“Alis volat propriis” features on the flag of Oregon State. It translates as ‘She flies with her own wings..’ Although the motto has historical significance, in today’s time it reflects the independent spirit of the State which we experienced on our road-trip this Memorial Day.
The long weekend saw us in the Pacific Northwest! Our Pacific Coast highway road trip started in San Francisco on a fine Thursday evening over a whopping total of 1800 mi over hills, cliffs, beaches and into the woods covering nook and corner of Oregon. These included visiting one of the best Oregon Coast towns including Portland and beautiful Columbia River Gorge Area.
We stayed Thursday night in Medford, OR which is about 7 h from home.
Day 1: Pacific Coast Highway, Oregon
After a restful nights sleep, we set out on the day`s trip. Our first stop was Reedsport where we drove directly to the Dean`s Creek Elk viewing area. We could see a herd of elk grazing in a beautiful green meadow. Due to time constraints, we did not see the dunes or the various small hikes to do around in Reedsport.
Right after Reedsport, the highway turns on to become the Pacific Coast scenic Highway. Oregon’s Pacific coastline stretches for 363 magnificent miles and we covered a beautiful slice of it. The first stop was Heceta Beach, which is characteristic of most beaches in Oregon. More than the beach itself, the Heceta Head Lighthouse scenic viewpoint is one of the most imposing sights of the coast.
We made several quick stops along the coast`s scenic viewpoints such as Sea Lion Cave Turnout, Neptune Beach State Scenic Viewpoint, Cape Perpetua and Devil`s churn. All of them provide great sights of the coast and have some small hikes around them. Devil`s churn has blow holes and rock formations through which waves crash. If you are around there at high tide, its a great sight. We were pressed for time since we wanted to make it to the Tilamook Cheese factory before they closed t 6 PM and catch sunset at Canon Beach.
Next stop was Depoe Bay, which is the world`s smallest harbor and a whale watching area in the visitor center. After that, we headed on to Tilamook, the world famous cheese producer. The cheese curds and the grilled cheese were nothing much to write home about.
Disappointed with Tilamook, we were now convinced we had to end the day on a high note with the Cannon Beach sunset so we headed full steam up there. Hanging out there on the beach and main street, we got several pictures of the sky and the rock at dusk. Satisfied, we packed up and headed to our hotel in Portland.
The scenic Oregon Coast highway has so much to see and do! Each and everyone of those coastal towns is quaint, charming and boasts of cafes, wine stores, art galleries…so pick and choose based upon your interests and time!
After Cannon Beach, we got to Portland and had dinner in a nice bar/ lounge in the Pearl District before heading to our hotel to catch some rest.
Day 2: Portland
The next day was just in and around the city. We drove into the city and parked in one of the parking lots. The first order of business was to sample the wonderful coffee the city is famous for. We headed to Public Domain cafe, where the coffee was fantastic! Thereafter, we would go to a lot of cafes over the day and not one was bad! Suitably caffeinated, we set out to see what the city has to offer. Powell`s books, the biggest independent bookstore in the USA, covers over a block! We spent an hour or so in this Portland institution and headed out in search of the food truck pods. Portland is also known for its food truck culture, with several food truck or cart pods of every cuisine around the downtown area. You can have amazing food, without having to set foot into a restaurant! That is not saying that the city lacks for choices of restaurants. Bars, restaurants, cafes, breweries…you name it!, you have it. Some of the food truck recommendations include Bing Mi and Bombay Chaat. Not to be missed is Voodoo Donuts, a quirky local donut shop with creative offerings such as the maple bacon doughnut, tang flavored doughnut and more atrociously shaped ones! We were not able to get in as the line was a mile long even at midnight!
We explored the saturday market and the riverfront, both of which resonated with the quirky, easygoing, vibrant vibe that the city is known for. After exploring downtown on foot, we drove out to Pittock Mansion, to get a panoromic view of the city and the towering Mt. Hood at sunset. Dinner was at Rogue brewery with some fantastic local brews and food before winding down for a restful night`s sleep.
Day 3: Columbia River Gorge and Fruit Loop
We were up bright and early to drive along the scenic Columbia River gorge and see the famed Multnomah Falls. Due to the long weekend traffic and rush of people, we had to park more than a 2 miles away and hike to the falls. But the imposing sight was totally worth it!
After enjoying the falls for a bit, we headed to Hood River village for a quick bite and then to drive around the famed fruit loop. Its a 30 odd mile loop with fruit farms, orchards and vineyards by the Hood river and flanked by Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams. We briefly stopped to look at berries, cherries, apricots, lavender and alpacas (!).
The next stop in the trip was Trillium Lake so we could get sunset with the reflection of Mt. Hood in the lake water. But clouds rolled in and we beat a hasty retreat to our hotel in Salem, OR.
Day 4: Silver Falls State Park
Monday, the last day of the trip, dawned bright and clear. We drove out to Silver Falls State Park to enjoy a hike and the famed waterfalls. There are 10 falls in the park, all accessible by moderate hikes. The trail passes waterfall after another along lush forests and rocky canyons. All of the waterfalls are connected through smaller trails so you can hike all or some of them. The best part of the park is that you can walk behind the curtain of water in a couple of the falls!! We finished the hike and set out for the 10 hour ride back home.
Oregon is truly a Pacific wonderland and treat for all the senses. What are you waiting for? The road beckons and the sights await….