Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Back from Portland
This weekend the VOR and I, accompanied by my sister and her hubby, visited No1 son and lady friend out in Portland, OR. A car rental snafu had us (me) accusing my sister of renting the car in Portland, ME but it was sorted out and we were on our way. On our last trip we hit the ocean by driving about an hour and a half west of the city. This year it would be the Columbia Gorge and Mt Hood about the same distance east of Portland.
The normal angst of air travel seems to be minimal in the Portland airport. We remarked on this years ago when the Dr Jekyll Northwest employees surprised us after being herded and barked at by their Mr. Hyde counterparts at Minneapolis/St Paul. The presence of a Powell books outlet and a Rogue Brewery brewpub, both featuring non airport prices by the way, makes the normal airport stress much more manageable. The city itself is also pretty stress free due to its compact size. Both Denver and Portland were at roughly the same point in the early '70's. Portland chose planned growth, defined city boundaries, and mass transit. Denver sprawled out like a fat guy watching the Viking/Cardinals defeat in his Lazy Boy, belly protruding from his Favre jersey, a trail of chips and beer bottles between the kitchen and his chair, and crumbs and empties strewn haphazardly around him. I've spent a bit of time in both cities and I'll take Portland, thanks. We stayed at a brewpub, one of the many McMenimans properties, which is convenient on any number of levels. Portland has 42 operating breweries, making it the national leader. Non beer drinking outdoor activities began with a hike up a waterfall laden creek that flowed down to the Columbia Gorge. The temperate rain forest climate has everything covered with moss and lichens,a pretty radical change from our woods around here, even thought the temps did hover around freezing,which made it feel like home. From there the plan was to hit Mt Hood and the historic Timberline Lodge, one of the more successful uses of 'stimulus money' from the WPA program of the 1930's. We had wanted to do a bit of snowshoeing but temps of 6F combined with wind gusting to 50mph forced us into the bar. We had planned to visit the famous Japanese Garden and Rose Garden in Portland for some hiking as well but the winds and cold followed us down the hill. We opted for some indoor touring at the historic Pittock mansion, one of the founders of the Oregonian newspaper and investor in many of the popular extractive industries of the early 20th century.
Thus concludes the Portland travelogue. We did pass a few kayak shops in Hood River but they were far outstripped by the windsurfing shops. Kayaking and beer drinking overlapped at the Full Sail brewery in Hood River, where a lovely handmade wood strip sea kayak was on display. At 17' x 22" wide with a retractable skeg and flush hatches, it looked like a fine sea kayak and could be yours for a mere $6,500. It was probably good marketing because the more beers I had the better it looked, but in the end we decided to pass. Next year I have a plan formulating in my brain to ski Mt Hood one day and paddle the Pacific the next. The VOR wants to climb Mt. St Helens after hearing No1 son talk about his ascent. Plus, we barely scratched the 42breweries. Looks like we're heading back.