Saturday, June 21, 2014

Back From Vacation

After posting last week's Thursday Thoughts, I realized that the guide book for where we went on vacation wasn't in the guide book photo. Oops! That's because it was already packed! So where did we go for 10 days?
We went to Portland, OR. We spent 4 days in the city and 4 days making day trips and 2 days on planes.

My thoughts:

1. I liked but didn't fall in love with Portland. That could be because of the weather. It was cold 6 out of 8 days and rained/misted/fogged 6 out of 8 days. We did not get to see some beautiful sights to which we traveled because of the crappy weather (too many clouds/fog). Also, I spent 6 out of 8 days huddled in a long sleeve t-shirt, sweater jacket, scarf, and ear muffs (my ears do not liked cold breezes!) and wished I had taken my gloves. Native Portlanders seemed unfazed - they seemed to think breezy 50-60 degree days meant t-shirts, shorts, and flip flops.

2. My like-not-love could also be because on our very first day, just 15 minutes after leaving the hotel to find the Walmart to buy bottled water and snacks for our day trips, we were rear-ended while sitting at a traffic light. We were hit hard enough that the trunk was seriously damaged - it wouldn't close, so we could no longer drive the rental car, so we had to sit for 2-3 hours in a strip mall parking lot waiting for a tow truck to deliver a replacement rental car and tow away ours.
Of course Oregon is a no fault state.

Of course just 12 hours earlier we had declined the rental car company insurance.

Of course the replacement car was not as nice as the original car, and the seats were much higher which meant every time I got in the car, it was a serious uphill battle to slide up the slide transfer board. So. Annoying.
Also, there was something greasy-sticky in the trunk of the replacement car, so the wheelchair was constantly sticky & greasy, so we constantly had to wipe it with a Clorox wipe or else I couldn't touch the rims to push myself around because I'd end up with sticky and greasy hands. So. Annoying.

3. On this trip, the wheelchair had a problem. There is a nut & bolt that holds the foot rest onto the leg attachment and the nut came off. So the bolt came out. Parts disconnected. The nut got lost somewhere in the trunk. So. Annoying. Thank goodness for smartphones - we located a nearby Ace Hardware and went there to find a new nut. The nice guy at the store found the correct one, found the Allen wrench, and put it back together for us. Cost: 55 cents.

4. So many annoying things. It was starting to feel like not much of a vacation, dealing with nuisances that you are supposed to be escaping for a while. But, people in Portland are nice. Really nice. Really friendly. Really helpful. Except for the old guy who kicked us out of the Visitor's Center when we walked in at 5:27 pm, unaware that they closed at 5:30 pm. He put on his jacket and told us to come back at 8 am. This was just a few hours after we got rear-ended, so vacation was really not getting off to a good start!

5. There are a lot of homeless people in Portland. I had read about it, but I was still shocked at how many we saw. Also, I was shocked that at times, I couldn't tell the difference between young hipsters sitting on sidewalks hanging out and groups of young homeless hanging out on the sidewalks. It seemed like some of the young supposedly homeless were awfully happy, clean, etc., for sitting on a sidewalk begging for money.

6. I can kind of see the comparisons between Pittsburgh & Portland, but then again, I can't. Mostly, I hear about the similarity because of the rivers and bridges. I liked Portland. It's pretty. It's clean. It's easy to get around. There are beautiful parks, art/statues around the city, great restaurants, nice people, historic and new buildings. But I honestly feel Pittsburgh has the same. If I had to choose, I'd choose Pittsburgh - probably because it is my hometown.

I am envious of Portland's public transportation system. Puts our Port Authority to shame.
They have green bicycle lanes which are great, but also annoying when you are in a car and want to make a right turn and the green bicycle lane is to your right - which we had to do every time we returned to the hotel parking lot..

7. We met a lot of Portlanders who were from the Pittsburgh area, or married to a Pittsburgher. Maybe that's why they are so nice? Everyone is from Western PA?

8. We were a little worried about our hotel. Last year, when we planned a 2 week trip to Seattle & Portland that we had to cancel because I broke my hip, we had reservations at Hotel Monaco. This year, the cost of that hotel was around $100 more per night. So we switched to the Embassy Suites on SW Pine - very near the original Voodoo Doughnuts. It wasn't cheap, but it was more reasonable than a lot of the other hotels we looked at. We were worried because we had read about all the homeless nearby.

Yes, there were a lot of homeless nearby, including one who sat on the sidewalk with a guitar and sang (horribly). But they are friendly. Or ignore you. We self-parked in the hotel lot across from the hotel and never felt unsafe walking over. We were able to walk to almost everything we wanted to see in the city (it's a very walkable city). And it was not in the midst of a lot of traffic or night life.

Our room was great, clean, and quiet. They gave us have a 2 pm check out time on our last full day when we asked about extra time because of a 12:45 am flight on Friday. The later check out time was helpful. Plus, they stored our luggage for the day, extended our parking in the garage, and let us freshen up that night in a key-access bathroom.

9. Delta Airlines personnel put United personnel to shame. Every single Delta employee we dealt with was friendly. Happy. Pleasant. Helpful. Actually present at the gate desk. Prepared for me and the wheelchair. Knew the rules about storing and tagging the wheelchair for gate check. Completely the opposite of United when we last flew to/from Las Vegas. Which is good seeing as the Delta airfare was 60% more than the Delta multi-city airfare we booked last year for PIT-SEA and PDX-PIT. But, major points to Delta for allowing us to change last year's tickets with no change fee, just the difference in air fare.

10. I am realizing just how old I am. Aside from being so darn cold on breezy 60 degree days, I cannot handle a red-eye flight! We left PDX at 12:45 am. I was unable to sleep despite being exhausted. Neither could SP. Too many people loudly snoring. Being jostled by turbulence and people walking in the aisle. We landed in MSP 3 hours later and had 2 hours to kill before departing for PIT. I did fall asleep, soundly, on that leg, so much so that I was bummed out when we landed because I wanted more sleep!

We were barely functioning yesterday! It felt like we were hungover! We both are shocked at how much the time zone changes / red-eye flight affected us. I think we're at that age where we might pay more for a flight with 'nicer' travel times!

11. Despite the challenges of vacation, we enjoyed Portland and the surrounding area a lot. Definitely a good vacation. There are a few things we'd like to go back and see/do again - in some ways, we didn't have enough time, but part of the problem was the cloudy, misty weather. Mt. Hood supposedly looms over the city, it's Oregon's highest point, but I didn't catch a glimpse of it until our very last day, when it was finally sunny and cloud-free.


  1. Good information since I'm heading there next month!
    Where did you guys go on your day trips?

    1. Just posted about our day trips! Also planning to blog about where we ate soon, but if you want, I can email you a list of everywhere we dined. Only one place was just 'meh.'

    2. Got it! Thanks for all the info; it's a great list!