Mount Shasta in Northern California stayed in our view for the first hour when we left Redding. It lies between the towns of Weed and Dunsmuir. You can imagine all the signs, t-shirts and paraphernalia that a place named Weed generates. Dunsmuir is a trout fishing mecca and where we stopped for breakfast at the Cornerstone Bakery Cafe. It was hopping on that Sunday morning. I enjoyed the spring scrambled eggs with fresh asparagus, spinach, tomato topped with chèvre cheese and my husband the Western omelet. The good food fortified us for the long drive to Portland.
It’s a 400-mile drive from Redding, CA to Portland, OR with hundreds of thousands(read gazillions) of pine trees to view along the way; Lodge pole pine, Ponderosa pine, Jeffrey pine, Limber pine, Whitebark pine. While we enjoyed the first hour or two of the continual pine vistas, we were thankful that I was driving 70+ mph along the interstate. Just south of the Oregon border was gold mining country and even the rest stop had an exhibit detailing the gold finds. The terrain flattened out into fertile farmland around Eugene where we stopped to visit the University of Oregon. We knew of it’s prowess as the country’s track and field powerhouse and were dueling impressed by the track stadium and field-house. It was a quiet Sunday on campus with few students walking the paths and even less in the bookstore. I noted that the campus’s environmental and health focus, with elaborate recycling containers easily accessible, signs imploring people to use re-useable containers for water rather than plastic bottles, and a tobacco-free campus.
Traffic increased from Eugene to Salem and was constant from Salem to Portland. We were excited to get to Portland and explore this city which we had heard so much about as a hipster haven. Getting off the highway we immediately knew public transportation ruled; on the wide one-way street we drove down, there were designated lanes for buses, trams, and bicycles leaving just one car lane. After walking through Pioneer Square, seeing several young adults playing instruments, gathering in small groups on the steps of this square that is called Portland’s living room and viewing the mile-post sign to it’s sister cities and other destinations, we headed to one of Portland’s many brew-pubs to taste the local lager. My husband verified the worthiness of the Rock-Bottom brewers while I tasted the grape of a local vineyard. Portland felt unique. Although the streets are in a grid, there is mostly low-rise building, accessible public transportation and food-trucks galore. And who can’t enjoy a city with a shop that raises donuts to a level reverence that starts a national trend. Voodoo Donuts was our first stop in the morning. The Magic is in the Hole!!!
Our Portland stop included paying homage to the beloved writer, Beverly Cleary and her characters-Ramona, Henry Huggins and Rigsby. My youngest daughter and I both enjoy a love-affair with Cleary’s characters. I read Henry Huggins as a kid and longed for a dog like Rigsby; I got my wish in our dog, Stella, that we brought home from Belgium. The story of her catching, killing and putting a decapitated mourning dove under my pillow is for another time, but you get the idea of our crazy dog. Reading aloud the Ramona series was a nightly ritual during most of my youngest’s second-grade. My husband or I read to her before bed and often there was an accompanying conversation outlining the similarities between Ramona and our lively daughter. So, it was with great admiration and thankfulness for Cleary, a librarian turned writer, that I drove down Klickitat Street where she had placed Ramona and her family in the books. The street is in the Hollywood neighborhood and has several Cleary sights, including a fountain with statutes of her beloved characters in Grant Park, an elementary school bearing her name and a map of streets mentioned in her books at the local branch of the library. We included in our tour driving-by a home she once owned and had recently been for sale; an arts and craft home similar to many in the neighborhood. On that sunny day, it was hard to imagine a better place to call home, especially since there was none of the famous Pacific Northwest rain in sight.