Friday, February 22, 2008

Feeling Poorly in Portland

Hey, all. Wow, where do I start? I'm in Portland and staying with Becky & John, friends who went on the Rick Steves tour last fall. You should see their house-- it's like the kind you see in Better Homes. John's an architect and designed it. The middle picture above gives some idea of the layout, and Becky even painted cute Pooh quotes on the children's room wall.
The first night John & I ate at a really cool, old-fashioned kind of bar/restaurant that makes their own beers, called the Imbrie Farmhouse. Apparently two brothers, the McMinnemans, have spent the last 20 years buying old places like ranch houses and such and making kick-ass bars out of them. They're all over Oregon. Dan, why didn't we think of that??
Anyway, I had two days to check out Portland. Contrary to all predictions, the weather turned out quite lovely again-- that weather fairy is still with me. In spite of feeling yucky from a cold, I wandered down to the Willamette riverfront, (picture below on right) where they did it right: all along the river is a wide swath of grass and a biking path-- and nothing else. No noisy highways or huge developments, unlike some cities that I could name (that happen to be the Capital of the U.S.!)
I made my way back to the center of town (Pioneer Square) which is a

perfect meeting place (middle picture with statue), and zig-zagged all across the area peeking into shops, stopping for tea, browsing in bookshops and generally just sightseeing. I would have done more but I started really feeling cruddy so I jumped on the wonderful MAX light rail train and limped back to Becky's.
Oh, remember how I couldn't fit my knapsack into the overhead on that first flight, and how it led to problems? This time, flying down from Seattle, I had it all planned out: I took my (rather large) bath kit out of it and put it under the seat, and the rest fit neatly above. Nice solution, huh? Not quite. You see, in all the excitement of flying right past both Mt. Ranier and Mt. St. Helens (this time for once I was able to switch seats to see them) I totally forgot the kit.
It wasn't until I was on the train, just pulling out of the airport that I remembered it. Fuming at my stupidity, I got off at the first stop and waited for another going back. Just as I got back to the United baggage desk a lady had it on the counter and was opening it to see if she could find out who it belonged to! I swear if I come back with my head it'll be a miracle.
Today, the second day, I was feeling even worse and in spite of yet another day of gorgeous weather, decided to stay in and rest. The rest of Portland will have to wait for another time. I did however make a lot of progress on the internet in booking future hotels/hostels.
I also arranged to volunteer at a sanctuary run by Betty Rowe, a 77 year old New Zealand woman who saved lots of wild goats, sheep and other animals on an island off the mainland. She singlehandedly fought stupid government attempts to eradicate the island of these rare Arapawa goats, because they were thought to be pests. Now they're being bred in England & the U.S. but if not for her they might be extinct. It'll be an honor to be able to work with her. I just wonder how I can put all this volunteering to use when I get back!
Next: The San Fran Plan

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