Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Saturday Adventure in Portland

For The Man's birthday this year, he and I drove up to Portland with his parents and met his brother in Beaverton.  We had a great adventure seeing some sights, taking lots of pictures, and even (maybe) finding the perfect dining set.  Aside from the heat and some misadventures driving, it was a very nice day.

We left our little town at 8:00am and were in Portland by a little after 10:00am (stopped in Salem).  Our first grand tour was at Stanton Furniture.  They specialize in unfinished wood, which was exciting for me.  Their showroom had the most amazing selection of smaller tables and very affordable sets.  Well, affordable for someone with a little money.  We're not talking a "Costco special" or anything.  They charge a bit extra to finish the furniture for you, or they sell stains and clear coats that you can apply yourself.  The salesman was a bit chatty, but he seemed honest and didn't try to force a sale (a very refreshing change from last weekend!).

After collecting prices and debating options, we all piled into one car and ventured forth to the Pittock Mansion where we had a lovely picnic on the front lawn.  Shade? check.  Delicious organic grapes (we splurged), croissants,  some special cheeses, and cupcakes in honor of the occasion? check.  Panoramic views of Oregon's largest city? check.  Yeah, pretty sure we didn't miss a single thing on a great picnic.  The tour of the mansion afterward was nice, too.  The Man's family mostly enjoyed the tour, and I sort of strayed from the group in order to take pictures without bothering anyone.  I don't always take the best pictures or know the perfect angles, but it helps to not be rushed in the pursuit of excellence even if I miss the mark a bit.

Statue in dining room at Pittock Mansion
I do believe the mansion was the high point of everyone's day.  By the time we left there the temperature was into the 90s.  As Oregonians (and valley people no less), none of us tolerate heat very well.  Headaches popped up (not me for once), people started getting more testy than they might have been otherwise, and leather car seats? hot hot hot.  "But it's a dry heat" they say... well hot is hot.  I hate hot.  (Mid-November rains? can't wait!!)
small archway at Japanese Gardens
Next up was the Japanese Gardens.  The water and greenery let a special sort of humidity to the stale air, and a full park didn't help matters.  I struggled to take pictures and stay out of other cameras' ways.  The vegetation was beautiful, but I just didn't get a tranquil feeling at all.  The little trickles in the streams were woefully small, and aside from the largest waterfall and coy pond, I was in serious want of water.

large waterfall at Japanese Gardens
We ventured over to the Chinese Gardens in downtown Portland.  While I wish I could say that this was an oasis in the city, it is decidedly not.  I did appreciate the large pond in the center of the park, and the architecture was beautiful.  The rock-lined pathways were stunning.  I really did feel like I was in a Chinese house garden with all of the bamboo and lotus and pretty flowers.  The pavilions have the most intricately carved wooden screens that I'd love to have in my own dream home.  Perhaps I would have enjoyed this garden more if it was twenty degrees cooler, out of direct sunlight, and had cleaner looking water.  Oh, and way fewer bugs.  Not a fan of bugs.

central pond at Lan Su Chinese Gardens
Now all very hungry, we putted down to the Widmer Brewery pub.  The Man requested that for his birthday dinner, and I am never one to get in the way of good schnitzel, so we went.  I opted for a soup/salad dinner with blackened chicken that was zippy without being too spicy.  The chicken and pasta soup was okay, but I'm not sure my meal was really worth $13.  The Man tried a new beer (Rose City Hipster Golden Ale) and really liked it.  In a fit of insanity, I tasted his beer.  Yup, remembered why I don't drink beer.  *shudder

We drove back to Beaverton to drop of his brother, then on to Salem to drop off his parents, then back home to Corvallis.  It was a long day.  We drove a lot.  But we got to see a few new places, eat some new things, and visit with good people.  I call that a successful day.

(P.S. If you are looking for a quiet getaway in the big city, The Grotto is one of my favorite places.  Exceptionally lush, beautiful year-round, and surprisingly quiet.  Oh, and $4 admission? much better than the $10 most of these other places charge.  You can ignore the religious aspect of this special place and visit for the beauty and quietness if you want.  SO pretty.)

1 comment:

MissKris said...

Ahhhhhh...pictures of 'home'! Try and get back to the Pittock Mansion around Christmas time some year. It's amazingly beautiful when it's decorated for the season...tho the religious part of it isn't allowed there. Even so, it's still pretty. Or at least it wasn't in the past. We've been hearing that here in the traditional midwest the whole community goes bonkers at Christmas with public Christmas caroling, all kinds of decorations, etc. Maybe it'll end up looking like something out of "Christmas Story"! I can't wait! I LOVED the Christmases of my childhood! :-)