Sunday, June 7, 2009

Day 5: Hell's Canyon, OR to Portland, OR

Day 5
I woke up to the sound of the river rushing by below our camp spot. Andrew had gone down to snap some pictures of the stream and I relieved myself in the meantime. We ate some Nature Valley™ bars, packed up the hammock and sleeping bags and whatnot, and headed on the dangerous trail back to the car.
On the trail we encountered various species of wildlife. We photographed flowers and the endless trees that blanketed the mountains in either direction. The trail had been made with sticks of dynamite, leaving loose chunks of rock to step on. As we made our way downhill we ran into some snakes that looked like garter snakes. They slithered away in a hurry when we came within a few yards, too fast for a picture. We saw five of these little guys as we hiked along the trail. Soon we came about a small uphill and Andrew flew up the small hill. Before I continued up the hill after him I noticed another little reptile that presented a slightly bigger hazard than the other snakes that we had seen. A rattlesnake was coiled up in striking position, rattle behind it, head in front, staring me down. Frankly, I was scared. A snakebite out there was bad news, probably worse news than a group of bears telling you that your car was stolen. Anyway, Andrew had a solution to avoid the whole snakebite thing, “Ok, I’m gonna throw rocks really close to it and see if it moves.” It didn’t. It kept its eyes plastered on mine. So I threw the rock that was in my hand. The projectile hit the dangerous creature in the face. He went from sunbathing on a nice trail, to having two seemingly mentally challenged humans throwing rocks at his head. Obviously, his morning had been ruined; it was evident from the way he rattled his tail and fired in Andrew’s general direction down the hill. Neither Andrew nor I knew where it went so Andrew threw more rocks into the bushes and I did my best to sprint uphill and around the area. In the end, tragedy was avoided.
When we reached the end of the trail we were rewarded with an ice cold bath in the pool of water near the road. We jumped in, washed our hair with Garnier, and lathered up as quickly as possible with hippie hemp soap. We mustered up the courage to take a second plunge to rinse off the suds and got out of the frigid water as soon as we could. As soon as we got out of the water, a state patrol official came around with his truck and an extraordinarily long awkward moment ensued.
Hitting the ol’ dusty trail was first on the list of priorities and we were on the move as soon as the guy turned his back. We stopped for an amazing breakfast at Annie’s in a rural little town along the way to Portland. Our first stop in Portland was Stumptown. Best Espresso I Will Ever Have. Andrew teared up as he sipped a double shot of espresso, and my mind coated the walls as the heart of a cappuccino hit my tastebuds. The legitimacy of the coffee shop outweighed any previous experience with fine dining or the likes. The barista that served us was an attractive young woman who suggested a cupping at the roaster the next day. Unfortunately we didn’t have time, although it would have been an incredible experience. We left Stumptown to go to Barista!, Billy Wilson’s new shop in the Pearl district of Portland. We came a bit too early to see Billy but the two girls working there were really good too. One of the girls had some cool tattoos and explained to us the vacuum pot that was being performed in front of us. It was an insanely delicious cup of coffee. I was impressed with Portland’s coffee scene no doubt.
The rest of the city had a lot to offer too. We walked around downtown and there were dozens of shops that were worth taking the extra time to check out. Powell’s Book Store was really cool. Everybody raved about the place and said it was a must see, but when we walked up to the entrance it looked like any other used bookstore. Little did we know that it was 5 stories high and had over a million books in it. I ended up buying Ewan McGreggor’s memoir about taking a massive road trip. I figured it was fitting, maybe a roadmap of our next trip across Europe/Asia…


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