By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty
I’m back from my week of adventures in the Pacific Northwest, eager to reflect upon the many joys of an incredible vacation.
Portland, Oregon was the first stop on my journey. More than a town than a city, Portland is incredibly walkable (aside from the steep hills on the west side of the Willamette River), and the bus system offered service everywhere I wished to visit, including the charming home in Buckman where I stayed with locals as part of Air B & B, a home sharing system that benefits homeowners and travelers alike.
I chose to start my vacation in Portland largely to attend the Oregon Brewers Fest, specifically to take part in the opening day parade across the Hawthorne Bridge to the festival grounds in Tom McCall Park. The day of the parade was soggy and cold, a phenomenon described locally as “Portland gray,” which offered an important insight to Portland’s weather the remaining nine months of the year.
Despite the weather, the Brew Fest parade and festival did not disappoint. I’m easily pleased by a brass band and a good walk, which was how this great day began. I was joined by my friend, Sarah, a Portland transplant since 2010. With 188 beers to choose from, the $1.00 per 3-ounce taste was a perfect way to try as many as possible; I believe we sampled sixteen beers between the two of us (the remarks added to the “notes” section of my festival guide are strangely unclear). Sarah and I spent the day happily under tents and umbrellas, relishing a “to do” list that listed only one item: drink beer.
Before my vacation, I read about the area, finding the extraordinarily insightful The Good Rain: Across Time and Terrain in the Pacific Northwest by Timothy Egan. And, while visiting Powell’s “city of books,” a local mecca for devoted readers, I bought another Egan, Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis, an amazing book I’d highly recommend.
The International Rose Test garden shines as a stunning part of the expansive Washington Park perched above the city. My early morning visit resulted in a fantastic mixture of growing sunlight and roses in every hue. The terraced layout makes the most of the effusion of blossoms, resulting in roses blooming in every direction.
For the remainder of my stay in Portland, I explored the surrounding countryside, the true draw of the region. I went on an excursion to The Columbia River Gorge, with stops at the lovely Latourell and majestic Multnomah Falls, culminating in a stop at the Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood.
There was also a stop in the orchard region, known affectionately as “fruit loop” at Packer Orchards, where I eagerly devoured Rainer cherries and indulged in an ice cream cone at the urging of a remarkable man I met on the tour. A retired Army officer (and 1960 West Point graduate), John assured me and his grandson, Jessie, that it would be a mistake to pass up the opportunity to try fresh huckleberry ice cream.
The next excursion to the countryside was a day exploring Willamette Valley wineries with my extraordinarily generous Portland insider, Sarah. The first vineyard we visited might best be desired as paradise, with an infinity pool. Please go to Blakeslee winery (during the week) and experience what we did—the whole place to ourselves with the tasting room attendant inviting us to dip our feet in the pool, while drinking in the view and a glass of Pinot Noir. Adelsheim winery was the next stop, which boasted superior wine and a tasting room suffused with the scent of flowers. At Adelsheim, we walked out to see new grapes on the vines and admire the surrounding hazelnut trees. The third vineyard was a mistake; take my advice and skip Arborbrook. The last stop in the country was Four Graces, another fabulous tasting, where Sarah scored a good deal on two very good bottles. Back in Portland, we stopped at Enso Urban Winery for a cheese board and one last glass of Pinot. If anyone discovers a way to ensure each and every Friday of my life is one tenth as delightful, I’d love to know.
From Portland, I boarded an Amtrak train to a Seattle. . .part 2 of Boho Hobo.