Waterfalls and Portland

We’re really diggin’ Oregon. It’s beautiful and cool, people are great, roads are nice, and  prices on just about everything are significantly less than California. Did you know that Oregon is one of two states in the US where it is literally illegal for you to pump your own gas? (New Jersey is the other). I thought full service gas stations were a thing of the past, but here you go. An attendant promptly pumps your gas, runs your credit card, and even offers to clean your windshield. And the gas prices are STILL much cheaper than California. Go figure.

We’re currently staying near Salem. Silver Falls State Park is located only about a half hour drive east of here. It is the largest (and one of the most popular) State parks in Oregon and for good reason. It contains the Trail of Ten Falls, a scenic hike in, around, and even behind ten spectacular waterfalls. The 8.5 mile hike is considered moderate – there are some ups and downs, but never too steep or too terribly long. The steepest sections have stairs instead of slippery steep trails, which I always appreciate. It was a fabulous trail to hike, and if I have time while we’re here – I’d do it again!

We also spent a little time exploring the city of Portland. It has an interesting, quirky vibe and vibrant downtown. The Saturday farmer’s market in the heart of the Portland State University campus is a true farmer’s market offering gorgeous produce, flowers, artisan cheese and meats and cottage industry products. When we visited it was also graduation day at the University, and cap & gowned students with proud parents in tow were evident everywhere.

Portland is a little confusing to navigate because of its hilliness and parks. Fortunately GPS works! The city is known for being bike friendly, and you can see numerous bike paths / trails and people taking advantage of them. The city is also the founding location of the World Naked Bike Ride.  Apparently, in Oregon public nakedness is viewed as an expression of freedom of speech, protected by the Constitution. (Nudity is protected, lewd behavior is not!) Every year in June, thousands of bicyclists meet on a Saturday evening to go as “bare as they dare” and partake in a mass ride on the city’s streets. Many dare to go quite bare. The event is next Saturday, so we could go and participate if we wanted. Er….. probably not.

While touring the city (fully clothed), we also visited the Pittock mansion museum, a lovely home built high on a Portland hill by one of Portland’s most influential residents and newspaper magnate, Henry Pittock. Although nowhere near the scale and scope of the Hearst castle, this beautifully designed historic home was built as a family home, not a showpiece. It also was finished  in 2.5 years! It boasted many innovations for the early 1900’s – residential elevator, intercom system, central vacuum, central heat, and a fabulous 360 degree shower in the master bath.  The mansion tour gave us a feel for the history of Portland as well as the story of the family who built it.

More Oregon exploration to come!

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