Portland is its roses and rhododendrons, its old-time cinemas and its many bridges, but without Powell's, it would just be another sopping wet city along the northern end of the I-5 corridor.
I took my daughter just after it opened on Sunday, and we loaded a basket with picture books for her (including a remaindered hard cover copy of Meet Wild Boars!), Erin Hunter's Warriors: The New Prophecy, books 2-6 (for my 9-year old son), and a pile of old and smelly books about the cosmos and the first men in space (for me!). I also found a wonderful coffee table book filled with colorful pics of hummingbirds. And then I spent 10-15 minutes (I could have spent a lot more, but said daughter was pulling at my sleeve to take her back to the Berenstain Bear's display) pouring over an entire section dedicated to blank books; I ended up buying three, two for me and two to give as gifts.
I was ostensibly in town to see the world premiere of my friend Stacey Luftig's libretto, The Story of an Hour performed by the Portland Chamber Orchestra. It was a fantastic show, and then I got to watch Stacey get up on stage and take her bows. And then we celebrated with beer, wine, Pellegrino, and an enormous pile of onion rings at Henry's Tavern on 12th and Burnside.
Iwas living in Portland when I decided to take my first poetry writing workshop (with Primus St. John at Portland State), so it's that kind of a town for me.
I break out in happy hives when I see the Jake's Grill sign flashing its green fishtail back and forth, and I get teary-eyed going over the Burnside Bridge.
I had never the taken kids to Portland, so I had no idea it was also a great place for them, too. We went straight to the zoo where, much to our surprise, it was opening day of Prehistoric Predators, an exhibition of 17 breathing, roaring, water-spitting dinosaurs! It was pouring and cold but we barely noticed except to admire the way the dripping rain made Carnotaurus's toothsome jaw even more fierce.
Sunday, after Powell's, we also hit OMSI, where we touched the moon, designed a space ship for a trip to Jupiter, and created some very nice salmon spawning habitat in a giant sensory table filled with gravel, water, and little plastic trees and logs. And btw, the Omnidome movie theatre blows doors off the Pacific Science Center's IMAX theatre. We got neck aches, though, from looking back to watch Into the Deep on the ceiling. No 3-D glasses needed!
I heart Seattle in a big way, but Portland has a lot going for it, not the least of which is that it's a city I can vacation in, and it's only 2 1/2 hours away.
Next time I am definitely going to eat at Kenny & Zuke's, though. We were staying right across the street from it (the IT delicatessen of the PNW), but I didn't realize what that always-hopping establishment was until we were pulling out of our parking spot. Dang!