Change of Plans

Several weeks ago, an old, out-of-town friend said she would be in Portland in early June and hoped we could spend some time together catching up.  That idea morphed into a 5-day road trip vacation, the would-be third of our Oregon adventures together.  We had planned to start our trip with a hike at Eagle Creek in the Gorge and visit to Bridge of the Gods before stopping at Cottonwood Canyon and then spending the night near Hell’s Canyon.  The second day would be devoted to exploring the Wallowas in far eastern Oregon before moving on to the Painted Hills and Smith Rock on the third day.  We would explore the Central Cascade mountain range including driving through the McKenzie Pass and hiking to the Blue Pool on the fourth day and then end the trip on the fifth day at Silver Falls State Park.  It was the perfect road trip adventure!!  What actually happened though was something very, very different.  

Chanticleer Point

Day 1 – Wednesday:  While loading a weeks worth of supplies and camping gear into my car, I managed to pull a muscle in my back.  I loaded up on Ibuprofen and hoped that it wouldn’t turn into anything debilitating.  We proceeded to stop in at the Toyota dealership for a quick fluid and tire pressure check before heading out of town.  We made a short stop at Chanticleer Point to take in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge and Vista Point view before proceeding to Cascade Locks to see the Bridge of the Gods.  We decided to pass on the Eagle Creek hike after reading that the parking area was known to have frequent car break-ins.  We kept going east on I-84 toward Cottonwood Canyon and decided due to the time, to just camp at their site for the night.  We set up our tent and enjoyed some food before our hike.  It was shaping up to be a glorious afternoon and evening for hiking and photography but before we could actually depart on our hike, my back started to tense up so much so that even standing or sitting was causing me extreme discomfort.  Realizing that I couldn’t hike and that a night of sleeping on the ground probably wouldn’t be the best thing for my recovery, we decided to head back to Portland for a good rest and we would come up with a new plan in the morning.  On the way home, we made a pit stop at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood for a cocktail and snack. We got a great table but unfortunately, the clouds decided that we would not get to enjoy the view.  

Cottonwood Canyon

Day 2 – Thursday:  I awoke with my back not much better than when I had gone to sleep the night before.  We decided to take it easy in the morning and just watch a movie.  After resting more, I realized that even though I was in no condition to hike, I was probably up for some lounging on the beach so we decided to drive to coast and try out an unofficial beach camping spot I had heard about.  We carefully followed the directions I was given and were delighted that we were able to find the spot.  Finally, a victory for our road trip adventure!  We set up our tent at the base of a tall cliff and enjoyed the wind protection that the tent gave us while laying on our sleeping bags and watching and listening to the ocean waves.  As the sun began to set, we decided that before bed, we would move our tent up on top of a bluff to avoid any high-tide problems at 2:00 AM.  Even with the relaxing sound of the ocean and the mild weather, sleeping was difficult.  I may have managed to dose off a little here and there but mostly, I did not sleep.  

Beach camping on the coast

Day 3 – Friday:  At first light, shortly after 5:00 AM, we decided to pack up our gear and head into town to use a restroom and grab some hot coffee and warm food.  After getting our fill of both, we decided we would head north along the coast and stop and set up our tent at the first sunny beach spot we could find which turned out to be in Lincoln City. Our sunny spot didn’t stay sunny long though.  A heavy fog rolled in and made itself comfortable for most of the day, taking our view down to just about twenty feet or so in front of our tent.  We tried to make the most of it and catch up on the sleep we were lacking but each time I began to doze off, Cole decided that he had something to say about absolutely nothing happening outside.  About six hours of that later, I decided I couldn’t lay there any more and we packed up and headed back to Portland.  Once home, my friend realized that she was getting sick. Great.

Cole loves the coast!

Day 4 – Saturday:  We woke up Saturday morning and unfortunately, my friend was not feeling any better.  We decided to run to the Saturday Market so she could pick up some kombucha and then to Sauvie Island to pick up a boat load of fruits and veggies.  Unfortunately, none of these items were helping with her sickness so she opted to hang at home on my couch and rest. Since my back was feeling pretty good, I headed out with a friend to see a movie in Vancouver.  We never made it to the movie but did stop into several places for drinks and food before coming back to Portland to grab some sushi and drinks on NW 23rd.  

Neskowin Beach, home of Proposal Rock (not pictured)

Day 5 – Sunday: With my friend still sick and not up for any adventures and another hot day in the forecast for Portland, I decided to escape the heat and head back out to the coast with my friend from the night before.  We drove west on Hwy 6 and then south along Hwy 101, stopping at Proposal Rock to explore the beach and let our dogs run.  The little creek that normally is higher than I’d like to cross was low this day so we were able to easily cross and explore the other side of Proposal Rock for the very first time.  As usual, the dogs ran around like crazy and made friends with other dogs and people alike.  After a few hours, we decided to head out and continue south along the coast.  We made a food stop in Lincoln City and a coffee stop in Waldport before attempting to explore Driftwood Beach in Seal Rock.  In the rush to escape the heat in Portland, we didn’t consider bringing sweatshirts and found the lack of sun, wind and 60 degree temperature to be prohibitive for beach enjoyment. We sat in the car in the parking lot and watched the ocean for a bit before deciding to fight the traffic and head back home to Portland.   

The view from behind North Falls
Day 6 – Monday:  This was originally set aside to be my recoup and prep for going back to work day but alas, my
visiting friend was finally feeling up for some hiking!!  I called up another friend to join us and we traveled along some winding, back-country roads to Silver Falls State Park, located a little over an hour south of Portland. Sadly, due to the 95 degree weather prediction, Cole had to sit this hike out. That did allow us the opportunity to hike a trail that would have been off limits had we had him with us so that was the only upside to leaving him behind. The park and waterfalls were as beautiful as their reputation boasted but the temperature quickly rose to an uncomfortable level and a little over two hours into the hike, we decided to cut it short and head back to the air conditioned car.  
Tuesday morning, I saw my friend off to the Greyhound station to continue her adventure to Seattle and I hopped on the Max to head back to a small mountain of work that awaited me there.  It was sad to miss out on all the fun things that were planned but I did enjoy the time away from work, the opportunity to spend some quality time with my friend and Cole, and even get a couple of decent photos along the way so it wasn’t a complete fail.  I’m hoping my trip to Kansas early next month will go a little smoother than this one though.  
To see more of my nature photography, please visit my website here.

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