We were scheduled to visit family for my Grandmother’s memorial service. Since this blog is mostly for my family, I’ll leave out those details. (They all know how wonderful it is to reacquaint, BBQ, and enjoy our time together.) Unfortunately, Birdy had a training in Portland that weekend, and was unavailable for the festivities. However, we took advantage of that by taking in some of the sights.
It all started on Thursday, when we made a direct trip in my little Ford Focus. With two adults and T-Bear, we didn’t have to take many breaks, which is quite a treat! We arrived late afternoon, as rush hour was just getting started. I’ve stayed in the city multiple times for varying occasions, using everything from the Motel 6 to the waterfront Marriott. After copious amounts of research, I have settled on one place I like to stay (unless the conference is in the same building). The Comfort Inn on 82nd is now my go-to for every occasion. It’s easy to get on & off the interstate, fenced, a block from a mass transit station, and has a great breakfast in-house. It’s nicer and more expensive than the economy solutions, but not outrageous either.
Birdy wasn’t real comfortable with riding the MAX (Portland’s light-rail) system, so we decided to take a practice ride. We walked a block over the interstate to the platform where 3/4 off all the lines stop. (Bus station at the top, too!) With a $5 all-day pass, the three of us walked down the steps to the platform, and waited for the ‘green’ train. This took us across the river to the Pearl District in a mere 15 minutes.
We got off at the first stop (there are many down town) and explored on foot. Our first stop (as we gawked at everything) was Powell’s book store. This place is an experience in itself. The building is an entire city block, with its own color-coded map of the building, so you can navigate its floors & sections. TBear got books for his new favorite series, Birdy filled out her collection of Cosgrove’s “Serenity” stories, and I got a Minecraft manual for the kids.
After that we meandered down past parks and “China Town” seeing all manner of homeless people, and the diverse attributes they exhibit. While I was on-guard, constantly looking around and maintaining “situational awareness” I only felt threatened once. In part, this is because there were plenty of law enforcement around, and also because I’m a sizable male staying aware. I took many opportunities to give counsel to Tbear, as I feel navigating a big city is an important life-skill.
On our way back, we stopped off at the Lloyd Center, which is the biggest mall I have ever been to. We marveled at the skating rink before heading up to the third floor food court for some dinner. I had BBQ, Tbear had some southern bourbon chicken, while Birdy enjoyed Japanese fare. Next, TBear took a ride on the virtual reality booth. (He used his own money here & at the bookstore.) We did a little more shopping before heading back to the hotel.
Friday morning we headed down to join the family for a celebration of life. On Saturday we visited others, and picked up Queen Marie (who had been staying in that area) and brought her with us back to Portland. Saturday night, we again rode the MAX, this time getting the 2.5-hour pass for $2.50 each. (Children are cheaper.)
We did more of the same, walking around different areas of downtown. The Deschutes Brewery was our chosen venue, but their line was oozing all over the streets, so we settled on gourmet pizza place instead. The service was fast, and we ate on the sidewalk while a transient showed off their “flare.”
We walked past limos, parties, and Birdy stopped to enjoy the Roma-like music floating out of an art gallery. Our next destination was VooDoo doughnuts, THE source for awesome, eclectic pastries. The line was intimidating, but only took 20 minutes on a busy Saturday night. (Pretty good, if you ask me.) The prices are high, but it’s an experience like everything we were doing.
Tbear and I each bought some incense sticks from a guy at the mission, fundraising to fight gang violence. With the smell and sights of unknown bodily fluids, homeless, & mentally ill, one of the kids said, “…AAND… That’s why you don’t do drugs, kids!” We all had a little laugh, but I was glad it sunk in.
In the morning, we enjoyed breakfast and hit the road. Again, we seldom stopped, except for a fruit stand in the Maryhill area. Here we stocked up on fresh fruit and Walla Walla onions. Well, that’s all for this edition, thanks for reading!