I’ve been behind on posting recently, to my detriment, because so much more has happened since I was last on here. Everything is go in my house at the moment, as we are getting ready to host an American as part of Operation Friendship, and in addition to that we’re hosting the welcome party on Friday night. This is the third time we’ve been responsible for organising it, so it means a lot of cleaning and last minute preparation.
It was an amazing month in Oregon (and Washington, briefly), but I had to come home eventually, back to dreary Northern Ireland. So, what happened over the last couple of weeks of the trip…
Ah yes, Multnomah Falls. A rather spectacular waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls 191 m tall, and split into two tiers. The picture isn’t mine because I haven’t uploaded that segment of the trip yet, but it gives a good idea of the scale of the falls. It’s a long way up to the top, and a hell of a lot of stairs to climb, but I’m told it’s worth it. I couldn’t honestly tell you, because when we arrived at the last part of the trail after many steps, the final path leading to the top had subsided and was closed to the public. We probably should have figured it out before then with all the warning signs on the way up, but it was still a good walk. It was a nice day too, so good to be out in the great outdoors.
After the falls, we stopped off in Hood River for ice cream. You can’t not have ice cream on a good day; it’s just an unwritten rule. Most of the day was spent driving about in the truck, and after Hood River we headed onwards to drive round Mt Hood. It’s a stunning sight – a huge mountain covered in snow for most of the year, the highest point in Oregon, and a potentially active volcano with a chance of erupting in the next 30 years of between 3 and 7 percent. We drove round the base of the mountain, but didn’t really have time to stop, so stayed in the truck for the most part. On the south side of Mt Hood is the Timberline Lodge, which provided the exterior setting for the Overlook Hotel in the Shining, but the interior is different, which means no river of blood unfortunately. On the subject of the river of blood, when I was researching to remind myself of what it actually looked like I stumbled across a rather disturbing video on youtube of someone trying to make sense of something they saw in the river of blood. The imagery used is pretty disturbing, and very powerful in the river of blood, and I challenge you to watch it repeatedly without getting slightly freaked out.
We also explored closer to home in Portland, and spent a few days walking about looking for interesting things to see and do. And of course, Portland did not disappoint. Home to not one, but three Man vs Food venues, it is a great place eat out. One of my goals when I was over was to visit at least one of the featured places, and we managed to get to two – Voodoo Donut and the Stepping Stone Café. Voodoo Donut is the donut joint in Portland, and has every possible weird and wonderful combination for you to try. I went for the Voodoo Doll, which is their signature voodoo doll shaped donut, and the bacon maple bar which I’ve shown on the left. Though the donuts were pretty good, I felt they were a tad over-hyped for what they were. We had a long enough wait, as it was queued out the door, but that was at a quiet time. At busy times the line goes the whole way up the street!
The Stepping Stone Café was the other featured location we visited, which was a bit farther out from the town centre, but thanks to Google Maps public transport directions we were able to navigate the street car system with relative ease. This café is home to the mancake, a plate sized pancake which can be ordered in a stack of three for the insane among you. The prices were all really reasonable, and I ended up going for chicken fried steak with sausage gravy, fried eggs, and a mancake on the side. I love America.
We also had a stop at Ground Kontrol, a classic arcade for some good old-fashioned gaming. It was fun for a bit, but arcade machines require both skill and money, which I was seriously lacking. I did get playing some Bubble Bobble with Alan though, which brought back good memories, as we used to play it on the computer all the time years and years ago.
Portland is a haven for all sorts of people. Beer-brewers, craft makers, gamers, foodies, writers, hippies, and even computer nerds like myself. Free Geek has become one of my favourite stores. It is a voluntary organisation which recycles computers and computer parts, and will teach you to build a computer and provide you with one in exchange for some of your time spent volunteering and helping out at the Free Geek Community Technology Centre. They are educating people about computers, and helping less fortunate people who may not otherwise have access to a computer to start their journey into technology. Free Geek also has a great thrift store with every obscure cable and component you’ve ever needed in one place, and at great prices too.
I better get to bed because I have an early start tomorrow, but there’s lots more to come. I haven’t even finished with Portland, and don’t even get me started on Seattle…