Ever since March when I first stepped foot on the West coast, I’ve been dreaming of going back. Portland has always been a city Daniel and I wanted to explore, and as there was about a billion awesome things to see/do between here and there, we mapped out a route and decided to go for it. And wow, what an adventure it turned out to be.
The drive was full of listening to audio books, Bon Iver, Daniel stopping on the side of the road for me to take a photo every time he heard me gasp (he got pretty good at picking up my cues). Despite the long hours the thing I love about road trips is they force you to not work. No wifi, no computers, just us and the open road. We listened to “The Fault in our Stars”, then ended up spending the rest of the journey listening to the soundtrack. It was our go-to, the songs that seemed to suit the beautiful sights better than any of the other 30 cds we had in the car. I think every time I hear it from now on, I’ll imagine those mountains and smell the salty air of the ocean.
Our first stop was Chicago. My dear friend Shannon and her husband Devon moved there a few years ago and it was a “must” on our list of stops. We explored downtown, saw the necessary tourist attractions (the chicago bean!), ate an incredibly delicious dinner, and finished the night up with Garret’s cheese and caramel crunch popcorn while strolling through the misty city streets and over bridges just taking in the city lights. After that we drove for two days to the Grand Tetons to camp. I don’t know if I can properly explain to you my love for mountains or how excited I was to be in them, but as an example I giddily googled images almost every day for the 5 weeks prior to our trip in anticipation. Then when we finally got through the desserts, drove through the quaint town of Jackson Hole, and turned the corner to get around the last hill blocking our view…. we both just gasped and sat speechlessly for a long time. The magnificence just took my breath away. I didn’t get immune to the beauty either, 4 days later I would wake up in the morning and get our of tent and see those white peaks… and catch my breath all over again. It reminded me of the importance of doing those things you dream of, getting away from your computer and actually seeing them for yourself, because the adventures and sights our hearts long for are so often what we need.
Our camp days were slow, and absolutely perfect. The very nature of camping makes every event linger longer than we are accustom to, organizing food out of coolers and cooking it over the fire, cleaning dishes in cool soapy water on the picnic table smelling the brisk and delicious early evening air, walking everywhere… It’s a pace that slows you down enough to appreciate the things you are doing. You really taste the food. You bask in that comforting wood burning smell as you clean the dishes. You have time to think more, to talk more, because you aren’t just running to do the next thing. You are just where you are for once, not floating between emails and social media and stress (that’s me anyways), often unable to even experience whats going on around me. We went for early morning runs, enjoyed our anniversary by the lake watching the sun set over the mountains.. It was perfect, and just what we needed.
Then we packed up, said goodbye to those gorgeous mountains and set out to finally reach the west coast to camp on Cannon Beach for the night. We found the most incredible hidden camping site on the edge of a cliff overlooking the foggy beaches, thanks to a cute little antique shop owner who let us in on a local secret. We spent the night exploring the beaches, it was foggy and cool and exceptionally wonderful after the 40C days we’d been having. There were very few people around, and all you could really hear was the sound of waves the birds overhead. We fell asleep in our tent, smelling the salty air and hearing only the loud and melodious crash of the waves. Utterly peaceful to the point of perfection.
Finally, PORTLAND! We bounced and sang in the car as we arrived, so excited to finally have made it to this exciting city. The first day we were there was my birthday and Daniel took me out to the best spanish restaurant ever, little portions of pretty much everything, making dinner last forever and the flavours always different and new, exactly my favourite way to eat! We finished exploring a quaint little hippy neighbourhood and of course found a gluten free bakery. I pretty much died of happiness. If you didn’t already know, pretty much every restaurant offers gluten free/dairy free/local organic etc etc. Paradise, in other words. We spent our four days doing a lot of that, EATING, me drinking coffee, Daniel trying new beers. We explored the awesome neighbourhoods, saw the rose gardens, found farmers markets… I think one of my favourite things about Portland though was the people. We met so many kind and sweet people, so enthusiastic about their city. So much so that if you ask a random cashier at a grocery store where to go for dinner, it wasn’t surprising to have 6 people pipping in throwing out ideas and telling you where to go with huge smiles and eagerness to share what they love. Of course we had Voodoo doughnuts & Stumptown coffee, two necessities while in portland. As we were eating maple bacon apple butter pizza with cocktails Daniel looked at me and said in all seriousness “I could live here”. The first time he has ever said that about a place we’ve been, and I smiled and (of course) agreed. Maybe someday we will! Overall it was a deliciously wonderful time in a place that is all they say it is, so if you get a chance, GO.
After that we began our trip back to Hamilton, doing more of a straight run through (4 days straight). There were definitely moments neither of us wanted to see a car again, but even in those exhausting moments we had to work as a team and it was such a cool thing to experience together. That’s the thing about marriage, it’s one of those things that keeps growing and getting better as you experience life together. Being humbled by those magnificent mountains, helping each other by making a billion PB and jellies while the other person drives, falling asleep to the sound of waves… those are things we will always remember. A trip that re-connected us and awoke our souls to the incredible beauty that is around us.
Also some instagram photos I took along the way! Find me and lets be friends on there! @jessicarosephoto