Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Mt Rainier, Cooling off in Portland and Goodbye Oregon!

Monday was our last day of the trip before we caught a red-eye back to Virginia. We took the circuitous route back to Portland and it's airport, so that we could get a closer look at Mt Rainier. You can't actually go up Mt Rainier, short of a hardcore hiking expedition. It's over 14,000ft and it's an active volcano. But you can go up the nearby Mt Crystal via cable car, so that was what we did.

Mt Rainier from the top of Mt Crystal
There's a restaurant at the top of Mt Crystal, but we had figured out that it was on the pricey side so we brought our own picnic and were charmed to find a row of deck chairs to sit on for said picnic. The fact that these were right on the edge of the slope with absolutely no barrier did not deter me or the husband. The children, however, only needed a few minutes of the view before they decided to take a more prudent locale in a secondary row of chairs.

Picnic on a precipice.
We did get some drinks at the restaurant and the kids found a patch of snow to play in before we returned to the bottom and made tracks for Portland. As per usual, we hadn't made concrete plans for the second half of the day, but while our initial visit to Portland had been cold and wet, this day was hot and sunny, so we decided to take the kids to one of Portland's splashable fountains: Keller Fountain Park.

The kids were not particularly impressed by my explanation. They've played in fountains before and were so uninterested in repeating the experience that they wouldn't put their swimsuits on when leaving the car. They took one look at this fountain and changed their mind.
The scale. Dear god, the scale.

All ages were playing at the top.
My own take on the fountain was something along the lines of: "Kids have totally died here, right?" (Surprisingly, the Wikipedia article lists only one fatality and that's an adult who drowned rather than a kid who fell.) The top level(s) of the falls is a maze of streams, cascades and pools of varying depths. The pools at the edge of the big falls are three feet deep so that the lip of the falls acts as a wall, but that wall is wide enough that you can easily walk along it--in fact, I watched kids running and jumping on it as part of a water fight.

But the unlimited access is what makes the fountain so breathtaking and as long as you supervise your children and set groundrules, they can have a blast in perfect safety. There are pine trees all over granting shade and the cool breeze off the water meant that this was simply a great place to sit and escape the heat without needing to get wet. Our kids swam, we paddled a bit, and were thoroughly impressed.

Afterwards, we drove past Mill End Park (the World's Smallest) and had dinner at the Laurelwood Pub, which had great food, though we thought we preferred Hopworks for atmosphere and kid-friendliness (though Laurelwood is certainly excellent at the latter.) And then it was back to the airport and back to the humidity of Virginia.

To sum up the trip:

We were generally agreed that the best part of it was the treehouse.
Favourite meal was probably Slappy Cakes.
We ticked off two places that regularly feature on To See Before You Die lists: Thor's Well and Oneonta Gorge.
Aside from living in a freaking treehouse, new experience highlights have to be sandboarding, abalone kisses, and seeing whales.

In short, Oregon (or at least, Western Oregon) is amazing and well worth the effort!

No comments:

Post a Comment