Friday, April 27, 2012

Is it too late to talk about Portland?

I do still carry a travel diary; I just don't write in it anymore. 

My 2nd visit to Oregon was much longer than my first.  It occurred this past February, as part of my farewell tour.  Just before the Company instituted an upsell quota, I packed up my sample cases and got the heck out of Dodge.  But not before they paid for a week in Portland.

For the record... I never saw Portland.  So don't ask me if what Fred and Carrie say about it is true.  I'll assume it is.  I did not go to VooDoo Donuts.  (But now they will come to me.)  I did not ride a bike.

In fact, I was put-up in Gresham, (aka Portland East, which is Portland like the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport is Boston) -- near the airport because I don't like to drive too much farther in a rental after I have already flown 3000 miles.  And because maps of other people's towns never make much sense.  This is how I ended up renting my first Boston apartment in Newton, when I did not own a car.  The itinerary was client dinner Monday, client lunch Tuesday, client workday followed by college-pal drinks on Wednesday, attention to the other 10 clients on Thursday, out on Friday.  One thing the fledging Road Warrior learns is to work some weekends in there.  They owe you.

What I thought I was reserving:  1 bedroom suite with kitchen
What I got: 1 King with mini-fridge and microwave.

I like the suite if I am going to live somewhere for a week because it feels so civilized. The complimentary breakfast at these joints can either resemble a Carnival Cruise at 1am or a box of Little Debbie cakes.  You should check those things out before you stop at the Safeway.  But it has been a long trip out, and I didn't want to leave the room once I was in it, so I made a grocery stop before check in.  Fortunately... I wasn't planning on a turkey dinner.  I was planning on dishes and glasses.  So back to The Dollar Store I went (conveniently located next to the Safeway) for $6 worth of hobo bridal setting.  Oh, and some razors because I forgot mine.  The razors you can get at a Dollar Store are horrible, but you get 20!

The other thing the Company owes you is a bottle of wine to live for a week next to Michael's Furniture.  Because it is always next to Michael's.

photo from - might be his; certainly isn't mine.
A Mt. Hood sighting is more rare than images on the Internet would have you believe.  Like most of the big western peaks, Hood has its own atmosphere that it hides behind.  Sunday was also a rare sunny day, and I was treated to a rear-view glimpse sort of like this, though the sky was much cloudier.  Still breath-taking -- I am not made of stone, after all.  Instead, I was up to the Columbia Gorge on the advice of the hotel manager when asked to meet my criteria of (a) close, (b) outdoors, and (c) quintessentially Oregonian.

But I had done some of my own homework.

Been following this blog long?   Beverly Cleary Elementary School stands near Klickitat Street, where it ought to be, and in sight of an unassuming sculpture garden (playground) dedicated to Henry, Ribsy, and Ramona.  Three life-sized statues -- something to do, and take pictures of, and it is true that anywhere you go in Oregon, you'll be more mesmerized by the trees than anything else around them, so you might as well start here.

I had also seen on the map a site simply called The Grotto -- and who doesn't love a grotto?  That's rhetorical, of course (and rather cliched).  I don't care who doesn't love a grotto.  Or Sara Lee.  I was all-in for The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother.  NATIONAL..  How National?  It scored "" as a URL. 

Things to do on your grotto visit:  all of it.  Do it all like Disneyland.  It is a beautiful piece of land, with stunning views, Stations through the woods, a sweet giftshop (grandma-sweet, not skateboard dude-sweet), and a life-sized Pieta in a 100 foot cliff.  I had nearly walked myself ragged, and I hadn't left town yet.

I was not at all prepared to be driving right past Multnomah Falls, familiar to us pencil-necked easterners as the print from The Pottery Barn Catalog.  Imagine you are just driving some scenic byway in your Chevy Malibu and this is what is on the other side of the guardrail.  Of course you would stop.  And if you fancy yourself a skilled hiker, you'll even shrug at the 1.5 miles to the top -- even if you are wearing the wrong kind of coat and shoes, and have no water.
You'll curse all 11 switchbacks, but imagine the climb if they weren't there.
I still intended to get to the Gorge.  Sadly, after the morning I'd had, the gorge was a little anti-climactic.  I do want to plug The Interpretive Center Museum, though, which is a little like a mini-Smithsonian of the Northwest.  By that I mean, that in one small space you'll get pre-European history, town folklore, Lewis and Clark, an actual fishwheel, a steam engine, a lesson in conservation and our fragile environment, and the requisite cheesy museum experience film that sounds loud and moves fast, but never really tells you much you remember the second it's over.  And the world's largest rosary collection.


So, yes, if you're keeping score, I have made it to Washington, but not downtown Portland.   And this post may already be too long to read.  Let's talk about what we ATE tomorrow.


  1. It's never too late to hear about your trip ... anywhere. Maybe another time you can go to Portland.

  2. You make it so real albeit tongue in cheek!! Thanks for the trip. M

  3. It will never be too late to talk about Portland!


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