Sunday, August 18, 2013

Portland, OR

Just got back from a short vacation trip to Portland, OR. Usually I like to stuff my trips with historical sites, but this was supposed to be a relaxing type vacation, and I did not spend a ton of time planning. Since I had never been to the west coast I was more interested in getting a feel for the place than absorbing all of its history. Stephen and I rented a motorcycle and for the first few days we rode around the lovely forests and amazing mountains just outside of Portland. I was proud of myself for dusting off my rusty herbal knowledge and recognizing yarrow, St. John's wort, and a bunch of other roadside wildflowers, and I was interested to see all of the differences in flora and environment. Our east coast mountains are so old and worn compared to the youngin's out west.

We rode around Mt. St. Helens, which was beautiful, and also is a part of our history, Stephen is old enough to remember the eruption itself. I was too young in 1980 to remember the event, but the story and the aftermath is part of my childhood memories. The Lewis and Clark expedition was referenced all over the place: on route signs, in the hotel bar, and when riding down the Columbia River Gorge. We both remarked on how attractive the Columbia River must have looked to those intrepid travelers. In Portland itself a lot of the buildings and institutions are celebrating their 100th years. I love both Art Deco and Art Nouveau, so there was plenty in the architecture to delight me.

On my one day in Portland I visited a couple of lovely gardens: a rose garden created to save those old varieties that were in danger during the world wars, and a Japanese garden created to honor the immigrants from Japan who made Portland their home. Stephen introduced me to Powell's City of books, and during my two short trips to the store I picked up 7 books! 6 on historical themes, three of which were on my wishlist, the others look incredibly informative. I even managed to purchase a dress for a 1930s themed wedding that I'm going to in December at an amazing vintage shop downtown.

So, not a historical trip, but I still managed to learn a lot of history, and enjoy a lot of historical contexts in all that I saw.

Stephen and I on the motorcycle, with Mount Hood in the background.

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