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Saturday, September 20, 2014

The LaRowe's Second Visit to Portland, OR

The first time Greg's parents, David & Linda LaRowe, came to visit us in Portland it was well into the third week of October, 2012. We had warned them about the strong possibility of inclement weather and, while they were making their travel plans, had encouraged them to visit closer to our summer months (July-September). Despite our best efforts, they stuck to their plan, and ultimately paid the price for it in terms of their overall experience.

I wrote a series of blog posts about our adventures that week, which make for a quite enjoyable bit of reading if I do say so myself! Just click the five links below and each post should open in a separate tab/window in your browser:
http://smartt-adventures.blogspot.com/2012/11/experiencing-four-seasons-in-one-week.html
http://smartt-adventures.blogspot.com/2012/11/experiencing-four-seasons-in-one-week_23.html
http://smartt-adventures.blogspot.com/2012/11/experiencing-four-seasons-in-one-week_28.html
http://smartt-adventures.blogspot.com/2012/12/experiencing-four-seasons-in-one-week.html
http://smartt-adventures.blogspot.com/2012/12/experiencing-four-seasons-in-one-week_16.html

If you read the above posts, you'll understand why the LaRowe's chose August 20-28, 2014 for their second visit. Their flight arrived very late on the 20th and was scheduled to leave mid-morning on the 28th so ultimately they had seven full days to explore. They also chose to stay closer to our current residence in Irvington, spending a couple of nights near Lloyd Center, a couple of nights here with us in the garden unit at Irvington House, followed by two nights at Crater Lake in southern Oregon.

Thankfully, the weather was pretty much perfect! Daytime temperatures here in Portland ranged from the low to upper 80's and it cooled down to the upper 50's at night. It was sunny with a few clouds and a nice breeze was blowing most days. Since we had done "The Grand Tour" during their previous visit, we decided to see some different, lesser known places this time around.

Thursday, August 21st
Greg took today and tomorrow off work to spend more time with his parents. Since they had gotten in around midnight on Wednesday, we didn't want to be too aggressive with our sightseeing plan for their first day here. We decided to start out in Canby, about 30 miles south of Portland, at Swan Island Dahlias. The peak blooming season is August and September, and the grounds are free to stroll around and take pictures. We even lucked out and caught a glimpse of Mt Hood from the fields!

From there we headed north to Oregon City, the first incorporated U.S. city west of the Rocky Mountains (1844). After a quick stop at the Willamette Falls viewpoint, we left the car in the upper town, had lunch, then took a nice walk through historic lower town via the iconic Municipal Elevator. We also visited the free Museum of the Oregon Territory, then walked back to the car via the McLoughlin Promenade. After a quick stop for a beer at Breakside Brewery in Milwaukie, we arrived back in Portland for dinner at Milo's City Cafe.

Friday, August 22nd
We left the house around 9:30am as we were heading to the coast for the day. Our first stop was for brunch at Crescent Cafe in McMinnville. We all enjoyed our "scramble special" then burned a few calories by exploring the small town on foot. Of course, I couldn't resist a quick stop at Grain Station Brew Works, where we all shared a sampler tray of the 10 beers they had on tap.

We arrived at the coast, specifically Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City, around 2pm. Dave wanted to try his luck at poker, so we killed about an hour there (final outcome: Dave won over $100, Greg lost $10 at video poker, Linda lost about $5 at the nickel slots, I just watched) before driving to Cape Kiwanda. The minute we parked the car I saw whales spouting in front of Haystack Rock! We spent the next hour watching the dories come in, dogs playing in the surf, and looking for whales. Then we had beer and onion rings at Pelican Brewing Company before continuing north.

We stopped at several viewpoints along the Three Capes Scenic Drive, ultimately terminating at Cape Meares. We hiked around the lighthouse, marveled at all of the Common Murres, enjoyed the view of Three Arch Rocks, and debated the origins of the Octopus Tree. By then it was already 6:30pm, so we headed inland and stopped in Tillamook for dinner. I believe we got home around 9:30pm, tired, but I think we all had a wonderful day!

Saturday, August 23rd
Greg had a long training run this morning in preparation for the Portland Marathon so I cooked us all a hearty breakfast and then Linda & I cleaned the garden unit so they could move in for the next couple of nights. I worked on an Oregon Beer Growler assignment while everyone took a siesta, then we headed out by mid-afternoon to do some local exploring.

When the LaRowe's visited us previously, the flowers in the International Rose Test Garden at Washington Park were way past peak. Since it was a beautiful day, we decided to head up there again so they could see and smell them in full bloom. After an hour or so of oohing and aahing over the multitude of colors and styles, we were ready for a snack at one of Greg's favorite spots - Fire on the Mountain. We shared a basket of wings along with pints of beer, then walked up the street a block to another favorite hangout - The EastBurn. There we all split an uber sondwich & fries and, of course, had another pint of beer. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing on the back patio at Irvington House, enjoying the lovely weather.

Sunday, August 24th
I cooked us another yummy breakfast before we headed out for the day's explorations. We started with a walk in Laurelhurst Park, one of our favorite Portland parks as well as one of the main locations for today's Sunday Parkways activities. Dave & Linda got to sit in a Smart car (care of Car2Go) for the first time and even got free sunglasses! Then we headed out to Sauvie Island to check out the farmland even though we were kind of in between harvest seasons. We still saw plenty of greenery and I enjoyed visiting with the sheep and goats at Bella Organic Farm.

We crossed the St John's bridge and had lunch while watching a bit of the Timbers soccer match. It was too nice to sit inside for long, and I needed to rendezvous with a friend who did me a favor. So we met Rachel at the local McMenamins and had a quick pint, then went for a nice walk in Cathedral Park. Greg couldn't pass up the opportunity to share a taster tray at Occidental Brewing Co. before we headed back down to Irvington to prepare for the week ahead.

Monday-Tuesday, August 25th-26th
I fixed Dave & Linda a light breakfast before they started their drive to Crater Lake. It was a bucket list destination for them, which Greg & I visited a few years ago and agreed it was well-worth the trip. The weather was perfect and they got some wonderful pictures. They even hiked down into the crater for a Volcano Boat Cruise.

Wednesday, August 27th
The LaRowe's returned to Portland around 4pm this afternoon. Since they were scheduled to fly home mid-morning on Thursday, they opted to have one last meal with us and then spend the night at a hotel near the airport. We chose Podnah's Pit for some delicious barbecue, although Greg actually ordered the fried chicken special. We said our goodbyes back at the house, and this time, I think that Dave & Linda truly meant it when they said they had a great trip!

If you'd like to see all of the photos I took during the LaRowe's visit, please click here.
If you just want to see my highlights album, click here.