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2007-08-05 Portland

I'm now on the last day of my two week vacation. I started the two weeks with a weekend trip to New Hampshire for more hiking in the Whites (we did Height Mtn. and the Carter Dome). Came home on Monday, relaxed and took care of house-stuff on Tuesday, and then on Wednesday we went down to LaGuardia airport to catch a flight to Portland, Oregon, where we stayed for a week.

We saw the most impressive thing about the area while we were descending in the plane - Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams. These 12,000+ foot monsters tower above everything else in the region, and our flight path gave us an excellent view of Hood to one side and Adams to the other. I wish I could have taken pictures, but we were on our descent and the use of electronic devices had been disallowed. The first thing that we did that night was take a walk into town - it was early evening due to the three hour time difference. We took a long walk down to Washington Park.

Portland features two very large urban parks - Washington Park and Forest Park. Washington Park sprawls up a hill overlooking the downtown area. It includes a magnificent rose garden, a Japanese garden, walking trails and the Oregon Zoo.

The entrance that we used was a gothic-looking stone stairway that wove its way about 50 feet up a steep incline.

Pictures from the rose garden below.

The next day was our day for exploring the city of Portland. The cities downtown area is unimpressive by New York standards. The city at large sprawls across an area of many square miles along the Columbia River, mostly consisting of low buildings and houses - almost suburban, but not quite.

We met Jenny's online friend Erica downtown and she showed us around a little. We stopped for drinks at the bar where her brother Gabe works (Erica and Gabe pictured below) and then (after stopping at Erica's house to meet her husband Gerry) went out for a lovely dinner of Mexican food.

In order to get me to go on trips like this, Jenny has to throw in some outdoor adventures. The next day was our day for this: we wanted to hike a couple of trails, preferrably something with views of Mt. Hood and some decent elevation gain. We planned two smallish hikes: a short one around Lost Lake which promised good views of Mt. Hood, and a longer one on a trail that takes you up the cascades along the Columbia River Canyon. This latter trail is part of a much longer trail which I think is the Pacific Crest Trail. The Pacific Crest Trail runs from Mexico to Canada. We were only interested in a short segment of it.

On the way out, we stopped to look at Multnomah Falls, the fourth highest waterfall in the US. The sun wasn't working out for us, so the shots of anything that actually looks like a waterfall are of the smaller falls in front of the big drop:

Except for this shot, which came out well enough:

As it turned out, Lost Lake was a lot farther away than we'd expected: it took us well over two hours (in addition to the detour to Multnomah falls) to get there from town. There's one spot on the lake where Hood is visible from:

More shots from around the lake:

Seattle

As part of our trip, we spent the weekend in Seattle with Jenny's cousin Margie and her husband Ken. They were kind enough to take us around the city.

Some art students built a giant gnome under one of the road bridges:

The thing in his hand is a VW bug. A real one.

A picture of downtown:

The very first Starbuck's:

A shot from the Pike Place Market:

Our hosts, Margie and Ken:

Portland part 2

We returned to Portland on Sunday night. On Monday we went to the Oregon Zoo.

Beaver shots:

A barely visible big cat of some sort:

Goats:

Sea lions:

Otters:

Leopard in the sun:

There was a bird house filled with parrots (either small parrots or large parakeets, I'm not exactly sure which) where you could feed them and they could shit on you. There were lots of amusing children in there feeding the birds. I had one of the birds on my hand, biting my fingertips. I passed him off to Jenny at one point - she found the experience to be rather novel. I finally unloaded the bird on a lady with a baby. When presented with the bird, the baby naturally tried to hug it - not a good idea. Fortunately the mother intervened and the child was spared a lifetime of bird-phobias.

And of course, there were bats:

Some kind of lizard:

Crocodile:

One of our favorites, the meerkat (although these were rather subdued, as meerkats go - too hot for them, perhaps?):

Some unidentified furry critter:

The giraffe:

Some sort of monkey:

Zebra:

Children (and a goat):

Sleepy, sleepy hippos:

Musk Ox:

Some nice gardening work:

A long time favorite of Jenny's, the elephants:

Some sort of monkey:

Polar bears:

The last thing that we saw at the zoo was the penguins. On our way out, we noticed that feeding time was 2:45, and it was then 2:44! So we decided to stick around for the feeding. It was well worth it.

"It's too bad bears are dangerous"

After the zoo, we went for a little hike along the Wildwood trail in Forest Park. Forest Park is the largest urban forest in the US. It's over 5000 acres with 70 miles of trails. The Wildwood trail zigzags through the park and is a full 30 miles long. The only thing that I photographed on the hike was this giant slug (it was at least 6 inches long):

For our last day in Oregon, we wanted to see the wine country and the beach. We went to two vineyards and a third location that does wine tastings for vineyards that do not host them themselves.

Fields of grapes at the Archery Summit Vinyard:

The Oregon coast is only about an hour and a half from Portland. The trip there takes you through a vast wilderness of pine forests, and is one of the most enjoyable drives that you could take. Unlike beaches on the east coast, where civilization sprawls around the beaches for hundreds of miles, the beach town of Cannon suddenly emerges out of the woods. It was an altogether pleasant town - not overcrowded like the beach towns that we're used to.

The beach itself was magnificent. The best word to describe it is "big." There were a lot of people on it, but it didn't feel that way because the amount of beach was woo great. It is bordered to the north and south by huge rock outcroppings.

One of the rocks (which I ran to). Although the rock joins the beach, trespassing onto the rocks is forbidden by federal law. A damned shame, if you ask me, as it would be an incredible location for rock climbing.

More shots of the surrounding mountains:

And that was that. We went back into town, had a nice dinner, killed the bottle of wine that we'd bought at one of the vineyards, and went to bed.

The trip home was uneventful. I did get a nice view of both Hood and Adams lined up outside of the plane window.

It's good to be home again.