Saturday, May 20, 2017

Portland in the Pouring Rain

Surprise! The weather forecast is calling for rain! We are beginning to feel like seasoned Oregonians as we have now learned that you don't leave home without a raincoat AND an umbrella. In spite of showers this morning, we're driving the 25 miles into Portland for a day in the city. Since it's Saturday, we started the morning at two different farmers markets. In the rain you can see that Denisa is clutching her favorite purchase--spring garden peas.

The first market was downtown. The second is on the campus of Portland State University. It looks like Denisa bought even more healthy snacks. But the sack is filled with homemade cookies and the marionberry cinnamon roll will probably not be classified as healthy either. But Mark likes them a lot better than Denisa's usually healthy market purchases. Mark missed part of the market, as he spent much time looking for a parking spot after he dropped Denisa off to shop.

We are always looking for free things to do as we explore a new city, and we found Washington Park in Portland. It's a green oasis in the middle of a city with way too much traffic and too few parking spots for our liking. The park hosts an arboretum and several gardens, as well as the zoo, and a historic mansion. There are charges for most of those attractions, but you can walk between them for free on a dozen different trails that run throughout the park.

We thought we had left the Redwoods behind in California, but they keep showing up here in Oregon as well.

Of course, everything can grow in Oregon with all this rain. Even the bathrooms at the park are growing a healthy collection of green plants on the roof.

Even though we first walked a couple miles in the wrong direction, we eventually hiked our way to the Portland International Rose Test Garden. This is the test plot, where the newest roses are planted and then graded to find the ones best suited for this area. You will notice that the rain has stopped, and we got a glimpse of blue skies this afternoon. You will also notice that the rose gardens are surrounded by orange construction barriers. There is major renovation taking place in this part of Washington Park, making it hard to even get into the rose garden.

But we persevered and made it inside, and found that this is an impressive collection of roses. Portland's nickname is the "City of Roses" and they host a Rose Parade and Rose Festival and crown a Rose Princess every year. In the International Rose Test Garden they have over 8,000 rose plants in over 550 different varieties.

This place will be beautiful in a month or so. But today we searched the 4.5 acres and found only a handful of roses. We had to take a picture of this hardy early-bloomer that was soaked in rain.

It was another walk past the rose gardens to get to the Holocaust Memorial in a solemn part of Washington Park. Then we headed up Sacajawea Boulevard where Denisa attempted her best pose to match the Indian maiden that played an important part in making Lewis and Clark's expedition successful.

Next stop is the Lewis and Clark Memorial. It has been a part of this corner of Washington Park since 1903.

With our stops at the markets, and our wrong turns, and circles made around Washington Park, we walked over eight miles by this afternoon. We could have walked several more, but we opted for a ride back to our car, compliments of the Washington Park free shuttle. Just by standing under one of the purple bus stops, this magical bus would appear within 15 minutes to give our legs a much-needed rest.

After the bus dropped us off, we still had a quarter-mile walk back to our car. We had been inside the car for less than two minutes when the rain started in earnest. Then the hail started. Instead of the hard stuff we get in Oklahoma, this hail was more like tiny snow balls that exploded when they hit our car. We stayed in our parking space until it stopped. But it fooled us and came back as we got into very slow-moving traffic towards downtown Portland. As you can see between the hail hitting the windshield, the highway is also covered in hail and white by this time.

It wasn't a fun time to be driving, and it especially wasn't a fun time to be looking for a parking place. We intended to make a stop at Powell's City of Books--the largest independent bookstore west of the Mississippi River. But after circling the area in the rain, we decided it just wasn't worth the trouble. It's times like this that we remember why we never want to live in a city.

So we headed down the road to eat at a local Thai restaurant on our way back to the motor home. Again, it took several circles around the area to find a parking spot. It had been a long and soggy day in the largest city in Oregon, and we were glad to now be home in our little motor home in the country.

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