We woke up on Saturday and began celebrating Matt's 25th birthday by opening family cards we had brought along. Our Saturday drive down to Portland was, again, foggy. We had walked to a Starbucks (when in Rome) by our hotel for Matt's free birthday drink and for pastries for the road. As the sun came out and burned off the fog, we were treated to incredible views of forest and mountains, all bright green and frosted white. I am so glad we made this a road trip - you should take it too! 

We drove along the Columbia River until we reached Multnomah Falls, our first stop of the day and my favorite of the trip. The drive there is very scenic, and walking up to the lodge and path to the falls is breathtaking. We spent a long time standing at the base of the falls in awe. I can't believe we almost didn't make the drive out.

Eventually we hiked up a short tail and walked across the bridge, but couldn't continue further because it was so icy and we were getting cold. The lodge had a cute little Oregon gift shop and an interesting history room. I was most amazed of the stories of how pioneers would take off their wagon wheels and put all of their family and belongings on top of a crude raft and float down the Columbia River! The Oregon Trail was not for the faint of heart.

We stopped at a smaller falls and stream we had passed on the way in, and then made a short trek into Portland. It was easy to find a spot to park downtown, and while I grabbed a spot in line for Voodoo Donut, Matt walked into Chinatown to check out a protest he had seen while we were parking.
Voodoo Donut is a unique little shop. Neither of us are big donut fans, but curiosity and travel guides got the best of us and we tried it. The line was only about 20 minutes long when we arrived.  Matt entertained himself with exploring a protest being held in the adjacent China Town. It was so fascinating to see the weird things these people had dreamed up for putting on a donut. Bubblegum, Fruit loops, Oreos, Bacon…

A group of middle aged women noticed us taking a picture of the "Keep Portland Weird" sign across the street and became very fascinated that a couple of "Texans"(which we do not claim to be), could find their way around Portland.
After donuts (may we suggest the maple bacon), and a quick walk through downtown we headed to the Hawthorne Street area of town. Before hitting all of the shops, we decided to grab brunch at Pine State Biscuits, a tiny little hole in the wall of a place that I read about on a blog.

 It was incredible! Hands down our favorite food from our entire trip. As the name indicates, they specialize in biscuits. Then they put all sorts of deliciously inventive toppings on said biscuits. We had to eat in the car because it was standing room only. If you go to Portland; eat here! Don't be scared away by the line.

We found Hawthorne Street to be very much like our South Congress, kind of the main drag of artsy shops and boutiques and cafes. It was fun, but very much akin to the crowd and flair we have in Austin. While it is a quirky show, we laughed several times throughout the day about how spot on the show Portlandia is. 

After lunch and walking, we stopped at the Chinese Gardens.

The gardens are a unique little hidden city within a city, full of ponds, paths, and a tea room, but both of us agreed that our next stop, the Japanese Gardens, completely blew away their competition.

I could have spent hours sitting under a big maple and looking at the peaceful streams and flowers  in there. 

We passed several photographers and couldn't imagine what the place would look like in spring or fall as it was breathtaking in the middle of winter. 

Look at theses images of the "famous maple" from the Japanese Gardens in fall, it is unreal. I'm thinking of moving to Portland just so I can come back at every seasonal change.

Sadly, we didn't get any photos together in the garden because we somehow managed to run down the batteries on both of our phones, and our camera! I felt so bad that Matt missed some birthday calls because of it, and that I didn't get to document our dinner at the Portland City Grill. The restaurant is at the top of a city high-rise and looks out over Portland - not necessarily a place for the twenty-something travel budget, but not to miss, especially for a special occasion like a birthday. We could see a few mountains, one being Mt. St. Helens. It was a very unique way to celebrate Matt. That evening we drove back to Seattle and had dessert at a restaurant on the pier before heading in for the night. Day 2 of our trip was a success!

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