In May I took a two week roadtrip to Portland with my father, as many of you might already know. We stopped along the way, trying out different vegan restaurants and camping in Colorado. Some of you wanted to hear more about this trip, I shared a few photos from it on my Instagram but never went into detail on everything. I have many more photos to share and so many memories made on this adventure with my family. I’m already looking forward to the next trip (so very soon!), it’s been amazing having this time to reconnect with my dad now that he’s retired. So please, grab a snack or drink of choice and continue reading along.
Our journey begins on May 17, 2016. I packed as efficiently and minimally as possible for this adventure. Which was a huge challenge. I pat myself on the back for making my entire camping gear must-haves fit into a single storage bin. It was a serious task cutting down, but this experience opened my eyes even further to the sheer fact I thrive on minimal living. It’s crazy how freeing you can feel once you limit your processions. I definitely want to talk more about that in the future, as well as share my thoughts on tiny house living. Let me know if you’re interested in content geared towards vegan camping as well.
We set out on the road early Tuesday morning and made it our goal to reach Colorado, specifically Boulder. With a few snags along the way we pushed pretty hard and made it to Denver. Stopping to eat at Native Foods Cafe, just before closing time. I wish I had snapped a photo of my food, but after 14ish hours in the car, I kind of wanted to cry and had zero energy to do anything other than eat.
I’m not going to lie, the first day was rough. We had a hard time hauling my brother’s car with us and the traffic was pretty bad. I instantly felt like this trip was going to be a bad idea. Be it the pessimist I naturally am. I’m not much for being in the car as is, my anxiety gets pretty bad. But after we stopped to eat, had a moment to recoup, we set back out on the road to find a hotel to stop at for the night.
The next morning we decided to start early and drive to Boulder, only 40ish minutes away. More specifically we went to Golden to camp for the night at Golden Gate Canyon State Park. It was a chilly day, with rain mixed with snow. I was excited for the challenge of camping at a high altitude in freezing weather. The only other time I’ve experienced this was when I went to a local state park and it got down to 17 degrees F at night. The wind chill was below 0!
Once we arrived, we had a bit of time to kill before the office opened. Eventually, we walked around the park, setup camp and went on a hike. About half way through, it started snowing so we turned back. Both of us didn’t pack gear for this type of weather, luckily it wasn’t too bad. Just before getting back to camp it started raining really hard, so we had to hide in the tent. Rain, snow and slush. It was pretty amazing.
After awhile we ventured out again, making our way to a small town called Nederland. Which very quickly became a place I felt so comfortable in. There was a little coffee shop called New Moon Bakery & Cafe. They had non-dairy options! I was so excited, that’s hard to find where I live. So I ordered an Almond Joy latte with rice milk and accompanied it with some vegan banana bread. So good! We sat and read the local paper, to get a better feel for the area. After that delightful stop, we walked around the area and discovered a few other gems. One actually being a beautiful gem/crystal shop. We picked up a few pieces and made our way to the local co-op. So many fun vegan finds! We did have to pay a 10% charge extra, since we weren’t members but that’s fine. I was happy to help support that area, Nederland was enchanting.
Later that afternoon we decided to drive to Boulder and hit up their Native Foods Cafe. My dad ordered the Baja Tacos and I snacked on the vegan chicken wings. He still can’t stop talking about those tacos and sweet potato fries, we’re going to try replicating them very soon. For those who don’t know, Native Foods is a 100% vegan restaurant that offers a little bit of everything. So much comfort food.
After exploring Boulder for a bit, we made our way back to camp and the weather was still bad. Instead of starting a fire, we called it a day and went to sleep. I actually rigged my iPad to hang in the tent so we could watch a movie before bed. I also brought a Bluetooth speaker, since my dad has a hard time hearing. We watched Willy Wonka while the rain and snow fell. It was truly blissful. Easily the highlight of our time together. We haven’t had but a handful of moments like this and I will never forget this specific one. Words can’t express how happy I am to finally have a father that’s available to be present in my life. His years of hard work have lead up to this moment. Finally being able to relax and enjoy his life.
The next morning we woke up early and packed up camp. Said Goodbye to Colorado and Hello to Boise, Idaho. Stopping at the very wonderful Shangri-La Tea Room. This meal was an experience I wish every one could have. I was so excited to bring my dad here. The first time I went to Oregon, I road tripped with my friend Holly and we actually stopped here along the way. I knew it was a must try again. This was easily my dad’s favorite meal along the drive.
We shared a pot of the lychee tea and ordered soups, salads, and an amazing mock tuna salad with raw crackers. The flavor was unreal! Another meal we want to try recreating in the future. For dessert I had the raw strawberry lemonade cheesecake and my dad went for the power pudding. Both were incredible, super rich and satisfying. We walked away feeling refreshed and grateful for this meal.
Back on the road, we made it to Bend, OR for the night. My dad was excited to explore, Bend was a place that came highly regarded as a clean and eclectic town. We found a hotel, unhitched the trailer and set off to wander the area. With a quick search, I found a place called Next Level Burger. We stopped there for dinner and then continued to drive around and check out the nightlife. Easily some of the most beautiful homes I’ve ever seen. There were pristine roads, zero litter and everyone was incredibly friendly. Yet another place that easily felt like it could be home. My dad is set on going back and staying for a few months to get a better feel for it. Maybe even relocating in the future, I’m super excited!
Once we made it to Oregon it felt like we could finally relax. We spent a week in Portland, meeting up with my sister and brother who moved to Vancouver, Washington the pervious year. My time spent in Portland was quick. Everything flew by, before I knew it we had to start the drive again back home.
The first night my sister and I stayed in a tiny house through Airbnb. The days were spent meeting up with my sister-in-laws family and having a cookout with her relatives. So much fun! It was great meeting everyone and catching up on each other’s lives.
Day two in Portland consisted on brunch at A.N.D. Cafe and picking up vegan donuts at Blue Star. I’m not able to see my middle sister as often as I’d like, so this trip was a chance for us to hangout before her next adventure with work. We made the most of it hit up the annual REI sale in downtown Portland. Needless to say, we spent a lot on new gear.
That afternoon we met back up with my family and had lunch at Eastside Deli. Vegan reubens for all! It was actually my brother’s birthday so we started at the Vancouver Farmer’s Market. I’m still in awe over all the flowers and vegan options. My sister and I picked up some gorgeous morel mushrooms and smoked portobello pasta for the beach the following day. As well as a bouquet of flowers and a few other goodies to take back home.
As a surprise, we took my brother to the largest retro gaming store in Oregon, maybe even in the United States, this place was huge and the collection was very impressive. My family is big on gaming, if you know me then you know I actually met my husband online in a video game we both played competitively. It was an exciting opportunity to check out almost every single game ever made, as well as every console and play whatever we wanted. We easily spent a couple hours here, and many many dollar bills.
To continue on with the birthday festivities, we hit up this place called Ground Kontrol in downtown Portland. Fun enough, it was the day where all games were completely free, but you had to pay a cover charge to get in. Worth it. This place was packed! Full of noise, darkness, flashing lights and a fair bit of BO (aka body odor). But we had a blast playing pinball, arcade games and drinking a few beers.
Ending the late night with pizza nearby. I opted out and treated myself to those vegan donuts I bought earlier in the day from Blue Star.
The following day my sister and I set off to Cannon Beach, about a two hour drive outside of Portland. Two days in the sun, on the the sand, watching sunsets and sitting by the fire. We of course watched The Goonies on the beach, I mean how could you not?! This time was exactly what I needed. To reflect, to relax and reignite my spirit. I want to go back here. It was the most blissed out I’ve ever felt.
We cooked with the ingredients from the Farmer’s Market trip the day before and I can honestly say my sister nailed it. This pasta dish was insane! So much flavor and everything I loved most all in one bowl.
We also stopped at Hug Point before making our way back to Portland. I didn’t realize how much I loved being near water until now. I have a fear of being in it, but near it is comforting. That’s another story though.
The last three days were spent on the Zephyr. My sister and cousin actually shot footage for them. A secret Airbnb right on the water. I’m so glad we were able to charter the last night and see a completely different side to Oregon. Have I mentioned how awesome water is? Talk about beautiful.
Before leaving Oregon, we all went to Multnomah Falls for a hike up to Benson Bridge. I was so proud of my dad. Having smoked for over 80% of his life, he quit just a month before this and had no issues with breathing. At that elevation, with cold weather, I was shocked. He’s a true warrior! Forever inspired by his strength.
Ending our trip with this journey was unexpected, to say the least. I didn’t think we would get to experience so much in such a short time, but we did. I’m looking forward to the next visit. Much more time will be spent eating and walking around Portland, Oregon.
That Memorial Day weekend we made our way back home, choosing to take a different route. Passing through Eugene, Oregon and making our way through California. In Eugene we accidentally stumbled across this diner called the Cornbread Cafe. Best. Comfort. Food. EVER. I won’t make you jealous listing off what exactly it is that we got, but OMG. Cajun fries and a sandwich better than anything I’ve ever had made for the greatest last meal in Oregon.
Until next time Portland, you were absolutely incredible yet again!