Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer Vacation: Seattle, Portland and the Oregon Coast (Part II)

Beautiful sculpture in front of the headquarters of World Vision 
Before I get to the second half of our vacation in Oregon, I wanted to mention our visit to World Vision in Federal Way, Washington.  We thought visiting their headquarters and taking a tour would be a great learning experience for Burrito and it was!  We pray every night for the "people in trouble" in Africa and it was great for Burrito to see pictures and hands-on illustrations of what people in Africa and other impoverished areas of the world go through.  It was wonderful to see the ways World Vision is helping through working in entire villages to provide clean water, food, health care, schooling and micro loans for businesses.  I was also impressed with their efficiency and preparation.  For example, they stash emergency supplies in specific locations around the world so that they can get in when there is a natural disaster or other emergency and begin assistance immediately.  Their long-term relationships and ongoing work within each country also helps them to make sure supplies actually get to the people who need them.  Very impressive.

After our whirlwind trip to Seattle, we began the trek down to Portland.  We began to be interested in Portland a year or so ago when we started watching Portlandia on IFC.  The opening song and comedic segment of the show stated that "The dream of the '90s is alive in Portland" and reminded us that it is the city where "young people go to retire."  We thought this was hilarious (and let's face it, we've met people from other cities...cough, Minneapolis-St. Paul...who remind us greatly of the characters who people Portlandia).  We (cough, I) also enjoyed being poked fun at a bit.  One of the first sketches involve a couple who are so deeply interested in where their food comes from that they want to know the name of the chicken they are being served at a restaurant, as well as all of the aspects of its life, and finally decide to visit the farm where he was raised before ordering dinner.  This is foodie/locavore taken to the extreme.  I can take a little good-natured ribbing!

We were only in Portland two nights, but I can testify that the slogan you find on a building downtime ("Keep Portland Weird") is entirely warranted and will not be a difficult goal to achieve.  I saw all of the following downtown during our visit: Rastafarians, a "gang" of guys on segways decorated with roses in a parade, people trying to get Oregon voters to sign up for a bill to make pot legal, a street preacher, street musicians, a dad pushing a baby car seat in an umbrella stroller, a piano player who was playing the piano on a rigged-up bicycle, one and only one very dressed up trendy lady, artists molding your face into a garden gnome in 10 minutes, a guy dressed up as Spiderman (complete with full face mask) on a bike, and a very fine variety of street food.  Quite the collection of folks!

In the midst of the weirdness that is Portland, we managed to have a nice time, though. First off, we had to visit the famous Powell's City of Books (a bookstore that takes up an entire city block and is the largest new and used bookstore in the world!).  I was in bliss surrounded by that many books, but Burrito was quickly bored.  She did enjoy waiting with a little girl who had lost her Daddy though until the store manager could call her dad on the intercom.  Powell's even has a machine where you can self-publish your book!  I loved the quote on these stairs:
 Next, we visited the Saturday Market downtown, where local artists sell their work and world street food is available for lunch.  I opted for the yakisoba noodles from the Hawaiian food truck, while staring longingly at the Lebanese and African food trucks (garlic figured majorly in their offerings and I was still dealing with garlic aversion).  We also visited the Lan Su Chinese Gardens in the heart of Portland.  We learned that for Chinese culture, there is no division between garden and home, as perhaps there would be in the United States or Great Britain.  The home is a garden and together they create a cohesive whole, providing serenity throughout.  I loved the quotation in the program: "Most cherished in this mundane world is a place without traffic; truly in the midst of a city there can be mountain and forest."--Wen Zhengming
We also had the pleasure of taking time for tea at the Chinese tea house located in the middle of the garden.  It was a deeply peaceful location and Burrito loved having a "tea party."  I sampled the licorice tea, she tried orange-cranberry and Daddy tried jasmine tea. 
After an eventful day in Portland, we took our next day to spend on a relaxing trip to the Oregon Coast where Christopher had a Sunday morning 5k planned in Cannon Beach.  Early forecasts had been for rain, but we were so glad that it turned out to be a nice day.  As is the case in Oregon, the beach was a bit cold at first (and the water is always cold that far north), but it was blissful laying on the sand and smelling the salt air and hearing the crash of the waves.  This was Burrito's first big trip to the ocean too (she had been to the Atlantic Ocean once but not long enough to play and enjoy it).  She worked on sand castles, hunted for shells and ran, giggling, through the bracingly cold water on the shore.
Seaside, OR--the end of Lewis and Clark's journey.
I am always at my most peaceful at the ocean.
 After a visit to Cannon Beach (which has a quiet, family-friendly vibe), we headed over to Seaside (which is louder and busier) where we stayed at a very affordable mini-apartment for the night right on the beach (on the quieter side of town).  Nothing beats being able to see the ocean from your bedroom!  The next morning, we sadly said goodbye to the ocean and began to make our trek home.

All in all, it was a great family vacation, made even nicer by a shorter drive than our usual massively long trek back to the Midwest.  We had never visited Seattle or Portland before so it was wonderful to experience new places.


  1. Sounds like you had a really good time Rebecca. America is so vast so I suspect that each place you visit HAS to have something different or interesting just to stop you bypassing it and going somewhere else. I love 'man vs food' because it shows that Americans are filled with creativity and originality when it comes to all the different kinds of burgers, bagels, sandwiches, pulled-this and pulled-that, and all the different ways of serving this that and the other! It's a great country that I dream one day of exploring...

    1. Thanks for being such a faithful reader even when I don't post as much!

  2. Sounds like a great trip! Haven't been that direction since I was a kid, and would greatly love the chance to go again ~


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