I really shouldn't go without writing when I'm on vacation, because a lot happens in just a few days. (And of course I need to record it all for posterity, because what I do with every minute of every day is going to be so important...) This is, without a doubt, in need of heavy editing, but it's too long for me to look at anymore.

So, Wednesday. [livejournal.com profile] zolac_no_miko and I decided to give the 4T Trail a try. The plan was to start at the zoo, where we were supposed to start, but we overlooked one crucial thing: it's spring break for all the school kids. So every child capable of going to a zoo was... going to the zoo. So we were directed over to the overflow parking, which was a stop down the highway. There was also a massive line for the shuttle, so we decided to just hike down the road and catch the trail farther along. So we hiked up the (to me, at least) nearly vertical slope of the church driveway and into the wilderness of Portlandian residential streets. And I do mean residential wilderness (bonus: contains Council Crest, which was my introduction to hiking on topography)... none of that "suburban wilderness" stuff. Real honest trees with moss and lovely large hills that I could chuck rocks down (which I did, with marginal success). The trail was unusual, too... in that parts of it (even the parts that we weren't making up as we went along) were along streets with no sidewalks. Sometimes with very little in the way of a shoulder. But once we were into the woods-proper it was great. And there were some very interesting houses mixed in as well. We appreciated the ones that actually made an attempt to blend in (including one with two wrap-around porches which reminded me of a tree house). But there's always one that doesn't... and the stand-out star in that regard was a teal-trimmed house that, from the side, looked like a staple remover. The trail looped around both sides of it, and from the bottom we could see that it also had a prow (for sailing down the side of the ridge?) and no noticeable straight walls. A triumph, no doubt. The tram is pretty cool (though it doesn't go fast enough)... OHSU is kind of insanely glassy and new. Then we kind of deviated from the plan for the downtown portion, so we could get lunch and see the Multnomah County Library (my debt to society remains unpaid, as I was not able to incur fines there or pay them yet).

So... the food cart thing. My plan is to take a picture and send it to Rahm Emanuel, pointing out that these carts exist and Portland hasn't descended into complete chaos. I mean... Chicago is all about supporting things that inexplicably serve only one kind of food... why can't we have food carts? But anyway. We were aiming to get something from Khao Man Gai, but she had just closed. Thankfully, there was a Korean taco place right next door which proved to be very interesting. We sat under the umbrella man and I got sauce all over myself, and then we caught the train back to the zoo so we could go pick up [livejournal.com profile] drownedcities (who I also hadn't seen in forever) and [livejournal.com profile] shichahn (who I had never seen at all... and it does occur to me that that's weird, but it's fixed now)... so we could go hunting with Napoleon. For clarity: Napoleon. SO CUTE! But not the biggest fan of hunting in the rain with a veritable crowd of noisy human spectators. He much preferred trees that were in opposite directions from where we were going, and though I tried to flush some birds with a log I found, the only thing I had that he tried to chase after was a golf ball (something else I was trying to use to flush birdies). He chased the lure, though, which was fun to watch.

Aaaand then I was led to Jake's Famous Crawfish, where I was introduced to seafood that actually wasn't frozen immediately out of the sea. Seafood that had, in fact, actually seen the sea recently. And it was wonderful. (And tomorrow we are going to the coast, and it has been hinted that I will find even more seafood there. (There's also a lot of proof in this part of the story that [livejournal.com profile] look_alive, [livejournal.com profile] zolac_no_miko and I should not be allowed in public together, but that is a foregone conclusion, and also we were pretty well-behaved. Also, someone ate an entire bucket.)

So that does it for Wednesday.

Thursday we trekked out to Mount Hood, which was my first experience with a mountain. (We also had Burgerville, which was my first experience with an environmentally-conscious fast food place that offers bean burgers prominently on the menu.) And... and... it's so very pretty (Mount Hood, not environmentally-conscious fast food). I'm so used to everything being creamed by glaciers that I don't even know how to process going up, up, and up, and the idea of snow lines and tree lines and... topography. We decided to somewhat disregard the posted signs urging snow tires and/or chains and head up to Timberline Lodge (hereinafter "Timbaland"). We got about a quarter mile up the road before we decided maybe it wasn't the wisest decision, and got out to do some snow flailing. Snow flailing is an up-and-coming sport in the Portland area, currently practiced mostly by three key people (who shall remain nameless). It involves running through a snowdrift until you fall down. There was also a bit of a snowball fight... because the snow was actually snow, not that silly flaky dry stuff we get around here. And I made a giant snowball face.

After seeing countless more irresponsible vehicles descend the mountain sans snow tires (though a few were sporting chains), we decided to head up anyway. The higher we got, the deeper the snow was, until everything resembled a Mario Kart course. Then it started snowing, and we'd already had a bit of trouble getting out of the turn-off we'd pulled into for our snow flailing, so we just did a drive-by on Timbaland and headed back down.

Afterward we wound through the mountains down into the valley where there are a lot of apple orchards. Unfortunately none of them were in bloom yet (though Portland was already blooming), but it was still nice to see fields of things that weren't corn or soy. After looping past a rather un-exciting ranger station for a bathroom break we headed down along the Columbia River and looked at all the waterfalls. We managed to frighten people in the Multnomah Falls gift shop (or perhaps horrify) with our commentary on their kitsch. We also began an outline for our epic crossover opus, which involves a raptor attack on Multnomah Falls, and a school bus going over the falls, with Neo and... um... some other things happen but I can't remember most of them, just that the raptors win. Also there is Optimus Prime. (I think what spawned this conversation was: 1) The rockfall-prevention netting and 2) the rumour that they're going to remake the Matrix sequels. What?)

So yes... then there was Friday, which involved nearly 500 miles of driving or something like that. We left the apartment at about 7 in the morning, picked up [livejournal.com profile] shichahn, and drove through rain, some rain, and a bit more rain (also, what may have been the flattest part of Oregon I saw) until we got to the coast, which was miraculously sunny and largely rain-free. Our first stop was Seal Rock, where I met my first sea anenomes and apologized to a lot of barnacles and mussels. Anenomes are so cute. I mean, for things that resemble Like-Likes from the Zelda series, that is. I have a soft spot for creatures that don't make a whole lot of sense. I mean, they're squishy green things with tiny tentacles that grab your fingers, what isn't to like? The ocean attacked me while I was letting one try to eat my fingers, though, so be aware that the sea seems to favor anenomes as well. Since I'd already gotten myself soaked, I also got to run out into the water and pet a starfish (much to [livejournal.com profile] look_alive's dismay. We caught a couple of hermit crabs, which I also fell in love with (tiny transient sea bugs living in shells!). Unfortunately my camera batteries died shortly after I tried to get a non-blurry picture of the cormorants, so I'm going to have to hope that everyone else gets their pictures posted.

Afterward, we headed up to a crab shack (quite literally a shack with a large sign that said CRAB, among other things). It had a lovely smell, and an interior filled with lovely foods that had been wrested from the sea itself not too long prior. I had a taste of pretty much everything available while we listened to the epic soundtrack they had playing in the place (I kept expecting Indiana Jones to deliver the next catch). Now that I'm back here, I miss proper seafood already. So much better than the stuff that's been frozen and shipped for miles and miles. (There were scallops that basically melted when you ate them, a feature of seafood heretofore unknown to me.)

Our penultimate destination was Cape Kiwanda, via the secret entrance [livejournal.com profile] shichahn directed us to. We traipsed over to the dunes over sand that was zebra-striped with black and gold, I took pictures of apocalyptic-looking scenes and challenged the ocean to come get me again (it did, but only managed to attack my feet). We stowed our shoes and scaled the dunes, which were, in parts, kind of like giant sand cliffs. The view was gorgeous (as you probably noticed if you looked at the pictures), and most of us treed ourselves for a while (one of us got stuck. For once it wasn't me). The way back down was probably the most fun, though, since it involved running down a sand cliff while screaming, and learning to take the most important advice I've been given: "Just lean forward and spread your legs!" (I guess it worked? I didn't die.)

On the way back to the car, [livejournal.com profile] look_alive decided to make use of the good stick she'd found and make some Art in the sand. Meanwhile, [livejournal.com profile] shichahn and I found a dead surf scoter that had washed up on the beach and tried to determine the cause of death (COD: Unknown). In the end, it migrated into the centre of the Art, and "Scoter Injection in All Directions" was born (a work I most sincerely hope there are pictures of, for it is elegant in its simplicity and ground-breaking in its scope).

At this point in the afternoon, we were debating whether we could make it all the way to Astoria to see the sea lions, since there wasn't much point in going up there if it was going to be dark. We decided to give it a go (by which I mean [livejournal.com profile] look_alive declared herself to be a very efficient driver and then proved it). This is when it finally started to rain, but the only real effect this had was to cause rainbows that stalked us for 20 miles or so at a time. One particularly persisent rainbow evolved from a half-rainbow to a full-on double rainbow all the way across the sky (meaning: unknown). It later starred in the Sunset With sea lions by sticking prominently out of a boat.

So, in the end we did make it to Astoria, where we met (and mocked) a herd of sea lions (we're actually probably lucky they didn't take our challenges to their territory seriously. We were a bit... loud. I'm pretty sure the car ride had made us loopy.)

All in all, it was a fantastic trip, and we somehow accomplished more things that I'd even managed to think of doing. In fact, the only thing we probably should've done that we didn't was find food in Astoria, but not even the locals seemed to know where there were any "good places to eat." I suppose that will be an adventure for next time.

tl;dr Staple remover architecture. Topograhy! Food cart anarchy. How to kill a golf ball. Real seafood comes from the sea. Topography! I got a crew too (and we did a drive-by on Timbaland). Are you tired of the lj-user links yet? Water falls from the sky and off of topography. Water lurks on the shore. I get tired of the blow-by-blow and the language gets a bit out of hand. Squishy adorable sea things. Apocalypse dunes. Stalker rainbows. Where you can sea lions. (Also: topography!)

I've had "Pete Wentz is the Only Reason We're Famous" in my head for like, four days WHAT HAVE YOU DONE, [livejournal.com profile] look_alive?!
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