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Portland : Promising Fall Pleasures

Monday Oct 13, 2008
Attractive Portland - Courtesy

Attractive Portland Courtesy

I had never seen Sean so despondent. Ever since Taffy had been laid to rest he had completely lost his usual happy frame of mind. I knew he was crying at night too having heard him sniffling on my way up. The days were going by but the eleven years olds heart did not seem to mend. Taffy had been in the family for most of two years. It was just by chance that the answer came up on my laptop – Wolf to Woof: The Story of Dogs. World Forestry Center, Discovery Museum, Portland was running a three month exhibit on man’s best friend! Portland seemed be calling out loud and clear.

Before the chill set in to freeze us all out in hometown Fargo a brief stint to enjoy Fall pleasures would do us all a whole lot of good, I thought to myself. Collecting my thoughts I planned on a quick getaway with Gramps, Sean and six year old Katie. Maybe some good old fashioned fun was just what the four of us needed. Bridgetown beckoned and my mouse searched for more benign festivities that would see us through the winter ahead. Without a second thought I clicked on to Portland Downtown hotel site to book for reservations.

The weather was just about perfect as we landed into Portland. With morning fogs slowly disappearing and sunny afternoons in the offing for the next few days, even the winds were going to be calm offering respite from the freezing frosty conditions back home. I was doubly glad of my decision. And now we only had to find all the exciting things to do here in Portland. Located in North West US it is the greenest city of America. Perhaps the coming together of Williamette and Columbia rivers has something to do with this. Whatever but the climate is ideal for growing roses, and for more than a century, Portland is well known as “The City of Roses”

I had to tell Sean and Katie how the city got its name by the flipping of a coin to make the decision. What was actually a “the clearing,” on the banks of the Willamette turned out to be a commercial potential. The new city, that contending partners wished to name after their home town was decided with a coin toss won in a series of two out of three tosses! The coin used for this decision, now known as the Portland Penny is on display in the headquarters of the Oregon Historical Society.

But enough of this trivia. The downtown area of Portland where we had found comfortable lodgings appeared to have compact square blocks on a side with narrow streets providing a pedestrian-friendly combination. Most of Portland’s recreational, cultural, educational, governmental, business, and retail resources are concentrated here at downtown. And what is even more interesting is that Portland is one of only two cities in contiguous US with extinct volcanoes within their boundaries, the other being Bend also in Oregon. Mt Tabor Park built over it has scenic views besides the historic reservoirs.

Getting on with our plans we first visited Wolf and Woof the raison d’etre for our visit to Portland. Held for the first time the exhibit is all about facts on dogs and explores what makes their relationship with humans so unique. The hands-on, interactive components use our familiarity and love of our four-legged friends to explore science and biological concepts. Visitors leave the place with a better understanding of dogs and I am very sure I could not have found a better closure for Sean regarding Taffy.

Of course I had other “Twists and Turns” up my sleeve to let all of us have a real good time while here. The MAiZE is now into ten years in Portland to have become a regular feature. This great and weird Portland idea has grown into a Portland tradition and would be on from October 8 to 31, 2008. The MAiZE, a giant puzzle carved into a towering cornfield, has become a classic fall event for tens of thousands of visitors craving adventure and laughter and to connect with life on a family farm.

Craig Easterly, the artist-creator of the annual giant-sized maze at The Pumpkin Patch has designed the maze this year as celebrating Portland and its beautiful cityscape and surroundings. The “Bridgetown MAiZE” at The Pumpkin Patch features the city’s bridges, rivers, mountains and outdoor spirit. Easterly promises that crossing the newly built Sauvie Island Bridge, and finding The Pumpkin Patch, is the easy part. Finding our way out of the 5-acre labyrinth was both a physical and mental challenge for the family and a great way to enjoy each other.

Looking for a delightful time Portland provided us with the seasonal escapades that took us to the famous Pumpkin Funland that opened on October 1. To be on until November 11 I am very sure that all children including grand parents are going to love it here. I know we had the bestest time in a long long time. We also did the Pumpkin Time at Kruger’s thats going to be on until October end. It had us searching for the perfect pumpkin and along with it we enjoyed seeing acres of pumpkins. But what was really great were the hay rides, animal barns, caramel apples, corn stalks besides a whole lot of fresh autumn produce. For the pure fun of it there could not have been a better place.

Wrapping up the Portland vacation, Frogs – the exciting traveling exhibition at the Oregon Zoo had us having a swell time. The wonderful seasonal attraction had several frog species, including the White’s tree frog, Vietnamese mossy frog, fire belly toad and poison dart frog among others. Tadpole Tales Story Time, fun-filled educational activities and a kiosk emitting frog sounds had both Sean and Katie darting about like crazy. Yes Portland promise of fun and frolic proved just that. The Fall pleasure activities are like nowhere else but here. I’m so glad I listened to my heart.

Portland MaIze Fun - Courtesy

Portland MaIze Fun - Courtesy

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