Our third day in Portland was mainly spent with a mini road trip along the Columbia River and “around” Mt. Hood, concluded with some good old tax-free outlet shopping…

route 16 Portland 4

fullsizeoutput_3aeeWe started off with hearty breakfast at nearby Revolución Coffee House (1432 SW 6th Avenue), the first Mexican cafetería in Portland. Plain Nutella bagels for the kids and Cactus & Potatoes and Spinach & Cheese empanadas and some kick-ass coffee for us!

Our first stop after taking the I-84 East to The Dalles was at Candy Basket (1924 NE 181st Ave). The main attraction of the factory store of one of the biggest handmade candy producers of the Pacific Northwest is the chocolate fountain at the entrance. As I found them on a site with “alternative things-to-do in Portland”, you will not be surprised that the fountain has been pumping around the chocolate non-stop for about 6 years…

Standing at 18ft. / 6m tall, the fountain itself was pretty impressive, but due to the dust and lumps floating in the sea of chocolate, it wasn’t a pretty sight. By good American practice, prominent health hazard warnings were – rightfully – displayed together with the sign that free chocolate samples were available in the store itself. 😉 Their salted Caramel Bars, Beaver Paws, and an assortment of salt-water taffy (from which the kids managed to get an excellent selection from their 35+ flavors) were great though…

Columbia River Gorge
Continuing on the I-84 East, we took exit 22 to Corbett to follow the Historic Columbia River Highway. The Columbia River shores run up quite quickly, so the number of vista points almost equals the Oregon Coast highway. Our first stop was the Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint with a fantastic view on Columbia River Gorge and the nearby The Vista House.


At the Vista House itself, it was impossible to get a parking spot, the same applied at the most popular waterfalls, the Latourell, Multnomah, and Horse Shoe Falls, where cars were actually parked on the side of the highway for about half a mile out on either direction. Therefore, if you look very closely at these drive-by pics, you catch the same glimpse of the Multnomah Falls that we did 😞.

We stopped at the Bridal Veil Falls, which was a beautiful 45 minutes hike through the woods to view the multi-tiered waterfall.

Cascade Locks
We followed the Historic Columbia River Highway and merged back on the I-84 and headed to the “Bridge of the Gods”. The almost 1,900 ft / 580m steel truss bridge spans the Columbia River between Cascade Locks, Oregon, and Washington State near North Bonneville. After boosting the toll revenues of both Washington and Oregon ($2 each way), we had a great view on the bridge as well as the Cascade Locks Marine Park.

Thunder Island Brewing Company, Cascade Locks
Back on the Oregonian side of the Columbia River, we had lunch at Thunder Island Brewing Company (515 SW Portage Rd) which is located on the southern end of Thunder Island in the Cascade Locks Marine Park. A relaxed lunch in the sun with great views all around.

The Mexican theme continued as the kids had their eyes set on the Kids’ Nachos (a big portion of Juanita’s Tortilla Chips covered with Melted Cheddar Cheese and Veronica’s Salsa). Chantal chose the Jalapeño IPA Hummus Wrap (House-made IPA jalapeño hummus, organic field greens, marinated artichoke hearts, red onions, kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, cucumbers, and feta served in a warm pita). Despite the summer heat, I was drawn to their Chili Dog, which was topped with their Biker Buzz Porter Chili, feathered cheeses, diced onions, and chipotle-sour cream. The great food was downed with their DAM-IT Saison, a Belgian Farmhouse Ale, and refreshing Rolling Thunder Pale Ale.

Mt. Hood National Park
Instead of heading back to Portland the same way as we came, we made a little scenic detour in honor of the omnipresent Mt. Hood:

fullsizeoutput_49a5At Hood River, we took the 35 South, the Mt. Hood Highway, snapped some pics of Mt. Hood from the Hood River Ranger Station near the city of Mt. Hood. We drove through Mt. Hood National Forest, climbing to an altitude of about 4500 ft. / 1500m and passing the exit for the Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Area…

We continued on Highway 26 West to Portland, passing towns like Rhododendron, Marmot, Damascus, and Boring…

At Clackamas, we took the I-205 South to the Woodside Outlet shopping center (no sales tax in Oregon, woohoo). Along the way, we had amassed quite a lot of wine, t-shirts, gifts, and books, and at the mall we stocked up on more clothing and Le Creuset cookware… Therefore, may I present you to our new travel companion: C-3PO…


Nel Centro, Portland
At the mall, the kids weren’t hungry at all, but back at our hotel in Portland, a mere 40 minutes later, they were famished… Not wanting to go head out, we decided on the (upscale) Nel Centro restaurant in the hotel (1408 SW Sixth Ave). Classic dishes of Northern Italy and Southeast France from renowned local chef and restaurateur David Machado.

After starting off with a glass of the relatively unknown French Vin du Bugey sparkling wine, we ordered very nice home-made pasta: Eggplant Ravioli, Pasta Marinara, Cavatelli with Italian Sausage, Roasted Tomato & Black Kale with sides of roasted broccolini and carrots, onions & potatoes, to up our overall veg intake. We actually had to order seconds for the kids.

The 2014 Coda Red Blend (38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, and 9% Petit Verdot) by Seattle’s Cadence Winery was terrific.

As for desserts, we had the wonderful Blackberry semifreddo, Blueberry panna cotta, and the very indulgent Gianduja Chocolate Mousse. Tired, but satisfied, we crashed in our hotel room…

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