After Mt. Rainer we drove south to Portland. I was already pretty excited about it, but I had no clue exactly how much we were going to love Portland. (Hint, we loved it a lot. Like loved loved, which we all know is way bigger than regular love.) We stayed in the Northwest Downtown area which was extremely walkable and full of boutiques and restaurants, and spent a ton of time just walking up and down the streets and exploring the shops and restaurants. Speaking of the restaurants, we ate at Besaw's the first night and it was fabulous.
We were only staying for 2 days so the next day was jam packed. First, we met Chelsea for breakfast at Broder where both the company and the food was amazing. (Seriously, Chelsea is such a great person. I'm so happy we finally got to meet!) After a two hour breakfast (sorry for keeping the table so long Broder!) J. and I made our way around town dropping into places like Ink & Peat (such a beautiful store and the owner Pam was so nice to talk with) Powell's Books (holy cow it was massive. Almost overwhelming with how many books are there!) and Cargo (such a fun store) as well as many fantastic boutiques and vintage stores on 26th. After dinner at a really cute Mexican restaurant, we pushed on and were able to meet up with one of our friends from Glacier for a few drinks before turning in for the night.
trying to figure out where we were via personal collection
We woke up early the next morning and drove to Crater Lake. We'd heard such good things about it, but we think we stayed one day too long. While the lake is stunning (absolutely breathtaking. I've never seen water that blue before!) there aren't really many hikes to go on that aren't paved and even those are few and far between, but we did find one that took us to a beautiful waterfall and another that took us to these amazing other worldly ash formations called the Pinnacles. It's definitely something you should see, but I wouldn't advise staying for a super long time if you want to have a lot to do. Now, if you want to lounge around and read all day, it's perfect. And our campground store had the best strawberry slushie/smoothie things ever so if you're there, you need to get one. Or three.
Beautiful whale via courtney khail
After Crater Lake we drove to the Redwoods, which isn't so much one park as many different spread around parks and national forests. It was incredibly beautiful though and while we were hiking through one of the forests, I couldn't help but think at any second E.T. was going to fly over us in a bike. We also were able to see a gray whale that had made it's home under a popular bridge, which was really moving. She was so ethereal and graceful and it was such a treat to see her, but I couldn't help but feel a little sad given that she probably really wanted to find her way back to the ocean, but couldn't figure out how to get there. Hopefully the rangers have helped her by now. On our way to Highway 1 the next morning, we were also able to see part of the area Jurassic Park was filmed and got to drive through the Avenue of the Giants to see some of the oldest, giant redwoods, which for science nerds like us, was awesome!
Speaking of Highway 1, we decided to take that down to San Francisco instead of the main interstate and I'm so happy we did. J. had already been down in before so he drove and let me stare of the window/point/gasp. What a breathtaking scenery! The coastline is just so gorgeous and I couldn't stop taking photos. It was like everywhere you looked was worthy of a new shot! We made sure to stop every so often to take it all in (and of course I ran and played in the water because I'm a 2 year old) and even picked up lunch to eat over looking the water. And can I just go ahead and say that I now know why "cows are happier" in California? They live on the most beautiful oceanfront property! Only place you'll see cows grazing on a multimillion piece of land. Of course after 7 hours of winding roads, we hopped off Hwy 1, got on the main interstate and were soon crossing the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco...