Oregon Part 2: Willamette Valley

SAMSUNG CSCAfter heading down the coast, we drove over to Corvallis, in the Willamette Valley, where my cousins live. This portion of the trip was definitely more relaxing and we spent the days hanging around Corvallis and going on some day trips. The most notable trip was driving an hour east to the Santiam River to go swimming in a canyon. After driving down more winding roads lined with pine trees, we pulled over to the side of the road and made our way (in my case, slid) down a very steep hill to the river. Seriously, if there hadn’t been a rope we could hold onto on the way down, I would have gone tumbling until I hit the water. It was well worth the effort down the hill though, because the canyon section of the river was stunning. Either side was lined with steep boulders and the water was moving very slow, so we could float along leisurely. There were several small waterfalls, and one swimming area that was kind of carved into the side of a rock like a small pool. When the light hit at certain angles, the water was so blue and clear, and it was crazyΒ seeing how deep it was. Better yet, my cousins, their friends, and I were the only people there so it was amazingly peaceful. This was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip. After swimming in the canyon, we made a quick stop at Foster Lake, which feeds the Santiam River, and was also so aquamarine.

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The next couple of days, we explored around Corvallis, and had some delicious home cooked meals. We also went to a pizza shop where one of my cousins works. I had visited Corvallis about ten years ago, so it was wonderful revisiting all the places I remembered from my last trip. πŸ™‚ My cousins have a beautiful and huge garden at their house so all their vegetables and fruit is just about fresh – including hundreds of tomatoes, beans, lettuce, melons, zucchini, cucumber, herbs – basically anything you can think of. I love living in New York but one of the things I really wish I had was my own outdoor space. Seeing my cousins be able to do things like sun dry their own tomatoes, cut fresh watermelon from their own backyard, and go outside in the morning and fill up a bowl of yogurt with fresh blackberries made me wishing that I had somewhere to do this too! Maybe someday…

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On one of my last days in Corvallis, we drove about an hour to Mary’s Peak, a mountain that’s over 4,000 feet tall. Thankfully, we drove up the mountain instead of walking (it was very beautiful, as usual) and then hiked up further when we almost were at the peak. It was so hazy due to a lot of forest fires in the area, but I still thought the layers of mountains were very picturesque. After enjoying the views, we walkedΒ a trail that was about two miles long, winding through the interior forest that was full of Noble Fir trees. I couldn’t get over how tall and strong the trees looked. Now I know how ants feel! Plus, the light inside the forest was so beautiful coming through the trees. This hike with my cousins was a great way to end our time in Corvallis.

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Oregon Part 1: Driving the Coast

SAMSUNG CSCI’ve decided to break up my photos from Oregon into three posts, since I have too many photos for one, and the trip was kind of broken into three sections. πŸ™‚ I have cousins that live in Oregon and I hadn’t visited in 10 years so I figured it would be great to go see everyone again and see some places I hadn’t been to on the first trip, including Portland! I arrived in Portland very late on Saturday night (well 11pm, but it my internal clock was still set to East Coast time) and pretty much went to bed right away so we could all be well rested for the next day. That morning we went to breakfast at Pine State Biscuits. It was unreal. They had almost anything on a biscuit – from eggs and jam, to pulled pork, to fried chicken with pickles, and biscuits and gravy. At the ordering window I could watch the bakers roll out and cut fresh biscuits. I was drooling before we even ordered so I ended up getting a biscuit with an egg and fried chicken, and some honey butter. It was so delicious and I definitely recommend going if you’ll be in the area. After exploring Portland some more, we went to Blue Star Donuts, which was also yummy and had crazy flavors. I got an original and my cousin Natalie got a Lime Curd donut. We also bought some to go.

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After a morning in Portland we started on our road trip to Cannon Beach, which is on the northern part of the Oregon coast. The ride was beautiful, with curvy roads edged by tall pine trees. Cannon Beach was stunning. The beach was so big and I couldn’t believe how soft the sand was. East coast sand is definitely not the same. We walked towards Haystack rock, which is the big one right off shore that everyone was taking pictures of, and then just lounged around for a couple hours. Later that evening we continued driving down the coast, through Tillamook, which is “cow town” or Oregon and known for dairy production. We passed by a ton of cheese factories (!!) and I bought some Tillamook yogurt for to get a small sampling. Tillamook literally smelled like cows though, so I am glad we didn’t stay there too long.

SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSCSAMSUNG CSCThat evening we camped near Pacific City. Our “camp site” was pretty hilarious though and was basically a gravel parking lot right next to a road with some grass for tents. My cousins were furious about the mis-advertising, but it was okay for just one night at made for some funny photos. Also it was right next to a pretty farm that had great sunrise action in the morning.Β The next day we drove a few minutes to Cape Kiwanda, home of more giant cliffs and the tallest sand dune I’ve ever seen. We climbed the dune. I barely made it to the top and then had a moment of panic at the top when I looked down and realized how high up we were. It was not comforting to say the least! Even more embarrassing, many small children were racing up the dune with no apparent issue, and I even saw a man hike up with a newborn baby strapped to his back and then stand right at the tip of a cliff! I had to hike down an alternate, longer but less steep path on the way down, haha. While I was up there though, I did appreciate how majestic the coastline was. It is amazing that sand, cliffs, rocks, and green mountains all meet at the edge of the country!Β 

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On the last leg of our coast journey, we drove down to Newport, Oregon which is a small fishing town. There were docks full of massive sea lions (not seals, because apparently they are smaller) and they were SO loud and kept fighting and knocking each other off the docks. We found out that it was all males (of course LOL) barking disruptively because the females were further South watching the sea lion pups.

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