Recently, my family and I decided to take a small road-trip down to Portland, Oregon for Spring Break (whoo!). My daughter had the week off from school, so I took a week off from work, and we made plans to visit Portland for 3 days.
My daughter and I visited Portland last year to see a friend of mine, but my wife and son could not make it. He was just a little baby then, and too young to travel much. However, he is not 2 1/2 and very active, though also very picky about food.
Anyhow, long story short the drive from Seattle to Portland takes about 3 hours, and we planned well by driving in the middle of a weekday to avoid traffic. It was nice to see scenic south-western Washington for the first time in a long, long time, and to finally drive to Portland.
We stayed in a nice hotel downtown, and had only a few simple objectives:
- Try out Stumptown coffee
- Shop at Powell’s City of Books
- Visit the Oregon Zoo
- Enjoy donuts in Portland, and finally
- See the Rose Garden at Washington Park
We completed all five objectives, I am proud to say. Our first task was the Oregon Zoo. After a long drive to Portland, we were still too early to check in to our hotel, so we just went straight to the zoo. The Oregon Zoo is vast. The maps don’t do it justice; it is much bigger than it looks. The Pacific Northwest section is really well done, and can take up to an hour just seeing all the different animals and sites.
Since the weather is unusually warm right now (30°C, 86°F?) we were worn out by the time we finished our journey. We also missed a few exhibits too. The kids were getting very tired, so we completed about 75% of the zoo, and decided to head to the hotel. I got lots of cute pictures of the kids, which I can’t easily obscure for the blog, so unfortunately the best photo I can post here is a photo of my left foot:
I’m not entirely sure how I took this photo. :-p
The following morning we enjoyed breakfast at the local Stumptown cafe near the hotel:
It was quite delicious.
That same morning, we took a short stroll to my favorite bookstore: Powell’s City of Books. When I visited Oregon last time, I was impressed by how large and how vast the selection was. I found some good books then, and had a list of sutras I was looking for.
The Buddhism section at Powell’s is much larger than you find in most popular bookstores, and I spent a long time here poring through the more obscure, academic books. The kids grew antsy though, so I couldn’t stay too long. 😉
Here are the books I picked up. I had a copy of the Diamond Sutra before, but lent it to someone at some point, but there’s a certain verse that I’ve been pondering over and over again lately, so I decided to get another copy. I was very happy to get the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra book by Edward Conze (more on that in a future post), and the Thich Nhat Hanh’s commentaries on the Sutra of the Simile of the Water Snake, an important early sutra.
The following morning, we enjoyed donuts at Blue Star Donuts. We heard that Voodoo Donuts is popular, but we’ve also heard that it can be overhyped, so I decided to try something different. The donuts at Blue Star use a brioche style recipe, so they’re very soft and spongy. The chocolate frosting on the donut was very creamy too, not crunchy as you might expect. My personal favorite is still Mighty-O in Seattle though. 🙂
Finally, after checking out of our hotel, we visited Washington Park. Near the rose garden is a nice, large play area, so we let Little Guy and Princess burn off some pent-up energy for a while, then walked uphill a bit to the rose garden. Unfortunately, the roses were not in bloom yet, but the scenery was still lovely.
Long story short, we had a great time in Portland. My wife liked it quite a bit, and compared to our usual international trips to Japan or Canada, this was a much more relaxed, convenient trip. We certainly will be back.