So we headed south on Interstate 5 to cross the border of Washington into the neighbouring State of Oregon – reckoned to be the most beautiful in the USA.
Our destination today was to be the lovely city of the Portland which spans the Willamette River. I discovered that Portland has many nicknames, one of which is Bridge City. This is due to its abundance of bridges connecting the east and west areas of the city that stand either side of the river.
This urban sprawl in the north of Oregon is apparently a desirable place to live and work, and walking around Portland it’s easy to see why. In the pleasantly intense afternoon sun, the leafy, tree-lined streets and a relaxed, slightly hippy atmosphere seem to anesthetise you to the usual rush and bustle of city life.
Portland is also home to Powell’s City of Books which claims to be the largest independent used and new bookstore in the world. Stopping for lunch at the Brasserie Montmartre, a street-side café daringly advertising a touch of Paris, I asked Emma our young waitress about Portland. She described it as ‘eclectic.’
Enough said, for as we had entered the city earlier we stumbled across a group protesting against circumcision. One of them was brazenly holding up a placard by the roadside declaring ‘Honk if you like foreskins!’ No-one was honking.
Added to the fact that they now have an annual ‘World Naked Bike Ride’ where clothing is optional, I think eclectic sums it up well, and maybe slightly weird. City life I guess, not what a small town boy like me is used too…
On a more normal note, according to the 2014-15 edition of ‘Travel Portland’ this metropolis is also reckoned to be the Bike-Friendliest City, with ‘318 miles of bike lanes and counting.’ Portland boasts the highest share of bicycle commuters in the US too.
Leaving the city via the iconic Marquam Bridge, one of ten over the Willamette, we soon rejoined the busy commuter traffic on the Interstate 5 Freeway to head north for home.
Glancing right we were treated to a magnetic view of Mt. Hood, part of the the Cascades Mountain Range which spans both Washington and Oregon. It’s snowy peak rises more 11,240ft to the east of Portland and is a breathtaking sight indeed.
Further north, we crossed the I-5 Interstate Bridge over the mighty Columbia River, which forms a natural border between the two States. The journey home became even more interesting as more of the Cascades Range came into view.
Mt. St. Helens appeared on the horizon, it’s flattened peak showing clear evidence of the cataclysmic volcanic eruption that took place in 1980 killing 57 people. Mt. Adams standing at 12,276ft loomed behind it’s more famous sister but nonetheless formed an utterly engaging sight too.
Finally, as we ploughed further north into Washington State and drew near to the fair city of Olympia, the grandaddy of all the Cascades peaks interrupted our vision.
Mount Rainier, jutting skyward at a height of 14,411ft perfectly capped what had been a most enjoyable roadtrip. It’s jagged summit clearly visible against the blue, late evening sky.
On the final leg of our journey home, the sun which refused to give up, amazingly continued to sit above the horizon and shed heat and light to all. Notably, it was well past 8.45 in the evening.
We really did have a great day, and if you should find yourself in this neck of the woods, do visit the City of Portland – I think you’ll find its worth it!