First, a warning: there are *many* links to pictures, places, and things throughout this quite lengthy post. Get your clicking fingers ready. Here we go!
Monday, June 8
We left our house at 3:30 a.m. Eastern time. It was cheaper to fly out of Cincinnati so we knew we had a bit of driving to do, but we made great time (there's NO ONE on the road at that hour!) to the airport. I'd like to thank Uncle Boogie for the parking pass :D We walked to our terminal, got through security without a hitch, and our flight left just after 6 a.m. From Cincinnati to Chicago-O'Hare was only about 50 minutes, and we didn't run into much in the way of turbulence. We did see some awesome storm clouds in-flight! I'm guessing we were somewhere over southern Indiana, I only had my cell phone on me, but here are the clouds we saw:
I thought it looked like a couple of dragons prepared to fight! *lol*
Chicago-O'Hare isn't really as scary (read: confusing) as we initially thought. We were lucky, though, in that our first flight parked at the same terminal from that which our next flight would leave to Portland. We had almost 1 1/2 hours, so we went to Zoot! for breakfast. This cafeteria has a jazz theme, and I found a pic of Ella Fitzgerald (among others)... I snapped this one for Miss Hurricane, who is a fan of the lovely songstress:
(Poor quality on my phone, this is the actual picture they have framed)
Finished eating, it was time to board our next flight and take a nap!
After almost 4 hours of flying, Poseidon looked out the window and looked back at me with eyes the size of half-dollars.... he said "OMG wait til you see this!!" I tried to look over him but the angle was wrong (and I'd slept funny Saturday, so my neck was hurting). A few minutes later he poked me again and said "look." We were flying *right next to* Mount Hood. Again, cell phone pics:
See how big this mountain is?! I've obviously only ever seen foothills in comparison! Compare here: The Appalachains, near us, VS. The Cascades, which contains Mt. Hood. Freaking amazing. We landed, found our way to the rental car, and managed to find the hotel. It was only 10:30 a.m. Pacific, but my body was thinking it was late for lunch. My first order of business was to unload the bags and find some food! Thanks to an online friend - LatteLover - we found a Burgerville. Poseidon said it was the best burger he'd ever had; I went with a grilled-cheese, asparagus and tomato sandwich. That was *really* good too! (i.e. I'm going to be making that at home, it seemed pretty easy.) We just came back to the hotel after lunch, and it was still only 3 p.m.... so we took a two-hour nap.
Woke up around 5, made a pot of hotel coffee (hey, it worked) and tried to decide what to do that evening. After some time online to orientate ourselves, we thought 'we'll just drive down this road toward downtown and see what we find'. It turned out to be a great idea, and what we found was this.... The Pittock Mansion. Here are 56 of our pictures.
Pittock Mansion Set
(Notice: There is a slideshow option for every photo link I'm giving you, or you can view the photos individually and read the descriptions I gave them. For this set, slideshow is best.)
Did you see it? We had walked around the back of the mansion and saw the view - it was just awesome. Then, we both happened to look at the same spot at the same time - we saw Mt. Hood! I'm kinda pointing toward Mt. Hood, if you can see the wee pinkish triangle through the clouds.
I asked Poseidon *nicely* to crop me out of that picture. :grumble: Thanks, honey. Anyway, I was trying to point at Mt. Hood... didn't quite achieve the effect I was hoping for but you get the idea.
Tuesday, June 9
We decided the night before to get up relatively early (7:00) and head out to Astoria. Poseidon's friend Lee suggested we go visit, and wow it was a great suggestion! We got on the road around 8:30. Now, it's a long drive from Portland to Astoria - about 2 hours - but we were in no rush at all and didn't mind the drive. We left Portland and headed north on I-5 into Washington. Oh man, this bridge that we crossed was longer than any either of us had ever crossed to date. And talk about awesome scenery! The Columbia River is huge and has islands scattered along the length of it. Reference point for anyone who knows the area - our hotel was right next to this bridge, and to Government Island.
So, Washington state is pretty beautiful. And, a sign from back home, there was a little construction on the I-5 so we got to see some orange barrels. *lol* They look the same out here, but really, they are just about the only thing out here that look the same as "what we have back home"! After a while we took an exit which led to a bridge and back into Oregon, still heading west. Most of this drive was basically through en evergreen forest... it was nice and shady and cool most of the way, and was still only about 10 a.m. Along the way, ODOT has specific viewpoints - you can exit the highway to a pulloff and park to look around and get some pictures of the scenery. We did that a couple of times; here's a link:
Portland to Astoria Set
Those pictures were taken when we were just about halfway to Astoria.
More highway driving and we finally reached Astoria, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. We weren't too sure where exactly we were going, but I had seen a sign that mentioned a maritime museum. That sounded fun to both of us, and we followed the signs to the Columbia River Maritime Museum. Here are those pictures:
Astoria Set - best viewed individually for the descriptions and info signs.
Oh, before we left home, Lee had given us a sealed envelope that said "open when you get to Astoria". He also told us about a place called Josephson's and said we had to go there to eat. Once we discovered that Josephson's is only a deli - and we were already hungry enough to want more than just a sandwich - we decided to go around back to a place called The Ship Inn. This was about the time I remembered that Lee gave us an envelope to open here! (You ladies know how it is - stick something in your purse and who knows when you may see it again! *lol* )
In the envelope was a bit of money with a note that read, "Lunch is on me. Enjoy! -Lee". So thank you, Lee, for our wonderful lunch at The Ship Inn!
After eating we walked around the town for a little bit. They still use a trolley that runs along the riverside - $1 rides or $2 all day ticket! We thought the kids would love that, so we'll remember it for our next trip out here.
Another online friend - Korwynne - suggested that we visit the Lewis & Clark National Park and see Fort Clatsop. I'd told her that he's a history buff, and she hit that nail on the head... he loved it there! (I did too) Now, since Mister Twister had learned about L&C at the end of this school year, I made sure to take a lot of pictures for him too. Any boy, or tomboy even, would love a little fort or treehouse like this place - it was really cool. They also had a boardwalk out to where they put-in on the river. Most of these pics are self-explanatory :-)
Lewis & Clark National Park set - slideshow is fine with this set.
We continued to drive down the coast a bit to find Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach. I'd never heard of this huge rock, so P told me a little about it. I'll just link you to what he basically said about Haystack Rock... and show you our pictures of Cannon Beach. Bonus: there are two videos in this set!
Cannon Beach set - you may want to view them individually so you can watch the videos too. Each video is about 30 seconds long.
This was a long day of driving. The scenery is absolutely beautiful; I've never seen anything like it. Since it had been a long day, we went back to the hotel. Intended to take an hour-long nap and we both slept for *three* hours. Oops... figured the kids were already in bed so we didn't call them, but we did go out for a late dinner and tried to make loose plans for the next day.
Wednesday, June 10
We had intended to get up kind of early, shooting for around 8 a.m. I don't think either of us got up before 10. LOL Tuesday was a seriously long day! We decided to just stick around Portland proper today. I was told about Pioneer Square and we'd already seen that Portland is very much a walkable city. So, after some coffee, we walked next door to Elmer's for lunch just before noon. It was a nice enough meal and atmosphere, kind of reminded me of a Perkins or Denny's restaurant. Our hotel was situated right across the street from a thrift shop so we went in and walked around. Didn't really see anything worth bringing back home, I guess thrifts are pretty much the same all over the country! We grabbed our map and headed downtown.
Once we found a parking garage, we walked around a bit to orientate ourselves. Walked past a fiddler on the street (he sounded good, too), had a few broke college kids ask for money, figured out where the actual Square was, and decided to go on a self-guided tour of the courthouse. It's a pretty neat building; after going through the metal detector (which my forgotten cell phone set off; I got to walk through it twice! *lol* ), the US Marshal at the door gave us a quick speech about the history of the building, where we were allowed to go inside, and what we could and couldn't photograph. Here is a link for the courthouse, it's the largest Appeals Court in the US; and here are the pictures I took inside. Side note to Mom ~ it's pronounced [KYOO - puh - luh]. :D Learn something new every day!
More walking outside until we found Pioneer Place Mall. Oh, as soon as we can get back to Portland, we have to take Miss Hurricane to the Sanrio store inside. That is where we picked up a gift from our trip for her! I'll get a pic soon. She's already filling it and it's probably living under the bed by now. *lol*
After leaving the mall we needed some coffee. Seattle is known for coffee everywhere, but I'd bet that Portland comes in 2nd place. We found a Starbucks on the way to the car and sat outside with our cups. We'd hoped to find Powell's Books but never did. That's on the to-do list for our next trip!
Now the exciting part.... in trying to get back to our hotel from the garage, and with many one-way streets in front of me, we got lost. Whoever said that 'most married couples fight about money' didn't think about us! LOL We had a wee spat about where we were and how to get where we wanted to go - luckily for me, Dad taught me a trick to driving through large and confusing cities *years* ago... and eventually, we did find a road that would take us back to our hotel. Thank you, Dad. :D We brought Burgerville back to eat and went to bed.
Thursday, June 11
We went to bed early so we could get up and ready early today. Lee told us we had to drive the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway, so we had the hotel breakfast and were on the road by 8:30 a.m. There isn't really much to say about the drive, just look at the pictures.... Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway set
Just gorgeous. Mind-blowingly awesome. I also have video clips of the waterfalls we stopped to see; they're all labeled at the end of the Waterfalls set.
At the Locks, we actually ran into a Native American teenager (he may have been about 20 at the most) who (we guess) was checking out his fishing platform. Native Americans are the only people still allowed to fish for salmon with nets, as they've been doing for thousands of years. From a Cascade Locks website: "Native Americans fish from platforms and skillfully land the fish while balancing on the end of the plank." Poseidon knew what I was taking a picture of before I did, but that's pretty much what he said it was too. We all nodded to each other, P told him 'it's beautiful out here', and he walked on back up to his home I guess. We didn't want to bother him (or anyone else there) by chatting it up.
There is something there they call "The Bridge of the Gods". Here's the modern bridge story (click here). Read that entire link, it won't take long. Oh, there's a video clip too. The wind was blowing at *easily* 30 MPH sustained. SUSTAINED wind, not gusts. My hair hit me in the eye quite a few times! Watch this 30-second clip and listen to the wind... it's all you'll hear, but you can get a sense of just how crazy the wind is there. Keep an eye on the eddies out in the river too.
Cascade Locks video
It was late by this time, so back to the hotel for us. We started packing everything up, as we had to check out the next day. We went ahead and made a plan for when we'd leave, where we'd go, and what we'd do Friday....
Friday, June 12
I woke up at 6:30, P was up around 7 a.m. We showered and dressed, and packed up everything. Downstairs to have the complimentary breakfast and back upstairs (4th floor room, did I mention that?) to make triple-sure that we had *everything* ready to go. Check-out time was noon, but we wanted to go to McMinnville and see the "Spruce Goose". We turned in our room key and were on the road by 9 a.m., headed for McMinnville. We got hungry again on the way and stopped at Burgerville.... have I told you, this place has great food for fast food?!? I like the Tillamook Cheeseburger.... mmm....
Oh, sorry... in McMinnville is the Evergreen Aviation Museum. Having grown up near Wright Patterson AFB, I've been to the USAF Museum there a few times in my life. So I enjoy airplanes and stuff. I also told Dad that I'd be seeing the Spruce Goose and promised many photos just for him and Mister Twister. How lucky that I married a man who *also* enjoys aviation history! This wooden airplane is H-U-G-E. You really do have to see it to believe the enormity of it. There's a bit of it in almost every picture I took, but I do not have a camera that will take one picture of the whole plane. It's amazing. We kept looking at the plane, then each other, then the plane, slack-jawed at its size! I did get a couple of info sheets which list its dimensions... but it's wider than a 747 from wingtip to wingtip. It has 8 engines. Look for pieces of it in the pictures as you scroll through, I've labeled the pictures that only contain this aircraft.
Evergreen Aviation Museum set
After a good 2 hours at Evergreen, we headed back to Portland. It was only around 1:30 p.m., and our flight home was the redeye... we had some time on our hands. So we hauled out the trusty map and said 'let's go here, we haven't driven in this area yet'. Great idea, actually... we found the Hoyt Arboretum. We decided that we'd see the gardens and the zoo on our next visit, which will include the kids and be more fun with them anyway. We walked around the Vietnam Veterans Memorial which is shaped kind of like a labyrinth, and took pictures of plants and trees we've never seen. Up the hill is Pittock Mansion, so we stopped for more pictures and the hope of a better view of Mt. Hood. No luck with respect to the mountain, but I did get close-ups of some flowers I thought you all would like to see. Click to see the Portland Scenery set
This drive eventually took us west out of the city. We saw a bridge that we hadn't seen before, and tried to find it. I only passed it by about 2 miles so we turned around and went over this bridge, St. John's Bridge. Oh. My. Goodness. This bridge was so high. Probably not that bad in comparison to the other bridges over the Willamette, but it was big compared to those around here. (Make sure you scroll down to the bottom of that link, there is a great picture you should see!) Now across the river, we were in an area we didn't know, and which was hiding under the legend on our map.... we stopped in a post office parking lot (it was already sometime after 6) and tried to guess whereabouts we were. We decided to continue down this avenue until we saw some other street name, and eventually did find ourselves on the map. From there it was easy. :D We had dinner, drove around the more familiar areas again, and just tried to waste time before going to the airport.
Our flight home was due to takeoff after midnight, and the car was due back the next afternoon, but we just didn't know where else to go at that hour! We got to the airport between 8:30 and 9, checked our one bag, and walked around the food court for more coffee. Then we sat by the main entrance, close to the smoking area, so we could put off security until it was *time to go*.
Did you ever watch Mystery Science Theater 3000? The main terminal at PDX allowed us to pretend *we* were the MST3K cast for a couple hours. It was really entertaining, watching all the people coming and going, and making up our own commentary for everyone.... then we started getting sleepy. Coffee People in the food court was open until 11 so we grabbed another cup, went through security to our gate, and waited. Our flight was delayed inbound so we didn't actually takeoff until almost 1:30 a.m., but that did not cause us to miss our connection and we got back home - to our house - just after noon on Saturday. We called Poseidon's mom (who kept the kids all week) and asked if we could sleep and pick them up Sunday. She was cool with that, and we were able to sleep off some jet lag.
I hope you enjoyed our vacation through pictures and video as much as we did! We will definitely be visiting Oregon again!!