Sunday, August 24, 2014

Portland Oregon

August 18-24, 2014:

A very short drive of 30 miles to Columbia River RV Park on the northwestern side of Portland.  It is a large RV campground with close to 200 campsites, totally full, with nice facilities but little to no charm.  In other words a parking lot with lots of road and airport plane noise.  It is convenient however to a park and ride lot about 2 miles away where you can catch the light rail train to downtown Portland and beyond.  Always a compromise ?  We set up, had a quick light lunch and headed for the rial station.  

It happened to be a no pay (free) ride day due to a previous major service disruption (derailment) and we took advantage.  We rode down to center city, got off and walked around with no particular destination in mind.  We saw a bit of the "Pearl" district, found Everett avenue, a Pendleton store where we bought a small Oregon souvenir towel, explored "Powell's Books", (largest new and used bookstore in the world), stopped for a couple of beers and then had a healthy dinner at "Chipoltle". 

Portland has a Chinatown

I must have relatives in the area ?

Portland is also known as the "City of Roses"

Paul Bunyan has also played a big part

Portland's light rail system is a traveling billboard 

A trip back into downtown on the light rail again to do the tourist thing at the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park.  I was surprised that almost everything was still in bloom and beautiful.  I can't imagine a larger, more spectacular Rose Garden.  Next was light rail ride back downtown, then a walk to the "Steel Bridge" (That's what they call it)  and through  the Westside River Park along the Willamette River.  We stumbled onto the world famous "Voodoo Donut shop" with a line outside at at 4 PM, we didn't need a donut that badly. 

So many varieties of Roses

One of my favorites

A small corner of the garden

Shakespeare had a way with words

Yellow is also nice

The Voodoo Donut line

The Steel Bridge over the Willamette River

Portland goes out of its way to promote itself as "weird", using the motto "Keep Portland Weird" and actually the most recent cities we have visited, Seattle and Astoria, also promote their weirdness.  They have all succeeded somewhat, but it does come at a price, so many homeless, so many people begging for money, so many wasted, crazy people wandering around the streets.  The flip side is that the weirdness does add to the artistic character, I think ?  Portland is a city that over indulges a bit, it has a huge number of restaurants and 50 some breweries.  A mild climate, within an hour to the Pacific or the Mountains, the quality of life is high here !

I catch up with my youngest daughter Miranda, Beth and baby Tristen on Wednesday at their apartment near Beaverton.  They recently moved here from Baton Rouge Louisiana, quite different, but they are liking it here.  We end up going to the Rose Test Garden for a while and then downtown to the Pioneer Courthouse area and the food trucks for lunch.  Food trucks are really a happening thing here.  Tristen is going on 3 months old now and is a super quiet baby, no crying or fussing.

Beth with Tristen

Miranda and Tristen

Wide eyed look

Portland has a vibrant live music community (all genres) and for the blues lovers the "Cascade Blues Association".  I went to one of the notable roots music venues, "Duffy's Garage" to hear "Joe McMurrien" play.  He is an incredible Delta, finger picking, slide guitarist with a good voice to match, really great, check him out on youtube !  He was followed by another great band (no idea who they are) with a slender woman vocalist dressed in 1920's flapper attire, doing old 1920-1930's type period music with guitars, violin and washboard backing.  All this and no one was there, I was virtually the only, none musician, customer in the house, very weird.  I hate it when it's like that because I feel I just have to stay to the very end.  I latter realize that it's so dead because there is a big going away party here Friday night for a long time favorite performer, Duffy Bishop.

Joe McMurrien

We took a drive to the Columbia River Gorge area east of Portland which is a beautiful area with huge rocky palisades along the river and many impressive waterfalls, hiking trails and the historic highway.  In fact, this area is rated as the top tourist attraction in Oregon !  I believe it after seeing the crowds at the largest waterfall, Multnomah Falls, which is the second highest year around waterfall in the US. There is an observation area at the base of the falls and a 1.2 mile trail to the top.  Of course we took the trail which was paved, but was steep with 600 feet vertical and 11 switchbacks.  It was worth it in spite of the heavy crowds, the views were great.  Also it was quite amusing to just people watch, the young types doing their poses for the camera, the trail runners who want to show off their stamina, the young guys having to get on the cliff edge to show off for the girls and of course everyone doing "selfies" in front of the falls. We drove the Columbia River Highway which was built in 1916, the first road along the river and a road engineering/building marvel of it's day.  There are several parking lots and picnic areas along the route with trails to the waterfalls and scenic vistas of the Columbia River valley.  A must do is a stop at the Vista House on Crown Point with it's great observation deck, historical exhibits of the area, the construction of the road and recreation area.  Also a good gift shop.

Multnomah Falls

I was concerned about the load capacity of this 1916 bridge

Horsetail Falls

Wahkeens Falls

Friday night, I'm back to Duff's Garage at night, it's totally packed, standing room only.  Duffy Bishop is performing with a back up band of local greats.  She is a veteran performer, well aged, whose claim to fame is a booming Janis Joplin vocal range. In fact, she toured with "Big Brother" (Janis Joplin's band) at one point.  She is a dynamic performer, but I'd much rather hear the Delta blues of Joe McMurrien.  

On Saturday we went to the Saturday Market in Portland, what else ?  It claims to be the largest continuously operating open-air arts and crafts market in the country and it's pretty weird too !  We met my daughter Miranda, Beth and Tristen there and wandered around checking out the Market merchandise, the sights and sounds.

The Saturday Market

Street musicians

Guys looking for weed ?

The water fountain there was a big attraction

Unusual musical instrument

Miranda, Beth, Tristen and Twinkles

Miranda and Tristen

No visit to Portland would be complete without a visit to Union Station which remains a viable Amtrak terminal.  We also visited Cathedral Park in North Portland with it's highly photogenic St. John's Bridge.  Unfortunately the best photo location was closed for a wedding, so my shot was compromised, some days will be like that. Then a final tour around downtown Portland.

The classic St. John Bridge

This is sort of the arched effect desired

Union Station

Another view

I need a car wash !

The Hollywood Theater in the Holly wood section of Portland

Theater details

That's it for for Portland, time to move on.  The next stop is back to the coast at Tillamook, Oregon, home of Tillamook cheese;

Twinkles and Slick


  1. Love the family pix, what a sweet baby! Mark loved the Union Station pictures. We took the train from Seattle through the Oregon Cascades several years ago. The bridges were only as wide as the train wheel base but the views were magnificent!

    1. I would love to take that train ride, a nice benefit for Amtrak employees. The governor took riding passes away from all NJ Transit retirees, one of his big cost saving initiatives ?