Moving to Hawaii • Curtis’ last days on the Mainland • Salem, Canby, and Portland, OR • September 17-19, 2017
Our final days on the Mainland were forecasted to be rainy and dreary days, which was exactly how we were feeling now that our vacation was coming to an end. We decided it was time to take it easy and get a few more things taken care of before Curtis’ flight on Wednesday, which was now 3 days away. We packed up our tent for the last time and began heading South to Salem. Curtis chose a short hike to do on the way, so we drove deep into the state forest to the Niagara Falls trailhead. The trail was about 2 miles long and we loved the letterbox stamps and the beautiful, lush forest. However, today the waterfall had barely a trickle of water coming down, so the end was a bit anti-climatic. We didn’t care though, the dark rocky cliffs were still beautiful and impressive.
We finished the drive to Salem where we had decided to spend the next 2 nights. We mostly chose to stay in Salem over Portland because it was easier to get around and the hotel prices were better. We also wanted to see the state capitol building, so we stopped to see it on the way. This one is definitely the most unique we’ve seen…and honestly looks pretty silly. It’s just a difference in style, and Curtis said it was growing on him by the end of our visit, but it definitely didn’t seem as ornate and impressive as the others we’ve seen. We did enjoy reading about the history of Oregon and seeing the different monuments on the capitol grounds. We headed back to our car after this as it was getting colder, and checked in to the hotel to relax, eat pizza, use the wifi, and plan our next few days.
On Monday, we took Charlotte to a walk-in clinic to have her examined by a vet, per airline and Hawaii state policies. She wasn’t pleased with us for putting her through this, but all went well and we got her cleared with a health certificate, as well as some tips for how to make the long flight easier for her.
We had arranged to meet my brother for lunch, so we drove up to Canby to have lunch and visit with him one more time. He is working with the City Planning office in this small town, and it was really interesting to hear him explain what he was working on and how the town was hoping to grow their tourism. After we said goodbye, we took one of his suggestions and went to visit the dahlia gardens just North of town. The gardens were expansive and in full bloom — I read that Canby is called the dahlia capitol of the world, and they say that for good reason! I loved seeing all the different shapes and colors of the flowers. Everyone should go visit Canby now while it’s still a hidden gem, before all the tourists find out. 😉
Tuesday was our last full day together, so we packed up our things and began heading North to Portland. But first, a few more stops! We took highway roads up to Hillsboro, West of Portland, hoping to see Oregon’s other Whispering Giant statue. We arrived at Shute Park and began searching, and came across a familiar stone foundation, what the giants typically stand upon, but no giant statue. Curtis went into the library next door to inquire about the statue, and learned that just this past winter a tree had fallen on it and the town hadn’t yet decided the fate of the giant. We were still able to find the letterbox here, even in the rain.
We then drove a little further North to Forrest Park for one last hike together. Not only was it our “last hike together on the mainland,” but this was also the last hike I ever took wearing my first ever pair of hiking boots. As you can imagine, it was an emotional day. I had put over 2000 miles on those boots since I bought them almost 4 years ago (thanks to my grandparents’ Christmas gift!). Curtis and I both purchased hiking boots that day, and while his lasted only 10 months, I have used mine for just about every hike I’ve documented on this blog, and then some. I had finally found a replacement pair that will hopefully last me just as long, and it was time to say goodbye.
Oh, and I was also pretty sad about Curtis leaving. It seemed very fitting that the letterbox we found on this hike was in honor of Jim Croce, the singer/songwriter who wrote our song, which happens to be the title of this blog! We really enjoyed just walking through the woods, admiring the moss, plants, slugs, and the sunlight shining through the trees. It wasn’t anything challenging or spectacular, but it made for some great last memories on the mainland together. We were only going to be apart for a week so it wasn’t that I was sad about being apart, more just sad because I didn’t know when we’d be back here together. Sad because I didn’t want to have to handle a whole week on my own. We’d been through a lot so far with this move, and it still wasn’t close to being over, and we knew we’d both have to handle different complications and challenges on our own for a week.
We finished our walk and drove to our hotel for the night, which was another free stay at a Red Roof Inn conveniently located a short drive from the airport. However, this one was kind of in a sketchy area and isn’t one I’d recommend. We did our laundry and separated our luggage into what we’d both need for the next week, and ended the night with one last dinner out.
We talked about this vacation, and compared it to the other big vacations we’d taken in Septembers past — our Canada and Vermont/New Hampshire trips last year, and our Colorado adventure in 2015. Our Canada trip was so epic that this trip couldn’t possibly top that one, but we can see how we’ve grown since then, how our planning has improved, and how we went into this trip with the right attitude. We knew beforehand that this wasn’t all about our enjoyment, and that helped us to set our expectations low. We were able to see things that were important to us and our goals — Whispering Giants, high points, state capitols, national park sites. We had driving days, sightseeing days, and hiking days. Fun with family, fun by ourselves; a nice mix of camping and hotel stays. In all, this trip had everything we love to do together, and made for a great last big road trip memories before we’re stuck on an island where we can’t go and drive across states for hours on end. The only part I’d change, I wish it ended on a happier note — it really stinks when we go from being together 24/7 to being completely separated. Curtis had to get out of vacation mode, while I still had one whole week on the mainland before I could join him in Hawaii, and I had no firm plans or reservations. More on that coming up next!
• 5 nights in hotels
• 11 nights camping
• 10 nights with families
• 4 Whispering Giants
• 3 High Points
• 1 State Capitol Building
• 6 National Park sites
• 65 miles hiked
• 4,357 miles driven