Although the next series of blog posts will have absolutely nothing to do with Everest Base Camp, I hope they will describe another adventure we have just begun with our good friends Marty and Sue Bridi.
For the past seven years I have made an annual trip out to Oregon to enjoy a fantastic couple of days of rafting, camping, and camaraderie with family and friends. My sister Karen and her husband Larry generously host us for this annual event, which I always look forward to. Last year, my wife Joanie joined in on the fun for the first time (because it allowed her to visit our son, John, who was living here at the time). Well… it turned out that she had such a great time that we both thought it would be a nice event to share this year with Marty and Sue, who had never been to Oregon.
With Joanie’s positive report and encouragement… which amounted to “if I can camp in a tent and use a vault toilet for a couple of days on the river and have fun, then I think you’d enjoy it too… why don’t you think about coming along next year?”
So, here we are on what we are affectionately calling the “Grand Tour of Oregon.”
It all started today with a 3:30 a.m. wake up for the early flight from Virginia to Oregon. Surprisingly, at least for me because I generally have horrible luck with the airlines, both flights were perfect, reasonably comfortable and actually arrived early! To be fair I think I have to give credit to our former parish priest, Father Keith Cummings, who we coincidentally bumped into at the airport as he was leading a group of high schoolers and chaperones on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Father Cummings graciously offered a blessing on us for our trip as we parted ways at the bottom of the escalator.
Once we arrived in Portland, we got the rental car with no delay, headed out for a quick lunch, then made the scenic drive along the Columbia River Gorge out to Multnomah Falls. Along the way we took a scenic detour to the south ridge above the river and stumbled into the Vista House Overlook at Crown Point, where we were able to enjoy some panoramic views of the river and gorge which forms the border between Oregon and Washington.
With the early wake-up, cross-country flight, and scenic visits, we were all beginning to wear out, so we checked into our hotel to freshen up, get a short nap, then head into Portland. We decided to go to Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, a beautiful cathedral in downtown Portland (which just happens to share the name of our home parish in Fredericksburg, St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception!)
Then it was time to walk the streets of Portland, a unique city with a tremendous about of social and socioeconomic diversity. If you are into “people watching,” Portland won’t disappoint! Since we were in the area, we couldn’t pass on the opportunity to get a tasty snack at the famous Voodoo Donuts… I’m pretty sure Mr. Voodoo himself served us!
Then it was off to the Benson Hotel for a drink and some appetizers at their ornate and historic bar. Now, this was a happening place where we even got invited to peak into a wedding reception for John and Joe… it looked like the couple and their largely male guests were having a great time!…
Finally it was time to get back to the hotel to get some rest (since we’ve essentially been awake for 24 hours) before embarking on the many other adventures we have planned.