Last week I spent the week traversing the west coast. I spent some time in California (southern) as a kid, but after we moved from there I only went back for a few visits. So when it came time to make travel plans for my spring break this year, I thought to myself, where have I not explored? Although I lived in California for a few years growing up, I never made it up to Washington or Oregon. I decided I would do a multi city solo trip.
And to spice things up a bit, I decided to take a train from city to city. I planned to fly from Dallas to Seattle to start my trip. I spent 2 days in Seattle, then took a train from Seattle to Portland. I then spent a few days in Portland, and then I headed down to San Francisco for a few days.
I took my first solo trip in January to Chicago, and I really enjoyed the time to myself. I knew this trip would be a little different because it was so much longer. My trip to Chicago was just a weekend. This trip was a full week. I found out that one of my best friends who lives in Maine was going to be in Seattle around the same time as me, so I hung out with him a bit when I was there, but other than that I was completely by myself.
I enjoyed the trip a lot, but I found myself getting a little lonely at times. It is nice to have a buddy sometimes, but I also enjoyed the independence of not having to have anyone with me. I didn’t have to consider anyone else’s wants and needs and sometimes that is good.
I’m not going to go through everything I did because that would make for an extremely long post, but I am going to hit the highlights from each city. AND there are pictures 🙂
As I mentioned earlier, I started my trip in Seattle and was able to meet up with one of my best friends, Adam. I ended up staying at an Airbnb just south of Seattle proper. It was the most adorable place. I stayed in an in-law suite that was attached to a family home. The place was decorated so perfectly and it even had a full kitchen for me to use. My favorite part by far though was that it had heated floors! SO COOL. If you are staying in Seattle, book with Erin for sure.
The weather was as you would expect from Seattle, cloudy and on the colder side. It didn’t rain as much as I expected though, it was more misty than anything else. Seattle was absolutely beautiful. I met Adam at Pike Place Market, which is a big open air market with food and different products you can buy inside of it. We walked through it very quickly because it was packed with tourists. It was in such a beautiful location though, right on the water with the mountains brooding in the background. We stopped by a brewery after called Cloudburst Brewing (only a few blocks from Pike Place). It wasn’t super busy because it was a Sunday, but the beer was pretty good.
We spent the afternoon traipsing around Seattle without a care in the world! It was pretty glorious. One thing I really loved about Seattle was also the ease of using their public transit, the light rail is super easy to use. That is important to someone who is super directionally challenged like myself. I also spent a while just walking around the neighborhood my Airbnb was in and I realized that all the houses were super cute and just incredibly charming. Almost every house had Black Lives Matter or Refugees Welcome signs in their yard and I was all about it. Seattle was my favorite out of the three cities I visited.
I took an Amtrak train to Portland, OR after a short stay in Seattle, and it was my first time on a real train. I really enjoyed it for the first few hours, until our train got derailed because of a mudslide when we were 45 minutes outside of Portland. A 4 hour train ride became an 11 hour ordeal. I’m a pretty flexible traveler because I almost always experience some kind of bumps in the road while traveling, and I understood it wasn’t Amtrak’s fault. It just turned into something much more annoying than I wanted to be a part of. I stayed in another super cute Airbnb in Beaverton (close to Portland). It was a super cute retro, 60’s style cottage. If you’re traveling to Portland, stay at Naomi’s!
Portland was way rainier than I thought it would be. I expected it to be very similar to Seattle weather wise, but it rained much harder in Portland. I’m not sure how people who live there get used to being damp 24/7. I didn’t think it would bother me, but it kind of did. My favorite thing about Portland was a place called Pine State Biscuits. Holy shit people. If you’re ever in the Portland area, go to Pine State Biscuits. They have biscuits as big as your head filled and topped with anything and everything you could want. I got the Reggie, which is fried chicken, gravy, cheese, and bacon. I also couldn’t help myself, I had to get a side of cajun fries w/ ranch. And of course the biggest sweet tea I could find. It was perfection.
While in Portland I decided to rent a ZipCar so I could get around instead of taking Lyfts everywhere. Portland is a lot more spread out and less walkable than I expected and it was also not so fun to walk around in the rain for too long. I’d never rented a ZipCar before, but it was a super pleasant experience. For those of you that don’t know, ZipCar allows you rent cars by the hour in almost any location. They have all different sizes of cars and you don’t have to pay for gas, it is super convenient when traveling. I made a point to go to Grant Park while in Portland because one of my favorite authors from my childhood, Beverly Cleary, has a sculpture garden there. If you’re familiar with the Ramona series, that’s Beverly Cleary and apparently she’s from Portland!
Of course I had to go brewery hopping in Portland because it is a huge haven for beer nerds. I went to Rogue and 10 Barrel. I’ve had a lot of Rogue beers before because they distribute all over the country, but I wasn’t super impressed with their brewery/vibes. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t really my scene. 10 Barrel is right across the street and it was awesome. They have a beer called Yas Queen Tangerine. I mean c’mon. Also if you go, try their seasonal raspberry sour, it is delightful!
Also while in Portland I decided to take myself out for a nice steak dinner before a concert I had tickets to. I ended up going to a place downtown called Pearl Tavern and had a delicious steak. The waiter continually called me sir, which I was kinda meh about, but I’m pretty used to it at this point. I’m kind of a lady dude I guess.
After Portland, I headed to San Francisco. I ended up foregoing my pre-planned 18 hour overnight train trip. I would take an Amtrak train again, I was just kind of over it at this point. I ended up getting a pretty cheap flight and I stayed in an Airbnb near the airport. San Francisco surprised me a little bit. It is so spread out. It is walkable, but there are so many different areas and none of them are close to each other for it to be convenient. I tried using public transit, but it was super confusing there. The BART and I are not friends, so I just opted for a ZipCar again and it was perfect.
One of my favorite parts of San Francisco was visiting the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). I am a huge fan of modern and contemporary art, so this was a real treat. This museum has some really stellar pieces in its collection. I spent a few hours staring at original Warhols, Chuck Close portraits, and Ellsworth Kelly pieces. I also got some bomb boba tea a few blocks from the museum at a place called Boba Guys.
I explored Haight Ashbury for a bit one day as well, but I wasn’t super impressed with it. I think I had my heart set on a hippie haven, but it was more run down and riddle with homeless people. I went to a brewery down there called Magnolia Brewing, which was okay. Not stellar by any means. Of all the areas I traveled to within San Francisco, The Castro had to be my absolute favorite. I got there and lived my best gay life. There are rainbow crosswalks guys. RAINBOW CROSSWALKS. I also went to Mission Dolores Park and sat on the hill overlooking San Francisco. It was beautiful.
And of course I went to the Golden Gate bridge like a good lil tourist! It was pretty breathtaking as well.
All in all, my trip was pretty spectacular. Part of me wished I picked one city to focus on instead of three to spend short amounts of time in, but now I know where I want to spend more time in the future. Every time I go off on an adventure like this it reminds me why I love traveling so much, you get to discover new territory and you get to discover new parts of yourself. It is pretty magical.