It's been a long weekend for me, and now that I'm home, I'm curled up in bed in my adult-sized footie pajamas. Oh, how tired and sore I am...which leads me to wonder just how tired and sore Jess is, considering he ran the Portland Marathon this weekend! We're so proud of him: I'm constantly in awe of his resolve in accomplishing this feat twice now!
But I get ahead of myself.
Recap: Friday I finished screwing around with pickles and jam and finally went to bed. After getting up as usual Saturday morning, fiddling around with e-mail and errands (like going to the bank, gas station, coffee shop, etc) we finally managed to get on the road to Portland slightly before noon. We arrived at my mom's house in the mid-afternoon, met up with my brother and his wife, then the pack of us (plus the little dog) showed up at Grandma's house for our "Before you go back to Arizona" annual visit.
Grandma's little ratty Chihuahua and mom's zippy Miniature Doberman know each other but not well enough to get along. After much growling and chasing and stalking, and one minor injury as Zipper ran into my brother's giant new-age athletic shoe (attached to my brother's giant foot), the ratty hostile little dog was banished to the back room. Grandma sliced super-thin slices of frozen cake (red-white-and-blue Sarah Lee, left over from, yes, July 4th) for us all, and served it with coffee, and we made uncomfortable chit-chat. Eventually the whole group was able to have a fully fledged conversation revolving around the differences between While You Were Out
and Trading Spaces
, focusing mostly on the worst episodes of both.
Finally we were getting hungry for real food, and since my mom's husband was away on a hunting trip this weekend, we were all footloose and fancy free. I asked if anyone knew of any good restaurants in 'the city' and that nearly started a riot. My brother tried to reach a gay friend of his in Portland (who is renown for his good taste and restaurant recommendations) without luck. Before Grandma got going on recommending the local Chinese place (which I'm convinced must be god-awful if she eats there, as she and Al both feel coffee and a muffin at McDonalds are quite the tasty value for your dollar) or prime rib at the local seedy bar, I tried to head things off by specifying "I'm looking for something, um, up-scale." Oh, the flurry of shocked hand waving and protests from the elderly! Grandma insisted she wasn't interested in paying $20 for a tiny portion of food served on a big plate. I told her there was more to "upscale" than nuveau cuisine. "Well, you could try Shari's. They bus people over from the Senior Center to eat there. But stay away from Denny's in Wilsonville!" EXACTLY why I specified "upscale": so I would not end up at Denny's.
Tried to get my mom to choose something to her liking, but she refused. Chad and I poured over my Vindigo entries for Portland, and eventually settled on a funky Caribbean place called Salvador Molly's
that seemed to be to everyone's liking. Funny: I did end up paying $15 for the Hawaiian Ono
special, which came in a plenty-big portion but on a big plate. I'm sure grandma would have been appalled.
Kate and Grandma went back home with my brother and his wife, while Chris and I tried to hook up with Jess and his posse. Turns out Salvador Molly's has two locations, and he went to the one we weren't at. Then they turned tail and fled to the Limelight, which Vindigo did not have listed in the "bars" section, but did list under "restaurants and bars". After a comedy of errors and following directions not meant for drivers (take a left over the walking bridge, turn the wrong way up 12th Ave, and so on) we finally pulled up in front of the Limelight to find it completely empty. Completely by chance, I poked my head into an unlabeled doorway next to the restaurant and found the bar, complete with our friends. We managed to hang with Jess for about half an hour before he had to go home and rest for the run. We then went off to find a hotel of our own, in order not to be stuck staying in the uncomfortable accommodations offered at my mother's house.
Sunday: By the time we awoke, Jess had already been running for 20-30 minutes. We swooped down to pick up Kate, run an errand or two for my mom and then hot-footed to Portland to be there to see Jess cross the line. Yay Jess! We met up with Kathryn, awaited Jess's appearance out the other end of the runners' area, and walked with them back to their car. We then walked up to prowl Powell's Books for the first time in person (though we've ordered from the online store a few times) and Chris and Kate both found mutiple books they wanted to read. I didn't even begin to browse, and Chris lamented that he could "spend a million dollars there" just in the sections he managed to peruse in the short time we stopped in. I didn't even try to go to Powell's Books for Cooks after that. What a good girl I am!
Tried unsuccessfully to get ahold of friend Dagny, but her friend Mac had also run the marathon and he was also quite exhausted, so getting together at all afterward just wasn't in the cards.
We headed off to have a late lunch/early dinner at Kornblatt's Deli
, where the matza balls are huge and the sandwhiches divine. After lunch I decided to take the kids off on a trek to Astoria since I hadn't been there in years and I didn't have anything else to do that afternoon.
We got to Astoria shortly before sunset and got ourselves a hotel. We'd already decided to play hooky and take Kate on a trip up to see Mount St. Helens
. Chris had also been curious about the volcano since moving out here in 1997, so I figured it was time to stop driving past it and plan a visit. We settled into our hotel room in Astoria, overlooking the water, and could hear the sound of sea lions barking from the nearby marina. Kate and I walked down to the docks to see the sea lions close up, and we certainly did see a lot of them (we counted 47 before we gave up). Apparently a pack of sea lions
make their home in the little marina there, basking on the docks, even blubbering up into some of the vacant boats! They barked and barked...past sunset and all freaking night! Yes, ALL NIGHT. I woke up a half dozen times, easily, and heard their annoying "ark ark ark" coming into the room. Ug.
Monday: Before leaving Astoria, we drove a little way to see "the must-see sight of Astoria" the Astor Column
commemorating Lewis and Clark's trip to Oregon and the various significant events surrounding the founding of the town. The view from the top of the tower, (after we'd caught our breath from climbing) was fantastic, and Kate had bought a little balsa wood glider to toss from the top (an activity promoted by the tourist shop at the bottom). It was a neat little bit of history and worth noting that we could still hear the distant barking of the sea lions, though we couldn't see them anymore. Then we bid the sea lions a less-than-fond farewell and crossed the Astoria Bridge to the Washington side of the river and drove a scenic woodland road back to the relative civilization of Longview, Washington.
I took Chris and Kate to lunch at Burgerville, USA
. Burgerville is a local Pacific Northwest chain of burger joints. There's one in my mom's town, several between there and Olympia, but none this far north in Washington. As far as Kate is concerned, a cheese burger is a cheese burger, but you don't get a Tillamook cheddar bacon burger, or a wild huckleberry milkshake at just any chain burger place! Fortified, we drove on up to see Mount St. Helens.
I lived in Oregon City in 1980, having just moved to Oregon from Minnesota nine or so months before the volcano exploded. I have lots of very dramatic memories of the television footage of the ash plume, the flooding, the scenes of day turning to night, of ashfall around our house and of mountains of ash accumulated in Moses Lake, Washington where my grandparents lived. This was my first visit to the new visitor centers
along the road to the crater, the first time seeing the dramatic changes to the landscape first-hand. Chris sat through a movie or two about the lateral blast, and and felt better educated. I'd thought at the last minute to buy a disposable camera in Astoria, so I snapped a few pictures but then rain clouds descended on the mountain and we headed home in the rain and growing darkness.
I bought Kate a little box full of ash that she can bring to school to show her classmates, so hopefully her teachers won't be too annoyed that I called her in "sick" yesterday. I mean, we were doing something educational!