On leaving Port Angeles and the Olympic Peninsula I realise I’ve already visited somewhere that I fully intend to come back to for its incredible diversity of ecosystems and beautiful scenery.
The drive south for the day ends in Astoria, OR, the last part being the drive across the Astoria–Megler Bridge, 4.1 miles long, it spans the Columbia River which divides Washington from Oregon.
Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites ($455, 2nghts) was the very expensive accommodation used.
Haystack Rock off Cannon Beach is a popular place, the local area has many beach properties, the grey tiles are ubiquitous. Lunch is found at the appropriately named Seaside.
The afternoon is spent hiking in Saddle Mountain State Park, where I see my first snake, it was only a little one, lying in the sun and I didn’t notice it until I practically stepped on it at which point it quickly slithered off into the undergrowth before I could snap a pic!
Before leaving town I visit the Astoria Column which allows limited views in the misty morning conditions.
From Astoria I drive up to Mount St Helens stopping a couple of times to take in the views and let slow cars continue up the mountain ahead, the drive up and down is excellent, with drop offs at the side of the road and many steep curves and corners it’s a great road to speed down.
Mount St Helens is an active volcano and last erupted as recently as 1980, with deadly consequences, the previously symmetrical cone (9,600ft) blew out from the side, removing the upper 1,300ft of the summit, leaving a horseshoe shaped crater and barren wasteland. Spirit Lake, adjacent to Mount St Helens, still contains thousands of trees floating on its surface as remnants of this eruption.
From Mount St Helens I head down to the city of Portland, staying at Best Western Pony Soldier Inn ($326, 4nghts). On the first day I hike the 12 miles trail to, and back from, Tunnel Falls, it’s my first proper hike of any distance and my legs feel it the next day…
So having completed some exercise I have “Doughnut Day” in Portland, which involves buying 3 doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnuts, a highly anticipated destination having seen it on the excellent Man vs Food tv show.
Breakfast is the Bacon Maple Bar obviously, around lunchtime I have the Powdered Sugar Lemon Jelly (part of my five a day!) and mid-afternoon I scoff down the classic raspberry jelly filled Voodoo Doll.
Some great beers from local breweries in Portland and had a particularly interesting burger at Deschutes Brewery, tasty burger topped with pork belly, goat cheese & jalapeno pesto! It wasn’t all unhealthy food whilst in Portland though, I visited the excellent Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden and did some shopping, in particular at the fantastic huge Columbia store, having tried on many different brands of shirts I love the Columbia stuff. The variety of outdoor clothing shops in the Pacific Northwest and the huge range of clothes stocked within them is brilliant, REI in Seattle is worthy of joint top spot along side the Columbia store in Portland as far as my shopping was concerned.