As we missed out on the spectacular views of Mt Rainier and Mt St Helens on our way down from Seattle due to low hanging clouds, we were determined to backtrack to have another shot at it. So we took the Old Historic Highway 30 along the Columbia River (which is also dubbed as the King of Roads), and then up into the mountains.
Not only was this a fantastic motorcycle road with corners galore, but the views were equally amazing and worth the trip. The best part about the ride was for most of it, it was just fir trees after fir trees then suddenly between the trees loomed a giant volcano… we almost slammed on the brakes… the sight was mesmerising! We quickly rode on looking for a view point and when we found one and there were tears in DB’s eyes. In front of us, quietly sleeping away was Mt St Helens…she was breathtaking. The two of us being closet Geography geeks, so as kids we read up on all the cool and interesting facts about the last mighty eruption (which occurred in May 1980, five months before DB was born). As you probably already know, the eruption blew the northern face of the volcano off, the lahar destroyed hundreds of square kilometres of surrounding landscape, deposited ash in over 10 states and according to our mate Rob who was living in Canada at the time, the eruption was felt as far as Vancouver Canada!
The land prior to the eruption used to be owned privately but now it is preserved as a national monument – thank goodness too! The landscape around these amazing mountains – Mt Hood, Mt St Helens and Mt Rainier is breathtaking, as is Olympic National Park which we only caught glimpses off. We will surely return one day to re-visit this amazing part of the USA.
Back in Portland, we set on foot to explore the town which is known for its high quality of life, artistic flare, bridges, book stores and other oddities such as an infamous strictly vegan strip-bar close to our hotel (what the!?!?). The wonderful thing about Portland is that it is very walkable. According to a number of taxi drivers we met, Portland is famous for its micro-brew beers, great books stores and close proximity to amazing national parks. We had already visited a number of amazing parks so next on the list was beer and food! On our first night, our taxi driver took us to the best restaurant in town (as rated on Tripadviser), Andina which served Peruvian meals. We not only dined on scrumptious dishes we also relived CB’s South American adventure through a number of potent pisco-sours! The walk home was an interesting one with a lovely chap walking his dog stopping to chat to us and giving DB a wishing stone for good luck (he turned out to be a millionaire after selling his wine business to Fosters in Australia).
Next on our list was finding a good micro-brewery…sadly the place CB picked wasn’t the most inspiring (there was some strange talk/debate going on about junk in the trunk and DNA – too strange for DB). We ended up chilling out over some tasty cocktails and delicious Vietnamese food at a neighbourhood eatery under the warm afternoon sun – a perfect end to our day.
Oh, and since Oregon has no Sale Tax DB did some serious shopping too, pushing our bike’s storage capacity to the limit (DB comment: err I only bought a wallet, necklace and a beater attachment for my mixer, he bought MORE clothes!).
We also took the opportunity to catch up with John Goff, the worlds leading Flexit historian. (for those who don’t know, a Flexit is a leaning sidecar which can be attached to almost any motorcycle, necessary for future travel adventures when we have some baby-Bergs). John and his wife Char invited us over for dinner and we brought up to speed on many of Oregon’s hidden secrets, such as passing this strange aviation-water-park-museum (they had water slides coming out of a Boeing 747) and Mo’s famous for their clam chowder, which we tried on our way along the coastline on the famous Highway 101. After a good 15 minute wait we got to taste this interesting dish and to our surprise this soup is traditionally eaten with cracker biscuits and not bread! We learn something new every day.
Next we head south along the coast on the 101 into California, the world famous redwood forests and wine country Sonoma where we realise that our motto should really be Team Berg – over confident and under prepared!