Friday, August 16, 2013

Our Oregon Outing, Part 1

We just got back from a week in Oregon and Washington.  We left last Friday and drove to Baker City, Oregon.  Everything looked so yellow and dry out the window.  Somewhere in Idaho there were some fires on the horizon that contributed to this impressive cloud formation.  Otherwise, it was pretty much yeller yeller yeller the whole trip.  

In Baker we stayed at a cool hotel called the Geiser Grand.  I wanted to do a blog post that night called "Us Geiser in Baker City" (or maybe it should be "We Geiser in Baker City"), but couldn't get Blogger to cooperate.  Anyway, the Geiser Grand was originally built in 1889, fell into disrepair in the 1960s, and was restored to its original glory with funds provided by a private donor, reopening in 1998.  It is charming and fraught with character.  However, apparently Baker has been experiencing problems with its public water supply (animal waste creeping into it....Joe overheard "something about a goat") and hundreds of people have had diarrhea from drinking the local wa-wa this summer.  They were experiencing a fresh outbreak of germy H20 the day we checked in and told us not to drink water from the faucet or brush our teeth with it, etc.  So we didn't.  And we remain diarrhea free as of this writing.  That was the only fly in the ointment at the Geiser Grand.  And we blame the goat(s), not the Geiser.  

The venerable Geiser Grand

This is the view from the second floor.  You can look down into the dining room, where we dined that evening.  (They brought us glasses of water and Joe said, "Where did the water come from?"   "We boiled it," the waitress said.  I did not partake. It did not sound refreshing to drink boiled water, even if it was now icy and even if it had been previously goat-waste free.)  But dinner was tasty and the entire dining experience was very civilized.   After dinner we went to Geiser Pollman Park nearby.  It had neat old playground equipment, like this merry-go-round.

We also saw a skinny guy pulling himself up the swing set pole.  I was impressed.  I asked if he'd do it again while I took a movie.  He obliged, but looked pained after the second time around.  He said it makes his stomach sore.  I'm not surprised.  Now his feat is documented on YouTube; I hope he runs across himself one day.  

The next day we drove to Portland and met up with Aunt Julie and Uncle Tom.  We met them downtown at the Portland Saturday Market, an outdoor artsy/craftsy fair attended by a wide cross-section of fascinating humanity.  I told Emma that the best way to describe downtown Portland folks is "scruffy."  I told her "You look around and tell me if that's not true."  Emma took the picture below herself.  

As we looked around, we saw a long line of people outside a nearby shop called Voodoo Doughnuts.  

I asked one lady in line what the big attraction was, and she said that the doughnuts at Voodoo are so delicious that people happily wait in line 45 minutes or more to buy a dozen fresh doughnuts.  We weren't interested in standing in line, but I asked a young couple who had just bought a boxful if they'd sell us one for five bucks.  He told me I could have one for nuthin' and to "pay it forward"  (I'll look for an opportunity to do that.)  We chose a modest unfrosted blueberry cake doughnut.  It was pretty good but I'm glad I didn't pay five dollars for it.  Here's what some of the other doughnuts looked like.  Pretty fancy.

We sat out on a picnic table while we waited for Julie and Tom to join us.  We were a few feet away from Dan and Louis' Oyster Bar, which I remember going to a couple times in my youth.  We bought a few oysters on the half shell, just 'cause we could.  

I think oysters on the half shell are overrated.  They're way too expensive.  And apparently the correct way to eat them is just to let them slide down your throat, and what's so great about that?  So I chewed on mine to get the full oyster flavor, and it's just this little bit of salty sea-watery chewiness for $2.45 cents per oyster.  What am I missing?

Here are a few more photos of Saturday Market:

You could see the big pink US Bancorp Tower down the street.  I used to work on the 16th Floor at Travelers Insurance (and one day after I'd taken a really long nap on a Sunday afternoon in late spring 1984 I woke up in the early evening and thought I had slept all night and that it was Monday morning and so I took a shower and got ready for work.  I went outside -- the light looked so pretty, and different somehow -- and waited for my bus, which didn't come, so I walked all the way down West Burnside to get to work, noting that there were people in the Taco Time, which I thought was odd at that hour of the morning.  Traffic also seemed very light.  I tried to open a door at the US Bancorp Tower, but it was locked, so I said to a guy walking by, "What is going ON this morning?  The buses aren't running and this building is locked," and he looked at me and said, "It's night."   I told Uncle Tom this story and he said, "Bad day to be a blonde.")

There was some dude at Saturday Market who looks enough like Johnny Depp that he's able to dress up like Jack Sparrow and supplement his income by posing with tourists.  He wanted us to hold a bottle of rum in the picture.  Well, actually he wanted Emma to hold the bottle of rum.  Aunt Julie told him we don't drink.  He said, "Well, pretend it's iced tea."  "Well, we don't drink iced tea, either."  Then we told him we were visiting from Utah.  "Oh, that explains it," he said.  

So then we drove across the bridge to Julie and Tom's house in Vancouver, WA,  and spent a lovely evening with them.  They were so very hospitable and had stocked up on Emma's favorite snacks and put cute signs on our bedroom doors, etc.  We had dinner at Jazzy John's barbecue nearby, then came home and stayed up late chatting.  So fun to be at their home.  


Julie said...

Come back! It was so much fun to have you here at your old stompin' ground.

Richard said...

Welcome home. Fun to read this blog with Emma and you sitting beside us.
Thanks for sharing.

The Gardener said...

Did you drive by my house and not stop and say hi???????
Looks like a fun time!

Joey/Denny/Emma said...

So THAT'S where you live! The mysterious Idaho location has been revealed. We need to meet halfway sometime for lunch (Tremonton?)

Ang said...

Denny, I could read your writing all day long. Such a fun travelogue! Love the picture of the old hotel too. And the goat poop water story.