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August 18, 2014 / Jim Fenton

Northwest Day 4: Portland(ia)

Powell's Books

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Odometer: 856

Today was the first of our no-driving days. The hotel shuttle was able to take us to the Max (Portland’s light rail) station, and it was a short ride downtown from there. Although we just had breakfast, we began at Voodoo Doughnut, which lived up to its reputation:  not to be missed, and worth the wait in line. Then we went to the other Can’t Miss destination on our list, Powell’s City of Books. What an amazing place. We could probably have spent the rest of our vacation there. Celeste and I found relatively hard-to-find books we were looking for there, but we really had to control ourselves.

From Powell’s we decided to visit the Oregon Historical Society Museum, which gave us, as expected, an introduction to Oregon history as well as an exhibition on Abraham Lincoln. The admission cashier seemed truly distressed that she couldn’t give us some sort of discount, but we aren’t local county residents, veterans, or anything else discountable.

We had a pleasant late lunch at Elephants in the Park, a small glassed-in building in one of Portland’s park blocks, and then took advantage of a sale at the flagship Columbia Sportswear store. Later we talked along the Willamette River shore, past where the Oregon Brewers’ Festival was taking place.

Story Tree

Story Tree in the Library

The Portland Central Library was our next stop. While I really like libraries, I must admit being dubious whether a visit was worth our limited time in Portland. This one is. In addition to being a wonderful, classic library building, in the children’s department they have the most wonderful bronze tree sculpture integrated into the clerk’s desk, including characters and scenes from many beloved children’s books.

After the library, we walked a few blocks to the Presbyterian Church, an old church building replete with a very heavy, dark, sanctuary. Unfortunately we had arrived during a wedding rehearsal, so we couldn’t look around much. We returned to our hotel via the Max light rail, and had a picnic dinner of goodies from our camp cooler.

Overall, we loved the people, but were a little disappointed with Portland, and we’re not entirely sure why. The city seemed to be a little grungier than we expected. Portland clearly understands the problem, because there are many signs reminding people of their unobstructed sidewalk ordinance, and we did see police relocating at least one of the street people that had gotten in the way.

Today’s mileage: 0 miles

This article is part of a series about our recent driving vacation to the Pacific Northwest. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

One Comment

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  1. MaitoMike / Aug 18 2014 3:03 pm

    Looking back on my trip to Portland, I still can’t believe I waited nearly an hour in line just to buy one single donut. You are absolutely right, it IS worth the wait! I just wish I had spent a little more money while I was in that shop.

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