It was a trip I have been thinking about for years, a journey to Portland and Oregon. Not for any reason in particular but for the fact that I have never been to the corner of the U.S. The last few years have been traumatic what with the ice storm, wildfire, my husband’s cancer, death of family members and all. Along with that we hadn’t seen our son for over a year and half. My grown children make me happy. So the trip was planned months in advance to squeeze between Michael’s scan and his chemo and naturally to mesh with our son Colin’s vacation time. It looked like things we were going to be perfect but then… The storm hit and we had 8 inches of rain in one night and were struck by nearby lightening, not once but twice. It took out 11 appliances and flooded our newly completed room. It was a bit of scramble but we set up repair people, order replacement small appliances and parts and talked to the insurance adjuster. We left the rest in the hands in our capable daughter to deal with and we headed off to Portland.
Our son Colin and his girlfriend Tess traveled by car up from San Francisco and met us at the airport. We had rented a precious house in Hillsboro a short drive from Portland in an amazing flowered neighborhood. We chose (or rather were persuaded by our son to chose it) based on the fact that they had egg laying chickens, a hot tub, two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a fully equipped kitchen. We experienced unusually lovely weather with 6 days of mild temperatures and only one day of cold drizzle.
The Vintage Shops: All the great vintage clothing shops are too numerous to mention. We probably hit 5 of them. Well managed and laid out. Prices are reasonable. The Bins of Goodwill where you buy clothes by the pound. Wash your hands afterwards but we found some pretty fab stuff there.
Pittock Mansion: Most fabulous view of Portland EVER! You can view the mountains and the city. The mansion is beautiful outside and in with marvelous interior details.
The Museum of Contemporary Crafts: The focus on the day we went was Bowls. It is a small museum but sometimes small is better.
Japanese Garden: Tranquil beauty, a meditation while walking through it.
Leach Botanical Garden: We arrived at the blossoming of the Magnolias. Who knew there was so many varieties?
Our Friend’s High-rise Condo: Seeing Portland from the 25 floor with a 270 degree view was awesome. If you don’t have a friend that lives in a highrise in Portland try one of these recommended restaurants for the view.
Portland is REALLY bicycle friendly so if you have one use it but it is also walker friendly. Our friend took us on an 4 1/2 mile walk that took us through the Portland State campus where we got to see the Benson House, stopping at the Keller Fountain Park (now my favorite city fountain ever!) over an array of bridges crossing Williamette River.
Powell’s Books: The rooms are arranged by colors. There are 3 floors and seemingly endless number of books. A book lover’s paradise. I bought a couple of poetry books. Everyone walked out with books.
The Hat Museum: Yes, you must see it. The only way to see it is to reserve a tour. It is $15 a person but if you love hats it is a have to. Our tour lasted 2 hours. You will be thoroughly dipped in the history and etiquette of hats. It is the prettiest neighborhoods of Portland, the Ladd district. One amazing bungalow after another.
Cannon Beach: We grabbed a bite at Sweet Basils in the town for some fabulous fresh crab and headed toward the beach. It was the only cold and drizzly day we had but one MUST walk on Canon Beach or you can’t call it a trip to Oregon. We did our best but then headed down the coast and stop at a friend of a friends rented cottage on the ocean for cocktails. Colin carried all you needed to mix up a variation of great drinks. The folks were extraordinary and amazing to chat with.
Stumptown Comic Fest: I thought this is not going to be my cup of tea. The coolest thing I discovered was all the talented indie comic/ graphic novel artists. Many of them were drawing right on the spot. Who doesn’t love artists?
Where we ate…. Portland is renowned for excellent cuisine. Today with the help of sites like “Yelp” you can find top rated independent local places. You have to love the industrial look that some restaurants take on. One example was The Pizza Research Institute in Eugene, OR where we met for the first time my cousin and his family. I believe it was a converted auto body shop. You order from a menu with a quirky assortment of pizza toppings. My choice was the apple, smoked gouda and walnut pizza. Loved it! In mid-city Portland is Abby’s Table an open kitchen format that features cooking classes. You eat at large stainless steel tables. If you are vegan, dairy or gluten challenged this is your nirvana. I am none of these but still found the food to be very tasty.
On our way to Eugene we stopped in Corvallis where we ate at Nearly Normals fresh, healthy menu. I loved loved the pumpkin tacos!
When you are in Oregon drink Oregon Beer! Its the terrific. We stopped at Ninkasi Brewing in Eugene and bought a sample tasting.
A note about Voodoo Donuts. We went to the one in Eugene just to say we stopped in. I did NOT eat a donuts but Michael & Colin did. I just don’t eat donuts. So if you LOVE donuts go there or just go there because it like going to Chicago and eating Chicago style pizza. In Portland you could wait hours to get in unless, as my sister tells it, you go at 3 in the morning.