LIVIN’ ON STILTS
After Hood River, we went on a little waterfall tour in Northern Oregon, stopping at Multnomah Falls and exploring. Multnomah Falls on a Saturday was pretty crowded, but Fred was allowed and loved the little hike up to the top of the falls.
We camped at an RV park just outside of Portland, in Oregon City. There wasn’t much for hiking in that area, but we were camped on a river, so we took the paddle boards out a few times. Fred wasn’t really into it. He whined the whole time, jumping from my board to Matt’s just to check on us.
We drove into Portland on Tuesday to eat at Smokehouse Tavern, which is BJ Smith’s restaurant from Top Chef season 14. So much meat, so much. I ordered pig ear pork rinds, hot link deviled eggs, the brisket, pulled pork, and spare ribs. Matt ordered a side salad and a tepid water. I don’t usually eat meat like that, but it was delicious! BJ Smith was there hanging out at the bar on his laptop throughout our entire meal. I was too scared to say hi, but I feel like we’re best friends now.
After our mountain of meat, we headed over to Voodoo Doughnut. The original shop had a mile long line, and no where to put the camper. So, we said “F that” and headed over to their second shop, Voodoo Doughnut Too. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the clever names of the treats we ordered, so I’ll just describe them.
One had Captain Crunch with vanilla frosting, our second was topped with crushed Oreos and peanut butter, and the third was their famous Voodoo Doll Doughnut, with raspberry filling. Not sure if the doughnuts are more fresh at the OG location, but ours were definitely old and the cereal stale. I obviously ate all of them, but novelty doesn’t taste as good as a fresh doughnut.
Lesson learned, we did some more driving around and parked it at the International Rose Test Garden. The thousands of roses lined up in an orderly fashion were gorgeous and smelled delightful. We got stuck in some nasty traffic on our way out of Downtown Portland. I certainly don’t miss it. For the most part, Portland was alright. I don’t think we explored the better parts, and maybe would be better with a friend to show us the hot spots.
We left the Portland area early Wednesday, and decided to head straight to Mount Rainier. It took us a couple of tries to find a campground with service, but we finally ended up at Big Creek just outside of the National Park. It’s $18/night with no hook ups, no dump station, and pit toilets. It’s a good price, not ideal with the no dump station, but we can definitely dump for around $5 just down the road.
The forest here is nothing short of spectacular, but I did find myself homesick on one of my hikes. Other than a few special people, there isn’t much I miss about our lives in SoCal. I love the camper. We’ve done a fairly good job organizing the rig in a way that meets our needs. I have small bouts of missing FroYo, or Don Cucos with my blonde babes. But in that moment, I really missed oak trees. There are birches, a long list of pines, and ferns like you wouldn’t believe, but I still miss the gnarled oaks in SoCal I was so used to seeing every day. I miss the smell and the yellow hills around them. I think about those trees on just about every hike and never realized how much they meant to me.
Washington was incredibly smokey when we first arrived. The wildfires in BC really put a damper on our visibility. I can’t be mad at BC for blocking my views. You don’t always get what you want when put up against Mother Nature. So, I relinquished control and took it for what it was, which was still pretty dang spectacular. How could it not be with a beast like Rainier looming overhead?
I hiked a 10 mile roundtrip trail just off our campground called Mt Osborne Trail our first full day here. Saw a couple of banana slugs, some birds, and walked through just about every spider web ever. It was easy to tell this trail doesn’t see much action on a Thursday morning. I ended up waving my sticks around in front of me like a lunatic the majority of the trail. What I thought should end at a lake, ended up being a bust. I ended up at a dirt road, already beyond the mileage I should have trekked. Not knowing which way to go, or how far the lake was, I turned around and headed back to camp. This has been my least favorite hike to remember. It was very pretty, but super humid and the smoke had me feeling all socked in. The flies were relentless, clearly don’t give a stitch about Deet, and I was just over it. Can’t win ‘em all!
Friday, Matt and I hiked Rampart Ridge Loop Trail in the park. There are so many trails in Mount Rainier, it’s kind of overwhelming. I’m certainly not experienced enough to summit Rainier, although I plan on it one day. You can’t really go wrong with any of the day hikes you choose in the National Park. We ended up with smokey views of Rainier, but it still took my breath away (or maybe that was the smoke). It was just about five miles roundtrip, with a booty-busting incline I quite enjoyed. I’ve already gained five pounds since the wedding, which is pretty annoying so give me all the booty-busters!
After our hike, we decided to try to find that lake I failed to hike to the day before. We went up all these crazy dirt roads, got turned around by some loggers, and went up another dirt road. The road got too bad for us to continue, although I’m sure we were a couple miles from the lake. We had the camper on the truck, and didn’t want to risk it tipping. Tail between our legs, we turned around and headed back to camp. I failed finding that lake twice, and I’m positive it just doesn’t want to be found.
My high school friend and her beautiful family joined us on Saturday. Jennie, her husband Joe, their two little munchkins, Matt and me did a very fun little tour of the south side of Rainier. We met at Paradise and hiked to Myrtle Falls, where the wildflowers never ended. After that we headed to Reflections Lake for a picnic. Some dummies in the past did a lot of damage to the lake with boats and fishing, so you’re no longer allowed to put so much as a toe in the water. Still, it was enough to sit near it and “reflect.” We headed to Grove of the Patriarchs after that, where we stumbled upon a ranger lead trail. It was nice to learn more about the area and see the immense life in the forest. I now understand why I don’t see my beloved oaks in the PNW area. I’ll drop some knowledge on you all when we’re home for the holidays. Grove of the Patriarchs ended our super fun day out with Jennie and her family. We definitely plan on taking advantage of their hospitality when we leave Rainier.
That ends our fourth week on the road. We have a few more days left in Rainier, and with the weather changing, I’m sure we’ll have clearer views of the Cascades after the weekend. I’m looking forward to vegging out in bed while waiting for the rain to pass on Sunday. I’m slowly getting to our Thank You cards, so please bare with us for the lag in sending those.
Ariel + Matt
Drove to Portland to eat at a Top Chef restaurant called Smokehouse Tavern. Ate WAY too much meat. Later that day, headed to Voodoo Doughnut and had some mediocre, overpriced, novelty doughnuts. Hung out at the gorgeous International Rose Test Garden. Headed to Mount Rainier after that. Did some hikes, failed at finding a specific lake…twice. Met up with one of my long-time friends from High School and her family at Paradise in Mount Rainier NP. Did a fun little tour of some of the popular trails and had a picnic at Reflection Lake.
- Deet doesn’t work on flies, at least not PNW ones.
- McDonalds has any size soda for $1! Ah gimme all the sodas.
- Although we are active every day, maintaining a workout routine is next to impossible on the road. At least it has been for me.