What better way to ring in the new year than in a new city! Last year was in the rainforests of Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica, and although this year was a little more local, it was still a brand new experience. I admit to previously having a preference of driving several hours north to B.C. rather than south, so this was my first time spending more than a quick day trip in Portland. Still, I couldn’t have thought of a better place (and better company) to ring in 2011. Beyond the Portland “essentials” of every trip (Powell’s, Stumptown Coffee, VooDoo Donuts), I didn’t know what else the City of Roses had to offer, so nearly everything was a first time experience, beginning with the Trail Blazers basketball game on the first night (and wouldn’t you know it, they won, beating Utah Jazz!). More photos on Flickr.
Located in the west hills of Portland, this 5.5 acre Japanese garden is one of the most authentic outside of Japan. Within the garden are five distinct garden styles, each conveying its own desired effect, including peace, harmony, tranquility, and oneness with nature. Since we visited during the wintry temperatures of 40 degrees and below, much of the ponds and fountains were partially if not all frozen over, making for stunningly glassy effects, many with leaf imprints.
Not far from the Japanese Garden is Council Crest Park, the highest point in the Tualatin Mountains (West Hills) at 326 metres above sea level. On a clear day, one can have a view of Mount Hood, Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, and Mount St Helens from this viewpoint.
Situated on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in the State of Oregon. It is also supposedly the third tallest waterfall in the United States. This tiered waterfall is 189 metres in total height, and has a width of about 3 metres. Although icicles and frozen water lined the foliage, the waterfall itself fell down at full blast.
Not far from Multnomah Falls is Crown Point, a scenic lookout providing a gorgeous panoramic view of the Columbia River. According to Wikipedia, Crown Point stands 223 metres above the river, and consists of lava flow remains. The afternoon of our visit, the wind was a force to be reckoned with, blowing hard enough to prevent anyone from going more than a few steps before being knocked to the side.
Located under the east end of the Burnside Bridge, this skatepark has been featured in Tony Hawk video games, and was also in the 1993 feature film Free Willy. In this case, it also featured a little kid who could skate circles around any adults in the park.
Portland, like Seattle, is full of vintage thrift stores, but this one was particularly interesting. Full of things your grandmother’s grandmother probably used on a daily basis, Really Good Stuff proves that someone else’s junk truly is someone else’s treasure, whether it be sealed issues of Playboy from the 1950’s, or postcards with actual notes and addresses transcribed on them. One of the best “junk” stores in the PNW.
And of course, BEER!