I’ve done and seen so much in the last few weeks I’m going to break it down into 2 entries and run down highlights of the major places I stopped.
Portland: I can’t say enough good things about this town. There is just so much good food, coffee, beer, and places to see. You could eat at a different badass restaurant everyday and probably never hit them all. I ate a lot of food here, but my favorite new discovery was Porque No?, a great little taco shop on Hawthorne (which BTW is the place to be!). For 12$ I got a substantial amount of food and a Michelada (Tecate+lime juice+worchestershire+chili salt rimmed glass). Flat out awesome. If you’re looking to go out drinking, Portland can accommodate as well. Everywhere you go there are bars of every variety: dive bars, whiskey bars, trivia bars, beer bars, Belgian bars, movie bars, etc. You name your style, Portland has it. I think the PBR menu at the Side Street was my favorite find. We got a lot of Any Warhols (a pint of PBR + a Polaroid of yourself) and Cheap Cowboys (a pint of PBR and a Pall Mall). Needless to say I was a steaming pile of worthless the next day. I can’t wait to go back.
Olympic National Park: Go here. There is so much to see, which is probably why it’s ranked by National Geographic as one of the best National Parks to hike. I spent 3 days here hiking in mountains, in mountain meadows, in river valleys, in rainforest, in old growth forest, and on the beach. I camped on the beach with some very cool guys on a road trip of their own. One of them, Richie, had never seen the ocean before. He was more amazed than I was. The night we camped happen to be the evening of the Super-Moon, which brought the tide higher than it had been all summer. Thank goodness Richie woke me up at 1 am, because the tide was inches from my tent. I don’t think I’ve moved that fast the entire trip. Moving your tent at 1am with a headlamp on whilst the super-moon tide is trying to bitch slap you is an unforgettable experience! The beach we stayed on has the biggest driftwood in the world as well which is from Redwood trees down in California. It was immense, and also got me even more excited to see the live ones!
Willamette National Forest: Despite having very few places to dispersed camp (at least that I could find), this forest finished strong. The hike up Iron Mountain was very cool. Disappointingly it wasn’t very hard, but the flora and fauna were spectacular. There are over 300 species of plants on the mountain and I was fortunate to be there when the wildflower meadows were in full bloom. I wasn’t as quite as geeked out as the botanists I met on the trail. They were stopping every 10 ft to look at some flower that looked just like the one beside it (at least to me it did). These guys were serious about their plants, they knew every one by its proper Latin name. “OMG, look it’s Eriophyllum lanatum!” I thought to myself, dude, it’s a fucking sunflower. It was a rather pretty sunflower, especially with the Cascades as its backdrop. I didn’t hang with them long otherwise it would have taken me days to get out of there. If you’re into plants, Willamette is the place for you.