March 28, 2015
Our friends Brent and Robin came over from Boise the last weekend of March. I’ve already posted about our kabobs and lemon pie dinner we had on their first night in town. We gave them directions to the MAX light rail system on Friday and they explored downtown on their own – walking up through the Pearl district and down to the waterfront. Friday night Robin joined Carla for the monthly bunco game while Brent, my neighbor/buddy Jay and I went to Busters for some barbecue.
We get so caught up in our daily and weekly routines that we lose sight of the wonders our city has to offer so on Saturday we took the opportunity to explore the city through the eyes of a tourist. I grew up in the Mojave Desert in Southern California which has its own delights and surprises – the desert will always have a special place in my heart. Nevertheless, when we come home from our road trips across the country we breathe an audible sigh of relief when we cross out of the deserts of the west, over the Cascade Range and into the green, lush Williamette Valley. The Pacific Northwest is a little jewel of green tucked up in the corner of the country.
We started out by going up to Pittock Mansion; this home was built in 1909 by the owner of the then daily Portland newspaper. It affords one of the best views of Portland – a really spectacular view five mountains: Mt Hood and Mt Jefferson in Oregon and Mt St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt Rainer in Washington. Alas, it was overcast on this day so all we couldn’t even see Mount Hood. The Williamette River (which is the namesake of the valley) is barely visible behind the skyscrapers of downtown in the photo below.
We didn’t tour the mansion itself; instead we headed a little south into the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park. This is the focal point of the Rose Festival every June. There are hundreds of plants throughout the grounds. We were a little early for seeing roses but we did see the beginnings of some buds. I’ll have to get back there in June to capture them in their full glory. I was able to get some pictures of other flowers which I’ll share later in the post.
Then we walked up the hill to the Japanese Garden. Carla was here with our co-mother-in-law Jeanette last summer when she came from South Africa to visit. But I haven’t been there for at least 20 if not 30 years. It is a beautiful park with so much to see.
We grabbed a map showing a path for a quick (one hour) but comprehensive tour of the grounds.
I highly recommend this park for any visitor to Portland.
We then headed downtown to have a bite to eat and then visited the Portland Art Museum where we saw an exhibit on Italian style from post-war to the present. The exhibition ends on May 3 so go see it soon if you are interested.
Although the roses weren’t blooming, there were plenty of other flowers that were. I took my camera with my new Minolta 50mm lens out on our outing. While I know that the main component of a great photograph is the photographer and not the tools I must say I’m really happy with my new lens. I was so excited when I learned that many old Minolta lenses work with Sony A-mount cameras. I’ve taken some comparison photos which I’ll share in a later post. But I was very pleased with some of the pictures I got of the local flowers during our walk. I especially like the bokeh effect (the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens) of this lens – especially in the top right image.