There aren’t many areas that can boast a range of activities like snowboarding, surfing, and climbing, all within a 4-hour drive of each other. The Pacific Northwest is the perfect location for such a rare feat. With a snowboard bag filled with clothes and climbing gear, my girlfriend and I set off for an adventure with way too much sun, fun, and food.
I started snowboarding about 18 years ago, and as a child fantasized about going to a summer snowboard camp. When I noticed our trip out west began a mere 1.5 hours away from Whistler, I quickly replaced my suitcase with a snowboard bag. It may have taken 18 years, a flight across the country, and a bit of trespassing, but I finally acquired the snowboard camp experience I’ve always dreamt about. After a fulfilling 3-hour window worth of snowboarding, I couldn’t help but turn around and snap a picture of the horizon. It’s always a treat to observe how the depth of a mountain range is so defined by its color.
I’d also like to take this time to enforce the importance of sunblock. Heed this warning especially when riding out in the mountains next summer. It may seem like a magical winter wonderland, but remind yourself that it is the summer and you are standing on a giant icy reflector. The smell a burning flesh is a bit unsightly.
Under the merciless observation of the sun, ( a theme consistent with much of our trip) it was time to kick off our Vancouver visit by wandering the city. Early in the day we stumbled upon the VanDusen Botanical Garden. Seeing nature in captivity has never been something I seek out, but this particular park was an exception. Amongst the hedge mazes and art installations, our eyes were treated to a menagerie of natural hues. It was inspiring to see all of the wonderful contrasts provided by mother nature. My favorite location at the garden was the Korean pavilion, where vibrant man-made colors complimented the flowers surrounding it.
Squamish is the rock climbing mecca of Canada; like a Yosemite of the North.
Only being 45 minutes away from Vancouver, I had to make the pilgrimage. After a hike up The Chief and a day filled with bouldering it was nice to relax and look out over the various vistas at our disposal. Looking out into the Howe Sound, the pristine water and cloud-wreathed mountains beyond were gorgeous. I wish I had taken more pictures of our adventures or documented the vivid sunsets, but sometimes you can’t help but live in the moment.
After watching 3 seasons of Portlandia and having no other reference point for the city. I was interested to see how many Carrie Brownstein or Fred Armisen incarnations I’d run into. Sadly, this never happened, but luckily the city provides innumerable destinations to please tourists and locals alike. The waterways of Portland were always teeming with the passage of boats, rafts, and kayaks, which could be viewed from stretching boardwalks along busy city streets. One thing that left a lasting impression was the food. Every city block sports an impressive assortment of cuisines – you’d be hard-pressed to find a bad eating spot. When your appetite has been conquered, there are hundreds of cool boutiques to check out. One such market is tucked away in East Portland, the Grand Marketplace. Within you’ll find an amazing selection of antiques and other rarities that’ll have you looking around for hours. While searching around I noticed awesome antique filing drawers. The fading color with an onset of rust was screaming for my attention. Combined with old packaging on top and around, it was hard to not see a lovely warm palette forming.
Of course, our trip to Portland wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Pacific Ocean. Even with 50-degree water, our hunger to go surfing could not be stopped. After suiting up in a heavier wetsuit, it was time to catch some small waves (A lot of ocean water was consumed that day). Once I had conceded that the ocean had conquered us, I honored my worthy foe by photographing it and the coast surrounding it. Due to the low tide that day, we were treated to seeing some of the denizens of the ocean. Clinging to rocks, thousands of barnacles appeared. The textures and earthy tones were a pleasant surprise as they laid exposed under a cloudless blue sky.
After trying out my sea legs I needed to get back to the security of being surrounded by rocks and trees. Known for it’s amazing ski/snowboard resort, Mt. Hood is also home to some hidden gems. In the summer, the surrounding area is home to some great sport climb locations as well as miles of hiking trails. After a brief climbing detour, we set off to check out Tamanawas Falls. This brief hike (about 4 miles round trip) leads the way to an amazing waterfall that you can walk behind. I loved the vivid green moss which covered the surrounding rocks within the area.
Without a doubt, I highly recommend taking a trip out to the Pacific Northwest. The region’s seemingly infinite wilderness and encouraged outdoor culture will guarantee you a lot of sunshine and inspiring sights. With year-round activities to keep you occupied – I can’t see why anyone would ever want to leave.