Do not besmirch the state of Oregon. Be warned. They will come for you. A posse of bad bangs and overgrown beards, brandishing pitch forks carved from organically-grown zucchinis. Upon capture, you will be forced to guzzle espressos brewed from locally roasted beans and read Chuck Palahniuk books until you are assimilated into their urban hippie collective.
A few weeks ago, I dared to post the following on my Facebook timeline:
“Portland- nice to visit, but not for me. 1. Rain every day loses its magic. 2. I have an irrational fear of bridges. 3. I am not a long pants kind of gal.”
Upon returning to Arizona for a visit, native Oregonians bombarded me, questioning why I hated their beloved state. Their mouths were smiling, but their eyes indicated they wanted to cut me.
I’m sorry Oregon. You are lovely. As an apology, I’d like to post this list of things I adore about the Beaver State (number one being that it is the Beaver State.) I have a lot of love for Oregon, so this post is going to get long.
- Trails- Hike any trail in Oregon, and you will notice how much the state is loved by its’ residents. The trails are impeccably maintained; the routes thoughtfully planned. Fantastic place to be outside (when its’ not pouring).
- Green- Imagine the greenest green you have ever laid eyes on, and multiply by ten. Not just green, but huge. Trees taller than skyscrapers, leaves the size of your head. Leprechauns are astounded by the level of green that is Oregon.
- Slugs- I know gardeners hate them, but I can’t help it. I think they are adorable.
- Blackberries- Again, I know the natives are not fans because of how invasive the bushes can be. But I have never lived anywhere you can walk down the street and eat berries as you go. And they make delicious jam.
- Parks- perhaps it is the neighborhood I lived in (border of Hillsboro and Beaverton), perhaps it is just Oregon, but there are parks on almost every corner. Beautiful, well-kept parks. My favorite is the Rose Garden Children’s Park- a huge play structure in the middle of the forest. Perfect for parents and kids.
- Mount Saint Helen’s- I remembered hearing about it erupting when I was a kid and wondering what it looked like. Driving up, Ben said something about it being a mountain with the top third blown off. I had never really thought about it like that, but that is a precise description of its’ appearance. Very cool to satisfy that 30+ year curiosity.
- Beaux Freres Winery- http://www.beauxfreres.com/
I know almost nothing about wine. I usually purchase wine in a box, so I thought there was no way I would be enticed by some fancy-schmancy high dollar wine. In the tasting room, the intern (who knew wineries had interns?) described how Beaux Freres produces wine using a system called biodynamics, which works in harmony with the environment. I believe she went so far as to say something about planning using the cycles of the moon and the migratory patterns of birds. Hippie mumbo jumbo- so I thought. Then I tasted their wine. It is by far the most delicious wine I have ever had. Hell, I don’t care if they perform naked rituals to appeal to the harvest goddess. Whatever they are doing, they are doing it right
8. Breakfast in Bed cupcakes at Bliss: I may not know wine, but I do know cupcakes. The best cupcake I’ve EVER had is at Bliss. Buttermilk maple cake with cream cheese frosting and a piece of candied bacon on top. To die for.
9. Sake One- The only Sake brewery in Oregon, and one of only six in the U.S. I learned that sake is pronounced Saw-kay (like Jackee on 227), and despite being annoyed by that, I loved the experience of their tasting room. I especially liked their coconut lemongrass sake, with at $13 a bottle, is a bargain.
10. Sour beer at Cascade Brewing Barrel House- Man, can I transport this place to AZ? Sour beer is the most delicious thing to happen to beer. I sampled the bourbonic plague, the pumpkin smash, and the elderberry. All were unbelievable. Going to have to smuggle some home in the suitcase because I can’t imagine not drinking this beer again.
11. Hillsboro Aviation- I have boys who love airplanes and helicopters. I noticed this establishment near the library in Hillsboro. On a whim, we stopped in and asked if it would be possible to see some aircraft. They had a pilot show us around, let the boys sit in a plane and a helicopter, then showed us to the pilots’ lounge where we could watch the planes taking off and landing. Very nice people.
12. Jamballah Northwest- belly dance all stars, beautiful theatre, small crowds. What’s not to like?
13. Dinahanian’s Farm Market- one thing I really love about Oregon is all the local produce. I’m sure Dinahanian’s is not the best, but it was five minutes from my house and had a very good selection of fresh picked fruits and veggies at a reasonable price. And a very nice dog that my boys loved to pet.
14. Helvetia Tavern- fantastic and very unique burger. Best onion rings I’ve ever had. Outdoor patio is beautiful and the prices are fantastic.
15. Tillamook Cheese Factory- you have to love a tour that ends in free cheese samples. Squeeky cheese is the best!
16. Oregon Museum of Science and Industry- favorite museum for kids and adults. Everything is hands on, super fun, and interesting. Science playground for kids under six is a parent’s best friend. Membership was $85, and they gave me $10 off as a “travel expense” for being from out of state. Best part is the membership transfers to almost 400 other museums around the world, including the Arizona Science Center. Score!
17. World Forestry Center/Peggy- For an adult, the center is good for probably a single visit. But kids can go there over and over. There is a raft to play in, a parachute to pretend to land, a full sized logging tractor, etc. The best part is that there is the engine from a train out front that is outfitted so kids can climb on it. If you have train-crazy tikes (like mine) they can spend hours just playing here.
18. The Ceramics Studio at Portland Children’s Museum- I love that your child can make a sculpture from start to finish for $6.
19. The Max- speaking of trains, if you need something to do with your kids, riding the Max is an adventure in itself. Cheap, easy, and the thrill of riding a “real train.”
20. Outdoors In- every place has weather that is inhospitable to be outside, be it all day rain or 110 degree weather. I love the Oregon plans for this! Outdoors In is a playground inside a building so your kids can get their energy out even during horrible weather. And it’s only $3 per kid.
21. Meatball Sandwich at Blue Agate Café- the best meatball sandwich ever! Go eat this.
22. The ocean- When I think of the ocean, I think of tropical beaches and swimming in warm water. The ocean in Oregon is a very different but lovely experience. It is strange to have an overcast, foggy day, and still have the sand feel warm under your feet. Watching the boys chase seagulls was a riot.
23. The Octupus Tree- I believe the attraction is supposed to be the Cape Meares Lighthouse, but I just loved this tree. It looked mystical and otherworldly- like an alien in the middle of the forest.
24. Pocket treasures- I’m sure you can find treasures anywhere you go, but Oregon just seems to be a great place for it. Acorns and mussel shells were my personal favorites- and make great hats for action figures.
I would wager that I have seen more of Oregon in two months, than I have seen of Arizona in seven years. Which is the sad reality for most of us. We get caught up in our day to day lives and forget to experience the wonder around us. Take time to live like you are on vacation.
My time in Oregon is not done! I still have another two-three weeks to go. How many more items can I add to this list?