Thursday, April 10, 2014

J is for just minutes away (Portlandia A to Z)

One of the things I love about Portland is that we are just minutes away from the....

Columbia Gorge
The Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area is a canyon of the Columbia River, which divides Oregon and Washington. The gorge is up to 4,000 feet deep and stretches for over 80 miles.

When Mike and I got married, our original plans to go to Spain and Portugal for our honeymoon were thwarted by the INS. So we spent a few days in the Columbia Gorge instead, at the Bridal Veil Guest House.

The Columbia Gorge is a magical place, full of amazing hiking trails, scores of waterfalls, and the mighty Columbia herself. I love this place. It's only a half hour from Portland, and each time I go there I tell myself we need to go more often. It feels like we have just touched the tip of the iceberg of what it offers.

For my last birthday, we went to Hood River for a Dar Williams concert, and we had a wonderful, brief autumn hike. We also celebrated our 23rd anniversary in Hood River. We also love to take visitors from out of town on a day trip...and on good days, we even hike up all the way to the top of Multnomah Falls, the tallest waterfall in Oregon and possibly the second-highest waterfall in the United States. And of course, every visit has to end with a stop by McMenamin's Edgefield.
On one of my favorite waterfall hikes
Mount Hood
Last July, I took a day off work and our family went up to Mt. Hood for the day to visit Timberline Lodge and play on the Alpine Slides at Mt. Hood Skibowl. It was the first time we'd taken the kids up to Mt. Hood since Kieran was small. Mount Hood (about 50 miles away) towers over Portland, and on a clear day we have a gorgeous view! It's 11,249 feet high and popular for skiiers, snowboarders, and hikers. 

The beach
I could never live very far away from the ocean. When I was a child, we'd go camping frequently on the Oregon Coast. When I was living in Japan in my early 20s, my parents bought property in Rockaway and began building a beach house. I feel supremely blessed to have a wonderful place to retreat to whenever we can. Rockaway is a quiet beach, about 90 minutes from Portland. We have so many Rockaway beach memories!

With my family at the beach in 2011
Mike and I also enjoy visiting the Sylvia Beach Hotel further south in Newport. The Oregon Coast is legendary for its rugged beauty. 
At the Sylvia Beach Hotel
Wine country
We haven't visited the winery country for awhile, but it's easily accessible. Last year a friend's daughter had her reception at a winery near McMinnville, and it was spectacular!
wine country

Those are a few of the highlights just minutes away from Portland, and they are the gems that keep me grounded in this place. Read my other A to Z posts here, and stay tuned for tomorrow: Keep Portland weird!


  1. Great "Just minutes from" ideas. I was curious to see what the highlights would bring.

    1. Thanks Karen! There's so much more--feels like it's the tip of the iceberg!