Monday, August 4, 2014

The Portland Zoo, Donuts, and a Mansion!

With relatives on both my maternal and paternal sides of the family living there, I really should visit Portland more often!  I always have a wonderful time when I go.  My cousin Nancy and three of her four children (and their children) live in the area, and my cousin Priscilla drove in from Walla Walla for the week. Nancy and her husband do missionary work around the world and always have interesting stories to tell.  So when they invited us to their house for a lovely brunch one morning, we were eager to catch up.  Nancy and her husband had been picking blackberries the day before and she prepared a delicious blackberry cobbler, egg souffle, potatoes, and fruit salad.  While "the ladies" sat around the formal dining room table, indulging and visiting, we noticed Nancy's husband would walk by with various and sundry items, en route to the breakfast room.  Sometimes it was a towel, sometimes baking pans, sometimes sticks with leaves dangling!  We soon figured out what he was doing -- creating fossil prints with the kids!  That kept the children well engaged so we older cousins could really catch up with each other.

Another day we all went to the Oregon Zoo together.  Surprisingly, this also turned out to be one of the best ways we could visit with each other!  Everyone was well entertained and the kids were occupied looking at the animals while we adults visited in small clusters, sometimes with this person, sometimes with that one, so we had some nice one-on-one personal time with everyone. My cousin Becky joined us, too, so got to know the other side of my family better.  Who would have thought the zoo would provide such intimate opportunities?

As for the zoo, it was lovely, complete with a variety of bears, hippos, lions, monkeys, elephants, giraffes, birds, and more.  We had planned to visit the Japanese Garden afterwards, but were all walked out, so grabbed lunch in the food court, then parted ways -- until next time!
Beautiful eagles....
We were there for the polar bears' feeding time -- they were beautiful!
 Can you see all the parrots camouflaged in the foliage below?
One morning my daughters and I woke early, before anyone else, and made our way to the famous Voodoo Donuts shop.  As we got off the freeway and were following our GPS system, we suddenly got a whiff of the donuts coming in through the car windows.  "I smell donuts!" I exclaimed.  Yes, another block down and there stood the bright pink building with a line already forming to get in!
 Fair warning ~ cash only sign:
  The weird and eclectic decor of Voodoo Donuts:
I don't know what happened to the color here -- the box was actually bright pink, but I took this picture in the wet bar lighting at the hotel and it came out...yellow!
We selected donuts for everyone back at the hotel and Uncle Don's house, based on personality!  Lys tried the Bacon Maple Bar (which made me sick to look at, in all honesty, but she said was actually very tasty).  Some of us had the Portland Cream.  We got a Memphis Mafia for the 50's generation (all of Elvis Presley's fav ingredients -- peanut butter, bananas, and chocolate) .  There were Dirt Donuts for the kids (and the kid in all of us).  We got an Apple Fritter that was the size of a dinner plate for Uncle Don.  There were some donuts with names I can't print here!  For an entire list of the weird and crazy donuts, click here:  Voodoo Donuts.

One other field trip we took in Portland was to the beautiful Pittock Mansion.  It is worth the trip for the beautiful views of Portland as well as the delights in the mansion itself.  A picture is worth a thousand words....
 We were fascinated with the standing sewing kit:
 Such tiny waists back then:
 Can you see Mt. Hood in the distance below?  It looks like a cloud in the middle, but seemed much closer in person.  We also had views of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams at various times.  It only rained the first two days -- otherwise we had beautiful, clear weather.

So ended our Portland vacation.  Wonder where we'll go next year?  Any suggestions?

Sunday, August 3, 2014


Every summer my sisters and I get together and this year was no exception as the city of Portland called to us!  We stayed at a hotel in Vancouver, Washington, very near to where my Uncle Don lives.  His daughter Becky drove in to spend the week as well.  In addition, my sister Linda brought her granddaughter, and my own daughters Ash and Lys flew in from San Francisco.  We gave Uncle Don fair warning that he would be greatly outnumbered by all the women with our chatter and giggles, but he assured us he was up to it!  Don is the brother of my father who passed away two years ago.  Their mannerisms, dry sense of humor, and quiet but wise ways are so similar, we wished we'd had a dollar for all the times we remarked to one another, "He's just like Dad!" 

We visited, played cards, went out to dinner, pored over family photos, hugged, joked, and generally had a ball just being together!  On Saturday night Uncle Don treated us all to a cruise on the Columbia River through the Columbia Gorge.  The problem was -- he came down with a cold and didn't feel well enough to go with us.  Bummer!

We passed the famous Multnomah Falls on our way to the Sternwheeler, but only had time for a quick photo opp from the parking lot before needing to hit the highway to Cascade Locks.
We boarded the beautiful Sternwheeler, mesmerized by the rotating paddle and the gorgeous scenery.  We were served a delicious dinner and savored the tasty desserts!  (Our family rule -- when we're on vacation we throw calorie counting out the window!)
Here's our route:
We went under the Bridge of the Gods, which joins Oregon (on the left below) with Washington (on the right):
It was a "see through" bridge ~
 See the semi truck going over it ~ yikes ~ not appealing to my fear of heights and tall bridges!
There is a beautiful Native American legend about the Bridge of the Gods, Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams. You can read about it here:  Native American Legends: Bridge of the Gods.
We also passed many of these crude docks, built by the local Native Americans for fishing per the Columbia River Inter-Tribal fishing rights.

Wind surfers and kite boarders also kept us entertained.  It was really a lovely cruise and all too soon it was time to dock.
In fact, we enjoyed it so much that on Monday we took another cruise -- this time on the Portland Spirit along the Willamette River.  And the good news was that Uncle Don was well enough to go along this time!  The wait staff even entertained us with a song or two:
 We left the city behind and motored past the hills, homes, and boats of the Willamette River,  It's hard to see in this picture, but there is a row of houseboats in front of the condos below:
Portland is a city of bridges ~
 And then the city came into view and we returned to the city shores ~
So far I've been telling you about visiting my dad's side of the family, but we also have relatives on our mom's side of the family in Portland!  Stay tuned for another post about those escapades! 

My daughters adopted two adorable kittens this weekend and have been texting me pictures of them!  Brothers -- aren't they sweet?
Here's Sherlock playing with Ash's shoelace, Sisko is in the background.  So far Sherlock seems to be the ring leader, while Sisko is a bit shyer. 
But "Sisko (Cisco) the Kid" did catch a little of "Breakfast at Tiffanys" on TV on this lazy Sunday morning:
So ends my lazy Sunday morning -- time to get busy around here!  Have a wonderful rest-of-the-weekend!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Gift of a Letter

Letter writing is in my soul.  I've been writing letters to friends, cousins, sisters and pen pals of all ages, near and far, as far back as I can remember.  Some say it is becoming a lost art, but I know of several groups out there that strive to keep handwritten letters alive.  This weekend I have several letters to write....

Thank you letters to my Uncle Don and my cousin Nancy who made last month's sojourn to the Northwest so special and delightful! (More about that, complete with photos, soon!). 

A condolence letter to my sister and niece who lost a dear friend that was like a sister to her this week.  She's had so much loss in her life, where do I even begin to write yet another letter to her about losing someone so close to their hearts?

Letters of encouragement to the kids I sponsor as they head into the last term of the school year.

Congratulations notes to my daughters ~ one for landing a new job she was dreaming about and the other for her hard work and extra hours to launch a major project at her workplace! 

Opening the mailbox and finding a thought-out, handwritten letter is magical.  It makes a difference and is truly a gift.  Give it a try and see if you don't receive a thank you from someone whose life you touched with a few written words.