We left Portland, Oregon 5 days ago and 700 miles later, here we are in Vancouver, BC. I have this terrible tendency to fall in love with and want to move to just about any city I visit, and that’s what happened with Portland, Oregon. It also happened with Victoria and Tofino, two of our other stops en route to Vancouver. I’ll start with Portland though. The food is incredible, the houses are cool and affordable (anything’s affordable compared to SF), the neighborhoods are quaint and walkable, and of course, Mt. Hood is just a hop skip and a jump from the city.
Gates and I had the ultimate host, Cooper, who gave us a bit of a glimpse into the locals scene, like secret pork dumpling restaurants for example. He also showed us that with a little vision and a few good contracting, building and architecture contacts, you can buy an old rundown house, rip it apart and turn it into something totally rad.
Speaking of hosts, my dear old friend Caroline from Kentucky acted as my wilderness host and took me on a grand adventure up Mt Hood. Caroline, her two dogs (who humped each other for the better part of 11 miles), Caroline’s friend Alexandra and I hiked the McNeil Point trail up the side of Mt. Hood, where the views were spectacular, despite the nearby forest fire.
After two full days in the city (Gates working, me playing) we woke up early Wednesday morning and hit the road north to the coast near Olympic National Park. On our way to our cabin at Kalaloch Lodge, we stopped in Astoria for some coffee and smoked fish and Gates thought it necessary to force me to stand like an idiot under the coffee shop sign because he thought Blue Scorcher described me well
The coast near Kalaloch Lodge offered foggy, SF-like beach walks along the craggy coastline – quite nice but bad for visibility. I watched for whales as Gates skipped rocks like a professional and took thousands of photos that all look the same.
The next morning we woke before the sun and headed off to penetrate Olympic National Park before our 12:45pm ferry to Canada. We chose the one week of the entire year that the most direct route to the entrance of the park is closed for rehab……. So we had to take the long way, which resulted in less time on the mountain and more frantic summit fever. Luckily a solid night’s sleep left me feeling particularly beastly and we rocketed up the 3.2 mile Hurricane Hill in record time. Normally when we hike Gates and I are similar to the Tortoise and the Hare. Gates is all about speed and I am all about steady leisure. Except in our version of the fable, the Hare always wins. And the Tortoise quite frankly doesn’t give a fuck. Up Hurricane Hill however, our paces were similar. The view from the summit was 360 degrees of majestic mountain range, both American and Canadian. Mt. Olympus, standing at 7,980 feet, was among them.
The ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria was uneventful, except for the two young barefoot gentleman who forced everyone to listen to their guitar tunes + singing for 90 minutes. Sure, we could have all moved inside or far, far away, but they had planted themselves in some prime real estate on the bow. Here’s a picture of me tuning them out:
Bye for now, USA
Pulling into the city of Victoria, we were greeted with adorable little Canadian water taxis, grand old buildings and a bustling waterfront.
Customs were easy. Luckily neither Gates nor I have a criminal record because apparently criminals aren’t welcome in Canada. Here’s what I liked about Victoria: they have a large beautiful park that borders the Juan de Fuca Strait on one side (which we biked around), historic and architecturally interesting buildings, and First Nations cultural relics and totem poles everywhere. Here are a few examples:
And here is the tallest totem in the world, with me under it for perspective:
And of course no trip to Victoria would be complete without taking a photo of this whale hedge (thanks Gates):
Victoria also has at least one delicious restaurant where we tried a bunch of different Canadian Amaros and the bartender advised me on where to buy local, organic milk that comes in a glass container (my weakness….)
Tofino was our next stop. We were in the lovely town of Tofino a little over a year ago for our honeymoon and couldn’t resist another swing through. Except this time instead of staying at the Wickaninnish Inn we stayed just down the road on Chesterman’s Beach at an AirB&B called the “Shipwreck Cottage,” which was fantastic. Not only was it just right for our stay – small but full kitchen, quaint and quirky and close to beach – but it also had an outdoor bathtub.
While we were in Tofino, we had the perfect balance of activity and relaxation. Friday afternoon we made BLT’s at home and took a walk on the beach followed by some outdoor bubble bathing. Then we walked along the beach to The Point restaurant at the Wick Inn where we told them it was the “Anniversary of our Honeymoon.” They gave us the side eye but brought us a plate of 4 truffles and a “Congratulations” made of chocolate anyways.
That’s the Wick Inn behind us to the right.
Saturday we had a leisurely morning which included many cups of coffee and another outdoor bubble bath before going to Ucluelet, the neighboring town, for two coastal hikes.
During this time I saw a whale which is just about the coolest thing that you can see. Then we biked into Tofino where we finished a bottle of wine in a small park overlooking the picturesque Clayoquot Sound and reminisced about the time on our honeymoon when Gates rushed me up Lone Cone in a fit to summit before our flight back to Vancouver. Lone Cone is the big domer behind us in this picture:
Sunday morning was magical. It rained. It poured! And although this was not ideal for packing up the Rav and hitting the road to catch our ferry, rainy mornings are a luxury for two people who have lived in a drought-ridden San Francisco for 4 years. We enjoyed a good few hours in the Shipwreck Cottage while the rain beat down on our roof before hitting the road across the island to catch the Nanaimo → Vancouver ferry.
In Vancouver for a day then off to some provincial parks tomorrow. Yeehawww.