Thursday, December 6, 2007

Portland ~ It FEELS so good!

I finally got a chance to write about my Portland, OR trip that I took shortly before Thanksgiving.

I think if you blindfolded me and let me talk with ten people in the city of Portland, Oregon, I would guess correctly where I was. Maybe that is true about many places, but there is just a more obvious sense in that town.

Portland is all about mindfulness, taking care of ones spiritual needs, wellness, happiness, and much more. It is a very deep place and I feel comfortable there. Maybe it is the community that Holli has surrounded herself with, but maybe it's Portland that draws these personalities in? Maybe a mix of both.

The drive to Portland from Missoula is a mix of my Montana mountains giving way to big expanses of open country then...following the mighty Columbia River until you are nearly in Portland. The drive was gorgeous and clear and fast! It took about 8 1/2 hours, with a few stops along the way so Skag and I could stretch our legs.

We packed a lot into a little bit of time. Holli and I went to the coast on what was probably the worst day to go to the coast in history. We had dreams of walking on the beach once we got there, and instead we got a greasy meal at this neat little restaurant overlooking the beach (ah, where the beach usually IS). It was great to see the Pacific Ocean though, and Holli and I had 3 hours of uninterrupted (well, besides scolding Skagit for chewing on a few things that she shouldn't be!) catch-up time....and some singing.

Skagit and I had some time on our own while Holli had a business call. We took a walk over to one of the nearby parks called Laurelhurst Park. Since she is not trained on a leash yet, she dragged me most of the way, and the way back, but we discovered some HUGE leaves while we were at the park. One was a leaf from an Empress Tree (that big green one next to my foot in the slideshow) which is native to China, and we found HUGE leaves from a Sweet Gum Tree....and HUGE oak leaves. The Sweet Gum produces this very cool shaped "fruit" each year. Everything grows so fast in Portland and things are just off the scales BIG! I was a little kid again in this park. When we were there it made me truly appreciative of what I have in Missoula, though. There was only a small area for dogs to be off-leash and that was it! The nearest place to get to the woods where a dog could be off-leash was quite a ways away at the edge of town. I was reminded of how spoiled we are in Montana...

This may be gross to some of you - but another very convenient use of a HUMONGOUS leaf is when you are walking your dog and you forgot to bring a poo bag! One day Holli and I ran there and it was quite nice to have a leaf and a trash can close by!

The next day we stayed at at the Clear Lake Forest Service Tower near Mount Hood. We couldn't leave until about 3:30 in the afternoon because of some appointments, so we got there in the dark...This might be a good thing since I might have thought twice about lugging my 50 lb puppy up and down 55 stairs 8 times! This was one of the highlights of my trip to Portland. Being up in this 40 ft tower, getting no sleep due to the high winds and the tower rocking underneath us, and waking up to Hood staring us in the face, just outside the windows! We had a delicious dinner up there, too (Shrimp Alfredo with some fresh veggies mixed in)! The tower never really warmed up - but I wasn't surprised - with windows on all sides. We suffered a little - but We were on top of the world! It doesn't get any better! I think we would have gotten much less sleep in the original lookout (built in 1932) which was 100' high!!!! That tower would be a rockin'!!!!!!!!

After a beautiful hike to Mirror Lake on the way back into Portland the next day and I got to meet some of Holli's closest friends (for dinner) and also participate in one of the groups that Holli is a part of. It is her Carl Jung Dream Group. I don't know where to begin in describing this group, but it was an amazing night with complete strangers and my oldest friend in the world. I cried, I laughed, it was simply amazing to connect and share.

I got to see Emily while I was there, too! We went out to her favorite Thai restaurant called the "Thai Bistro" and caught up for a few hours. Its funny that a part of your family can live all the way out on the coast, but when you see each other, it is like no time has passed at all. That is exactly how I feel about Emily. Since the last time I saw her, here in Portland I notice that she seems more settled and comfortable with her surroundings and her friends, etc. She said she is planning on running the Portland Marathon next year!!! She is one very focused gal when it comes to running. I was so glad I was able to see her while I was in Portland since I was heading to Maine for Thanksgiving after the weekend, where I would see all my other cousins on my mom's side. She was very busy with work while I was there - and I was afraid we wouldn't be able to make something work....BUT we pulled it off!

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