We're back from a lovely trip to Portland, Oregon over the holiday weekend. Debbi came with me to visit our friend Karen, her first trip to this northwestern city. The plan was just to have a fun, relaxing weekend for all three of us, with one exception (but only to the "relaxing" part).
We flew Southwest, which is our airline of choice around the west these days. We learned from Karen that the trick to riding "cattle-car airlines" (where there's no assigned seating) is to check in on-line at least a day in advance, to increase your chances of getting in the group that goes on the plane first. We flew up on Saturday afternoon, and with the full flight I wish we'd known that trick beforehand. But, oh well!
Saturday was a laid-back day as we visited Karen's current house (she's moved since last time I visited), and we ambled down to a nearby Italian restaurant for some pretty good food. The only downside is that the weekend started off darned hot - highs well into the 80s - and didn't cool down until after dark. We also made a trip to massive Portland superstore Fred Meyer, where among other things we picked up some flowers for Karen's window boxes for me to plant sometime during the weekend.
Saturday was highlighted by the mandatory trip to Powell's, where I spent a couple of hours picking up a big stack of books. I also recommended quite a few science fiction novels to Karen, which should keep her busy for a while. We also had brunch at an absolutely yummy little hole-in-the-wall joint named Fat Albert's - I highly recommend the biscuits-and-gravy, but everything we had there was terrific.
(Click on any of the images to see a larger version)
There are what seem to be rings for anchoring horses in downtown Portland, and to some of these rings someone's tied some tiny toy horses. Debbi took a photo of one which was also attached to a framed poem:
Here are some photos and info about the horses, and a story about the artist, and finally the artist's web page about the project. Pretty neat!
In the evening I met one of my long-time readers, JD Roth. While setting up the meeting I found the first e-mail he sent me, way back in 1998! JD and I share a love of comic books, and indeed I've been contributing to his comics blog, Four Color Comics, for a couple of weeks now. He and his wife Kris are both smart, friendly people, and the five of us had a good time at the restaurant he recommended, Nicholas - which serves middle eastern food - and then a stop for massive desserts at Papa Haydn (mmmm). Both places highly recommended.
I suspect JD and I could become pretty good friends if we saw each other more often (you know, more than, like, once). We might have a chance to hook up in my neck of the woods later this year, though!
After dinner Karen drove Debbi and me to the riverfront where we walked along the lovely shore path, and onto the floating bridge on the esplanade:
We got there around sunset, and so had a terrific view of the west bank with the orange sky behind it. Portland really is lovely!
Sunday our main plan was to get to the Japanese Garden and the Rose Test Gardens. Since visiting the Japanese garden on my last trip I've gone to many such gardens around the Bay Area, but none of them are as diverse, well-maintained and just plain cool as Portland's. Debbi enjoyed the garden, but I think she liked the rose garden even more (though she won't admit it), since it's so colorful. We took many pictures of the various roses.
Karen also showed us her office, and we made time for me to hit Excalibur Comics, which is the best comics shop in Portland, for my money (and it seems to be JD's preferred store as well). I picked up a good bunch of stuff there, adding to my stack from Powell's. Oh, and we went to Powell's on Hawthorne, too, which is nearly as good as the main branch for science fiction.
Karen insisted on taking us to Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge. She took me there once before, and it's still quite a sight:
We wrapped up the day with dinner at a Mexican restaurant which Karen hadn't been to, but which JD had said was okay. The food was decent, plentiful, and inexpensive, and the margaritas weren't bad, either!
Along the way in all of this I planted some flowers in Karen's flower boxes, and also got her AirPort up and running, which turned out to be as easy as I could have hoped. Every time I visit Karen there's something to do!
Tuesday morning featured the reason we flew up to Portland for the weekend in the first place: Debbi and Karen walked the Foot Traffic Flat half-marathon, which is held on Sauvie Island in the Portland vicinity. We got up to Oh-God-Thirty to get there, and the walkers' race started at 7:15, and off they went. Myself, I walked around the start area and took some pictures, and then sat around reading a book until Karen came in. Debbi came in a little later, and was delighted to have made it in less than four hours! Woo-hoo!
Karen was more chipper after the race than I think any of us had expected, but Debbi was pretty wiped, especially since she developed a couple of large blisters which we worked to take care of. Hopefully they won't pose anything more than short-term discomfort. We headed home to shower and relax for a bit.
The night before we'd picked up sausages and fixings for dinner, so in the afternoon I grilled sausages, and Karen set up her patio furniture with the side dishes and we had a nice little BBQ outside.
But alas we did finally have to pack and fly home. The flight was straightforward and even a little early, and Subrata and Susan picked us up at the airport. Debbi collapsed when we got home, I grabbed us some fast food for dinner, and glimpsed some fireworks from my front bedroom window after the sun went down.
Really, we couldn't have asked for a much better Independence Day weekend!
(You can read about my first two trips to visit Karen in Portland here and here.)