Betty and I will need a vacation after we get home from Oregon in a few weeks. Our social calendar and "what we want to do and see" list is never this full at home. Not even one week into the trip and we are having the time of our lives with dear, dear friends made during our visit to Portland last year. Still to come is a dinner with Mike and Tamara Reddy, another blogging buddy and husband we are so anxious to meet and turn into real face-to-face friends.
In 5 days so far we have:
* Been met at the airport and had lunch with Galen Pearl. Betty and Galen are having "girl time" in a few days to have a foot and hand massage while I am being left to explore the Broadway area of Northeast Portland. Later this week we will join up with Galen for a dinner with her daughter's boyfriend's mother who is visiting from China and wants to prepare an authentic meal for us.
* Had dinner with Barb and Earl Torris at the fabulous Rock Creek Tavern. In the next few days we will join them at a minor league ballgame and enjoy a local farmer's market.
* Driven to and from the old port city of Astoria. Part of the trip took us through walls of trees, bathed in fog and low clouds....things we never experience at home. It was heavenly!
* Visited the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park which includes Fort Clatsop. Betty picked up a patch for her collection while I had our National Parks passport stamped and bought a book about Lewis and Clark.
* Found a park just 3 minutes from our condo that includes ponds, fountains, and paths that wind through manicured grounds.
* Been to an outdoor concert in a park in Hillsboro. Listening to a jazz/pop group was the perfect end to that day.
* Fell in love with the convenience of the light rail and trolley system. I would buy a lifetime pass and rarely ever get in a car again if this were available at home. We picked up the light rail 5 minutes from our condo and were in downtown Portland in 35 minutes. From there we hoped on a trolley for a ride through virtually all of the important downtown areas. Since I wasn't driving I actually got to look at the sights and didn't have to worry about one-way streets and parking. It is an amazing value for $5 ($2 for me as an "honored" senior citizen!)
* Explored Portland neighborhoods, filled with charm, funk, and coffee (in equal measure). There are roughly 100 more to explore and savor.
* Hiked in the massive Forest Park and being awed by the primeval feel of the place. At some 5,000 acres and 70 miles of trails, we could visit here every weekend for a year and never run out of new places to walk.
* Had lunch on a floating restaurant, The Island Cafe, overlooking a marina on an island in the Columbia River. Watching the sail and power boats come and go while we sat by the water, listened to Jimmy Buffet music, and ate was delightful.
We have checked out several RV parks for future use and found two that especially caught our eye: Jantzen Beach RV Park and Portland Fairview RV Park. Both have well-spaced sites, plenty of trees and greenery, and friendly managers. The Portland Fairview Park is a little too far east of town if spending time in Portland is the goal, but would be perfect as a home base for the Columbia River Gorge area.
Two other parks included the Columbia River RV Park which was clean and looked to be well maintained but could benefit from some trees or landscaping. Pheasant Ridge was one of the prettiest RV parks we have seen, but it was 30 minutes south of town, making it inconvenient for our purposes.
Our youngest daughter will join us in another week. She is giving thought to relocation to a place cooler and wetter than Phoenix; Portland is high on her list. By then, Betty and I will be accomplished tour guides to show her the best this beautiful and energetic city has to offer.
Portland captivated us a year ago and time has only made our hearts grow fonder. The friendships we have made here feel like they have been building for a lifetime, not just over a few weeks.
There is a local saying: "Keep Portland Weird."
We have our own: "Keep Portland In Our Life."