As we contemplate taking a trip to Portland this summer, we recall that we learned a valuable lesson last time we were there in 2004. Live with it: There’s never enough time on a vacation.
It was a family week, encompassing nine Tanners, four Browns (she’s a Tanner), and four Lykinses (whose mother/grandmother is a Tanner). Not to mention various in-laws, outlaws and others whose familial relationship is too complex to even contemplate.
For an only child like me, this whole big-family thing can be mighty overwhelming --- going to a 1,000-relative Tanner reunion in Utah is not, repeat not, an option. But with only a couple of new-to-me members to meet this time around, these events were a snap.
We flew in from San Jose, and discovered e-tickets and e-boarding passes are wonderful. Husband Richard had to have body searches at the security checkpoint, because he has a titanium knee. But we had no long lines, no hitches.
We stayed 30 miles from Portland in Scappoose with a much-loved nephew, Jim Lykins, a masterfully understated, helpful and funny host. According to his directions from the airport to his haven home, one takes several freeways and a causeway, in the process driving past a school and a supermarket on the left, a 30-foot-candle and a pickle factory on the right.
Our weird-weather-on-vacation legend is intact and unbroken. In seven days, the meteorology ranged from chilly and drizzly (the norm) to clear and warm, to sunny and very windy, or sultry and downright hot at 90 degrees. No records broken, but it was close.
During our trip, we connected with husband Richard’s next-youngest brother Roy and another of Richard’s most beloved nephews, whom we hadn’t seen for 17 years or so. Gee, isn’t it amazing how much his red-headed teen-age kids had grown since then? But of course, we haven’t gotten any older. Ahem.
We and 75 or so others lingered under the shade and shelter of a Sauvie Island apple orchard and dined on a sumptuous vegetarian “picnic.” Our grandson Dylan prepared much of the food. The rest was potluck-style. The casual festivities included a keg, volleyball, Tracball and two hyper-energetic 4-year-olds plotting about how to get a tiny green frog onto the cake. It was all so perfect.
During the rest of the trip, we went to the zoo; we saw the beautiful, wind-swept Yaquina Head Lighthouse, the Bureau of Land Management’s “sister” facility for the Piedras Blancas Light Station here; we saw snow-topped Mt. Hood, Mt. Bachelor and Mt. St. Helens, all from the same site on the same afternoon — which was so uncommonly clear the TV weatherman called it a “five-mountain day.” (We didn’t see the other peaks until we flew out three days later.)
We saw sea stacks and steep cliffs, miles of beach, many more miles of trees and terrain so green it makes your eyes hurt. However, they do get rain there. Remember rain? We get it here, but we’re in a different precipitation league, believe me.
But there was so much more we wanted to do, and if I had let myself, I could easily have reverted to a whiny brat about it, but I remembered to use the “live with it” lesson as a mantra.
We didn’t get to Washington, although Paul Bunyon probably could have tossed a rock and hit the neighboring state at several points in our trip. We didn’t go to the Rose Festival Parade, one of the nation’s largest floral-theme parades, held the day after we arrived. We didn’t hit the Portland farmer’s market either, reputedly the longest-running weekly outdoor floral-and-food venue in the nation. We didn’t go to the 1,400-acre Forest Park or the 24-inch-diameter Mill’s End Park (but trust me, I will find out what makes 2-feet- across special enough to designate it as a parkland).
Five of us made it as far south and west as Yaquina Head, but not to the smaller Yaquina Bay Lighthouse or even to “downtown” Newport. We simply ran out of day before we could get there.
We didn’t see the Rose Gardens, a source of international fame for the city. We didn’t even get to shop in downtown Portland.
I guess there’s only one solution. Lesson No. 2: We’ll have to go back. And now, with a wedding in the offing, we plan to do so, soon.
The original version of this column ran first in The Cambrian on June 24, 2004.