The highlight of my Portland trip was a visit to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Although the time I spent perusing books at Powell’s City of Books was a blast, I wanted to spend more time outdoors. The weather hasn’t been consistent and when the sun is out in Portland, you need to grab the opportunity to do something outside immediately.
On our third day in Portland, I woke up with the sun blazing (well, sort of, but Portlanders will take any sign of sunshine). Forest Park was the place I wanted to go, not only known for its hiking paths but the Pittock Mansion is in its vicinity. The front desk staff at our hotel told me Forest Park is not easily accessible by rail or streetcar. It took about 20 minutes by Uber to get to the mansion.
Pittock Mansion overlooks the city’s skyline with panoramic views of mountains, rivers, forests, and downtown Portland. It was built in 1914 for Henry and Georgiana Pittock, Oregon’s most influential couple. Henry was the owner and publisher of the city’s newspaper, The Oregonian, and went on to build an empire (real estate, banking, railroads, etc.) that transformed Portland from a muddy, isolated village into a booming, modern city.
I thought the views from the Pittock Mansion was spectacular, but the waterfalls and the drive to Columbia River Gorge took my breath away. It makes me cry inside thinking I live in a city surrounded with huge malls and chained restaurants. No mountains, no ocean, not even hills. Before going to Portland, I had my goal set to visit Multnomah Falls, rain or shine. But I found out that there are no public transportations to get there and the best way was to rent a car. I wasn’t too keen on the hassles of renting a car so I inquired about uber and tours. To uber it, it’ll cost $50 each way and to take a tour will cost about $65 to $98 per person. However, we were fortunate that my son’s friend’s mom was willing to drive us!
Our first stop was at Horsetail Falls. I was in awe that the waterfall was flowing freely near the road. And there was a ton of water. When we hiked the Manoa Falls in Hawaii, there was hardly any water due to the drought. I suppose there’s no drought in Portland since it rains almost everyday for eight months!
I’m really glad we went to Portland. I know it’s not usually the place where most people choose to spend their spring break, but that’s what’s great about it (unlike those Mexican beaches flooded with tourists or to Florida’s theme parks where thousands of children screaming to have a photo with Mickey Mouse). Instead we had a vacation in a city where there weren’t a gazillion tourists around, not even at the touristy areas. We went to places where both locals and visitors went and had plenty of time to immerse ourselves in the culture of Portland. It was awesome!