Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Roadtrip: Portland (Part 2 of 2)

About to Get Sauced
about to get sauced: the big day finally arrived! my baby cousin was going to get married, which was the whole reason behind this trip. thankfully, i had packed a flowy, flowery dress to wear for the occasion that did a good job hiding my emerging beer belly.

Vows Ceremony
non-beer belly: my cousin Mike (on the right) and his new bride Kerry are efficient people. not only was their wedding ceremony short and sweet (always a good thing), they wasted no time with family planning and are due to have their first child later this year, a boy.

Don’t Tickle Me!
don’t tickle me! my cousin is rad despite the tickling. she’s nothing short of a superwoman who impresses me endlessly with her ability to juggle working, mothering, gardening, budgeting, cooking, cleaning, blogging, project planning and tending to that shock of beautiful, red, curly hair. plus, no else is named Gitella. yep, my cousin is one of a kind.

Freckled Jack
how cute is this kid? this is one of Gitella’s many impressive accomplishments — her adorable son, Jack Ryan, who kindly allowed Mo and i to stay in his room during our visit and never once complained. i never get tired of this kid and his freckles.

Himmer Family
other impressive accomplishments: her daughter Edie and 10-year strong marriage to husband Roman.

My Date
my impressive accomplishment: my date was super hot — like smoldering, combustible, flammable, third-degree burn hot. and i’m not just saying that because i want him to build me a shelf in the laundry room.

Ma and Mo Dance
how cute are they? that’s my Ma dancing with my Mo and looking a little too cozy with my hot date. i think she and i need to have a little talk about boundaries.

Cutting the Cake
yes to sugar: because Kerry’s dad is a caterer, all the food tasted marvelous. thankfully, my flowy dress accommodated seconds, maybe even thirds.

Sibling Head Stack
sibling head stack: and to think Gitella and i almost threw Mike over a balcony railing when we were kids. i’m glad we kept him alive, especially since he’s about to become a daddy. big congratulations to the new happy family.

Mt Hood Highway
circling the Hood: the day after the wedding, we headed 50 miles outside of Portland to Mount Hood, the tallest mountain in Oregon, standing roughly 11,000 feet high. according to its Wiki page, it’s still considered an active volcano with a 3% to 7% chance of erupting in the next 30 years. its last "minor eruptive event" occurred in 1907.

Mt Hood Weather
Hood in super zoom: it’s home to 12 glaciers and has its own weather pattern that renders it way colder than the area surrounding it. even as we approached it, the wind picked up and the temperature seemed to dip 20 degrees. still, people love to ignore Hood’s many dangers and climb it for sport, often dying in the process.

Full Sail Sample
our sport: after shivering by the mountain for half an hour, we needed some warming up so we headed to Hood River’s Full Sail Brewery for a sampler platter. i love, love, love this brewery and count its Session Black Dark Lager, sampled for the first time during this visit, as one of my favorite beers. you should try it.

Apples Galore
harvest time: the drive to Mount Hood wound us through Hood River’s famed Fruit Loop, where we ate apples picked from the orchard that morning, apples so delicious that we walked away with a 10-pound box of them, which Gitella converted to apple butter.

back to school: the day after our trip to Mount Hood, Mo and i continued the sightseeing at Clackamas Community College campus to see what the crazy kids are learning these days. not surprisingly, they’re learning how to ditch class and smoke pot, which isn’t a far cry from my college days, though mine were spent listening to better music.

actually: we were there to see the buildings designed by Portland’s Opsis Architects, who, to my untrained eye, did an awesome job. Mo seemed to agree.

Concrete Couch
not very comfortable: this "couch" is made of concrete. no lie.

Drying Delta
delta skelta: after our stroll through campus, we decided to work off the beer with a hike through the Sandy River Delta, just east of the Sandy River. the hike was relatively flat and populated by hikers with their dogs, which gave me some much needed dog therapy. i made out with every dog i saw while Mo consulted the park’s directory in search of our next destination.

Maya Lin Monument
there it is: it took some hunting, but Mo and i finally found the Elliptical Bird Blind we came to see, designed by Maya Lin as part of the Confluence Project, a series of seven outdoor installations and artworks across the Columbia River that spans two states and commemorates the Lewis and Clark expedition of the early 1800s.

Maya Lin Monument
rabit, magpy, deer: the slats of the bird lookout are engraved with the names of the new animal species identified during the expedition and recorded in Lewis and Clark’s journals, the species’ dates of discovery, latin names, common names and current statuses (extinct, endangered, recovered or flourishing).

sweating for art: i must confess that i wasn’t expecting much when Mo told me he wanted to visit this site, but when i was standing inside the airy lookout, reading through the names (while sweating profusely), the place did feel — for lack of a better term — historical. and not just historical, but interesting. it almost made me forget about that great beer i tried at Full Sail and look at birds instead. almost.

Naturally Occurring Stream
the enchanted forest: but the day was waning and the drive ahead was long, so we left The Nature and returned to the city to enjoy our last night in Portland, which was spent ogling at the city while surrounded by family, beers firmly in hand.

so what have we learned? oh, portland! how do i love thee? admittedly, only sparingly. it’s not that you’re not amazing because your wonders are many — your eco-consciousness, smart city planning, well-paved roads, beautiful scenery and crisp air make you divine. your people not only recycle, they compost, grow their own crops, reuse greywater and bike instead of driving. you are a liberal’s wet dream of a city, a progressive wonderland full of funky shops, good breweries and people who really care.

Useless Signpost
the big but: you’re too damn white! and it’s a damn shame, because with a little diversity you’d be on the list of Cities I Love rather than the list of Cities That Are Too Damn White. i hope that you figure out how to attract more ethnic types in the coming years — not only because they can make some mighty tasty food with their exotic spices — but because your utopian ideal can never be fully realized without them. or maybe i’m talking about my utopian ideal, which, admittedly, looks a lot like my hyper diverse Los Angeles.

no hard feelings: because i still think you are gorgeous. all that rainfall (and time in the gym) has really paid off, giving you some breathtaking scenery just outside your city border.

Us and The Nature
thanks! Mo and i appreciated it during our drive through your state. so while i don’t love you, Portland, i do like you. and because you are home to cherished members of my family, whom i do love, i will see you again — and see you often.

many more photos in the slideshow:

next installment is the final stop of the roadtrip: Seattle.

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