Friday, June 7, 2024

The Great Big World

Right after I published my last post, I saw that Jeremy at Read More Books had written about two books that are probably a lot more articulate about the flattening of culture. Check out his post!

Sometimes I avoid starting a blog post because I think it has to be paragraphs and paragraphs with tons of photos. That amount of work is overwhelming - so I'm going to make this one a short one, and hopefully relieve some of that pressure and post more often!

About every 5 years I convince my employer to pay for me to attend a conference, and you better believe I choose that conference based entirely on where it is located. This year, I found one in Portland, Oregon, a city and state I have always wanted to visit. The conference itself was held in what I can only term the "dungeon" of a hotel, rooms with no windows, dim lighting, and visible air ducts. And they didn't even give us a free totebag! The Portland weather was typically rainy, which hardly mattered due to the lack of windows. 

I enjoyed the city but didn't see much of it, spending my time as a dungeon-dweller 9 hours a day. I visited Powells, the largest used bookstore in the world, but other than that, I missed many of the main attractions. I didn't mind because that's not what I was looking forward to; after the conference ended I headed out to see the more wild parts of the state (and neighboring Washington.)

I lucked out SO MUCH on the weather. For the remainder of the fun part of my vacation, the skies were clear and sunny. I visited Cape Disappointment in Washington, then drove down (over the extremely terrifying Astoria Bridge) to Cannon Beach in Oregon.

I was in awe of this beautiful place. Most of the time, I could hardly believe I was there. Pretty much all I did was walk around - over 90,000 steps over the course of the week! I'm not a big foodie (most of my meals came from Safeway) and I'm not a big shopper, so walking along trails and the beach was the best I could ask for.

Next I turned myself around and drove east, back through Portland to the Columbia River Gorge. As a waterfall lover, I was in heaven! My first stop was Multnomah Falls, which is the tallest waterfall in Oregon. From the bottom it was easy to look up and say, sure, I'll walk up to the top, but about switchback 11 of 17 (they were helpfully labeled) I was starting to regret my decision. I always finish what I start, though, and almost 1000 vertical feet later I was looking down at the falls from the top.

I also sampled Horsetail Falls, Wakena Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls, most of which also involved a great deal of up and downhill walking. The next day my calves froze and I hobbled around, but it was worth it.

On my final full day, I achieved a life-long goal of walking part of the Pacific Crest Trail! I have long been obsessed with long-distance hiking (mainly reading about other people doing it), and the PCT is the ultimate beautiful long trail at 2,650 miles. I hiked a connecting trail up to the PCT and hiked to Lake Gillette.

It was nearly 90 degrees that day, and a lot of the trail wasn't shaded, but I powered through because how often does one get to hike the PCT?? I sat by the cool stream above to have my lunch. When I finally returned to my car, I was completely sweat-soaked and dehydrated, but because I still had to return the rental car and take a shuttle to my airport hotel, I spent the next several hours very gross, and I'm sorry to everyone at Safeway who passed by me later that day!

This was an amazing trip that I will forever be thankful for. It seems like whenever I travel, something goes wrong - bad weather, long waits, delayed flights, weird noises in hotel rooms. On this trip, the forces of the universe must have aligned because nothing went wrong.

Oregon is now one of my favorite states, and I will definitely be back!