Oregon & Washington

It’s illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon, the attendant that I spoke to speculated a few reasons “some people say a guy blew up once, others say it’s to create more jobs”.

I stopped at Crater Lake, created by the inward collapse of a volcano. They’ve paved a road around its circumference so you can see it from every angle. Worth a stop just to have a look at the midnight blue water and the reflections it casts.

The scenic route to the city of Eugene takes you through miles of black lava rubble, surrounded by volcanoes that were the cause of this alien terrain thousands of years ago. At the hostel in Eugene, I met Andy from Ontario, whose girlfriend actually lives in my hometown of Oakville, small world! We were chatting about this and that and suddenly stopped and stared at each other for a few seconds, while we tried to process the reason that the entire house just shook. I later found out it was an earthquake! A small 4.2 on the Richter scale. No damage done and definitely a cool experience for east coasters like us.

I spent Independence Day in Portland, not an ideal day to check out the city as many of the stores were closed. I did enjoy the outdoor market and eccentric street musicians, one such playing multiple didgeridoos and accompanied by a drummer. Thirty minutes east of the city, I watched the sun go down over the Columbia River Gorge as tiny bursts of fireworks in the distance lit up the sky.

I didn’t have an opinion of Washington before visiting, but they had me at Espresso. Instead of having to drink the gas station coffee that I’ve become so accustomed to, they have little espresso shacks along most roads where you can get anything from a latte to a mocha. These people have their priorities straight.

Stuck at the lift bridge in Aberdeen, Washington, one of the locals was kind enough to fill me in on the details of the ship passing through, named the Lady Washington – which has appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean and Star Trek Generations.

There are at least two parks worth visiting in the state, the first being Olympic National Park. The eerie Ruby Beach with its scattered driftwood, thick fog, and crashing waves. At the north end of the park there’s a killer view of its namesake, Mount Olympus, currently half shrouded by the smoke of a fire burning at the south end of the park. The second being North Cascades National Park. You can drive a scenic highway through to the Diablo Lake viewpoint, a great view of the milky teal coloured river and dam that provides most of the power for Seattle.

Seattle’s Pike Market is the best I’ve seen so far, in terms of variety of food, winding alleys, yelling merchants and a smell of fish in the air, It’s open every day, year round, and nostalgically reminds me of the ones I’ve been to in Europe.

Heading to British Columbia next. It’ll feel good to cross the border back into Canada. Though I’m not done with America yet. A double dip this trip, I’ll be heading back south to hit up Yellowstone and a few other hot spots on my way back home.

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