Mom and Dad flew in on a beautiful Saturday (although quite hot, low 90s), and after picking them up at the airport, we headed to Washington Park for the Portland International Rose Test Garden. It is a huge rose garden on a hill overlooking Portland. It is a testing ground for new rose varieties, and roses are sent from all over the world. There is also a nice grassy outdoor amphitheater and a train you can ride over to the zoo, as well as a crazy awesome Japanese garden (but you have to pay to see that. Its totally worth it).
It smelled nice.
After the gardens, we went to Jamie & Libby & Emory's to catch up and be in the presence of awesome people before dinner at Chameleon. Rachel was good enough to introduce us to Chameleon on a previous trip. It is a favorite of hers, and now ours! French-Asian Fusion (though not Vietnamese). It is the weirdest place. It has amazing food, a great drink/wine selection, they play silent old black & white movies projected on one of the windows at night, it has been in business for 9 years, and both of the times I have been there (both on a Saturday night) it has been almost completely empty. The first time we sat down at around 7:30 and left at 10, and saw one other table seated.
Jamie, Emory, Mom, Dad, Rachel, Prema, Pete, Libby
Everything on the menu is awesome, but I specially recommend the Grilled Dates (and yes I know Prosciutto is meat), Grilled Prawns and the Butternut Squash Ravioli.
Knowing that it was going to be in the 90s for the weekend, and having never been to the Oregon Coast before, it seemed like such a no-brainer. I mean, 1.5 hours from Portland is the coast, the same coast where they filmed The Goonies. The same coast where Lewis & Clark met the Pacific. Sunday was the day. The plan was to start at Cannon Beach and work our way northwards to Astoria, popping in at all of the little beach towns (and a state park) on the journey. After a brunch at Mother's (Just go if you haven't been. If you have, go again. It's amazing), we jumped in the car and hit the road to the first stop: Cannon Beach, home of Haystack Rock!
To paraphrase Wikipedia, Haystack Rock is 235-foot tall monolithic rock adjacent to the beach and accessible by foot at low tide. The tide pools are home to many intertidal animals, including starfish, sea anemone, crabs, chitons, limpets and sea slugs. After an hour and half in the car, we were quite excited to be getting close to Cannon Beach. However, about 20 minutes outside town we started to see what appeared to be smoke over by the coast. Alas, no such luck as the whole coast was fogbound. The temperature had also dropped to about 60 (and we were prepared for 90). Here is a shot of Mom and Dad at Haystack Rock
We quickly retreated to a cafe for hot chocolate and Irish coffees. The plan to pop in at all of the beach towns was immediately revised. Next stop was Fort Stevens, originally built during the Civil War era to protect the mouth of the Columbia. It actually took fire from a Japanese submarine during WWII but did not return fire so as to not display the location of the artillery batteries. It is a huge state park, with lots of cool stuff to see. First up is the wreck of the Peter Iredale, run aground in 1906
There were also several gun batteries and bunkers and whatnot that you can walk around and see.
We also got to see the spot where the Columbia meets the Pacific Ocean, which was absolutely breathtaking:
Traffic from the fort to Astoria got pretty heavy, and but it was kind of neat because there had been a classic car show at one of the beachside towns that weekend, so there were hot rods and muscle cars and just really awesome old cars driving around everywhere. When we finally made it in to Astoria, we stopped at The Flavel House Museum, a Victorian Mansion that is pretty awesome. We also found our way to the Astoria Column, which sits on top of a huge hill and gives a spectacular view of the mouth of the Columbia and surrounding environs.
That night we drove back, and after a particularly grueling hour long traffic jam in the middle of nowhere, we made it back to Portland at around 8 that night. We made a quick dinner at The Widmer Brothers Gasthouse, and much to Dad's exuberant delight they had Sauerbraten on the menu. Having been Sausaged & Cabbaged sufficiently, we called it a night. In the morning we went out to brunch with Rachel, and Mom and Dad headed to the airport and back to Chicago. It was a great trip.