If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Great Pacific Northwest Vacation Part II: The Cities

When last we left our travelers they were headed inward toward city life. Oregon isn't known for having many big cities and we started with the second largest in the state: Eugene. The drive to Eugene was quite nice and filled with farmland surrounded by evergreens. We saw cows and horses and donkeys and goats. b and I especially like the goats.

I had visited Eugene once before--work-related travel--and had fond memories of it. It is very hippy with a twist of grunge. It is also very green and pretty and the people are incredibly active and outdoorsy. Unfortunately I still wasn't feeling very well. I was on Day Two of a fast (induced by the bad seafood lasagna) which triggered a migraine. Luckily I had thought ahead to bring medication.

I had a feeling Eugene would be a bit too hippy for b's taste and I was proven correct. While he enjoyed the city--especially how incredibly bike-friendly it is--it didn't speak to him. Between his lack of enthusiasm and my poor condition, we ended up without any photos of our time in Eugene. There is a lovely greenway that spans the Willamette River as it winds it way through the city. b and I walked it after dinner counting the number of helmets we saw on riders. [My one complaint about Eugene is the number of smokers and helmet-less riders that we saw--sorry but its ingrained from my training]. We did have a great breakfast (by the third day I was finally feeling better) at a funky little restaurant that caters to vegetarian/vegan diets. In fact, many of the restaurants throughout Oregon were so inclined.

We moved onto Corvallis after breakfast. On the way we stopped to take a hike and see a few waterfalls.

Hiking to the Falls

Less than an hour's drive from Eugene, Corvallis is a very small and quaint city. The downtown is almost entirely original buildings from when the town was built. The Willamette also runs through Corvallis and there's a small riverside park. We had dinner in a local vegetarian restaurant, Nearly Normal's, that seems to be a college town regular. Later we found a lovely bar that not only had Guinness on tap but all my favorite tequilas.

During breakfast the next day--another local veggie-friendly breakfast joint that sadly could not compete with Eugene--b fell in love.

Pitbull-Bull Mastiff Mix Puppy

Leaving the puppy behind, we headed up to our final Oregon city: Portland. I was mildly disappointed with Portland at first. I had been there several times but not in over 12 years. It seemed a lot larger and more built up than when I first discovered it. However by the end of the 2 days we spent there I was charmed all over again. We went to my first true love in Portland right away: Powell's.

If you haven't been to Powell's you really must go. The online site really doesn't do it justice. It is every book lover's dream and I can spend half a day in there easy. For this trip I only stayed an hour or two. In part I was constrained by the number of books that I brought with me on the trip and couldn't carry too many more back home. I did manage to finally find the Books of Great Alta and Briar Rose by Jane Yolen. I also found Beauty by Sheri Tepper off of my summer list. Of course I couldn't stop at the list and got two new additions: T'ai Chi Ch'uan & Meditation by Da Liu and Stories of Illness and Healing: Women Write Their Bodies edited by Sayantani DasGupta and Marsha Hurst. My bedside table is getting very scary looking. I may have to post a picture of that soon. I finished Briar Rose the first night and loved it. If you want reviews, you'll need to follow me at GoodReads.

We had been meaning to try pizza while we were in Oregon. With both of us coming from UpNorth, we confess to judging cities by their pizza and bagels. So far the bagels had been decent in both Eugene and Corvallis but we had not experienced Oregonian pizza. b found us a place aptly titled "Escape From New York Pizza." Not only was the pizza genuine but the decor took me back to my younger days. Next to this exquisite pizza parlor was Kornblatt's, a NY-style deli. We had breakfast there the last day--the bagels were very good but not authentic. Our other culinary experiences in Portland included sushi (something that is just not done well in SouthLite) and some really scrumptious Thai food. Both of these dinners came with some amazing sake. I believe I may give up regular wine completely in favor of premium sake.

My second love in Portland is its International Rose Test Garden. I am a huge fan of roses and, as it turns out, Oregon has the perfect climate for growing roses. You find them everywhere but the ones at the Rose Garden are particularly amazing. In addition the Garden has a beautiful view of the city.

I particularly love the yellow ones

b does not share my feelings for roses. He prefers Japanese Zen Gardens. Luckily there was one right next door.

Haiku Stone*

It was difficult leaving Portland, as it was difficult leaving the coast, but we hope to be back sometime soon.

*Koko ni kite
Nihon no haru hi
Teru gotoshi

Here, miles from Japan,
I stand as if warmed by the
Spring sunshine of home.


Annie K said...

I love the waterfalls! It's always great to find vegetarian friendly cities. It's been years, but when my husband and I last went to Moab, Utah, we were impressed so many restaurants included vegetarian items on the menu. Except for the migraine, it sounds like an amazing, memorable vacation!

Julie said...

Absolutely beautiful! I LOVE your pictures. The flowers, the waterfalls, the zen gardens...heavy sigh. I want to go!!!! It looks like paradise.

I love the Haiku Stone, too. Powell's sounds awesome. I would love to have spent a couple of hours in there. Thanks again for the beautiful pictures. I'm glad the bad food and migraine didn't ruin the trip. It sounds like it was wonderful overall.

Brigindo said...

I'm glad everyone is enjoying the photos. I should give credit where credit is due...they are all b's work. He's a professional photographer....I can't take a picture to save my life.

drax said...

Beautiful piece, lovely photos. Splendid!

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Utah, we were impressed so many restaurants included vegetarian items on the menu. Except for the migraine, it sounds like an amazing, memorable vacation!

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