August of 2010: I arrive in Portland, Oregon with 5 main goals in mind for this trip. I want to see waterfalls, Crater Lake National Park, Redwood National Park, the Oregon Lighthouses & find the best clam chowder ever! I’d start out by flying in and renting a car to sleep out of. It’s amazing how much you can save minus lodging. It’s also amazing how cold the nights can get… Anyways, I arrive and the first item on the list is to see Multanomah Falls. My friend Pete where I work recommended it to me. You drive about 30 minutes east of Portland and you can get there right off the I-84 East freeway. I get out of my car and…
Wow! This trip couldn’t have started out any better. This 2 tier waterfall is so picturesque and beautiful that if you visit Portland and don’t see this baby, do me a favor and kick yourself. There’s some other waterfalls around too, this isn’t the only one. I recommend going up to the bridge and reading the story on the block. It’s about when a rock fell off the upper portion and what happened to a wedding party standing on the bridge. It’s pretty cool. After this, I’d venture down to Mt. Hood to see not just the mountain but Punch Bowl & Ramona Falls. I heard these were a couple more of beautiful waterfalls in the state. I hike not to far to Punch Bowl Falls and it is as beautiful as the pictures.
By the way, this is where I started to notice something pretty cool about Oregon. There are hikers everywhere and many of them have dogs. I met so many young people on this trip just out for a day with their dog, hiking and seeing some views. I thought that was a pretty cool part of what I’d learn would be very common to the Northwest culture. The average person looks more in shape, there’s more dogs, they’re extremely friendly, how could you not love a place like this. Later, I’d get to my camp site and set out for Ramona falls. This was a longer hike, about 7 miles if I recall. Part of the problem was is I got there later in the afternoon so I’d have to haul to get there and get back before dark. I don’t know if any of you have ever been on a hike when night falls, but if you do it can majorly suck. When you’re in a spot you haven’t been before, with pretty well covered trails & no tent (if you’re an idiot like me) just do yourself a favor and wait until the next day. In any case, I was 24 at the time so still slightly away from full brain development. This waterfall though was my favorite of the three. It’s not gigantic, it’s just… completely beautiful.
As you can tell, it’s just awesome. I’m sure Oregon has many more beautiful waterfalls, but for the sake of this trip I had a lot of other things to see. After staying a night in Mt. Hood, I’d make my way towards Crater Lake National Park. This was “back in the day” when phone’s didn’t have a GPS on all of them. So ahead of time, I printed the directions. The journey from Mt. Hood to Crater Lake probably took up 2 pages because there were so many random turns on road names & numbers that made no sense. I remember one of the names was Lolo pass. As I was driving out, these roads were barely over a lane wide and made of near nothing. It would twist and wind and I was not seeing any signs to know if I was on the right path. I said to myself, the hell with it. Eventually, I’ll have to get somewhere right? There were times on this drive it didn’t feel like it but alas I made it to an actual road.
Crater Lake was my #1 item on this trip. This place was what I wanted to see the most so I didn’t mind the 5 some hour drive to get there. Along the way, I must say the Oregon scenery is just beautiful everywhere. You have mountains, tall trees, lakes, everything. It’s partly cloudy so I don’t think it’ll be a problem seeing the lake. I get up to the top and… fog… everywhere there’s fog. I laugh because go figure, right? I figure what the heck, this just gives me a day to relax, collect my thoughts, get a good nights rest and tomorrow I can see it bright and early. The fog would later bring rain. Sleeping in this is always easy. The next morning I’d make my drive up to the top. It looked perfectly clear out. I’d get out of my car, walk up to a viewing area and…
Yea… the sunrise is something spectacular. This was yet another trip where I wished I had one of those nicer cameras. This was on my Sony Cyber-shot 12 megapixel block thing. This place is so massive the lens has a hard time capturing the full scope of it, and yes this is before phones were as good as cameras and took pano shots. Crater Lake is truly amazing. This once volcano blew it’s top and spread ash over much of the western United Stated. It’s 1946 feet deep and it’s 4.971 miles across to the other side. It’s the deepest lake in the U.S. and 9th deepest in the world. When you really think about the size of this volcano that blew with the gigantic hole it left behind it’s unfathomably incredible.
Because this lake is so deep, it absorbs a higher amount of sunlight and creates the deepest blue color you’ve ever seen! If you’re reading this, yes YOU, you must go see this amazing place. Even the drive around the lake is 33 miles long. This place is gigantic! After I took this place in, it was time to hit the Redwood forest and the unusual place known as California! Driving into California is already unique since you have to stop and let them know if you’re transporting any fruit… And while we’re on the topic of stranger things, in Oregon you cannot pump your own gas, a clerk has to do it. Anywho, I get into Cali, and it looks like things just get crappier real quick, outside of Redwood National Park at least. Driving through the Redwoods was surreal. I felt like an Ewok on the forest moon of Endor! For any other Star Wars nerds, you know this is where they filmed Return of the Jedi. I’m a kid in a giant play house here. These trees are insanely tall! Sometimes over 350 feet tall! Walking in a place like this is just magical. Though to the locals, as one diner lady said, “I didn’t know dem trees were big because they’re all I’ve ever seen!” She has a point… and what’s with the strange southern type accent here? Anywho, hiking through the forest is amazing… for a bit. After a while, when you’ve seen 200 giant trees you’ve pretty much seen them all. I will say for any that are curious, though these are taller than the sequoia’s in Yosemite, they are not as wide. Redwoods grow like weeds if you can believe that. They pop out of just about anywhere and believe it or not create a temperate rain forest. Trust me, when you hike 10+ miles through here in pants you’ll sweat out of every part of your body and know that you’re in a freaking rain forest. After this hike, I figured I’d now take it easy with some beach, lighthouse & clam chowder adventures. Before I get into that, here’s some shots of some redwoods.
After the Redwoods, I’d head north on highway 101 along the coast. This drive was amazing. Along the way I’d stop and see all 9 of the Oregon lighthouses in all their glory. These lighthouses were incredibly picturesque.
There’s something about lighthouses that make them feel so mystical. The views are typically pretty good as well.
The other part I can’t forget about Oregon is how beautiful the coast is. At any time along the coast I could look out at the ocean, the whales, the sea lions, the beaches, the rocks and say to myself, “I’d love to live here one day.” Almost ironically as I write this blog this week I’ve gotten job offers at a couple of schools in Oregon for School Counseling. I can’t believe how lucky & blessed I am to have this opportunity in my life. Now that I live in Boise, Idaho I’m so close to making this dream a reality and I can’t believe it’s really happening.
I trace this all the way back to going to grad school. It wasn’t easy but it was the first major time in my life that I invested in myself to achieve something great for myself. After that I finally backpacked much of South America and crossed so many top items off my bucket list. Now, 7 years later I have the chance to make another dream come true… I’m beside myself as I think of all the sacrifice, pain, time & energy it took to get here. To do these things took everything to make it happen and that’s a quality I never want to lose. It’s also something I want to impart onto others. You can achieve your goals and dreams if you continue to believe in yourself and keep working towards it. Granted, moving for me has been easier because of my difficulties forming attachments to others, often worried about what may go wrong or what I might mess up. As I accomplish all these things I gain the peace of mind & confidence I always desired in order to feel at peace & secure within myself. I am grateful for everyone that has helped me along this path and there are so many to thank. I often don’t feel like I deserve the company of the people I’ve had in my life that helped me get this far, but when I really think about it their time & energy put into me motivates me to make them proud. I didn’t have many people growing up who saw positive qualities in me. Now, whenever those people come along I just want to reward their faith. If you ever showed me care, I sincerely thank you because somewhere in my life that made a difference.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog. Have a wonderful day!