lost, for a little while

destination: the pacific northwest
July 3, 2011, 2:00 am
Filed under: trips

Why was I not warned about this?

Crater Lake, OR

Just in case you’re under the impression that everything has gone smoothly during this road trip, let me state for the record that I made an epic fail in trying to visit Crater Lake on my way north to Washington.

I mean, why wouldn’t I want to see a lake that used to be a volcano, and is now the deepest lake in the country? So I left my beloved coastal highway and headed inland, traveling on even more winding roads, but this time without a view of the ocean to go along with it.

I checked to make sure the park was open, since it seems to be covered in snow almost year-round, and when I saw that it was, continued on to the west entrance where they waved me on in. I was hoping to do the western rim drive and then continue on toward Salem in the north, where I’d be staying the next night.

Rain had been coming down for hours by the time I made it to the park, and the sky was filled with thick clouds of fog. As I got further into the park, I saw significant snowbanks piled up on either side of the road–even though it was already June. When I tried to stop at the visitor’s center for a post card, the door–and the rest of the building, in fact–was blocked by a massive amount of snow.

I abandoned any hope of obtaining a post card and continued on, constantly looking out my passenger-side window for any sign of the lake. Nada. It was nothing but white and rain, with pine trees to add a little visual variety.

Crap. This wasn’t good.

Less than five miles further, the road was blocked with a sign that said “Closed.” Seriously.

While the ranger had warned me that the campgrounds were closed, she didn’t say anything about the roads, and I wondered what, exactly, she thought people were visiting for if they couldn’t camp or drive around the lake. I’d just wasted several hours and gave up further exploration of the west coast to see this thing, and I didn’t get even a minute of lake.

But what more can you do? I tried, and it didn’t work out. I swore a bit, cursed Oregon, and moved on. So it goes.

Badass from the beginning

Salem, OR

Here’s what you should know:

  1. I love this picture. So much.
  2. That’s me (pirate) and Eliana (rabbit), who was my best friend growing up.
  3. It had been almost ten years since I saw Eliana when I had lunch with her parents in Cleveland and they told me she was moving to Salem, Oregon.
  4. It might have been ten years since I’d even heard from Eliana when I sent her a message, saying that I’d be coming through her area and wanted to meet up.
  5. Eliana had no clue what I was doing or why when she invited me to crash at her place for the night.

I’ve said this about a million times at this point, but it’s still true: as much as this trip has been about seeing the country, getting to grow as a person, and seeking out a place to live, it’s also been about friendships. Current ones, new ones, and now, old ones.

We’ve gone in different directions, Eliana and I, and even though we stayed in touch for a long time after I moved, we just kind of drifted apart during high school. Even so, it felt like no time had gone by while staying with her, and it makes me so ridiculously happy to know that this person, who had been such a huge part of my life, is still a lot like the funny, spunky, sweet girl who lived across the street from me for 11 years.

I don’t know that I can explain it much better than that.


Portland, OR

Forget hippies. Forget feminists. Forget everything you’ve ever seen on Portlandia. This is why you should come to Portland. Powell’s Books is three stories high, and has more sections than I can list–all organized clearly by color and subject matter. There are audiobooks, hard covers, paperbacks, picture books, and more things book- and awesome-related than you can imagine. I spent more than two hours walking around the store, writing down the titles of all the ones that I wanted to read when I got back home to my beloved Baldwin Public Library.

If you’re in Portland, go there. Even if you’re illiterate or just hate books (and therefore, have no soul), go. there.

And then load up at Voodoo Doughnuts afterward for some serious sugar to help your brain get over all the intellectual stimulation. (Beware, though, that the second Voodoo’s location in Portland is currently closed for construction, so expect massive lines when you get to the one that’s still open for business.)

Cawww Ca Cawww

Olympia, WA

This is Margaret. She likes birds. Even more than me, which is saying something. But Margaret actually knows her shit, so while I’ll just say “Oooooh, pretty!” she can rattle off actual information. Good thing, too, because for the past year, she’s been working at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge in Olympia, often leading school groups around the park.

Marge and I go way back; we went to middle school and high school together, and played on the same softball teams for the majority of those years, too. Even though we’ve managed to see each other pretty regularly since graduation, this was the first time I was in her neck of the woods and got to see her do her thing.

It was really cool, actually. The group consisted of two older couples who all seemed to be serious bird enthusiasts, and I pretty much hung back and observed as they discussed bird identifications and swapped sighting stories. The refuge is beautiful, and Marge had a lot of interesting stuff to share, so I was enjoying myself already when we spotted a bald eagle circling overhead.

I don’t think these are that big a deal to Washingtonians, but it was the first time I’d seen one in the wild, and, really, what better time to see America’s mascot in person than when doing an around-the-country trip? Score.

If VI was IX

Seattle, WA

Everyone told me I had to do two things in Seattle: (1) Visit the Pike Place Market, and (2) See the Space Needle. I accomplished both. Kind of.

What I didn’t know before coming to Seattle was that it has what is now one of my favorite museums in the country: the Experience Music Project & Science Fiction Museum. It sounds like the weirdest mash-up of topics–and it is–but I literally stayed at the museum from 4 p.m. until closing and still didn’t spend enough time at each exhibit.

Here’s just a few things you can see and do there: (1) Play different instruments, from drums to bass guitar, and have your own private jam session; (2) Explore the history and impact of Nirvana on the music world through artifacts, video interviews, and music recordings; (3) Learn about Jimi Hendrix’s history and see some of his famous guitars (or, pieces of them, at least); (4) Watch dozens of videotaped interviews with artists, producers, writers, and more that are part of the museum’s Oral History Project (this was my favorite exhibit, obviously); (5) Geek out over the costumes and spaceship replications in the Battlestar Galactica exhibit; (6) Discover how James Cameron & co. created an entire world for the movie Avatar.

The Space Needle is located right next to the museum, so I definitely saw it, even if I didn’t go up in it to check out the view. And while I made it to Pike Place Market, by the time I got there, all the booths were closed and there was nothing left but melting ice and the strong smell of fish.

I’m pretty pleased with my decision, though.

Outta my way, brats!

Spokane, WA

Bet you didn’t know that the world’s largest Radio Flyer Wagon is located in Spokane, Washington, did you?

Even better: it’s a slide.

Warning: You may have to convince small children that, yes, you really are waiting in line for your turn and they can’t just cut in front of you because that’s not cool, guys.


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