by oBelIX

Since this has the potential to be one of those long rambling type of posts I shall post a tl;dr upfront. This post talks about:

  1. A scenic route to Portland
  2. Portland
  3. Pink Roses
  4. The interstate

It also establishes the following scientific fact:

There exists more than one variety of roses that is odourless.

Portland: Scenery 101
One fine (fine (adj): gloomy, rainy, typically Washington) Saturday I headed down to Portland. The straight way to go there is 191 miles on the Interstate 5. Driving on the I5 is like writing a program to reverse a string. You know you can do it. It is boring. So, yours truly took the route shown below (enter it into a GPS as Redmond to Portland via Randle and Cougar). The awesomeness along this route includes:

  1. Many pretty lakes
  2. Twisty, turny, curvy mountainous roads
  3. Lesser traffic once you get out of Pullllayyalallayayyalip
  4. Gorgeous scenery

I started off from Redmond at around 9-ish in the morning. The first part of the drive till I got out of Pulllayyalllayyyyallllayyyyalllayyylip was boring and mundane and trafickky. The drive and the scenery picks up once you hit Eatonville. (Yes – Eat-ton-ville – there are many poor jokes there that I shall desist from making J).

Breakfast (a meal often under-rated and skipped in favour of an early lunch) was a subway. [Yes, I did eat an entire subway J.]
The food itself was not very special. However, you shall not be left wanting for a scenic place to stop and eat the food at on this route. One such place is Alder Lake. It’s a huge, big-ass lake.

Hmm, that description does not do justice to the meal.
Let me try again.

Breakfast consisted of 6-inch, oven roasted chicken on bread infused with Italian herbs and cheese. The sky was overcast. The clouds looked ominous. The mists clung to the mountain tops. The wind was nippy. The lake was calm.

Hmm, still not good enough.

Yep, that’s better.

About 20 miles further is the little logging hamlet of Morton. Now, when you are driving along and you hit a stop sign and there’s a board proclaiming the existence of a place called “The Bean Tree” that has been serving “Morton’s best coffee” there is a slight iccha (I do not know an equivalent English word for that) to try it out. IANAL but I think a disclaimer is required here. I cannot say anything about any other coffee shop in Morton. However, “The Bean Tree”, I shall not contest that claim. The coffee was indeed rather nice.

The next 100 miles or so were on NF-25. NF-25 is a road through the mountains. It is an excellent road. It has these little twists and turns. It also has bigger and more sweeping twists and turns. It is flanked on both sides by gorgeous green. There are stretches where the trees form an archway around the road. There are countless occasions when you go around a bend and say “aaah” or “woah” or “daaamn”. I liked this road. There are again some incredible pictures but I did not take those with my phone so I don’t have them lying around.

Halfway through NF-25 there is a turn to go towards “Windy Ridge” and “Mt. St. Helens”. I’ve never been there. One of the advantages of not having a concrete, set in stone plan is that you can do what you want. The whole drive through to Windy Ridge added about an hour to the trip. It was again a very nice drive. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day. There was mist and fog. I haven’t seen fog like that since when I was in school and it was 8AM on a winter Delhi day and I’d be hoping that school’s shut for the day. The fog meant driving slowly. Worse, it prevented us from seeing any of thesheer drops and other magnificent scenery that was probably a few feet away from the edge of the road.

NF-25 ends at the Swift reservoir. I’ll not even try to describe this. Even the WP7 camera does a poor job of it.

The only other fun bit was a stop at an antiquated petrol station in Cougar. The lady in the shop complimented my “Carbine of kitchen implements” t-shirt politely. I complimented her “Mt. St. Helens, Still kicking ash” sweatshirt. I then proceeded to stare hopelessly at the instructions for filling up the car using the weird hand-operated start-stop thingie on the pump.

The drive overall, with all the frequent stopping and what-not took about 6.5 hours. You could easily do it in 5-ish if you remove the detour around Mt. St. Helens. I’d say, go this route, do not just barrel down I5.

Portland: Keeping it Weird
Portland is interesting. And quirky. And Weird. The Portland Saturday Market is interesting. And quirky. And Weird. There was a gentleman pretending to be a rabid dog. There was another who first accosted a group of Japanese tourists for a quarter for the fees for his higher education at his alma-mater of Harvard, explaining to them how amazing Harvard Business School was. He then proceeded to offer an American family (huge pop, huge mom and 2 kids) with the deal of a lifetime – 25cents and he’d show them his nipple. 50cents and he’d show them both. The buildings (I was only in downtown Portland) are old and quaint. And quirky. And Weird. Street names in Portland are hipster. And quirky. And weird.

The thing that epitomizes Portland is:

Pink roses
I shall not go into any details on why I was at the “International Rose Test Garden”. Let me just say that there is nothing mysterious or intriguing there and let’s all move on. The rose garden place itself is more like, “if you see it, well and good. If you miss it, no harm done”. It’s got a bunch of roses. Some of them smell rosy. Some of them are odourless.

There are two rows of roses in the picture below. Both, to me are pink. If asked to differentiate, the best I can come up with is a “light pink”. However, I bet all the water in all the oceans in the world, that the fairer sex has names for these two. One would probably be called something like “teal”. The other would be “aquamarine”. I’ll also bet all the water in the Pacific that the fairer sex thinks this is common knowledge. IMHO:

Chennai Masala
Go there. Period. The rava dosa was very good. The coffee was out of this world. I could go on and on and on and on … Here is a picture of a cup of filter coffee for motivation. Oh, and the rotund-auntie who owns the place was also very nice. She popped over and chatted on hearing an order for “strong filter coffee J“.

Here is another picture:

(a rava dosa – for the time when my blog has readers who do not know what a Rava dosa is)

The Interstate
The drive back started at around 8PM or 8:30PM. It’s a 191 miles from Chennai Masala to Redmond. It’s a straight road. There was no traffic. There were the occasional jerks on the expressway who believe that the left-lane was built by their grandfather and they have an inalienable right to perma-squat in it. I do not know what the scenery is like because for most of the ride it was pitch-dark outside. It was also raining. It takes about 3 hours.


480 miles of fun driving, amazing vistas, incredible food and tons of quirkiness. danke


PS: Yes, I know the images are weird. Anyone with a touch of experience with CSS and wordpress willing to help please ping back – you shall be rewarded with something more tangible than my undying gratitude 🙂