom.
On our last day in the city, we went for a walk around Mount Tabor before heading to the Kennedy School, a renovated elementary school turned into a hotel, brewery, restaurant, bar and theater. It’s hard to describe the school in just a few words as it conveys so many different atmospheres at once. On one hand, you can’t escape the educational and dorm-like vibe as you walk past old classrooms and student photographs. On the other hand, you feel like you’ve entered a sort of Tim Burton like Budapest Hotel with hallways packed with colourful fairytale inspired paintings and sayings on the walls. A brewer walked us around the local brewery and the many many steps that involve beer-making. I insist on many, because I sure would get mixed up among the 20 things to do and the order in which they go! We were visiting the school too early to be able to go in the Cigar and Whiskey room but we made up for it by sitting down at the German like bistro for a local fresh hops beer and apple cider.
We then continued our visit with the Portland Art Museum downtown. The highlight was definitely the temporary exhibition “This is War” with illustrations, posters and sketches from the Great War. It unveiled the darkness of warfronts and the rise of woman power. The rest of the museum walked us through the main historic and artistic movements of the 20th century in just the right amount. Not too big, not too little, the museum allowed us to take a walk through the exhibitions without having to go through millions of hallways and rooms like most places. I even got a picture with my favorite number, yay!
We finished our Portland experience by taking the elevator up the Pink Building (I guess that’s what we’ll call it) for a panoramic view of the city. Definitely one the places with the coolest vibes, most hipsterish outfits and unique local spots.
We continued down the Oregon coast towards Pacific City (very fitting name). After a quick stop in Tillamook for some free cheese samples at the visitor centre, we were in this tiny town. It basically consists in one street, the ocean, a sea stack and a sand dune. So we kicked off our shoes and climbed up the sand dune for a pretty good work out. At the very top we got to enjoy a perfect end of the day sunlight so we spent most of our time exploring it and shooting videos. But even better, we got to run down the dune and roll over. Totally worth it!
The following day, Steph went for surf session in the freezing water while I treated myself to a delicious Chai Latte to continue reading my book #GirlBoss (Thanks Stephanie!) A few hours later, we were on the road towards hipster land, I mean Portland.
Manzanita is another beach, just South of Cannon Beach. But this time we decided to change our perspective and see it from the top. We hiked the Neahkahnie Mountain through the humid forest to reach the very foggy summit. Luckily, when you’re on the coast, it only takes a bit of wind to clear the sky in a matter of seconds. And as soon as that happened, we got an amazing view far out in the ocean and Manzanita beach.
Cannon Beach is an immense stretch of sand, famous for its sea stack in the shape of a Haystack. We couldn’t replay a scene from Lord of the Rings (Steph’s hair wasn’t long enough to play Legolas and I couldn’t find a white horse) so we opted for some good old jumps. Do not make fun of mine, apparently gravity is stronger for me.