U.S. Virtual Road Trip- Oregon

*Note I haven't had access to my blog since last week as for some reason blogspot decided to not give me access. There will be a lot of back dated posts over the next few days*

Today we are in Oregon with author Jennifer Bosworth. This see what awaits us on Oregon.

Weird, Wonderful Oregon

Confession: I’ve only lived in Oregon for eight months. Wait! Don’t stop reading! I know I’m a Pacific Northwest newbie, but I’ve spent much of my first year here seeking out the best Portland and its surrounding areas have to offer.

But you might be wondering why I picked up suddenly last year and moved from Los Angeles to Portland in the first place. Was it because I watched a few seasons of Portlandia and fell in love with the idea of living the dream of the 90s?

No. I mean, I do want to live the dream of the 90s, but that’s not why I moved here.

I visited Oregon for the first time when I was an impressionable teenager, and it REALLY made an impression. How could it not? Oregon has rivers so wide they look like lakes. It has magical fairy land fern forests, one of which wraps around Portland like a verdant, green stole. Oregon has an epic, rocky coastline and snow-capped volcanoes, and mountains, and desert. And dessert! Donuts and pie and ice cream that inspire people to line up outside in the rain and wait for as long as possible to get it. And the best food I’ve ever eaten! And wineries, and breweries, and distilleries! Festivals and live music and weird!

Portland, Oregon and Mount Hood 

Basically, Oregon has all the things, including (I recently learned) the Cascadia Fault line, which could end up wiping out half the state and ruining my paradise, so you better hurry up and come to Oregon before nature decides to take it all back.

Here are just a few things to love about Oregon and Portland:

1. Forest – Kinda obvious, right? But you should be ashamed of yourself if you visit Oregon without taking at least a mini hike. Sometimes when people visit me, I take them straight from the airport to Forest Park, 5,000 acres of green, green, green. There is no better way to shake off a plane ride than a stroll through the forest. The Wildwood trail is probably your best bet, whether you want an leisurely walk to the Witch’s House, or you want to really put your boots to good use on the 40 mile loop.

2. Biking - If you’d rather bike than hike, the Waterfront Bike Path to the Springwater Corridor Path is a bike trail separated from any roads (for the most part), which runs along the Willamette River. You can rent a bike at any number of locations downtown and bike for a few miles, or do the full 40-mile loop. But if that sounds too ambitious, it’s great fun to simply tool around town on a guided bridge, food cart, or brewery tour.

3. And speaking of breweries – People in Oregon hate beer. I say this because they tend to brew really hoppy beer, which I loathe, so I assume they must hate beer and want to bring out the worst in it. Okay, I kid! Oregonians are to beer what Hannibal Lector is to some fava beans and a nice chianti. But for those of you who like non-hoppy beer, check out the Pfriem Belgian Brewery in Hood River. It’s about an hour drive from Portland, but to get there you’ll pass through the Columbia River Gorge (home of Multnomah Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Horsetail Falls, etc . . .), which is a place you want to go to anyway. Another great brewery with a lot of non-hoppy and very classy beer is The Commons Brewery Tasting Room, specializing in small batch beers brewed in the European tradition.

4. Oneata Gorge – I probably shouldn’t be telling you about this place, because it used to be somewhere only “in the know” people went to, and now it’s getting crowded, but what the heck. The damage is already done. If you spend a lot of time on Pinterest, you have no doubt seen pictures of Oneata Gorge, a mossy chasm that ends in a waterfall that plunges into a swimming hole. Oneata Gorge is located in Columbia River Gorge. Enter under a bridge located between Multnomah Falls and Horsetail falls, just off the Old Scenic Highway. To get to the waterfall and swimming hole, you must be willing to climb a deadfall of huge, fallen trees that make you feel like an ant crawling over a pile of Pickup Sticks, and wade through a chest-deep pool of extremely brisk water. It’s worth it, though.

5. Local Sugar – I can tell you not to wait in line at Voodoo Donuts, but you’re probably going to do it anyway. And that’s fine! But if you consider yourself a sugar connoisseur, you can do better. I promise you. For the foodies, Blue Star Donuts is going to be up your alley. You can get something fancy like a blueberry bourbon basil or a Cointreau crème brulee, but for my calories you can’t go wrong with a classic buttermilk old-fashioned. And then there’s Pip’s Original, where you can get made on demand mini donuts and choose from a variety of chai teas. If you want ice cream, Salt & Straw is a good option. You’ll most likely end up waiting in line, but you can avoid the line by grabbing a pint and heading straight to the register. That being said, if you happen to be in Portland during the Halloween season, I recommend giving their scary flavors a try. Last year I got my first taste of pig’s blood ice cream. It tasted like cinnamon! And for you chocolate addicts, try a cup of drinking Chocolate from Cacao or a Thai peanut butter cup from Alma Chocolate just off East Burnside. I’ve had mind-blowing pie from Tilt in the Pearl District.

Food, food, food, food, food 

I’ve always liked food. I haven’t always known what good food is. But living in Portland teaches you a lot about how good food can be. I didn’t know I liked Southern food until I had it in Portland. Restaurants like Screen Door and Imperial do something to fried chicken that makes me feel like I’ve never actually had fried chicken before. Tasty n Sons offers a biscuit so stupidly delicious that it makes me angry at all the other biscuits I’ve eaten over the years. Get Tasty’s potatoes bravas with an egg over easy during the daily brunch that runs until 2 pm. Get their Radicchio salad. Get their mac and cheese and their bacon wrapped dates. Just get everything on the menu. There are too many amazing restaurants in Portland for me to even get started on the food carts. Just beware that once you’ve had food this good (and affordable!), you can never go back.

Tasty n Sons – potatoes bravas with egg over easy

Oregon in fiction – 

If you can’t make it out to Oregon immediately, but you want to experience the state through fiction, there are plenty of great books you can check out. I recommend Chelsea Cain’s mystery/thriller series (beginning with Heartsick) about an FBI agent who’s in love with the serial killer who nearly tortured him to death. April Henry, author of The Night She Disappeared, writes YA mysteries and thrillers that are often set in Oregon, as does Gayle Forman, author of If I Stay. The transformative Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, another local author, concludes in Oregon, and Ken Kesey’s classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest takes place in an Oregon mental hospital. I should also mention that my upcoming novel, The Killing Jar, is set on a fictional hippie commune in Oregon, and that doing research for the book lit a fire in me to move here.

Connect with Jennifer:  @JennBosworth / Website

What do you think of Oregon? Leave me your comments below.

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1 comment

  1. I have friends who recently moved to Oregon. We have been there once and I want to go back