Arriving in Oregon is a welcome change. Farmland reaches as far as the eye can see. Perfect rows of freshly cut hay roll along the hillside mixed with fields of golden wheat and tractors in the distance followed by clouds of dust. The miles of manicured fields and bold colors of each harvest makes me miss the small town I grew up in. Communities of farmers become families. A farm takes a lot of hands and sharing resources also means sharing lives. I get the sense when driving through other farm towns that it is the same way. At this point in the trip we have covered miles and miles of farmland and I never grow tired of it. Put me in the middle of a field with cows and I am a happy person. Cows have personality and that goes a long way in my book.
I have always heard that Oregon is a friendly- laid- back kind of place so we are excited to explore and check out the towns. Pulling in to get gas Colin jumps out with debit card ready when an attendant comes around to tell us that in the great state of Oregon you are not allowed to pump your own gas. Colin opens the door and looks at me shaking his head. You are not going to believe this, he says. Full service only. He goes on to explain how there are only two states in this country where you can’t pump your own gas and the other is New Jersey. I don’t like jersey, he adds, and then let’s me know that Oregon is losing points. I didn’t realize how important pumping gas was to Colin…is this a male thing? I remind him that even though we can’t pump gas in Oregon we can still pass gas. Not really what he had in mind.
Have I mentioned disperse camping? This is free camping in any U.S. forest. There are certain areas where they encourage you to go. Some spots are easy to identify others not so much. This is great for our budget but you never know where you’re going to end up. The spots in Colorado were incredible, but then there are spots that have every instinct in your gut saying, get out now and fast. A ranger tells us about a forest in central Oregon, great place and lots of camping. We make our way towards the spot, driving deeper into forest land and isolation. we turn a bend and on the side of the road is a skeleton of some animal which at this point is hard to identify but the bones are licked clean. It doesn’t help that it’s starting to get dark and our minds begin thinking of those damn scary movies where inbred hillbillies eat people and animals just for kicks. We look around as if someone is watching us and in a moment we are on the same page, not so sure about this spot. Time to get out of here! A little closer to civilization we see a campground that is labeled with a sign. At first glance it appears empty until we see a couple sitting on the ground next to their piles of stuff. As we exchange friendly waves we quickly size them up. What do we have here; a nice stash of empty tall cans, stacks of trash, old pieces of toilet paper scattered around and look at that, despite a few broken windows they have a window a/c unit installed into the side of their van. that’s pretty creative. Colin speaks first, sorry folks first impressions are a bitch. Another gig for Oregon. Win some lose some.
The next day we reach Bend, a town in the middle of an outdoor wonderland surrounded by several lakes, rivers and the Cascade mountains. It’s easy to see that the people here take full advantage since almost every vehicle we pass has something strapped to it; paddle boards, kayaks, bikes, canoes and fishing poles. We like this place and the downtown continues to impress us with outdoor stores, plenty of brewery’s, shops, bungalow neighborhoods and the people really are friendly. Colin finds a barbershop where a cold beer or bloody mary comes with every cut. Too bad you just can’t pump your own gas! After two days checking out this area we head toward the coast.
Just like the pictures, the Oregon coast is beautiful. Dense forest cut off by cliffs that make a dramatic drop to the ocean. Huge chunks of rock have broken away making tiny islands with waves crashing against their jagged edges. All along this coastal highway we sink back away from the water into the forest and then tracing the tops of cliffs with views of the pacific. We continue to climb north and then head inland towards Portland and Voodoo doughnuts. If you ever watch Diners, Dives and Drive-Ins then you might know about Voodoo doughnuts as one of the featured places. Colin fills me in on the show I missed. Bacon, he says, with maple glaze icing. This is the doughnut he saw and wants to try. Voodoo does not disappoint. I add to the long line of tourist waiting their turn to decide from a menu of interesting concoctions. There are doughnuts with Captain Crunch piled on top, crushed cookies, some the size of dinner plates, a few dunked in green goo. I choose, the bacon/maple, the Oreo topping with peanut butter drizzled in chocolate and one that looks like a hot dog. The hot dog bun is the donut, the dog is a butterfinger and I’m still not sure what else was in that thing other than there was no meat but I did taste coconut. Thank you Portland!
More pictures coming..