So You Travels: PNW Road Trip Part 3 of 3 - Historic Columbia River Gorge Highway and Portland, OR

Part 1 of this post describes the first 3 days of our adventures in Seattle, Mt Rainier, Fort Casey, and Whale Watching. Click here. Part 2 of this post describes our adventures in Olympic National Park. Click here.

Day 7 - Historic Columbia River Highway

Blueberry Picking

For the last 2 days of our trip, we were joined by my college bestie, Michelle, and her son Aaron, who flew in from LA. We were meeting them at the Vista House for the view, but they got hung up with some travel logistics, which gave us about 15 minutes to stop when we saw the signs for u-pick blueberries! These blueberry plants were so much taller than the ones we saw in Washington, and their owner explained they were some of the oldest in the region. And I took the last of these pics because big one was being funny in the way he was imitating the air dancing of the tube ‘person’. I didn’t notice until I looked closely at the photo later that with that hoodie and his blue pants, he also matched the person!

Vista House

Our plan for today was to see the waterfalls along the Historic Columbia River Highway. The first stop is the Vista House, which offers a nice view of the magnitude of the river below, and was a good landmark to meet up with our friends. We also spoke to the park rangers and got some maps and prioritized which waterfalls we wanted to visit.

Lavender Picking, Eastwind Drive-In in Cascade Locks, and Bonneville Dam

In Washington, we got to see how lavender grows, but as the farm was closing, we didn’t get to pick any. So when we saw the sign to pick lavender as we were leaving the Vista House, we stopped. It snips off easily with a regular pair of scissors and smells absolutely fantastic! There are a lot of bees, but they left us alone. Then we stopped at Eastwind Drive-In in the town of Cascade Locks for some ice cream. It melted and was eaten before I could snap a pic, but the soft serve cones were extremely tall, even for the size small! The kids watched someone order a size large while they were eating, and it said it reached the rooftop of the counter service window!

Our next stop was the Bonneville Dam. I’d somehow missed this in my research for the day, but I loved it, and it was one of my favorite places of the day. There’s a several story visitor center, with some historical exhibits, a rooftop view of the spillway, a fish ladder to allow the salmon to cross through, an underwater viewing area of the fish, and the power plant building was open for visitors. I could have stayed much longer and explored every detail, but everyone else explored pretty quickly, so on we went! Admission was free, but we made a donation b/c we loved our visit so much!

Wahkeena Falls and Multnomah Falls

The closest falls are some of the biggest and most popular, so we chose to head East and see the dam first, then make our way back. We parked at Wakheena Falls, then hiked along the highway to see Multnomah Falls. It is not easy to return to the hustle and bustle of traffic and crowds after spending 3 days in Olympic National Park. These waterfalls are amazing, but they are located right next to the highway, which made this day a perfect transition back to the city. We were visiting nature, but was no where near as remote as where we’d just come from.

McMenamins Kennedy School and Voodoo Doughnuts

The McMenamin brothers re-purpose historic properties in the area to create whimsical gathering places. The Kennedy School is a hotel where you can stay in an old classroom, eat in what used to be the cafeteria, see a movie in what used to be the auditorium, grab a drink in one of several bars, or go for a dip in the pool in the area that used to be the teacher’s lounge. We enjoyed dinner here, and our friends got to stay here the next night.

On the way back to our Airbnb, my kids wanted to check out the infamous Voodoo Doughnuts. I found the two rotating display cases of a single donut of each type to be underwhelming, as I was hoping to see rows and rows of colorful donut amazingness! The line wasn’t too bad, but was still out the door.

Day 8 - Exploring Portland, OR

Waaaaaa, this is the last day of our awesome trip! Here’s how we explored and adventured!

Slappy Cakes

Slappy Cakes is the reason Michelle and Aaron wanted to come to Portland! They had experienced this breakfast awesomeness in Hawaii, and since there are so few of the chain in the world, Portland was the next closest location. We of course had to join them to see what all the fuss was about! After waiting a while for our table, we were seated. We ordered a few bottles of pancake batter (they had gluten free for me and little one) and some toppings, and everyone had a blast making their own pancakes. We started getting creative and making fun shapes, too! What a fun combination of an activity with a meal!

Portland Saturday Market and Chinese Garden

We were lucky enough to time our trip to be in Portland on a weekend, which means we got to see the Portland Saturday Market. My family appreciates arts and crafts, and there was definitely plenty of that to enjoy. Then we walked over to the Chinese garden. The highlight there was a teenage girl who was playing a traditional Chinese string instrument. When she was announcing the title of the song she was going to play next, a bunch of the kids and adults gathered around started peppering her with questions about the instrument and how she learned to play, and she graciously explained all!

Playground at North Park Blocks and Powell’s City of Books

Next, we wanted to see Powell’s City of Books, a well known large book store in Portland. We discovered and joyed some playground time on the way. I later learned this play area is part of the historic North Park Blocks. Michelle and Aaron went back to their hotel for a bit.

Alberta Arts District

We took the bus back up to the Alberta Arts district to meet up with Michelle and Aaron for dinner. The boys had dinner together in a pizza place, and the girls had lovely salads in a cute outdoor food truck area. After dinner, Michelle and Aaron stopped by our airbnb and we played the new card game we purchased at the book store. It’s called Dutch Blitz, but they were familiar with the game and had played with regular cards and knew it by the name, ‘Hell’. It’s become a family favorite since returning home.

Heading Home

Wish we could have stayed longer, but, home we went. Until next time!!!