Northern California was hilly and mountainous which continued into Oregon. The only difference was hitting dusk and instead of scenery and dry roads we were gifted sleet and reflected sharp turn signs. Incline then decline, we took is easy with visibility low with our true first testament towards the ability of the new tires we put on prior to travel. Definitely a saving grace.
It was a ten hour drive from the San Francisco and half of it was in Portland. A couple. Good friends, Evan and Kaitlyn. Evan who was from Northern Michigan and had gone to school with me (Alex) and Kaitlyn whom he had met in Oregon. The two lived in the perfect living size upper right apartment of what seemed to be a mid-century house with character. The first thing noticed was the solid painted door the opened to the common entry area. Inside, dressed for the holidays, Christmas to be specific held trimmed tree, stockings hung and excitement whether or not it was any special day from their fox-like Shiba, Sami as he made his way meeting new scents and play friends.
Evan a wine guy brought me down to his make-shift cellar. Having quite the collection had me choose three bottles of any to open for the occasion. An Italian grape, Oregon Pinot and for the life of me the thirds slipping but opened the evening with wine and fresh Portland coffee. After we Ubered to a small French restaurant, the Canard and ate beef sliders, brussel sprouts and oysters while paired with a fine burgundy. Before we even knew Evan took care of the tab, overly generous while greatly appreciated.
The next morning Kaitlyn cooked up a quality breakfast, local bread, coffee, eggs and bacon. We set our first destination of the day was Maltnomah Falls, a popular destination in the Columbia River Gorge. An awesome attraction about 45-minutes west of Portland with a picturesque walking bridge that crossed probably 100-ft from the ground in front of the waterfall. The falls themselves stood just under 700-ft high towering over. The freshness of the air was outstanding as the forested areas surrounding seemed to be alive as the greens of the moss and leaves illuminated reflecting through moisture. The weather chilled down as it sleeted over us. We had planned on hiking the trail to the top of the falls but went just over halfway before deciding it could be in best interest staying safe as the ground became slick to the step and small hail had added more caution.
We carefully made way back into Portland and into a Ramen shop (Boke Bowl) to bring life back to our fingers an toes. The perfect dish for any day but especially for that moment. We over filled our bellies before taking one last moment to decompress before getting back on the road. It was still coming down outside, this time more mellow than hail, just steady rain.
With big thanks to our wonderful hosts Evan, Kaitlyn and Sami and clean laundry we set ourselves up for the next step of the journey. Now it was after sunset with the rain at this time and our journey was bringing us towards Seattle. Not far, maybe a couple hours or more north but one stop we hadn’t made in Portland was a restaurant owned by a family that Bia had helped with childcare while in San Diego. Trattoria Gallo Nero, a beautiful Italian spot. We didn’t plan on eating really, just to grab a quick drink but thought it would be nice to swing in and at least possibly grab an appetizer and say we stopped by. Within entering we were treated like family by Davide and Becca, the manager and chef and friends of the family. Raffaella and Giacomo, the parents had gifted Bia an REI card that we used towards a tent for the journey as well as the America the Beautiful NP pass that was so useful.
Davide did a wonderful wine pairing with each dish starting us with burrata and another cheese and salumi board (our preference on doubling up cheese, a bad or good habit depending on how you look at it). Second came gnocchi and for desert tiramisu and affogato to finish up. We took some pics to send to the family back in San Diego said our thank you’s along with the house footing the bill. We are very grateful towards the generosity of so many individuals in our lives.
Back into the rain, this time the road a little more traitorous than the drive through southern Oregon we crept up towards Washington state. Only about an hour to get cross the state line we started searching options for sleeping. We had means to camp but chose on a $35 airbnb just miles from the city center of Seattle making it just around midnight. Mentally drained from just the short but harsh road conditions we hit the pillows right into slumber…