Once we made it to the West Coast, it was time to explore some of these bigger cities on our way up to Vancouver.

Our first day in Portland was a late start, not having to get up early and check out of a hotel is a nice change. We headed downtown around lunch time and found a parking garage close to Pioneer Place. After a bagel for lunch it was time to wander through the mall and the surrounding areas. We made our way slowly north up to the Pearl District where we found a few cool places. There was an arcade and pinball bar which we went back to later on at night, lots of old and new machines to try out and spend a bit of time playing.

The crown jewel of the day though was going into Powell’s City of Books. This store is apparently the largest independent bookstore in the entire world, and it’s a seriously awesome place that I could spend hours looking through. The store occupies an entire city block downtown, and has several levels. It’s so big that we had to grab a map upon entering, and even with that I was getting lost trying to find my way back to books that I’d seen. We probably spent about 2 hours here total, including a stop in the cafe to rest. I came out with three new Star Wars books, although I could have easily bought more if I didn’t have to worry about suitcase space and weight.

The next two days consisted mainly of shopping, eating, shopping, shopping and eating some more. We checked out Washington Square first off, and grabbed a delicious cinnabon for lunch. Next up was a half hour drive south to get to Woodburn, which has a massive set of outlet stores from all sorts of huge brands. We spent several hours wandering through these stores picking up quite a few bags of clothes, with the occasional break to rest our (well, my) legs. Finished up the day with a dinner at Red Robins, a gourmet burger restaurant where the burgers come with bottomless steak fries (very dangerous, but great).

While Portland isn’t exactly a big tourist destination, it was great to catch up with Stephen and KC and there are lots of good places to shop around here. It seems to be quite an up and coming place with lots of people starting to move into the city. At times this has caused us to get stuck in traffic trying to navigate the spaghetti of highways around the city. One of the mottos that I’ve seen several places ‘Keep Portland Weird’ is definitely the most visible downtown, there are a lot of odd characters around.

I’ve been Seattle once before and enjoyed my time in the city, this time around I’m liking it just as much. We actually had a couple of days of sunshine, and we happened to be visiting on a long weekend. This meant the city felt a lot busier than last time, but I still enjoyed walking around the market and waterfront areas (especially while the latter is lit up at night, it’s beautiful).

Since I had already seen most of what I wanted on a previous trip, I gave Brayden the options and let him decide how we’d fill our days. I didn’t manage to get to the top of the Columbia Center last time, so it was great to go up and get some marvellous views out over the city on a clear day.

Our second day we decided to go to the Museum of Pop Culture (which I’d been to when it was previously called the EMP Museum). It’s still a really interesting place with tonnes to see around the whole building, there was the same fantasy, horror and sci-fi exhibits as well as a new Star Trek and a temporary Jim Henson Exhibition. We spent most of the afternoon wandering through all these rooms packed full of awesome film and TV memorabilia.

The weather here has been absolutely nuts, I mentioned before that we had two days of sun. While technically true, those two mornings also contained a lot of rain and even a flurry of snow. It’s quite amazing how quickly the weather can change here, it was very windy the whole time so that probably helped. For example, as we were headed to the Museum it was slightly cloudy when we left the hotel and caught the bus, then snowing as we walked through downtown, and then less than two hours later it was sunny with not a cloud in the sky.