Day 21 – Sunday 1st September 2013
Carol and I borrowed a couple of bikes and rode for about an hour around the local area. Mike and Patti live in a lovely well maintained neighbourhood with large houses on good sized sections, but after riding through a couple of similar areas we came to a couple of streets of small unkempt properties where the residents seemed to have no interest in their homes.
That afternoon, Patti and Mike put on a BBQ for us with Sam and Lauras’ wedding party. It was great to have a bit more time with them and the barbequed ribs were something we’ll have to try at home.
Day 22 – Monday 2nd September 2013 (Labor Day)
We decided to drive all the way to Portland in one day, so that we could have a full day to see the city before flying home.
We were advised to take the Interstate Highway, about a seven and a half hour trip of 430 miles, but decided on the slower but more interesting drive through the centre of Oregon.
After a couple of changes of mind we finally headed west on highway 20-26. Although some of the roads were dead straight through quite barren landscape for dozens of miles, there was enough variety to make the trip interesting until we arrived at Burns and bought some lunch at the Safeway supermarket.
Back on the road again, we turned up a side road that bypassed Bend and went through Pineville. The road wound its’ way through scrub land that gradually changed to small trees until we came to a huge storage area containing 1000’s of containers stacked up to four high. Adjoining the storage area was a series of warehouses and a trucking yard belonging to Les Schwab Tires. This is about the only tyre company that we have seen on our whole trip and it appears that this must be their main distribution centre for the North-west.
The landscape gradually changed as we headed further northwest and we could see several large snow-capped mountains in the distance. The road climbed gradually as we approached the Mt Hood National Park area and the forests were more like driving through NZ pine forests.
Up till this point the roads had been mainly free of traffic and we had maintained fairly high speeds. At one point Carol noticed that the speedo had crept over 80mph, but once we passed the summit of Mt Hood we ran into the returning holiday traffic and crawled at 10 mph for 30 minutes, until we reached a double-lane section of road leading into Portland. We arrived at the Best Western Pony Soldier hotel after a 9 hour drive, which included a lunch break and several photo stops. We had filled the tank at Boise and the on-board computer gave a running calculation of distance left against fuel available. The calculation was always in our favour by about 20 miles and we arrived at the hotel with only a sniff of gas in the tank following the 460 mile drive.
Scenes from the trip:
We had a swim in the hotel pool to freshen up and then walked along the road to Bill’s Diner and had the daily special of a hamburger and a pint for $5.00 each. The hamburger meat patty was large and thick, well worth the $5.00, although the pint was Budweiser and after all the great beers we had drunk, tasted like water.
Day 23 -Tuesday 3rd September 2013
Our last full day, and after returning the car, we paid $2.00 each for an all-day pass (honoured citizens rate- there are some advantages being 65) and caught the train into town. Portland straddles the Columbia River that is spanned by many bridges, and has a riverfront walk. Otherwise the city appears unremarkable apart from its’ public transport system and the dress of many of the younger citizens which was very punk and with lots of tattoos. The light-rail trains run through the city and there is also a network of trams through the city centre and out to the suburbs.
We visited many shops and took a tram along the river to have a ride on an aerial cable car that runs up to the hospital.
I eventually dragged Carol into a bar for a well-earned beer, before we caught the train back towards the hotel. Carol conveniently managed to steer me onto a train that required us to transfer at a stop where there was another shopping centre, but after a short break we finally arrived back at the hotel.
While packing our bags for our return home we were considering what to do for a meal, when Carol decided that she needed one more pair of running shoes, so we once more climbed onto the train to go to a nearby mall. The one pair of shoes turned into shoes, trousers and a pair of swim togs for me and we eventually bought a pizza and headed back to the hotel.
Day 24 – Wednesday 4th September
Flew home at 9.40am The end of a great holiday. We flew Hawaian Airlines from Portland to Honolulu (5.5 hours) and after a 2.5 hour stopover continued to Auckland (8.5 hours) finally arriving home at 11.00pm after taking a taxi to Mum’s place to collect our car. She was up waiting for us and had prepared a box of food to restock our fridge for the next morning.
Both British Columbia and the NW states of USA are well worth a visit. People are friendly and the scenery is spectacular. Seems safe and it was easy to get around, particularly with the GPS. We had been warned about the police and how hard they were on speeding, but on the whole 5000km trip we saw less than six police cars on the road, so unless they had a whole lot of hidden speed cameras, the trip was uneventful. Accommodation was not difficult to find and we booked in advance only for Portland, Vancouver and Spokane. Everywhere else it was relatively easy to find a motel when driving through a town.