Portland is wonderful not weird – Part 2

Portland isn’t just about food. From my first post, it probably seems like all we did was eat! But when we weren’t chowing down, we enjoyed many of the outdoor (and some indoor) activities the city had to offer. This included an “urban” hike and a more traditional hike outside of the city.

After our food cart lunch, Kimen suggested that we walk to the gardens – Portland’s International Rose Test Garden and Japanese Tea Garden. It was less than 2 miles away and the sun was shining, so Chandra, Jessica, and I were game. Little did we know that the walk wasn’t very scenic and it was all uphill. Halfway there, Jessica wanted us to hitch a ride on a bus or call an Uber. Unfortunately, Uber wasn’t operating in the city at the time and we had already made it more than halfway there. So I urged us on, “We gotta work of all the food we’ve been eating and are going to eat!”

Here is “selfie stick” pic of us finally reaching the edge of the park:


Warning…there are a lot of selfie stick pics from here on out.

Washington Park

To get to the rose garden and Japanese Garden, we hiked through Washington Park, a public urban park in the city. In addition to the gardens, Washington Park includes a zoo, forestry museum, arboretum, children’s museum, amphitheatre, tennis courts, soccer field, picnic areas, playgrounds, and lots of wooded trails for hiking. This included some steep, wooded hillsides which we trekked – some of us a little unwillingly. Luckily, the scenery was worth the uphill battles.

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Rose Garden

I had no idea that one of Portland’s nicknames is the “City of Roses.” A century ago, Jesse A. Currey convinced the local government to set up a rose garden during World War I to preserve the species of European roses that might be decimated by the bombings. Thus, in 1917, the International Rose Test Garden was born and lives on as the oldest official public rose test garden in the country. It features more than 10,000 roses and spectacular views of downtown and Mount Hood.

Helpful hints: The garden is open daily and admission is free. Yay free! The best rose-viewing months are May through September. So this meant that we were too early during our late March trip, so we only saw leaves and a few buds. Here is one of me pointing to a wee little rosebud. Kimen was less than pleased.


Japanese Tea Garden

We trekked up more hills and stairs to arrive at the entrance of the Japanese Tea Garden.


Since our trip was spontaneous, we didn’t expect an admission fee. It was only $9.50 but some of us were tired and reluctant to pay to enter and walk more. We wanted to spend our money on food and drink instead…LOL. Thankfully, being oh so wise, Jessica convinced us to cough up the dough since we had already trekked all the way up. And that we were being completely ridiculous – $9.50 was not outrageous. Thank you, Jessica!

The Portland Japanese Garden is a meticulously maintained, tranquil beauty with five distinct gardens. Influenced by Shinto, Buddhist, and Taoist philosophies, there is always “something more” in these compositions of stone, water, and plants than meets the eye. Three of the essential elements used to create a Japanese garden are stone, the “bones” of the landscape; water, the life-giving force; and plants, the tapestry of the four seasons. Japanese gardens are asymmetrical in design and reflect nature in idealized form.It’s no wonder it was proclaimed one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan. We loved wandering the lush green and peaceful garden taking photos of walkways and views of the city and Mount Hood. And selfies with our selfie stick. 🙂

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Columbia River Gorge – Wahkeena and Multnomah Falls

One of the highlights of our trip was our Saturday hiking adventure outside of the city. After we got our ZipCar – a badass minivan – and Blue Star donuts, we drove out to the Columbia River Gorge to check out the evergreen canyons and soaring waterfalls.

On the way, we stopped at the Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint. It’s no wonder it’s called “scenic” – the views there are breathtaking, and it’s one of the best spots to soak in a view of the magnificent Columbia River Gorge. It was a perfect place for us to take lots of pictures. Including some silly photos.

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There was no parking right by Multnomah Falls, so we drove a bit further and parked by Wahkeena Falls, one of the more popular destinations in the gorge. Even though it’s not as huge as some of the other falls, it’s beautiful in its own way, because it falls this way and that, takes a plunge, then horsetails and cascades.


We hiked from Wahkeena to see Multnomah Falls, the nation’s second tallest falls.  According to Native American lore, Multnomah Falls was created to win the heart of a young princess who wanted a hidden place to bathe. Although you can see the top portion of the falls from the highway, it’s best to get a view up close to get a mind-boggling perspective of the sheer magnitude of the falls. A short path leads to a icy cascade of water framed by a mossy grotto of dark rock and the arched Benson Footbridge.

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For a closer view, we walked another several hundred feet up the paved trail to the bridge, which spans the falls at the first tier’s misty base. Standing on the bridge you have a perfect view of the top tier and is a great place for selfies as demonstrated below by Kimen.


It was a happy, active, and scenic day for all of us. I wish we had more time to go further out and explore more of the gorge, Cascade Locks, and Hood River.

Powell’s City of Books

Another favorite of ours was Powell’s Books. Powell’s headquarters, dubbed Powell’s City of Books, is the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world. For all of us nerdy – geeky? – gal readers, it was fun to cruise the aisles and thumb through pages of old and new books. We like big books and we cannot lie.

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As you can probably tell from this post and the previous one, I (we) loved Portland. What’s not to love? There is great food, it’s absolutely stunning, there is so much to do and enjoy, and it’s pretty darn affordable! If I could get some friends to join me, I’d move there in a heart beat. In the meantime, I’ll definitely plan another visit soon so I can enjoy more hikes, more food, and more Portland.

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