1. We flew across the country and rented an apartment on the west side of Vancouver. Its layout was so similar to my first ever apartment in Toronto that in the middle of our first night I woke up blurry-eyed, briefly convinced that I was actually on Spadina Road and that it was still 2005. But there were seagulls shrieking – I’ve never heard them so loud! – and I remembered that years had passed and that I wasn’t home.
In Vancouver we walked along the ocean, drove towards mountains, stopped at beaches that had the biggest trees washed up on shore. Hiked in Lynn Valley Canyon and took off our shoes and socks to wade in cold mountain water. Got sushi and ate it on the roof of the apartment. On Granville island we bought 2 Dungeness crabs to eat later for dinner. They cooked and cracked them and while we waited we had fish tacos.
Mostly I just wanted to look out at the water, the hazy bits of land in the distance. Twice, while staring, we saw seals.
2. We set off for Portland early one morning and somehow stretched the 6 hour drive into 14 hours. We kept telling each other, this is the last time we’ll stop, but then we would see something and stop again. At first it was all green and rivers. We stopped to buy a basket of plums for a dollar, to have a burger and milkshake from a diner at lunch, to climb down a hill and dip our feet into a river. We kept driving and passed a town that was modelled to look like a Bavarian Village. Stopped at another roadside market that promised fresh peach milkshakes, and despite the milkshake at lunch, couldn’t pass one up. Got huckleberry candy, apples. Kept driving and then suddenly the trees dropped away and instead there were large fields. The green dissipated and everything was shades of yellow. Windfarms, handfuls of horses running in the distance, black cows. Stopped to look at all of them. Then there was a replica of Stonehenge and the Columbia river. Eventually it got dark and we got serious about making it to Portland. We got there.
3. In Portland, it did feel like Portlandia. Food truck breakfast sandwiches, good coffee, farm-fresh food, pinball at the bar, books from Powell’s. At night we would walk from our place to our next destination and it would be quiet and dark and then suddenly there would be another bar, another coffee shop, just right there on some unassuming corner.
One day we drove down to the Oregon coast and I had naively assumed we could go swimming, but when we arrived the Pacific was freezing and the waves roared up on shore, fierce and beautiful. We ate our lunch and walked along the edges of the water instead, followed the coast for as long as we could.
4. We had just about 24 hours in Seattle. Had oysters at the Walrus and the Carpenter and pizza at Delancey and when we were stuffed, we went to the beach at sunset. It was lined with people having end-of-summer bonfires. The next morning we were tired from more than a week of travelling and covering ground and almost wanted to skip the downtown core, but persisted: walked from the Sculpture Park to Pike Place Market and decided to go the aquarium to look at the sea otters.
5. Drove back to Vancouver quickly, this time actually not stopping a million times, and had one last sushi meal before flying back home.
It was a lovely, lovely trip.