Here's a look at some of the things we did during our stay in Portland. We've visited this city several times before so I am always on the hunt for new places to explore, this time was no exception.
South East of Portland lies the community of Milwaukie, home of Bob's Red Mill, world famous makers of whole grain products. They give factory tours on weekdays, free samples included, and just down the road is their store and cafe where you can buy every single product they make, even in bulk form. Their story is fascinating, they've faced many challenges during the past 40 years, but their commitment to quality has made them the outstanding brand they are today.
Also, if you like Dave's Killer Bread as much as we do, Dave's uses Bob's Red Mill products in their breads and took over Bob's old factory space right across the street from Bob's store and cafe. Dave's has a retail store there too, so you can stock up on their fabulous bread as well!
|Bob traveled Europe looking for old grinding stones, we are posed next to the first stone mill.|
|Bob's Red Mill Store and Cafe.|
We visited the small but lovely Leach Botanical Garden. John and Lilla Leach traveled the world in the 1930's collecting botanical specimens and ultimately left their estate to the City of Portland. A few trails wind through the beautiful gardens, creating a peaceful oasis in the city.
|Pretty trails crisscross Leach Botanical Garden.|
Vancouver, WA sits just across the Columbia River from Portland, OR. Oregon boasts no sales tax and Washington no state income tax; as you can imagine people take advantage of this situation so there is a lot of commuting between the two cities.
I discovered a unique urban trail in Vancouver, the Burnt Bridge Creek Trail. This paved path winds 8 miles through the city, sometimes in dense, lush, green forest, sometimes through meadows with ancient apple trees, sometimes making convoluted turns across city streets to connect to the next section. We biked the whole trail using this excellent guide to navigate the quirky transitions along the way.
|Lush greenery surrounds you through large swaths of the trail.|
|The forest opens up to pretty meadows.|
|This was the noisy part, crossing over interstate 5.|
|Glimpsed through the trees, an egret shimmers on a cotton covered slough.|
I mentioned Forest Park at the top of the post. This 5,000+ acre urban forest contains about 70 miles of trails, right in the heart of Portland. During this stay we hiked the Linnton Loop hike in the North half of the park.
|Many of the trails through Forest Park look like this.|
A chance meeting on a trail in Eastern Oregon tipped us off to a new (to us) brewery, Burnside Brewing Company. Our fellow hiker recommended the Sweet Heat, an apricot wheat ale with scotch bonnet peppers! The bartender told us that beer changes all the time due to the heat of each batch of peppers, and though tasty, we decided it was just too spicy to drink a whole pint...so we had an excellent IPA and some delicious fried pickles instead.
|Those cornmeal fried pickles were yummy! Good beer too!|
One day we hiked in Whipple Creek Park, a small forested beauty of a park just North of Vancouver. I always feel like I am in a fairyland as we walk through these lush forests, practically dripping with green, mossy goodness!
|Old grist mill being engulfed by the green.|
For our last hike in the area we headed to Camas, WA, a cute little town on the East edge of Vancouver. The Lacamas Creek hike is an in-town, city park hike that feels like it's out in the woods; winding up and down gentle slopes through gorgeous green forest along creeks and lakes. The trail was fairly busy on this beautiful summer Sunday, but not overly so; I imagine on weekdays it's a very peaceful place to be.
|A lovely, slow section of Lacamas Creek|
|Tiny, burbling Washougal Creek.|
We've thrown in visits with old friends who live in this wonderful city and coincidentally happened to stay at the same park as fellow full time RVer and blogger Suzanne of Take To The Highway fame. We've had near misses with Suzanne for months, so it was great to finally make a connection. We hit it off instantly and enjoyed a couple of evenings together, dinner at home one night and an excursion to a fun tiki bar, Hale Pele, and a pub with live music, Laurelthirst, another night. Very much looking forward to our paths crossing again, perhaps even later this summer.
|Fun drinks and atmosphere at Hale Pele with Portland Bob and Suzanne.|
One thing we discovered, it's not so great spending the 4th of July in a metropolitan area where fireworks are legal! Fireworks are fully legal in Washington and some are legal in Oregon and on the 4th we experienced many, many HOURS of constant booms, bangs and pops by the thousands. Even the air had a pervasive scent of combustible material...the thought of the environmental impact was disturbing. Next year we'll try to be in a less populated area...
There aren't many RV park options around Portland, we stayed at Columbia River RV Park. This is a big park, everyone is lined up in neat rows with about 12 feet between rigs, it's very clean, good 4G Verizon signal, sometimes okay park wifi, the location is very convenient, there is airplane noise from nearby PDX, and the weekly rate is very good at $168. This place works well if you are visiting Portland.
|Sunset over Columbia River RV Park.|
Tomorrow we head into Washington for a long stretch, almost two months. First stop, Castle Rock, gateway to Mt St Helens.