Cancel whatever vacation plans you have for this year and change them for a visit to Portland, Oregon!
During my Great Hiatus, my family had a number of significant events. Among them were four graduations (graduate school, police academy, medical school, and medical school) and one wedding. Medical school and medical school were married in a lovely Persian wedding ceremony in an art gallery, and then, after a two-week diversion to Greece for their honeymoon, moved to Portland to begin their residencies. (She in internal medicine, he in pediatrics.) I’d always heard that medical residency meant long hours and exhausted bodies and minds, but apparently it’s just a little bit of a bother and a lot of fun and free time.
Nearly as soon as they moved to Oregon, our son began urging us to come visit them. Her parents had already come for a visit, he pointed out, and he began scouring the internet for reasonably priced plane tickets for us. He had a week of vacation in November, and he all but insisted we come. Plus, he noted, we could save on lodging expenses by staying in their apartment. With them. In their tiny apartment. In their bed. In their newlywed bed. (They would sleep on the couch and on the floor!) How could we turn down such an offer?
And we didn’t.
Portland, and at least this part of Oregon, is a wonderful, progressive place. I liked it almost as much as I like New Mexico, which is saying a lot. (Had the sun made an appearance during our week in Oregon, I might have ranked the state even higher. In fact, this was my third trip to Oregon — our daughter and her husband lived there for a number of years before moving to Brooklyn, and we visited them twice, though we stayed in bed and breakfasts then. Nonetheless, the sun must have been taking its own vacations on those visits because we never saw it!)
The city of Portland is full of all kinds of attractions to keep visitors occupied (including a four-story bookstore that takes up an entire city block — I had to get an extra piece of luggage to carry home all of the books I bought), and by venturing out a little from the city, the natural wonders of the area manifest themselves for appreciation and awe. The Columbia River Valley may be one of the most impressive sights I’ve seen, even comparing favorably to the Rift Valley, but I can only say “may be” since a dense fog had fallen on the day we ventured there. Still, while we couldn’t gaze across the impressive gorge, more close-in spectacles were visible. The southern side of the gorge is dotted with many waterfalls, and every one of them calls out for being photographed. Too bad Pablo’s camera was accidentally left on some oddball setting and made most of his images get a blue cast to them. He managed to discover the problem and correct it in time for the photo above, and good thing, too, since it was the most impressive of the impressive photo opportunities of the whole trip.
Yes, that ribbon of white in the upper left is a waterfall. It’s the upper fall of the two that comprise Multnomah Falls. (Hence the plural designation.) This sight alone was worth the cost of the airfare. The water runs all year, so one could conceivably vist Oregon in a season when the sun is shining and be even more impressed. (I hear there’s a mountain in the area, something called Mount Hood, that is a sight to behold, but I’ll have to take that on faith. All I saw when I looked to the horizon where I was assured it rose was clouds and fog.)
We didn’t hike to the top of the falls, though there is a trail all the way up, but we did visit the lodge at the base (that little building you see in the foreground) and had breakfast and bought some postcards. The breakfast was okay, but the setting was perfection, which made the meal more savory. And the unfinished trail beckons. I’m not sure when we’ll be back to Oregon, so take my advice and go there yourself. Then let me know what you find.