Oregon may not match the majesty of Yosemite, the pristine beauty of tropical beaches, or the refinement of Europe, but it has a wildness that somehow makes me feels right at home. Here, among the draping moss and the ancient pines, the unruly paths and the cold fog rolling in from the sea, I find myself more at ease than I’ve ever been before. Can you belong to a place? I don’t know. I just know some things feel right, and when it does, one should enjoy the moment of belonging.
While hiking in Oregon we explored Multnomah Falls, a stunning two-tier waterfall with a bridge sitting right in between. This 1.1-mile hike is absolutely worth it. The lush path winds across the iconic bridge and leads to the very top of the waterfall where you can stand right at the edge and look down upon the Columbia Valley Gorge. Multnomah Falls is also conveniently located just 20 minutes from Portland.
If you have more time to spend in Oregon, a trip to the coast is a must. Our second hike was a more secluded and private three-mile loop following the seaside cliffs along Indian Beach. Our friends (and Portland residents) were our guides to this area, which is also a favorite surf spot. The place is truly a hidden gem! We were so glad to have a more private experience and to enjoy the coast. There were so many unexpected little spots here including an old fort, a rustic campground, a lighthouse on an island and a little shelter made of driftwood (I was highly tempted to move in).
On our two-hour drive from Portland to the coast we stopped by Astoria for a delicious vegetarian brunch at the Blue Scorcher Cafe. We spotted a gigantic rhododendron bush that made me look toy-size (more than usual). To my surprise, giant rhododendrons are considered rather mundane here. As I ran around squealing with joy whilst trying to get as much of the bush into my frame as possible, people walking by were giving me that “tourist” look. We don’t get this kind of greenery in southern California, so you can understand my excitement!
Oregon’s natural scenery is by far some of my favorite in the world. Fortunately, many of the trails and campgrounds have stayed under the tourist radar, giving you the quiet forest all to yourself. In this beautiful wilderness, I am reminded that “The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful” (E.E. Cummings).
Ann Nguyen is a bookish, incurable romantic with a penchant for analog photography.