Friday, July 24, 2015

A Day in Portland, Oregon!

July 2, 2015 ~ So Brandon and I decided to spend our 4th of July in Alaska this year as it's a state that we haven't been to yet. Then when I started looking at flights it made sense for us to spend a day in  Oregon (Oregon was a state we've never been to either) then fly up to Alaska to break up time in an airplane. (After our Hawaii trip last November I swore I would never fly longer than 4 hours in a plane... that was brutal as we don't sit well!)  At 6:00 AM we hopped a flight on Southwest Airlines and headed for Portland, Oregon with a quick stop in Denver, CO!

Out the left side of the plane you had an awesome view of Mt. Hood. (We sat on the right side of the plane and the flight attendant offered to take a couple pictures for me as we had a great view of it!)

From our seats we could see Mt. Adams (on the right) and Mt. St. Helens (on the left)
(sorry for the bad photo... used my iPhone instead of my good camera)

We had finally made it! Portland, Oregon we hope you are ready for the Spry's! 

I wanted to find a location to get a few photos of the "White Stag" sign but sadly the highway and doing about 75 mph was about my only chance.... 

We headed to downtown Portland to see what we might find... we stumbled upon the Heathman Hotel which is somewhat famous from Fifty Shades of Grey.... 
Well you didn't think I wasn't going inside did you? Heck yes I did and I tried to get a tour of the place too! (No go on the tour) I tried to talk them into letting me purchase a bottle of wine with a grey necktie...that was only for guests. (I did have fun talking to the hotel staff but we couldn't stay long as we had other things to see!)
I wanted to find the "Portland" sign and it was just down from Heathman Hotel... sa-weet!
When searching for things to do near this downtown area I kept seeing a salmon coming out of a building and was on a quest to find it. After we parked our car behind the Heathman Hotel we look up and there it was! The salmon was located on Salmon Street... who knew!

So we wanted to find somewhere to eat and began walking around. I love looking for big pieces of art from basic concepts and loved this big whisk just outside a cupcake shop!
(This is actually a bike rack)

So  there were several places to eat but they had an hour or longer wait which we didn't have time to wait for. We saw tons of food trucks but we aren't really sure of this whole food truck thing so we started walking back to the car when we found Jake's Grill. I mean anything from 1994 should be good right? ( We graduated high school in 1994 - proud nekked babies {aka: Kewpie} here!)

As we were walking back to the car from lunch (that took forever) we noticed the meter maids were on the street were we were parked. Just as we got to the cross walk they were walking away from our car. Guess we now know why their downtown area is vibrant and booming because with parking tickets like this they can totally afford to pay for it! $39.00....Geez!  

We headed to our hotel to get checked in before our tour. About 30 minutes before the tour we found out they don't pick you up unless your hotel is downtown... which is where we just came from! It was all good and they were very nice and would wait for us to get back downtown. They even told us where to park so that we didn't get hit with another crazy parking ticket! 

We met our tour guides, Tom and Carrie at the Hilton off Broadway and we were the only two on this tour! (I really loved this because we would get a chance to interact and visit more one on one and not have a van full of people that had to be back at a certain time) Normally you don't have two tour guides but we signed up for the "Portlandia Tour" and Carrie was training for this tour with Tom!

When I booked this trip I had no idea what "Portlandia" was/is. I wanted a fun tour that would take us all around the city and see as much cool stuff as we could. We laughed when Tom asked us if we knew what Portlandia was... Um... not a clue! Today was our lucky day because we were going to blend a couple different tours with the Portlandia Tour so he could help train Carrie.... Woo Hoo!

Portlandia Tour:
Whether you know what ‘put a bird on it’ means or not, this one-of-a-kind Portland tour is a great way to learn about ‘Portlandia,’ a popular TV show created by Carrie Brownstein and SNL alum Fred Armisen. A fun and friendly guide takes you to visit filming locations around the city such as the real Feminist Bookstore. Plus, enjoy the goods at Voodoo Doughnut and one of the city's coolest coffee shops. If you are ever in Portland and want something fun and/or interesting to do then take this tour!
One of the first things we learned about was the Benson Bubblers. In 1912 Simon Benson, a Portland philanthropist, donated $10,000 to the city to buy and install twenty of the four-bowlers. The goal was to have clean drinking water available to everyone in the city. Due to environmental concerns, water no longer flows in them 24 hours a day, but instead from 6 am to 11 pm. 
(There are now 50 Benson Bubblers around Portland) 

Another interesting fact about Portland was the Nike  logo came from  Portland University. In 1971 while attending graphic design school, Carolyn Davidson participated in a  design challenge with Blue Ribbon Sports, Inc. and created the Nike "swoosh" logo. She was paid $35.00 for her design. (later that year the company officially became Nike, Inc.)  

Tom and Carrie wanted to take us to the Portland Aerial Tram. We head up this super winding road that you aren't sure where it leads to and at the top is several hospitals. So many people visit/work at Oregon Health & Science University's main campus on Marquam Hill that it makes it easier for parking and traffic. OHSU is  Portland's largest employer, medical destination, and home of several medical schools. Marquam Hill is also home to a residential neighborhood, nature trails, and hospitals owned by Shriner's and Veterans Affairs.

The Tram cabins travel 3,300 linear feet from South Waterfront to Marquam Hill. Traveling at 22 miles per hour, the Tram cabins rise 500 feet during the four-minute trip. Each of the two cabins have a capacity of 79 people, including the operator. The Tram operates load-n-go. If you miss one, expect another in just a few minutes. 
Who knew they even have names! It's true! The Trams are named Jean and Walt. The north cabin is named after Jean Richardson--the first female engineering graduate from Oregon State University. The south cabin is named after Walt Reynolds--the first African American to graduate from OHSU (University of Oregon Medical School at the time). The real life Jean and Walt rode their namesake cabins for a naming ceremony in 2007.

(The Medical Center is also refereed to ask "Pill Hill")

As we approached the other end you see lots and lots of bikes. Most people travel by bikes because of ease of parking. Tom and Carrie were certainly smart by letting us take the tram down because it didn't cost anything but to take the tram up was $4.50! (Now that's some pretty awesome tour guides)

Also at the bottom was a massive ship being built! Not everyday you see one of those! 

We found a painted piano and it reminded me of our trip to New York! They had these beautiful painted pianos scattered all over Albany, NY and I remember how cool it was to see each of them because they were all so differently themed. While this is the only one we found during our stay in Portland it was really neat and I wish I knew how to play a piano.... I would have played a little tune!
Vera Katz, former Mayor of Portland
Portland East Bank Esplanade

So I told you that we have never seen "Portlandia" nor understand what it is however Tom and Carrie tried to explain this to us and from what I can recall it's basically skits that mock the people of Portland. It's meant to be taken in a joking matter so I had to look up some videos to explain certain parts of the tour when we were talking about "Portlandia".

Here's another "Dream of the 90's" clip and might describe "Portlandia" a little better.

This is Burnside Skate park and I wish I could have gotten out to take a few good pictures of this place. It was really cool looking and was originally built as a skate park without permission however they eventually approved it as a public skate park. These guys are really protective of their skate park so it wasn't wise to get out and ask to take pictures. It has been featured in video games such as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Grind Session and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3. Amazing to see so much talent in the artwork of this place. 

I found this YouTube video from Halloween 2014 that shows more of the Burnside Skate Park.

Beverly Cleary, an American author of more than 30 books for young adults and children lived in Portland, Oregon and moved here when she was 6 years old. She is one of America's most successful writers of children's literature and has sold 91 million copies of her books worldwide. We drove past the Beverly Cleary School and the famous Klickitat Street before stopping by Grant Park to see the statues of her beloved characters.

Henry Huggins
Ribsy Huggins
Ramona Quimby
 (Thank you Tom for offering to stop at this park to let me grab a few quick pictures!)

 Next they took us to an old elementary school turned into a  hotel! What a really neat concept and great idea for an old building that might otherwise be unused or possibly torn down. A little history taken from their website states:

The Kennedy School has been a center of lively activity for the Northeast Portland neighborhood since opening in 1915. Over the years, thousands of kids congregated here to decipher the three Rs, eat mac and cheese on Mondays and climb hand over hand up the gym rope to ring the bell.
When built, Kennedy Elementary School's location was rather remote; it stood three blocks beyond the end of the nearest streetcar line. And that line, which came out Northeast Alberta Street, passed through some pretty sparse country, judging from an ordinance that outlawed the shooting of rabbits from the streetcar. Also, the school was just eight blocks from the city line, then set at Northeast 42nd Ave. — and in those early years, the numerous Kennedy students residing beyond that boundary lived without electricity, water, sewer or telephones. Actually, the first elementary school classes were held on the school grounds in portable, one-room buildings in 1913, two years before the present-day school building was built and opened. Just 29 children attended that first year.

As decades passed, the school took on additional civic roles, further endearing it to its neighbors. When school was not in session, "Kennedy" served the community as a public meeting hall, polling place, Red Cross blood drawing center, collection site for paper and tin can drives, weekend playground and even flood-relief shelter. It was a sad day indeed when at the end of the 1974-75 school year, faced with declining enrollment throughout the district, school officials closed Kennedy, declaring it too old and crumbling to repair. Scrambling to ward off several demolition orders, a coalition of neighbors, former students, past PTA presidents and the Portland Development Commission fought successfully to save the building.

Mike and Brian McMenamin presented just one of several proposals for reviving the condemned property. Other ideas ranged from a retirement home to an indoor soccer facility. After receiving the approval of the city and the support of the neighborhood, McMenamins launched its renovation in the spring of 1997, infusing the 80-year-old structure with new life. In particular, a river of artwork was inspired by the stories of generations of Kennedy's students and teachers. On October 22, 1997, the original principal's bell was rung on the front steps at 7 a.m. sharp to herald the old school's new beginning as McMenamins Kennedy School. Offering a unique and fun lodging, dining and meeting experience, Kennedy remains a lively gathering spot for neighbors and newcomers alike.

They had several pieces of art displayed throughout the building and it was really cool to walk down the old hallways and see rooms turned into hotel rooms. The cafeteria was now a restaurant and the couple bars were once detention halls and/or boiler room.

One of Tom's favorite food trucks is The Grilled Cheese Grill. You can order your sandwich and either sit outside on the picnic bench or sit inside the school bus if it's bad weather.

This was a bunch of tiny houses next to The Grilled Cheese Grill. They call it The Tiny House Hotel which is a small compound of rent-able houses with a common area for bar-b-ques, s'mores and music. It's kind of cool, different and unique! 

Next we went into the "In Other Words Feminist Community Center/Bookstore". (We've never been to a bookstore and/or community center like this before) I've gotta say this is the first time I can honestly say that I have seen clay vagina's. Tom said one of his tours they came in here and they were actually making them so it was interesting to him to see the final product.

So I had to look up a few videos from the Portlandia show on the Feminist Community Center/Bookstore to understand a little more. Here's a video with a few different clips.

 Historic Piedmont neighborhood is home to a unique horticultural gem – Peninsula Park Rose Garden.  A formal French garden, this tranquil treasure is Portland’s first public rose garden and original site of the Rose Festival activities.  More than a century old, the Garden’s iconic fountain and bandstand are perfect complements to the splendor of more than 5,000 roses.  The Garden’s wide, brick walkways and ramps, along with level grassy paths, provide easy access to all.  The Garden is home to Portland’s official rose, Madame Caroline Testout, which was planted by the thousands along city streets in the early 1900s, ensuring Portland could rightfully claim to be the City of Roses.

  From a plaque at the entrance: From time to time the roses are replaced to maintain the garden's beauty, fragrance and health. More than 5,000 roses representing dozens of varieties create a vibrant display that includes 3,100 donated roses planted in 2013 - a joint effort of Portland Parks and Recreation and Friends of Peninsula Park Rose Garden, marking the garden's 100-year birthday. Today, thanks to the vision of early planners, as well as ongoing support and contributions from neighbors, volunteers, community organizations and local companies, Peninsula Park Rose Garden retains its beauty, grace and ever-blooming heritage.

We headed to a neat part of town that was renovated and walked around to check out the sites! 

We walked past this little shop seen in the Portlandia clip.

 An interesting door... which knob do you turn to get in?
Well let's just put it out there for everyone to see! 
We found the light bulbs! 

So Tom likes Voo-Doo Doughnuts and Carrie likes Blue Star Doughnuts.
Brandon and I would help decide which was the best doughnut because they were rock star tour guides that will end up taking us to both doughnut shops!!

I actually liked the Blueberry Burbon Basil! 

We took a tour through a place similar to Habitat for Humanity except this place was huge and organized really nicely. The community kids got together to help build the big tree and fence outside in hopes to keep anyone from adding graffiti or damaging it in an effort to clean up the community.

Our last stop before heading home....

The Famous Voo-Doo Doughnuts! 
While the Pothole Doughnut sounded pretty awesome I needed to see the other selections first! 
 Choices... so many choices!
The pink bubblegum doughnut caught my eye! (I'm such a kid)
For $110.00 you can fill this coffin with doughnuts... Holy smokes! 

Tom and Carrie dropped us off back at our car and we headed to see a few more sites before it got dark! I gotta say that we really enjoyed our tour and they were awesome tour guides. I felt like we got a chance to see a lot of Portland that we wouldn't have otherwise seen and learned a lot about different areas. I highly recommend taking this tour... tell them Brandon and Michele Spry sent ya!

We wanted to go see the ocean but it would take a couple hours to get there and a couple hours back that we didn't have left in the day. We settled for heading to the Multnomah Falls via a scenic route! First stop was the Vista House at Crown Point! 

Construction on Vista House began December 29, 1916, soon after the dedication of the (Historic) Columbia River Highway.  It was completed May 1, 1918 even though a plaque on the rear entrance of the building reads 1917.  It was dedicated on May 5, 1918.  Quoting The Oregonian, November 14, 1915, “Vista House is intended to be the finishing achievement for the greatest highway in America and will grace the highest spot on that wonderway.”

Vista House is an iconic historic structure built as a tribute to Oregon’s pioneers, a rest station and observatory. Crown Point, originally called “Thor’s Heights,” is the promontory where Vista House is located and has been an Oregon State Park day use area since 1938.  This site attracts over a million visitors each year.
The Spry's stop for a quick picture!

Latourell Falls! 

Kind of fun driving to find various falls!
Better like curvy roads!
Loved the different older bridges!
Wahkeena Falls!

We made it! Multnomah Falls!
Very pretty and lots of people visiting it! 

We had a really fun day in Portland and felt like we saw a lot that it had to offer. If we come back to visit sometime we know a couple different places we would like to visit. Time to get a little shut eye and get ready for our next adventure tomorrow.... Alaska!