Tag Archive | Books

Portland, Oregon – Part Two

Late in the afternoon Tina and I again made our way into Portland. Just as we entered Multnomah County, we made our first stop – Cornell Farm and Cafe. Here we enjoyed hot drinks (despite the warmth of the day) among the pots of plants and flowers for sale. The chamomile and lavender tea pleased me and the Monk’s Coffee latte apparently pleased Tina just as well.

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Refreshed, we proceeded into Portland. Tina and I never run out of things to talk about, which is good thing because traffic into Portland seemed especially backed up this particular weekday afternoon. After creeping along for several miles and getting to point where we joked about climbing the rocks and cliffs along the road during the long minutes we waited for our turn to creep up a few feet, we came upon the reason for decreased speed – a downed power line. The police were there with flares and soon after passing the spot, the flow of traffic picked right up.

Once in Portland, we hit a couple shops – the World Market and Zupan’s. Eating our Digestives from the World Market, we walked up Burnside Street a short distance and caught a couple shots of Mt. Hood. Yesterday we passed up all three of these things because our driver had been determined to go straight to Wailua Shave Ice.


Then we visited Powell’s just long enough to find the spot in the Pink room where we once ate Voodoo Doughnuts (also the second and last time I ate them because I dislike them, despite their fame). That last visit together to Powell’s, we figured happened seven years ago.

We also found the foreign language section. I became really excited when I found Enid Blyton books. Fond and slightly forgotten memories of reading her Famous Five and Secret Seven books (which most likely – but subconsciously – inspired our self-titled Fabulous Five moniker) came back immediately. Originally written and published in Great Britain, these particular books had been translated into German. Tina found a childhood favorite, a Dr. Seuss book, translated into a Middle Eastern language. The scripted font, so different from the alphabet we’re used to, and the right to left layout of the book made it seem like new book. After hanging out in Powell’s, we had one more stop to make.


Unable to go off to a foreign country, we thought visiting an embassy might be the next best thing. However, Portland doesn’t have any foreign embassies. A handful of foreign consulates reside here however. Through Google, we found the address for the Royal Norwegian Consult, but we didn’t know if it was an office or home address. After turning right too soon twice, driving by the building twice and accidentally running a red light, we finally found the building complex, one with a mix of business and residential units. As late in the evening as it was, the shops had closed for the day, and we still don’t know if we were creepy and wandering around the base of someone’s home or simply weird, walking by an office.

We stumbled on a lovely walk along the Willamette River though. The Cottonwood Bay Trail, as the name implies, has many Cottonwoods. Recently released fluffy seeds paved the trail white. After pausing to take in the River, we headed home.

Portland, Oregon – Part One

I love traveling. I love finding new places, experiencing new tastes, sounds and sights, and learning new things. Generally I find these things are even better when I experience them with friends who appreciate the traveling experiences as well. Some of my best friends are those who see each day as an opportunity to explore – to go down new side streets, never fearing “getting lost”, to eat at new restaurants and find new favorite dishes, to stop to take a photo or to drive down a country back road, eager to see where it leads. Unless you are a hard-core solo traveler, I hope you have found a few travel friends as well!

One group of my friends in particular really enjoys traveling and exploring. The five of us jokingly refer to ourselves as “the Fabulous Five.” These are friends with whom I have shared in person many of the adventures I’ve shared here on this blog. Seattle, Columbia Hills State Park, and the Saint Paul Rodeo are just a few of the adventures we’ve taken together.

Well, the cookie crumbled and two of the Fabulous Five split off for the summer. One traveled up into Canada for a summer semester studying linguistics, while the other journeyed to the Czech Republic teaching English. Honestly, I’m a little jealous. The remaining three of us, balancing work and other responsibilities, are facing a summer of local adventuring. We determined we would enjoy it anyway.

We three decided and planned to “do something together“. We had ideas, but nothing set. Over a homemade lunch we tossed around ideas and finally decided to drive into Portland, try Wailua Shave Ice and visit Powell’s City of Books – something new and something old.


Wailua Shave Ice is located in a small pedestrian only mall, Union Way, across West Burnside Street from Powell’s City of Books bookstore. Among the handful of small neighboring shops, Wailua was definitely the most popular spot. We joined close to 20 people in line and tried to decide which delicious sounding shave ice to buy. Eventually I decided on the Almond Joy.


As we slowly shifted down the line, I got a bit bored, so leaving Anna as a delegate in line, Tina and I set out down the corridor and out the other end of the mall. We made our way around the block and across the street to Powell’s. I sure love that store! Living outside of Portland, I dread going in to the city, but I’ll go if we’re going to Powell’s. The huge bookstore with its warm charm, mixed shelves of new and used books, concrete split-level floors, color-coded rooms, coffee infused air and absolutely necessary information desk, always offers an enjoyable experience.


Planning on coming back after eating the shave ice, we made our way in one entrance, skipped through one level and up to another and out a different exit. We then made our way back to Wailua where we discovered our held place in line had not made as much of an advancement as we had hoped. Even so, everyone seemed in good spirits and the three of us speculated about the treat we would soon try.

Once we got to the counter and ordered, I saw why they call it “shave ice” and not simply “snow cones”. The light fine ice base reminded me of powder snow; it was not the pebbly ice of your typical snow cone. The drizzled full flavored coconut syrup left no question of its good quality; it was not the typical snow cone cheap sugary artificial color and flavor. It turned out to be one of those treats you can justify and feel good about indulging. The Nutella, toasted coconuts and almonds popped with the coconut ice and fully justified the $6.

By the time we got the shave ice, our paid time for parking was almost up. We decided to forgo Powell’s to instead stop at Scrap PDX. The shop, resembling a thrift store and a discount store merged into one, sells only goods geared for art projects. In a rather over whelming fashion, bins of yarn, cloth and sewing filled one corner, chests and drawers full of beads filled another, along with poster board, plastic of random shapes and colors, paints and all sorts of other things filling in the middle. It made me think of my aunt, an elementary school art teacher of 40 years, and her house. Materials to make all kinds of fun art projects along with half finished demos of the projects lie strewn all over her house. This store was like that. I could see this store as being a go-to spot to find random material you may need for this or that project, but then again, you might just want to go with an open mind…

With dinner and evening time constraints, about this time we headed home. However – we didn’t quite make to a few places, and Tina and I decided to extend the adventure to the next afternoon after work.

Travel Oregon

When your friends or family come visit our wonderful state of Oregon – where do they want to go, or where do you want to take ’em? When you finally decide to vacation in Oregon, what do you want to see? When you’ve lived your entire life in Oregon and get adventurous, where do you want to explore?

For travel in Oregon, there are the favorite go-to spots: Multnomah Falls, Mount Hood and Timberline Lodge, Seaside and naturally, Crater Lake. Once you have hit those places, where do you go? With a rain forest, a desert, a prairie, an award winning hipster city, a completely free public access coast and two mountain ranges, there are many Oregon wonders to discover! Here are six I highly recommend.

1) Astoria
With a span of 1,232 feet (376m. – almost a quarter of a mile), the Astoria-Megler Bridge is the world’s longest continuous truss bridge. If you’ve ever wanted to walk or run the 50-year old bridge,October 16th is your opportunity this year. Annually the city closes the bridge to cars and opens it to walkers and runners.


The darker sand in the photo on the right is magnetic.

2) Fort Stevens State Park
While at PCC I took Oceanography, complete with a required science project. In passing our professor mentioned magnetic sand on the Oregon Coast. I took that and ran with it. It turns out that yes, near and along the Columbia River (not far west of Astoria) where the river meets the Pacific Ocean, there are patches of black magnetic sand.

2) Pendleton
One of Eastern Oregon’s largest cities and quintessentially Old West, Pendleton bustles as a hub in north-east corner of the state. One of rodeo’s oldest and much-loved events, the annual Pendleton Roundup held the second full week of September, draws visitors and competitors from across America. The Pendleton Roundup is known for having one of the sport’s largest arenas, and not only is it uniquely large, but it is also uniquely a grass arena. Let ‘er Buck!

3) Steens Mountain area
Steens Mountain rises up above the ridges and hills of the southeastern desert region. At 9,700 feet high, it seems perpetually covered in snow.
When I was a kid, the Alvord Hot Springs below the Mountain were free. It’s been awhile since those days, and I’ve heard the owners have capitalized on its popularity. In the area there is also the Alvord Desert, a dry desolate ancient lake spreads out about five by ten miles; it is great fun to drive on! While I have not hiked the area, I’ve heard about the trails and Alvord Lake. I also understand mustang bands roam the area. These attractions keep Steens Mountain on my further exploration list.

4) Powell’s Bookstore in Portland (and the smaller branch in Beaverton)
The largest independent bookseller in America, Powell’s City of Books was the pioneer in selling new and used side by side. With new titles as well as old, book buying has never been so much fun.

Ask any book-loving Portlander about this bookstore that takes up one full city block, and you are likely to hear a story. One of my friend’s first dates with her now husband were at Powell’s. Another friend exchanges wallets with her husband to fortify their weakened power and resist buying another good book. For me, this was the go to place each term of college and university semester. I’d compare the recommended newest edition with the older ones sitting next to it; Powell’s saved me money.


Upper North Falls

5) Silver Falls State Park 
The State Park in Silverton has an easy walking loop taking you by 10 different falls. The paved trail gets you close, even behind, some gorgeous waterfalls. However, to get in the water you need to drive over to lesser-accessed walk – to the Upper North Falls. A short walk from the parking area gets you right to falls. There the rocky edge is usually shallow enough for wading out a little ways before any drop in depth. Once in, relax as you are in a real rustic swimming hole – Pacific Northwest style.

Happy Trails!

Good Old Books – Good Reads

While I love AAA TripTiks and Google everything, I still use printed material, including my Webster’s Geographical dictionary. There is something about the feel, the smell and the act of opening the book that arouses imagination and prompts creative thought to flow. Something about the low-noise, the focus and the simplicity of using a book resonates with me. Unlike the hi-tech, one page can only lead to another page on the same topic – travel. The lure of one idea leading to another completely different idea does not rise up.

If you were to open my Geographical dictionary to my home state of Oregon…well, actually allow me to share a glimpse of what you would see:

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Geographical Dictionary – Oregon