Last weekend, we took a three-day trip to Portland, Oregon. Previous trips to Oregon have been centered on the coast, and once we visited Crater Lake. This time, it was to experience the downtown and we decided to forego a car. Our hotel, The Benson, is a great place to stay if you intend to walk. It’s a lovely old hotel that opened in 1913, with beautiful Russian walnut woodwork, Italian marble floors and Austrian crystal chandeliers. It was built by lumberman Simon Benson, who we would later learn was responsible for building bridges and roadways around Portland in order to share the natural beauty of the area. You can walk just about anywhere, there is a food cart island a few blocks away, Tom McCall River Park is about six blocks, and for all you fellow bibliophiles, Powell’s City of Books is only about a block away!
Our flight was fine, until about 10 minutes before landing. We hit turbulence, and our plane was rocking! Once we exited the airport, the wind was enough to bowl you over. Our shuttle driver explained that the freeways were a mess as the windstorm (which he said was one of the worst he had experienced) caused power outages and commuter trains were stranded. As the line runs along the freeway, emergency vehicles and buses to evacuate the riders were causing the back-up. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the leisurely drive to the hotel using side streets and getting glimpses of the neighborhoods.
So, our first stop:
We waited in the blustery rain for about 10 minutes before we could gain entrance to the shop. One of the locals told us it is sometimes a 30-minute wait, but guess the weather worked in our favor. Now for the doughnuts. I wasn’t that impressed. Yes, they are bigger by far than any other doughnut, but they didn’t taste any different. Guess I was expecting a wonderful burst of flavor unlike no other. The shop is very cool, though!
The next day, we booked a full-day tour to take us to waterfalls, waterfalls and more waterfalls in the morning, and Mt. Hood in the afternoon. Weather aside, this was a great morning full of natural beauty.
We made our way to the town of Hood River, at the heart of the Columbia Gorge, and stopped for lunch. Hood River is a quaint little town, with beautiful views. We decided on Full Sail Brewery for lunch, and were treated to a covered, heated patio overlooking the river. The menu items all incorporate beer in some way and I recommend the beer-battered salmon fish and chips!
The weather didn’t cooperate, so we weren’t able to make our way to Mt. Hood as it was snowing there. Our guide found a few alternates for us, and one of them was the Bridge of the Gods. The modern bridge is nothing to look at, but the tale behind the ancient natural bridge is so very romantic. The Indian legend is that the natural bridge spanned the river and was destroyed by Tyhee Sahale, who was angry with his two sons for their love triangle with a beautiful woman. They perished when Tyhee Sahale destroyed the bridge, and the spirits of the sons and the woman created the Cascades, specifically Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St. Helens (the woman). Wish the picture was better, but you get the idea.
We spent quite a bit of time walking around downtown. Everyone kept telling us it is never that cold or windy this time of year, but we still enjoyed our time. Lots of interesting architecture, wonderful restaurants and such beauty a short drive away. Of course, we visited Powell’s and you need to carve out a lot of time for that visit. The store really is a city block long! And bring another suitcase to carry home your books!