The Grand Pacific Northwest Adventure, Part 2 of 3: Portland, OR

Subtitle: Gardens, Gorges & Gabbing (July 3-6, 2012)

When we last left the GPNWAers Jenn & Jodi, they were working on getting Jenn to Seattle so they could drive south to Portland. 

Ok, back to the first person.  Whilst Jenn was languishing at the Minnesota airport, I spent the afternoon lazing about in our lovely hotel room.  Eventually, I got bored and decided to go see a movie.  It was Snow White and the Huntsman, which wasn’t really worth remembering, despite the hotness of Chris Hemsworth.  Jenn finally arrived about 11pm and that was the end of that night.

Before heading to Portland, Jenn and I spent a couple of hours back at the Pike Place Market, and I got to see Seattle with the sun out!  At the fish counter, the fish guy tried to sell us a 20 pound salmon.  We declined, and went with the 2lb filet instead.  Some fresh berries for the road, some pepper jelly for good measure, and we set off, heading South to Portland.

The drive down wasn’t very remarkable, except when large mountains appeared suddenly.  That was cool.  We spent the afternoon with a mutual friend & his friends celebrating the 4th of July by eating and drinking, and then found our way to our absolutely charming little B&B on Clinton Street (Tripadvisor comes through again!).  I think we both could have passed out, but we hauled ourselves into the car and ventured downtown to try to go to the legendary Powell’s book store, but it was closed.  We parked and headed to the river to watch the fireworks.  It’s always good to have your patriotism juiced by lots of explosions.

The next morning, we had a great breakfast cooked by our B&B owners.  Our tablemates hailed from San Francisco, Germany and Belgium.  Awesome.  Then it was off to begin our “Day of Nature.”  We started with the Portland Japanese Garden, which was, no pun intended, the zen-ist place I’ve ever experienced.  Seriously, I could feel my blood pressure go down the further in there we went.  It was a marvel of garden design and contrast in textures.  There were benches everywhere, and more than once I found myself just, well, sitting.  Doing nothing but sitting and looking around me.  We’ve gotta get one of those in Arkansas.  Except for the climate difference, I don’t see why we couldn’t have one! After all, climate is a minor detail, right?

Down the hill was the International Rose Test Garden, probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.  Roses.  Everywhere.  Every color under the sun.  Decades worth of award-winning roses, all in one place.  It was one of those places that are designed beautifully, with wide lanes so kids could run and play and not bother the adults like me who had our noses stuck in the roses.  We also ventured up to Pittock Mansion, where we could see incredible views of Mts Hood & St. Helens.

Lunch was at a great place in The Pearl District called Bridgeport Brew Pub where we sampled some yummy beer and had some tasty trendy food.

Next, we headed out to the Columbia River Gorge with intentions to visit Multnomah Falls.  Due to a little miscommunication with Google Maps, we would up on the wrong side of the Gorge.  This actually turned out just fine, as we enjoyed a gorgeous drive and we got to cross The Bridge of the Gods ($1 seemed a cheap price to pay) to get to the other side of river.  Then we headed back to where were supposed to be, and found our way to Multnomah Falls.  The Falls are stunning, but they are really close to the highway!  I kept thinking we should have had to do more than drive and park.  At least a 1/4 mile hike or something?  But regardless, it was amazing.

Then it was back to Portland for dinner and drinks with another mutual friend.  That took us back to her house, and we sat around her backyard talking until it was too dark to see each other.  Gotta love Bolzies (alums of the Bolz Center for Arts Administration); we can always just lapse right back into our conversations about art and culture as if we were still at the Terrace in Madison.  Somehow, Jenn & I decided we needed donuts, so we visited Tonalli’s Donuts & Cream (It was not the vaunted VooDoo donuts, but yum!!) and then called it a night.

The next morning we were a little slow getting on the road, after another great meal at our B&B.  We eventually made it back to Seattle, where we stopped for some Serious Pie for us and gas for the car, and then north we went to Vancouver.

To be continued…but first, I couldn’t have a blog about Portland without the obligatory photo of Mt. Hood.  It’s there, I promise.  Way off in the distance.  🙂

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