Winter Weekend in Portland

January 8-9, 2016

For the past couple of months we’ve had the kind of weather the rest of the country thinks we normally have. Lots and lots of rain and plenty of gray skies. The past weekend looked promising and we wanted to get out of the house so we took a mini vacation to Portland – which is less than 10 miles from our home. We go there a lot, but we thought it would be nice to see our beautiful burg like a tourist might. We’ve done this a few times – but not in the last few years.

Friday provided an abundance of sun so we headed to Pittock Mansion up in the West Hills to see which mountains presented themselves. On the clearest day  you can see Mount St. Helens, Mount Ranier (way up in Washington), Mount Adams, Mount Hood, and Mount Jefferson down in central Oregon.

As we sauntered down past the mansion onto the grounds that look over north and east Portland we spied Mount St. Helens which blew it’s top back on May 18, 1980. The very tip of the snow-cone-shaped mountain used to peak over the West Hills until the eruption which blew off the top.

Mt St. Helens peaking between the trees - from the Pittock Mansion

Mount St. Helens peaking between the trees – from the Pittock Mansion

Pittock Mansion has a beautiful lawn from which one can get spectacular views of Portland and things east.

Portland and Mt Hood as seen from the Pittock Mansion

Portland and Mt Hood as seen from the Pittock Mansion

If you look closely you can see the Willamette River passing south to north (right to left) through downtown. It separates the business district on the west side (taller buildings) from the light industrial area and suburbs on the east.

We walked down to the edge of the property to get an unobstructed view (try clicking on the image for a larger view).

Portland and Mt Hood from Pittock Mansion

Portland and Mt Hood from Pittock Mansion

Compare this expansive view with the one we had on a cloudy spring day in 2015.

We then headed into town and checked in at the Hotel Lucia. We stayed just long enough to stow our suitcase and freshen up. Our next mini adventure was to take the MAX light rail orange line over the Wiliamette River to the Oregon Rail Heritage Center. The non profit group has been working for years to restore steam and diesel locomotives. I had a brother-in-law who worked with the group back in the 1980s. I think the first locomotive they refurbished was the Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Railway #700. It is undergoing recertification and wasn’t a great photo op. But the old Southern Pacific 4449 passenger locomotive was in fine shape!

The old Southern Pacific 4449 Daylight steam locomotive at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center

The old Southern Pacific 4449 Daylight steam locomotive at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center

They also have a couple of ALCO diesels including a road switcher…

Alco diesel road switcher at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center

Alco diesel road switcher at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center

… a private caboose which we walked through…

Privately owned Union Pacific caboose at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center

Privately owned Union Pacific caboose at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center

…and my favorite in the collection – an Alco PA passenger locomotive. This was one of the earlier diesel locomotives used  for streamline trains as the diesel era dawned.

Alco PA diesel locomotive at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center

Alco PA diesel locomotive at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center

You can see steam locomotive OR&N 197 in the background; it is being refurbished.

The Union Pacific railroad abuts the Oregon Rail Heritage Center and we were treated to a freight leaving Portland on the start of it southward journey.

Southbound Union Pacific freight leaving Portland.

Southbound Union Pacific freight leaving Portland.

To get another perspective of the Portland we walked back west across Portland’s newest bridge, Tilikum Crossing. This bridge is not open to cars, being reserved for mass transit (MAX, Streecar, busses), bike riders, and pedestrians. This was our third trip on this bridge. In August we took part in the Providence Bridge Stride; then in October we crossed it as part of the Portland Sunday Parkways – Southeast event. I love looking north up the river into downtown Portland.

Portland bridges as seen from the Tilikum Crossing bridge in Portland

Portland bridges as seen from the Tilikum Crossing bridge in Portland

As you can see; a beautiful day for a walk. Mount Hood was visible on the other side of the bridge. I promise to walk across the bridge on the other side to get a better shot of our local mountain.

Mount Hood as seen through suspension cables on Tilikum Crossing

Mount Hood as seen through suspension cables on Tilikum Crossing

The aerial tram from the waterfront up to OHSU’s main campus on Marquam Hill is nearby also.

Portland aerial tram banner photo

Portland aerial tram banner photo

We caught an orange line train back to downtown and returned to our hotel for a bit before dinner.

West end of the Tilikum Crossing

West end of the Tilikum Crossing

As the sun was setting huge flocks of birds were swooping across town. I caught a picture looking north from our room toward the Broadway Bridge and Union Station.

Birds in flight as seen from our room in the Hotel Lucia - Portland

Birds in flight as seen from our room in the Hotel Lucia – Portland

We decided to splurge and headed up to the Ringside which specializes in steaks. I don’t think we’ve been out for a steak dinner in a dozen years and haven’t been to the Ringside since the 1990s. We had a small serving of their signature onion rings, split a salad followed by a couple of steaks (ribeye for me; filet mignon for Carla) with baked potatoes and all the fixins. It was really good – but expensive. I think for the price there are much better meals to be had (Eva Jeans springs to mind); but sometimes you just have to have a traditional steak dinner.

After dinner we walked through the Pearl District and spent an hour at Powell’s Books. I picked up a little booklet on sharks for a little guy I know who is way into sharks.

We had put in almost 20,000 steps and crashed when we got back to our room. Saturday morning was just on the warm side of freezing, but the overnight rain had stopped. Being Portlanders, we were prepared, so walked down to Mother’s Bistro and Bar for breakfast. Carla had eggs Benedict; I am a french toast fan and Mother’s serves the best in town; they coat it with cornflakes to give it a nice crunch. Our waiter was a delight.

French toast and bacon at Mother's Bistro in Portland, Oregon

French toast and bacon at Mother’s Bistro in Portland, Oregon

For a few years between about 2002 and 2007 we joined up with our great friends the McD’s for breakfast a couple of Saturdays a month. We rated them and I even blogged about a couple starting in 2006. There are some excellent breakfast places in the Portland area. Mother’s was a 5-star rating for us and is a great place when you are in Portland. The food, ambience, and service are great.

After breakfast we walked back up to the Pearl District to pick up a couple of things we saw at The Container Store the night before. I got a nice spice rack-like thing that fits in a drawer and a couple of other treasures. We loved the hanging baskets.

Hanging baskets in the Pearl District - Portland, Oregon

Hanging baskets in the Pearl District – Portland, Oregon

It was close to noon so we checked out, got our car and returned to our home in the western suburbs. This great overnight trip reinvigorated us. We live in a beautiful area.

About howardwthompson

I'm a person who likes to travel, read, cook, and eat
This entry was posted in Foliage and Landscape, Food and Eating, Photography, Trains, Travel, Walking and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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