Falling in Love with Portland
Growing up, my perception of Portland was fostered by what I saw on television & read in books. I’d never been but I always pictured a town full of creativity and eclectic architecture; farmers’ markets and record shops – everything I want in a community with negligible downsides. Kyle & I had both always had dreamy thoughts about the city and wanted to see what it was like in real life. So we did. We go on a nice vacation every summer & decided instead of the default trip to California, we’d head up to Oregon & compare the city to our pretenses. We chose an Airbnb in Northeast Portland where we’d be staying in a brand new tiny house behind a family’s home – a home which also happened to be a 2-minute walk from my best friend from high school. We decided to rent a car so we could not only explore Portland, but also explore the Oregon coast, Astoria (because Goonies), and some hiking just east of Portland. We wanted to pack as much adventure as we possibly could into the nine days that we were there, and I’m proud to report that we did just that.
Before we left, I made a list of the places I wanted to be sure to visit during our stay: Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach, the Goonies house, The Witch’s Castle, Multnomah Falls, Portland Japanese Garden, Black Water Bar, Kidd’s Toy Museum (creepy antique toys), and aaaaall the vegan restaurants. We managed to fit everything except the toy museum in the time we spent there & I’m gonna tell you all about them!
Haystack Rock | Cannon Beach
This is perhaps one of the most visited and photographed destinations in Oregon & I really wanted to go because it was a landmark in the Goonies that I wanted to see in real life. We left Portland in the late morning, driving across Oregon to reach the coast. I was honestly incredibly impressed with the dense forestry that I formerly didn’t know was in Oregon. We were driving through the tallest, most beautiful trees for such a long time and it brought an overwhelming sense of calm. What was confusing to me was how the trees backed up so closely to the coast. One minute we were in this dense enchanted forest and the next we were in a beach town. I really loved the dynamic and we spent the rest of the trip wanting to go back to the forest and the beach.
Cannon Beach itself was also very impressive – much cleaner and less crowded than the beaches I’ve frequently seen along the California coast. We were walking along the beach in the afternoon and there was a fog that covered the water and surrounded Haystack Rock. It made for an eerie feeling and a spectacular view. All we could think that entire day was, “why don’t we live here?”
Goonies House | Astoria
Okay so admittedly you’re no longer supposed to visit this house because some grumpy guy bought it who doesn’t want any Goonies fans looking at the house apparently… buuuut we went and we saw it so…
It’s a little difficult to see because the driveway up to the house is essentially a dirt road that goes up a hill and the house is surrounded by trees but if you drive around the neighborhood and ignore a sign or two, you can see it pretty clearly. And Data’s house too! Wish they would have left the house as-is after filming so it could be seen as it was when it was a set. Astoria is the town the majority of the movie was filmed in & it really is a beautiful town. It looks like the people who lived in it 100 years ago just up and moved and everything has been left exactly as it was. The west is all relatively new compared to the east coast so I haven’t gotten much of a chance in my life to see super old architecture. As a result, I really enjoy seeing that which was built before machines had a hold on us & this town was full of houses and old stores that were built long before any of us were born. Don’t worry though, there’s still a Starbucks.
The Witch’s Castle | Forest Park
The story behind this destination is really quite interesting. Look it up if you want to read more about it but in short – it’s 1858 – 15-year-old girl falls in love with man, they elope, Dad blows man’s face off with shotgun, girl loses her cookies & turns into a scorned witch who haunts the whole area around the castle. Admittedly, the “castle” wasn’t really her castle. It was actually a parks & rec building built in the 1930s that got heavily damaged in ’62. She lived very closeby in a structure that is long gone. But it’s said that she haunts it so… I say it counts. And now you’re left with this brick structure covered in moss and graffiti that makes for some pretty cool photos. I love stories of witches and what happened to them in a society that hated them so it was really cool to see a story come to life before my eyes. Being able to daydream about what it was like to livein the middle of this forest, alone, in the 1800s takes your mind to pretty interesting places. It only takes a 15-minute or so hike through a beautiful city park in Portland to get there. I swear this was the most non-park looking city park I’ve ever seen – you’re walking through a stunning forest covered in moss with no sign of a city in sight. It truly is an escape.
Well, in all honesty, when I saw photos of the falls online I was super excited to take a hike up into the trees to come upon this beautiful destination – an enormously tall waterfall with a cute bridge in front of it. We were amped up to see it so we put our hiking boots on and followed the map out the East side of Portland with our snacks and our water bottles. When we got to where we assumed the trail would start, we were confused because there was a huge parking lot in between the two directions of the highway and we couldn’t believe the number of people. Then we turned around and understood why – you can see the freakin thing from the road. I had no idea it was so close to the highway and that a million people would be there buying knick knacks and churros. It was honestly disappointing on my end but still a pretty view. The trail beyond the bridge was closed so we weren’t able to get our hike in but we had fun anyway.
Portland Japanese Garden
This is a place I’ve wanted to go since high school. My love for Japanese culture sprouted from my love of their automotive design and implementation but it quickly spread to an appreciation of their values, style, & landscape.
This particular Japanese Garden is renowned as the most regionally correct and largest Japanese garden outside of Japan itself & I’ve seen some amazing photos of it. On our last full day in Oregon we drove to the other side of Portland & made it to the gardens. Paid too much to get in, but it was worth it in the end. We took an incredibly peaceful walk through the carefully planned and very well-maintained garden & spent quite a bit of time just sitting & taking it all in. I can see why people come here to meditate & read – you have to check it out if you ever make it to Portland.
Black Water Bar
Okay dude I can’t tell you how stoked I was to go to a place labeled a punk rock bar. I somehow had never made it to a place like this & it was definitely worth it. [Plus all the food is vegan & I love me some cruelty-free food.] They have shows at Black Water every night & even if you don’t like punk/ emo/ goth culture, I guarantee you’ll find something or someone interesting to look at if you go hang out there. It was exciting to me to see so many people that love punk & goth stuff and I wish every city had a bar like this one. Everything was black and band-related and had an element of creativity that I feel a lot of our society lacks.
We just went there to eat & have a drink but the show that night started about 30 minutes after we got there so we stay a little while to check it out. I will say… none of the bands really blew any of us away but we were definitely talking about them for the rest of the night… particularly the lead singer of a band who came out in a floor-length cloak but then ripped that off to reveal a corseted vampire-like getup and uh. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
We did much more than I wrote about here including spending a ton of time with my best friend Amanda and her man, Michael. Amanda’s the person who’s been there for me since early high school & is my longest-lasting, most true friend. Since she moved to Portland I hadn’t seen her much so it was amazing to get to spend the majority of our 9 days there hanging out and making waves like old times. Love you guys <3
We left Portland with one question looming over us & we kept asking each other from then even through the moment I’m writing this – why don’t we live here? Portland was everything I dreamed of & I am so grateful (& jealous) that there is still a place that fosters creativity, imagination, innovation, kindness, environmental awareness, and a sense of belonging. Portland is a beautiful mix of vintage and modern that provides a deeper connection to the city. You can see and feel the city’s past in its architecture. You can feel the values the city holds in the warmness of the neighborhoods and friendly faces. I will forever remember this trip in such a positive light. It’s been a long time since an event I was a part of went off unhinged – no drama, no disasters, no unsettling feelings or negativity. I’m so glad we went & am so anxious to go back, whether that be temporarily or permanently. X