Road Trip 2011: Portland, OR

Posted on June 22, 2011


*The eternal dilemma for travel writing is finding time to write while traveling. I’m no exception to this. This series of dispatches from a recent road trip will be a bit delayed as I have a tendency to travel while traveling, filling up every second of every day with whatever may be, rather than sitting at the keyboard… as every traveler should. I hope you enjoy our journey.*

For Cass’ birthday in April, I bought us tickets to our favorite band, Dispatch, who are playing in San Francisco, in hopes of accomplishing a travel goal of ours that we’d thought about for a while—roadtripping the Pacific Coast Highway. Our plans progressed awesomely to include the important aspect of visiting several of our good friends along the journey. With smartphone, snack cooler, and tent, we departed a snowing and hailing Butte for an eleven hour drive to our first stop at Lacy and Derek’s pad in Vancouver, WA, just across the bridge from Portland, Oregon.

Basically, the only way to start a trip of this nature is to drink margaritas—so that’s just what we did. We snagged a table along the swollen river, with the sunset lowering behind the I-5 bridge and Mexican food in front of us. For dessert, a trip to YoCream—a self-serve frozen yogurt shop—was in order.

Tooling around the parking on some kind of custom, mini-mountain skateboard, Derek showed Cass how to skateboard. On his longboard, Cassie started shredding the asphalt, so much that it caught the attention of the night security guards. Yeah, Cass got in trouble for skateboarding… That’s my girl.

Cass: “This is my first time!”

Security Guard: “Ah, yeah. I can tell.”


The following day brought more sunshine and warm weather, which is totally new to us, but also a change for this area as well. It’s been a pleasure getting to know Lacy’s Derek—we first met him at our wedding, but, as you can imagine, we didn’t have a whole lot of time to hang out with each other. Apparently, Capt’n Derek has sailed his whole life and invited us to enjoy the sun from the deck of his boat in the mighty Columbia River. A run to the grocery store for some provisions and to Goodwill for a second hand life-jacket was necessary for a day on the boat. The Thunderbay harbor was the home of the 21 foot(ish) beauty named Gato de la Mar, “Cat of the Sea.”

We met up with Lacy’s sister Gina and her friend that started things out with dangerous concoctions of champagne, orange juice, vodka, and limeade—the only way Gina knows how. As you can imagine, things continued on that pace for the afternoon until we all realized that heading into the open water probably wasn’t the best thing for us to do. Multiple grills were fired up, one on the dock and the other dangling precariously off the back of the boat, and dinner was served soon after.

And to think… we didn’t even test out the new anchor and rode (apparently sailors have some kind of code they speak in surrounding relatively common items so as to confuse the rest of us—I learned a rode means rope).

The next day saw our departure from Portland and our good friends. It was awesome to see them and be able to spend some time together particularly now, because in August they will be heading out to an island off the western coast of Alaska to teach. We wish them the best of luck on the new and exciting endeavor. Once their blog is set-up, I’ll make sure I share it here—I’m sure they’ll have some stories to share.


Before we headed out of town, though, we had one more stop. There isn’t a Travel Channel show surrounding Portland, Oregon that does not feature this one particular restaurant landmark… Voodoo Donuts. Being a Trav Channel junkie, I couldn’t be this close to such a gloriously featured place and not see for myself what the fuss is all about.

As I like to repeat myself often, “reality television is the farthest thing from reality.” There is a always a bit of dramatization involved with things like this for the sake of viewership, I suppose. So I was pretty excited to check this place out, while keeping it all in perspective, of course. It is just a donut shop, after all.

That excitement was regulated when we pulled up to the big pink building with the line snaking out the doors and down the adjacent sidewalk. Staying the course, we waited about 30 minutes to reach the inside. The walls were decorated with voodoo- and skeleton-themed items, newspaper clippings about the shop were hung, and a strange amount of bizarre Kenny Rodgers velvet paintings were on display. This was certainly not your neighborhood baker.

I anticipated this from the coverage on t.v., but seeing its creative weirdness is an experience altogether. We got to the front and ordered a six-pack of donuts: maple & bacon, capt’n crunch, peanut butter & oreo cookie, blue & pink flavor dust, the voodoo doll, and the cock’n balls. No I didn’t mis-type any of those selections. As each of them require their own explanations, I’ll save you and explain the last two a bit more: the voodoo doll, and the cock & balls.

The voodoo doll (and I’m not even sure if that’s the proper name of this thing) is probably the most fitting selection from a place called Voodoo Donuts. It’s a chocolate bar in the shape of a man with two arms. Each icing is unique to the donut and includes eyes and a mouth. Each is then stabbed with a pretzel stick—ours through the arm. Of course, there is dark red raspberry filling that bleeds out of the doll with each bite.

The cock‘n balls is exactly that: man parts. Quite large man parts, too. I won’t explain that any more. However, each of the balls are filled with a vanilla custard to really round out the experience. We didn’t end up eating this particular donut… it will come up again during our time at Lance’s house outside of Fresno.

Between those two donuts, you probably get a fairly good idea of this uniquely awesome place. Oh, and the pink donut box reads, “good things come in pink boxes.”

Yeah, gotta love creativity.


 Big thanks to Lacy and Derek for this stellar first leg of our trip and setting a fantastic tone to our road tripping endeavor. Next up… driving the northern Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco.