Welcome to the Pacific Northwest, travelers on The Greatest Road Trip Ever Taken! Oregon and Washington are truly charter members of the Pacific Northwest. It has to do with the big body of water that provides the border. It is also a mindset. We’re going to look at Oregon today, and later we will examine Washington and compare the two.
What do we mean by a Pacific Northwest (often shortened to PNW) mindset? The states out here feel a little removed from the rest of the country. The PNW was settled by hardy spirits who didn’t want to be told what to do. They were the ones who rode in the wagons coming across the Oregon Trail. They were adventurers, fortune seekers, and people with a wanderlust. Occasionally, they were people who thought it best to get out of the way of John Law.
This desire to do what they want when they want and allow others to do the same makes up the fiber of the Oregonian. Racial strife is an issue everywhere, but it is less of an issue here. Conflict, in general, is less of a thing in Oregon. The pace is a little slower. The “have a nice day’s” ring a little truer. Oregon lives and lets live as much as anywhere in the nation.
It wasn’t always this way. In fact, Oregon’s journey to Statehood was pockmarked with an unfortunate history of treatment toward blacks. In 1844, Oregon passed The Black Exclusion Law, which prohibited African Americans from entering the territory, and they were beaten bloody if they stayed after the law was passed. In 1859, Oregon was granted Statehood (as a free state) only when slavery in the southwestern portion of the country was guaranteed to Southern legislators.
Oregon is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, and on 99% of the north by Washington State. Idaho borders Oregon on the east and the tiniest portion of the northeast. Nevada provides the southeastern border while California fills most of the border to the south.
Oregon is the ninth largest state, with the 27th largest population. The highest point in Oregon is atop 11,249 foot Mt. Hood. The lowest point is the Pacific Ocean coastline border to border. The geographic center of Oregon is about ten miles NNW of Brothers.
Major Airports in Oregon:
Roberts Field near Redmond enplanes over 200,000 flyers a year. Seattle is the most common destination.
Rogue Valley International out of Medford serves about 300,000 passengers annually. Portland is the favorite destination.
Eugene Airport (aka Mahlon Sweet Field) greets about 400,000 customers each year. Many of them are flying to San Francisco.
Portland International is the state’s main airport, with over nine million passengers a year. Los Angeles is the major destination of choice.
Top Movies Filmed in Oregon:
One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest (1975)
Stand By Me (1986)
The Goonies (1985)
Mr. Brooks (2007)
Military/Politics: Mark Hatfield, Cecil Andrus, and Pat Schroeder.
Actors: Jane Powell, Ty Burrell, River Phoenix, Soni Nicole Bringas, Diego Velazquez, Ryan Potter, Preston Bailey, Kaitlyn Olson, Lisa Rinna, Zayne Emory, Thomas Mann, Eric Christian Olsen, Kim Rhodes, and Sally Struthers.
Entertainers: Doc Severinsen, Sara Jean Underwood, Holly Madison, Lovey James, Bridget Marquardt, Mallory Everton, Lee Newton, Kellin Quinn, and Homer Davenport.
Writers: Raymond Carver, John Reed, Beverly Cleary, Edwin Markham, Matt Groening, and Phyllis McGinley,
Athletes: Steve Prefontaine, Joni Huntley, Dave Kingman, and Ndamukong Suh.
Weird and Wonderful Facts About Oregon:
The Columbia River Gorge is one of the world’s top windsurfing destinations.
Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and is formed in the remains of an ancient volcano that blew the top off of Mt. Mazama.
Oregon and New Jersey are the only states without self-serve gas stations.
Eugene was the first city in the United States to have one-way streets.
In 1876 the University of Oregon opened in Eugene. Deady Hall was the first building on campus and still exists. Go Ducks.
Portland is known as The City of Roses.
Fort Clatsop National Memorial, between Astoria and Seaside on the Oregon Coast, contains a replica of Lewis and Clark’s 1805-1806 winter outpost.
The Oregon/California border was established by a treaty between the United States and Spain.
Let’s Take a Trip Through Oregon:
Let’s go! There are things to see and do all up and down this state. We’re going to see a city, some scenery, some history, and a magnificent hole filled with water! Get dressed, because those 529 miles won’t drive themselves.
We start our trip in Portland. That makes sense, as Portland is at the northern end of Oregon. You can see Washington State (though it is just called “Washington” around here) from across the famous Jantzen Beach drawbridge.
Like in any large city, there are parks, forests, nightspots and lots of fun things to do, but we aren’t going to highlight any of them. We are going to highlight how you get around to them. That’s right, we are going to celebrate mass transit, Portland style.
The Metropolitan Area Express (just call it MAX and you’re halfway to being as one with Portlanders.) is one of the nation’s greatest light-rail trains. It runs from the airport on the east side of town to Hillsboro, about 20 miles west of the city. How much does it cost? Just $5.00 and you ride all day. We told you how Oregon in general and Portland, in particular, is known for a laid back mindset. There are no turnstiles on the MAX, as it operates on the honor system. How cool is that?
We’re going to stay at The Inn at the Convention Center for $89 a night. It is convenient to downtown and on the MAX line.
The next morning we will get up and drive to the Oregon Coast. The road to the ocean is listed on the map as Hwy. 26, but Oregonians just call it “The Sunset.” It will take us over the Coast Range to the blue Pacific. Our first stop is in the quaint seaside town of…Seaside. That makes it easy to remember.
There are unique beach town shops, fun restaurants, and an arcade (Try the bumper cars. I dare you.) First, though, we are going to the edge of downtown because an event in history deserves to be honored at this point in our nationwide trip. At the end of Broadway, there is a place known simply as “The Turnaround.” It is the spot where Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery finished the trip that opened the west. Stand for a moment, and imagine the seascape as those hardy adventurers saw it. Have a moment of silence for the lives lost on the trip. Give thanks that the success of their harrowing trip made possible the Pronto Pup you are about to enjoy.
We’re serious. You should try the Pronto Pup. It is one of the best battered hot dogs you will ever have.
Seaside is great for kids of all ages, and it is where we will spend the night. The lodging is less expensive than in the town we are about to visit.
Cannon Beach is just a few miles South of Seaside off Hwy. 101. While Seaside has a young and lively vibe, Cannon Beach (just “Cannon” to the locals) is for the relentlessly adult. Art galleries and upscale restaurants abound. While in Cannon Beach, we will see the monolith known as Haystack Rock. It is one of the most photographed places in the west and is a haven for puffins that nest in the crevasses.
Cannon Beach is a walker’s town. It is quiet to Seaside’s noise and pate’ de fois gras to Seaside’s Pig ’N Pancake. Which one you like better is up to you, because both towns are vacation destinations for those who live in the warm climates east of the mountains. We are spending the night at the Hi-Tide Oceanfront Inn in Seaside for $89 a night.
The next day we head down 101 to the town of Newport. That’s where we will see one of the great aquariums out west, but we are really going down 101 to see the sights. For much of the way, there is a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean around nearly every turn. Intersperse the ocean views with forests and a two-lane highway reminiscent of trips your grandparents took. Don’t hurry. It wouldn’t do you any good anyway, but really, don’t. This is unique to our trip so far. Enjoy it at your leisure.
At the Oregon Coast Aquarium find about 520 species of animals unique to this part of the world. It is a relaxing way to spend a half day and you will learn something. (Psst, so will the kids, but don’t tell them. It’s vacation!)
We could continue the next leg of the trip after the aquarium. Instead, we’re going to stay at the Travelodge Newport for $69 a night. It is our last night to stroll the beach and hear the crashing waves. We never sleep so well as we do when we can hear the surf.
The next day we say goodbye to the Pacific Ocean, heading back into the valley. Our next destination is actually across the valley and into the Cascade Range beyond. Just 150 miles from Newport we will find Koosah Falls. Koosah and its sister fall (Sahalie) are two breathtaking waterfalls with foaming white water cascades in between. Truly a beautiful sight among the forests of the Cascade Range. The nearby town of Sisters provides some unique souvenir shopping on our way to the hole in the ground I promised. Are you ready?
Crater Lake in southern Oregon is a place that will highlight our Greatest Road Trip Ever Taken. There may be a wait at the entrance, but that will only whet our appetite. We will get out of the car and walk up a little hill to…WOW!
You will see shades of blue you didn’t know existed in nature. The clarity is off the charts, but it isn’t enough just to see it. We are going to experience the blue wonder by taking a boat trip across it. We will dip our fingers in the inky blue water and be amazed they come out clean. It is a great way to complete our trip through a great state. We hope you enjoyed it. Next up: Washington