Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Day Out in Portland

    It's only a little after nine o'clock on a Saturday night and all is quiet save for the traffic I hear through the window. I'm sitting in the living room of the condo we've rented for the weekend and thinking back over our very full day. I feel we packed in enough activity to last us for a week, but there's more to come tomorrow (church and a wedding) and the next day (visiting with friends). We started out yesterday by driving north toward Portland and settled into our home away from home. I was happy to discover airbnb, where I found a two bedroom condo for our family for much less than we'd have paid to stay in a hotel. It was my first time using it, but I'm sure it won't be the last.

    It seems our first night away from home is never a restful one, and last night was no exception. Most of the kids slept well, but Erik and I both started the day pretty tired. We left here around nine this morning and met our good friends Dimitri and Sarah at Old Wives Tales, and great family restaurant on Burnside. Not only do they have a kid friendly menu, but there's a fun room where the kids can play while the adults talk about boring adult stuff. It's kind of a win-win. It was so good to see Dimitri and Sarah again.

    After our late breakfast we headed back across the river in search of a decent cup of coffee for some unnamed man for whom only the best will do. To be fair, when he asked me if I wanted anything, I said I'd like a cup of chai, but only if it was made in house; no Oregon Chai or Tazo Chai. So, yeah, we all have our own little snobberies. Coffee for the man, chai for the mama, and steamers for the kids, and we were good to go. By this time, the kids seemed to think it ought to be time to eat again, but we distracted them by stopping off at a playground in the Laurelhurst neighborhood. It was a lovely fall day, with balmy sunshine breaking up the blustery gray. The trees are in their glory, red and gold and brown, with just enough crackly leaves on the ground to kick up as you walk along. The kids had fun at the playground; they seem to have a nearly endless supply of energy!

    We continued our journey east until we came to Portland Nursery where we met up with my brother Josh, his wife Annie, and the cutest baby in Portland, Jacob. It was Apple Tasting at the nursery, and we lined up to taste over 50 varieties of apples and pears. Who knew? I was surprised by the subtle differences between them, how the flesh of some is pure white while others are more of a pale gold. Or how one is almost floral in its sweetness and another is tart. Erik's favorite was a Rubinette; I liked the Swiss Gourmet and Spitzenberg. In addition to apple tasting, there was a cider press, free popcorn, cooking demonstrations, live music, and activities for the kids. Annie accompanied Peregrine on a scavenger hunt all over the nursery; he was pretty excited to find all the clues. Poppy and Raphael sat and painted little pumpkins to bring home. Let's just say this involved a little paint and a lot of glitter. While all the fun fall activities were great, one of the top attractions for the kids was playing on and around the old caboose that sits out front of the nursery.

    There had been an awful lot of snacking taking place since our long ago breakfast, but we were feeling hungry for some real food by this time. Annie had just talked with her mom, who happened to have made a huge pot of pozole and kindly invited us to come over. Hmmmm, homemade pozole or restaurant food? We didn't need to think too hard before accepting that offer. We stepped into Maria's house and were instantly welcomed. The kids sprawled out, played, and ate. Peregrine enjoyed practicing his Spanish with Maria, and of course she was delighted at his attempts to speak her mother tongue. Erik and I enjoyed steaming bowls of delicious pozole, topped off by some Italian pignolia cookies. (I couldn't resist; Josh and Annie brought them back from Philadelphia just last night. These are the same cookies my dear old Italian aunts would just about stampede each other, and us, to get to. They're that good.) Hanging out with Annie's family is a lot like hanging out with mine. Everyone is welcome. You can lay on the couch and feel totally comfortable. There is lots of food to go around. We were blessed to get to be there and share in their family tonight.

    It was close to 7 when we said our final thank yous, muchas gracias', and goodbyes, and headed back toward our home away from home. Little Raphael was just about tripping over himself he was so tired, and actually saying things like "let's go home and go to bed". We were pleased to get through such a big day with no major meltdowns. The kids have mostly settled down, and here we sit, quiet and nearly ready to head to bed ourselves. It was a full day with lots of food, family, friends, and fun. 


  1. Sounds like fun-- esp. the orchard with Baby Jacob! I'm with you on the chai...

  2. Oh and pignolis!!!!


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