Portland, Oregon seemed like a paradise, coming from the drought-stricken and fire-prone city of San Diego. Teeming with lush forestry and exotic Northwestern animal life, nature was around every corner. While on our trip we focused primarily on hiking and walking on local trails. Silver Falls Park was an excellent location for this interest. There are ten falls on the Silver Falls loop, each with unique scenery but all with majestic views. We journeyed to Upper North Falls, North Falls, South Falls, and Lower South Falls. The South Falls was a particular point of interest for tourists especially, with a trail that went behind the cascading water. Standing above the roaring white water below and feeling the cool mist on your skin gives you a feeling of connection with nature not found on an everyday park trail. In addition to Silver Falls, we ventured to Sahalie and Koosah Falls and were amazed all over again with the lush and vivid green canopy overhead and the crystal-clear turquoise river trailing beside us. All the trails we visited contained every shade of green imaginable, and wherever you went in the city the smell of “Christmas” was bound to follow.
We expected to be swept off our feet by the wildlife, and we were. But living in San Diego, one of the biggest tourist attractions of the U.S., I was reluctant to believe Oregon’s city sites could compare. My parents have been visualizing a home in Oregon in their future for years, but I’ve always stood on the contrary. How could a state beat our zoo? Or our art and culture scene? These were questions I was dying to have answered, and so they were in Portland. The public attractions were well kept, and art was found in abundance throughout the city. I got lost in the aisles of Powell’s books and was spoiled with the amount of vegan and vegetarian restaurants- a luxury hard to come by in San Diego. I myself am vegan and struck gold at Back to Eden bakery, Voodoo donuts, DC Vegetarian, Vita-Café, and many more. The brick or cobblestone streets of downtown were marked on every corner with public sculptures, and plant baskets hung overhead. Everywhere I turned I was greeted with a sincere smile and a wave. The overall vibe of Oregon was upbeat, and friendliness and generosity were common virtues. Not once was I made feel like a tourist or put into a stereotype in any way; the citizens seemed as one large family consisting of athletes, metal-heads, bookworms, and every other classification imaginable. Every aspect of Oregon, from the wildlife to the city life, seemed surreal; the level of respect was high in all parts of town, and the richness in culture all around gave insight to the people living there. Diversity was one quality that took me by surprise in both the landscape and the people. Not only could all races and religions be found, but the scenery was constantly changing outside my car window. At first I would be looking out over the city on a bridge, then the next thing I knew we were at the forest, then the dunes, then the beach!
For the past few years as my parents’ aspirations of moving have been coming closer and closer to reaching reality, I’ve been gritting my teeth at the thought of uprooting. After this surreal experience, however, I almost look forward to packing my bags and welcoming the city that so warmly welcomed me this summer.
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