What do you do when you have a few vacation days to blow, but can’t go anywhere beachy or tropical or warm because you’re 7.5 months pregnant and everyone has convinced you that Zika will attack as soon as you set foot on sand? Head to the Pacific Northwest!
My boyfrand, who is thisclose to seeing all of the state capitals, suggested Oregon and Washington, which just happen to be number 47 and 48 on his geographic bucket list. So we packed up and hopped an early flight to the coast, leaving behind warm temperatures and work and worries of our impending parenthood. We arrived in Seattle, Washington and drove straight to #47, Olympia, getting our fix of bacon and eggs before filling up on state history and self-guided tours.
As far as state capitals (and capitols) go, Olympia is pretty cool. The grounds are lush with gorgeous, brightly blooming bushes and the inside is chock full of swirling marble and a big ass bust of George Washington. It reminded me of the Great Gatsby – the thousand pound, tiffany-designed chandeliers from the 20’s still elegant and stunning almost a hundred years later.
After taking the requisite outside-the-capitol picture, we were on our way to Portland. We stayed downtown, conveniently located a block away from both VooDoo Donuts and a block of semi-permanent food trucks. Whenever we left the hotel, whichever direction we headed, the smell of food was in the air – sweet fried dough, sizzling thai food or roasting hot dogs. The block of food trucks offered a plethora of ethnic food to choose from, the “Alaska Reindeer Meat” truck almost drawing me in, but I ended up choosing a Chicago-style weiner (FREE GARLIC CHEESE FRIES WITH EVERY PURCHASE). It definitely went on my good decision list.
If you ever find yourself in Portland, in late May, you must, nay – you are commanded – to go to the International Test Rose Garden. This place was a flower lover’s dream and an allergic person’s nightmare. Row after row of expertly grown varieties in every style and color were laid out in neat formation, tempting everyone to stop and smell the roses. Literally I smelled like 40 different kinds. I couldn’t help it! I kept taking pictures of them like an artsy high school year book photographer. Again, I couldn’t help it! Their power of possession is too strong.
When I saw the climbing pink and white roses that had pulled themselves up around a light pole, I almost lost my mind. You’ll soon be plotting how exactly you’re going to find climbing roses in Missouri and wondering how many bushes your boyfriend will let you stake in the front yard before you’re cut off. I’m not sure if it was the excessive amount of pollen I had inhaled, or the general effect nature has on the human body, but I left the garden feeling happy and at ease.
The morning we left Portland, we made our way to the promise land of all pastries…Voo Doo Donuts. We had seen the long line of donut lovers snake out the door and around the corner, but the morning we went, we were 4th in line! It was an icing-filled miracle! The place looks and smells like the inside of an easy bake oven, it’s twin cases of donuts twirling their goods, each of them calling out to you “pick me! eat me!” There are so many different flavors, it can seem a bit overwhelming to actually make your decision. So you do yourself a favor and get a half dozen, telling the cashier to surprise you. My favorite was the oreo-topped, chocolate long john. On second thought, it was the plain glazed cake. I also really liked the strawberry jam one. Maybe the Homer Simpson donut. Actually all of them. I like donuts.
On our way from Portland to Seattle, we stopped in Salem for another capitol check-off. Then we made our way through Multnomah Falls. Multnomah is just the last and largest of a string of scenic stop-offs along the highway. First on the map was the Columbia River viewpoint. The river stretched in front and behind us as far as we could see, the signs nearby informing us that quickly moving glaciers had carved a path for the water more than 15,000 years prior. It wasn’t hard to imagine Lewis and Clark standing in the same spot, feeling the same wonder and awe as they gazed at the expansive gorge, of nature’s ability to reroute the earth to its delight.
Give yourself plenty of time as you make your way along the path to Multnomah. Each stop is slightly different, each time you’ll want to sit and stare at the water for a while, and each plaque will beckon your sign-loving boyfriend to read it. It’s a lovely way to spend a morning, meandering through nature and taking in some of Oregon’s beautiful sights.
The waterfalls were pretty – and packed with like-minded tourists who wanted to see some water cascade 300 feet down the face of a cliff. The grand daddy of them all, Multnomah, was the most crowded, the tiny hike up to the viewing bridge a must. After we got our fill of the falls, we set off to stay a few days in one of the best cities in these fifty states of ours…SEATTLE!!