Some pretty stuff in and around Portland

I left the very unattractive city of Spokane early in the morning, around 7am. (I didn’t even blog about it becaue it was so non-descript). I headed west towards Portland, a very long drive. I’d heard that I MUST drive along the Columbia River and see the Columbia Gorge and Multnomah Falls. Driving west along the interestate 90 and then 395 South in Washington was NOT attractive to me. It was fairly flat, and there was NO green. It was endless fields of yellow and brown. Flat flat flat! Talk about the immensity of the sky! But not at all pretty like Montana.

A bit after I got onto Interstate 84 I saw the Columbia River to my right. It was enormous! But a long time passed until it began to really be pretty, once I hit The Dalles. I exited off 84 and followed scenic 30 as much as I could, seeing some pretty sights along the way.

Columbia River - first look

Columbia River – first look

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The Falls are a highlight of this little area, (there are five of them) and Multnomah Falls is the most popular.  I drove along a very crowded but beautiful little stretch of scenic route 30 – searching for a little parking spot anywhere I could. Luck! I pulled in and walked about 25 yards down to Horsetail Falls. It was beautiful!

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And Multnomah was supposed to be better than that! I got back in my car and drove along. Traffic became heavier and I finally saw a sign for Multnomah Falls! But, it was the middle of Sunday afternoon, and the parking lots were full. I thought, oh well, I’ll just see if I can find a  spot a ways down the road. And I’m not kidding, as soon as that thought popped into my head, I saw a spot just at the edge of the parking lots, perfect for my little car. I pulled in and then walked back to the Falls. They were magnificent to me, although I heard folks saying over and over how little water there was and that they are actually quite a bit more spectacular. I was happy with every single view I had of them!

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There were more Falls along the way, but it was approaching 4:30pm and the crowds were a bit overwhelming. I hopped back onto I-84 and drove the last 20-30 minutes to my motel near the Portland Airport.

The next day, I headed out with a purpose – Voodoo Doughtnuts! I’d seen several segments on various Food and Travel channels, and was eager to see if they lived up to the hype. Downtown Portland was a LONG drive from my motel – it took me nearly 30 minutes by the time I’d found a place to park. I walked a few blocks and there it was – with a line out front that appeared to be moving at a decent pace. I took my place in line and waited. I’d had many suggestions from everyone, the famous Voodoo Doll doughnut, the Maple Bacon, but I love chocolate and peanut butter, so I tried two – The Mempis Mafia, which is a fritter banana chunks and cinnamon covered in a glaze with chocolate frosting, peanut butter, peanuts and chocolate chips on top, and The Old Dirty Bastard, a yeast doughnut with chocolate frosting, oreos and peanut butter. I took those and a cup of coffee and sat outside to enjoy them.

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Well, folks, although the Memphis Mafia was indeed very good (I ate about a third of it) the Old Dirty Bastard felt flat, and I can honestly say that THIS doughnut place and these doughnuts beats Voodoo Doughnuts into the ground.

Shipley's Doughnuts in Houston

Shipley’s Doughnuts in Houston

After that intake of sugar, I spent the next couple of hours walking around downtown Portland, checking out the little shops and sights. Portland is unique in its preponderance of food trucks. I actually wished I hadn’t wasted my stomach’s food storage space with the doughnuts.

It was a beautiful afternoon, warm but breezy. I was weary from walking around, but there really aren’t places to just sit and relax downtown. So, I found a nice shady spot under a tree, sat next to the awesome food truck that was cranking out some great tunes. I sat and just enjoyed watching people walking by.

Finally, around 4pm, I headed to the west suburb of Beaverton to visit yet another friend from my horn playing days at the University of Iowa. My friend and former roommate Veronica had been on the west coast for years, and moved to Portland about 4 years ago. I pulled up to her house in a very nice but hilly suburb, knocked on her door, and was greeted by her two adorable daughters, Rayna and Elia. Veronica walked up and she looked just as she did 20-some years ago! We sat outside on her patio for a bit, enjoying some beers and catching up on our lives. Rayna came out, impatient to head out and show me the sights of Portland. So, Rayna, Veronica and I got into the car and headed out to get a bite to eat. We ended the evening with a drive to the Pittock Mansion. It was a bit hazy so didn’t have the best view, but it was nice and there were lots of pretty flowers.

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Finally, we ventured down to a little creek in the local park near their home. Rayna spotted a crawfish but wouldn’t pick it up, but we did see a huge slug on the trail path! Biggest slug I’ve EVER seen, EWWWW

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We returned to the house and said our goodbyes – Veronica’s eyes welled up with tears as we hugged.  It’s mind-boggling to think that it had been 20 years since we’d seen each other. I’m grateful to have had this opportunity to reconnect with a dear friend. BUT WE DIDN’T GET A PICTURE!!!!!!

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