The rain started on our first night around the Olympic Peninsula. For the first few days it wasn’t heavy enough to keep us from the main tourist attractions. We were able to visit at the Sol Duc Hot Springs, take a picture with the world’s largest sitka spruce tree, and go for a scenic drive around the lake near Quinault Lake. It wasn’t until we were on our way out of Quinault Lake that the winds started. It fell onto my shoulders to pilot the Zehnderprise through the storm as Dad’s neck and arm pain was aggravated by driving. There was so much rain that the windshield wipers had trouble keeping up. The winds were strong enough that I had to anticipate when the gusts would come in order to counter steer and keep us going straight. Why would we risk driving in this weather you ask? The weather channels were predicting a huge storm with hurricane force winds that was coming towards the peninsula and was scheduled to hit the coast within 24 hours. We decided that we would rather be in Portland by the time the storm hit, rather than along the exposed coast, so we made a break for it. It turned out that we had made the correct decision as we narrowly escaped two different tornados that touched down in towns we had passed through not 12 hours before.
We found a camping spot in Vancouver (not Vancouver BC) only 15 mins from Portland. We were able to see a lot of Portland in 3 days despite the fact that it rained most of the time we were there. We visited some of the many gardens there including the Chinese Garden and the International Rose Test Garden. The purchase of various concert tickets was attempted without any result, but we were able to see an NBA pre-season game between the Portland Trailblazers and the Denver Nuggets. Jake tried to buy a Blazers hat, but for some reason our Canadian debit cards wouldn’t work with their machine. The game was exciting to watch!
Of all the touristy things we did in Portland, my favourite was visiting Powel’s City of Books. The book store is a huge three story building that is about the size of a Costco warehouse. The books are separated into 10 different rooms, based on genre, with each room being the size of a regular sized book store. The first time we went, we lost track of time and spent 2 hours wandering through the many different rooms, with as many books as trees in the rainforest.
We spent two more days in Portland returning to Powel’s each day only to discover more isles full of more books. We also took an afternoon drive through the Columbia Valley Gorge which was meaningful to us as it is the headwaters of the Columbia River that runs through Invermere. Fall colours were evident along the riverbanks and we stopped at many stunning waterfalls along the drive. I really enjoyed Portland and thought it was a city with a lot of character. There were lots of tourist things to occupy our time and great food from the food trucks to occupy our stomachs. I would say Portland feels very similar to Vancouver (yes BC), though I preferred the Canadian city myself. Cool place though!