Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Oregon and Seattle trip recap


We arrived in Portland late Wednesday night after a six-hour flight on JetBlue. Liz's aunt and uncle picked us up and we had a 90-minute drive to Sheridan to their house. After sleeping in Thursday morning, we had lunch at an art gallery/café, then visited two wineries in the Willamette Valley. We sampled several delicious varieties of wine and bought a few bottles to ship home. We had dinner at a brewpub in McMinnville and went home.


We stopped in McMinnville for lunch and picked up our rental car, a compact Kia sedan. We left for Seattle around 1 PM and arrived about 5 1/2 hours later, about what we'd expected. On the way, we enjoyed the beautiful Pacific Northwest mountains and forests, along with weather that changed from cloudy to sunny to torrential rain every twenty minutes. We also got a chance to try out my Belkin TuneCast FM transmitter for my iRiver MP3 player, which I wrote about just the other day. We had dinner with our hosts Tanya and Jeff and one of their two daughters and then went with them and their French bulldog Emmy for a walk along West Seattle's Alki Beach. Later that night we watched (or perhaps "endured" is a better choice of words) National Treasure and made fun of the major flaws with the movie.


Liz's friend Muse picked us up in the morning and dropped me off at the Cinerama theater in downtown Seattle. After I picked up my ticket for Revenge of the Sith, I met my cousin Elly for lunch. I hadn't seen her since my wedding in 1998, so we had a lot of catching up to do. She's about to graduate from the University of Washington with an art degree. She had to go home to work on a paper, but was kind enough to drop me off back at the Cinerama, where I waited in line for about an hour and a half to get into the theater. I have already posted my review of the movie and the theater itself, so just check out that post below.

After the movie, Liz and Muse picked me up at the theater and we went back out to West Seattle. Later that evening we had dinner at the Palace Kitchen, a restaurant that was coincidentally right across the street from the Cinerama (though there was enough of a gap between the movie and the dinner reservation that hanging around the neighborhood didn't make any sense). The meal was excellent, and so was the people-watching. There was a group of older women waiting impatiently for a table and one of them kept pushing her way past us to bother the hostess about their wait. Then she ravenously devoured a plate of spring roll appetizers, to the point where I was concerned that she'd eat my fingers if I shook hands with her. About an hour and a few drinks later, on her way out, she stood in the restaurant's doorway and hollered at her companions across the room. When the evening showing of Revenge of the Sith ended, a few costumed fans came into the restaurant, Darth Vader helmets removed but capes still donned.


We left Seattle around noon and made the drive back to McMinnville in four hours, in what Liz's aunt Candy described as record time. Since they live in a house way up in the mountains, at the top of a steep, winding driveway that seems to be accessible only to cars with four-wheel drive, we had them pick us up in McMinnville instead of driving back to their house ourselves. We got there in time to catch the season finale of Desperate Housewives, which along with the movie was the other big pop-culture event of our vacation that I couldn't miss.


We drove to Portland and had lunch at Papa Haydn's, a café with unforgettable desserts. Liz had the carrot cake and I had a mint chocolate torte cake. Now logy from too much food, we rolled ourselves to Music Millennium where I loaded up on used CDs of Bruckner and Mahler symphonies. After that we drove across town to Powell's Books, and I filled my summer reading list with books by William Gibson, Brian Greene, Dan Brown, and Tom Clancy. (I haven't read a Clancy book since Debt of Honor, so I'm continuing in the Jack Ryan sequence by reading Executive Orders and Red Rabbit.) We ate dinner at a sushi restaurant downtown before making the drive back home.


Our first stop was the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, where Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose is on display, along with many other military and civilian aircraft. Then we drove out to the Pacific coast, where we had lunch at a brewery and took pictures on several windswept beaches. These aren't swimming and sunbathing beaches -- it's too windy and cold -- but there were a few hardy surfers out in the waves.


Since our flight home was a redeye and didn't leave until 11:55 PM, we had most of the day to spend in Portland. We had lunch at a little Mexican restaurant that a friend and former Portland resident had recommended to us, then we walked along the riverfront and enjoyed the best weather of our vacation. Workers were setting up rides for a carnival, so we made many jokes at the expense of "carnies." We took our time getting to the airport, and even after we checked in, we had plenty of time to visit with Liz's aunt and uncle and show off many photos from my four-year collection of digital images. The flight back was a little less than five hours, but the limited legroom and uncomfortable seats made sleeping difficult and eventually impossible. We landed at 8 AM and had a rush-hour-impaired cab ride home, but the cats were happy to see us and we them after a hard night's traveling.

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