Last December, I had the chance to visit my good friend Kristyn, who I met on exchange while in Wales, at her home just outside of Portland, Oregon. She gave me the full tour, which even included a half marathon, in the 4 days I visited.
The weather wasn’t spectacular but I couldn’t really expect much more from the Pacific Northwest at the beginning of December.
The first night I was there, we headed out to the Oregon Zoo’s famed Zoo Lights, which was enchanting but a little disappointing. Kristyn and I had a running joke during our travels in Europe that we had always wanted to visit a zoo but never really had the opportunity. Anyway, long story short: no animals, but lots of children, lights, and magic. The price point wasn’t too steep either, at $10 per ticket, and students were buy one, get one free for admission the night we went!
Our favourite part of Zoo Lights was definitely the Christmas light tunnels:
The next day, we set off on the road to prep for our Half marathon which would take place in Eugene, Oregon, a bit more south of Portland than Kristyn’s house. We took the scenic route, first stopping at the breathtaking beaches of Seaside, making sure to stop for some salt water taffy.
We also drove down for the classic Haystack Rock pic or two down at Cannon Beach.
After a couple panorama shots and too many salt water taffies (in my case), we drove off for some more snacking at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. Always a fan favourite, I have memories of visiting this place when I was 2 and a half years old (I kid you not). While the actual viewing of the workings of the factory (one giant window where you look in and can see workers sorting and packaging) was less exciting than I remember, the workers were as cheerful as ever, smiling and waving back when I smiled and waved. The ice cream was above par, though, and so were the cheese samples, which were basically unlimited seeing as we were 2 of approximately 15 visitors that were there at the time. If you’re a factory person like me, Tillamook is definitely worth the visit.
Apparently a pre-race diet of cheese, ice cream, and salt water taffy is an awesome idea, because we SMASHED our half marathon! I mean, it downpoured the entire time, but after 20 minutes, we kind of forgot what dry felt like anyway. I came in a little after Kristyn with a best time of 2:11…. after having not trained at all, I was thrilled!
During my final day in Oregon before taking the train home in the later afternoon, we explored the streets of downtown Portland. First, we went to the Saturday market, located below the bridge in this pictured photo.
The market was pretty cool! Since we weren’t on a time crunch and it was super tented in, I didn’t really leap at the opportunity to take a lot of photos. Huge selection of crafts and food though, and definitely a place I’d want to hit up the next time I visit Portland.
Next, we went donut searching. We peeked into the ever popular Voodoo Donuts first but were not impressed at the lineup in the franchise, located in a busier area in the downtown core.
Instead, we opted to visit the franchise’s rival, Blue Star Donuts, located about 15 minutes away from downtown, on a street I would compare to Vancouver’s Main Street, both in vibe and location. I got the maple bacon donut, which was my first delve into the bacon fad that has seemingly gripped North America (and the world? I’ll get back to you on that one). I was not disappointed. Blue Star was fab, 10/10, would eat here again.
Oregon has this draw that has recently got everyone interested in the last couple of years. I mean, I’m sure the show Portlandia has helped a bit, but to me, just everything about the place makes it seem like a more novel kind of Vancouver. A sister city, if you will.
Might be the first post about Oregon, but won’t be the last. ‘Til next time!