Monday, June 14, 2010

Yellowstone to Portland

We woke up bright and early, but ended up leaving a little later because we were talking to our campsite neighbors who happened to be from VCU. It was a couple who were traveling to the guy's dad's house in California. It took us a while to get around to our park exit, but we saw some mule deer and and elk on the way out! The car hit mileage 123456 shortly after we got gas, so we deemed it important to document it. We decided to drive to Boise for the night after our South Dakota driving fiasco, so the drive wasn't too long and was pretty uneventful. At one point Melanie's ipod started playing the Macarena, so we started dancing and a man driving on a motorcycle next to us started laughing and dancing along as well. It was pretty funny! Instead of taking us to the park where we wanted to camp, the GPS took us to the building of the offices that manage state parks....why? I have no idea! We tried calling but soon realized we had waited until too late to book a campsite. We ended up staying at Hostel Boise, just outside the city. It was run by a really friendly couple, and they gave us a deal ($15 per person) since there weren't many people there that night.

After chilling out on the porch and showering, we went downtown to Bardenay, the only restaurant that also makes its own vodka, rum, and gin. We found it in our Lonely Planet guide book. We tried their wings (delicious!) and their signature drinks that contained their spirits. Our favorite was the ginger rum cocktail. And all of the cocktails were relatively cheap. Well done, Lonely Planet!

After a good (and warm!) night's sleep, I got up and made pancakes in the hostel kitchen before we started making our way to Portland. We weren't too far from the border, and enjoyed driving through the drastic changing scenery from mountains to hills and plains. When we stopped for gas, I started to get out of the car, but an attendant immediately came over to help us. It's illegal for you to pump your own gas in Oregon. I don't really know why, but oh well.

The drive to our hostel wasn't too much farther after getting gas, and despite a bird casualty (it flew into our windshield), we all made it to McMenamins. I like to describe it as a hostel/hotel/winery/brewery. They also have gardens and a golf course and stuff, and wasn't too much more than a hostel in downtown Portland, so we decided to go for it. This is why I went exploring last night. They have a bunch of bars and restaurants, and lots of crazy artwork all over the walls.

We went downtown to Portland to explore a little and grab some dinner. Melanie needed a belt, so she went to Buffalo Exchange, which is a used clothing store, while Harrison and I checked out Powell's, the world's largest independent bookstore. No really, they have maps available for you to find things. My favorite was the rare book room. Their oldest book for sale is from the 1400's and their most expensive book is about $350,000!! They had a book written and autographed by JFK! I think my favorite, though was their first edition copy of Eloise! It was $700! For dinner, we went to this pizza place across the street called Rocco's. It was so good, but the pieces were HUGE! We couldn't finish it all, so we gave our extra pizza to a homeless guy sitting on a corner. In exchange for the pizza, he told us a joke that didn't really make sense, but he was really excited about getting the pizza so it was fine! Before heading back to our hostel, we stopped by the rose gardens as a recommendation from my friend Gina, and they were SO PRETTY! I've never seen so many different varieties and colors of roses! They had deep purples and almost neon pinks, and really cool multi-colored ones that looked like sunsets! Mad props to Gina for recommending.

I was a little worried about not getting sleep last night. While Harrison's room was virtually empty, the women's hostel room contained a bunch of women attending a wedding. They turned out to be really funny when they came back and talked to us about our travels. They even gave us extra goodie bags from the wedding! Anyway, we're planning on hanging out around here for a while after we check out to see the winery and brewery. Then we'll head down to California to check out the redwood forest and do some more camping!

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