Friday, November 23, 2012

Experiencing the Four Seasons in One Week - Days 1 & 2

The title of this post is a bit on an exaggeration, but only slightly. Greg's parents, Linda & Dave LaRowe, flew into Portland on Wednesday, October 17th for a week-long visit. We had encouraged them to come in September to take advantage of the nicer weather, but this was the week that worked best with their schedules. I made sure to send them several emails emphasizing that it would be rainy & cool while they were here, telling them to dress in layers, bring rain gear, and wear comfortable shoes.

They had requested in advance that I be their tour guide and had provided a list of things they wanted to see or do while they were here. There are so many things to do in Portland, I could easily keep visitors busy for a whole week just in our metro area. But anyone who has never been here before always wants to see the mountains, the Columbia River Gorge, and usually the coast, too. When you factor in that two of the days are travel days (cross-country flights and no non-stops from Nashville), that means they were going to have to hit the ground running if they wanted to get a taste of everything our hometown has to offer. So that's just what we did!

As only one day of their visit was forecast to be warm & sunny, I had to consider that when I plotted out their itinerary. Also, Greg took Friday off work and he wanted to go with us on the days we visited Mount St. Helens and the coast. Because each of those days involves many hours of driving, I then alternated those trips as well as the excursion to the Gorge & Mt. Hood with days where we would stay closer to home. Thus there wasn't much discussion about what to do when.

On Wednesday afternoon, I took the MAX to the airport to greet Linda & Dave and help them navigate to their hotel (which was in Troutdale; a cost-saving measure that added 20-30 minutes on both ends to their daily commute). Then we met up with Greg at our house and ate dinner together at a local Lebanese restaurant. From there we split up, with the men taking the bus & streetcar to the Rose Garden for a Trailblazers pre-season game and Linda & I taking a bus downtown for the White Bird performance of Vertical Road by Akram Khan Dance Company. We all met back up at our house but by then it was late and time for the LaRowe's to head back to their hotel for the night.
Did they really bring this much stuff??? Yes, but half of it was for me!
Thursday was the one day predicted to be sunny and dry so I knew we had to take advantage of what might be the only opportunity to get a nice view of the mountains around Portland. My favorite way to introduce visitors to our city is with a self-guided streetcar tour. So we parked the rental car in Northwest Portland and hopped on the streetcar, riding all the way to South Waterfront.
map reading & sightseeing on the Portland Streetcar
Then we boarded the aerial tram at OHSU for the scenic ride up to Marquam Hill with excellent views of downtown Portland and Mt. Hood. It was actually clear enough that we could see Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. Rainier!
view of Mt. Hood & the Aerial Tram from Marquam Hill
We returned to the waterfront and boarded another streetcar back to Northwest. There we walked around the neighborhood awhile, enjoying the architecturally diverse homes and fall greenery, before going to a local brewery for lunch.
Linda was willing to try several of the beers at Pyramid Breweries/MacTarnahan's Taproom
Our next stop was Pittock Mansion, where we didn't pay for the interior tour but took advantage of the free public access to the gardens for more excellent views of Portland and the mountains.
From there it was a short drive to the International Rose Test Gardens at Washington Park. While certainly past their peak, there were still many colorful roses in bloom for us to photograph and sniff.
Continuing with the garden theme, we hiked up to the Portland Japanese Garden where we enjoyed the quiet walking paths and fall colors.
As it was finally time for Greg to get off work we picked him up from his downtown office and headed to his choice of dinner spot, Hopworks Urban Brewery. Wow, that's two breweries in one day (certainly not a record for Greg & I but possibly one for the LaRowe's)!
I can't believe they're making us drink all of this beer!
I will close this post here and continue our adventures in my next two posts. If you just want to look at all of the pictures I took during their visit, the link is embedded in this post's title. Just click on it!

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