Monthly Archives: December 2013

I had been working on finishing up the Christmas in Oregon post for a couple hours and was all but done. I decided to break for breakfast, when I returned to publish my comments, they were all gone. The software logged me out without saving my work. I’ll rewrite most of it but suspect it will be significantly shorter as my time here is precious.

Merry Christmas from Portland, Oregon

I’ve arrived in Portland!

Air Travel – The rerouted flight went along without much trouble at all. The final leg of the flight was non-stop from Charlotte, NC to Portland, OR. The Airbus 321 departed only about 25 minutes late due to an issue with the paperwork. Seems some fuel was unaccounted for. Part of the delay was made up during the flight, despite a 136 knot headwind, and I arrived in Portland at about 9:15 pm. The first class seat was a welcome, and unexpected addition to the trip. The jovial lady taking care of the first class cabin was a veteran stewardess, professional, courteous, and witty. The dinner she served was barbecue beef, garden salad, shrimp cocktail, mixed vegetable (broccoli and carrots), and a dinner roll. The beef was tender and tasty, the veggies were a bit over cooked for my liking and the salad was getting a bit limp as might be expected having been prepared many, many hours earlier. Pairing with complimentary cocktails, vodka tonic was my choice du jour, rounded out a tasty meal for this hungry traveler. Things were looking up.

Arrival in Portland – By the time we landed I was feeling pretty exhausted, and experiencing that wired feeling you get from being over tired. My daughters met me at the airport to give me a ride to the hotel. Hugs and seasons greetings all around. We had not seen each other for many months and it was good to see them again. Our spirits were high and everyone was happy knowing we’d be together for Christmas.

Within an hour we arrived at the hotel. It’s usually a 20 minute ride but, due to distractions from conversation and the general euphoria of being together with family again, we missed an exit and took a bit longer sightseeing route. My youngest daughter was pretty tired and opted to head for home as we arrived at the hotel.  My eldest daughter, who lives about 12 blocks from the hotel in downtown Portland, opted to stay a little longer. We enjoyed a cocktail at the hotel lounge and chatted, catching up on what we’ve both been up to. After a half hour or so I walked her back to apartment and headed for the hotel.

It was now just after midnight here in Portland and I had been going for about 24 hours.  The king size bed was a welcome sight. I expected to be sound asleep within minutes of hitting the pillow but, it took over half an hour to finally fall asleep.  Five hours later I awoke. It was nearly 9:00 a.m. Eastern time (6:00 a.m. here in Portland) and my internal clock decided it was time to wake up. Oh well, I guess I’d have to catch up on sleep another day.

Christmas Eve – Ah, what to have for breakfast? I ventured out of the hotel to have a look around and see about finding something for breakfast. The first thing I saw were some street food carts directly across the street from the hotel. There was Mexican, Falafels, Greek, and a Thai food cart. A Thai food cart! Perfect I thought. I knew from researching about Thailand that I would be eating from Thai food carts very often, and very soon. I figured I may as well get started  and it would also give me a reference point to compare the carts in Portland to the carts in Thailand. Hmmm, not really what I had in mind for breakfast though. I opted to get an egg-roll for $3.00, and to keep looking for somewhere for breakfast. The egg-roll was tasty, but still cool in the middle, not quite long enough in the deep fryer.

Back at the Hotel, I stopped at the front desk for a recommendation for breakfast. The athletic looking young lady was more than eager to offer her opinion. After a short list of near-by eateries was discussed, I opted for her top pick of Tasty n Alder. It was a bit more than a mile walk through the streets of Portland but, as I discovered, more than worth the effort.

Tasty n Alder is one of the “diamonds in Portland” as a tourist put it that sat next to me as I enjoyed a fantastic breakfast. I had: Polenta & Sugo with mozzarella & over easy egg.

Polenta & Sugo with mozzarella & over easy egg

Polenta & Sugo with mozzarella & over easy egg

After breakfast I texted the gang and a plan for the day was set. We’d go for dinner and head to Peacock Lane to see the Christmas Light display. Apparently, the residents of Peacock Lane have been doing, and overdoing, Christmas light displays since 1920. A quick Google search will likely give you a bit more insight than I can offer here.

Dinner was at Thai Chili Jam.  A preview of the many Thai meals in my future. The food was excellent and the owner taught me a few new Thai phrases as a bonus. Life is good.

Christmas Day – I joined the family at their three bedroom apartment late in the morning. A cozy place on the first floor. In the living room was a natural Christmas tree with brilliant silver and blue ornaments and twinkling lights to set a festive mood. Beneath the tree were many cheery, brightly wrapped gifts with shiny gold and silver bows.

“A Christmas Story” marathon was playing on the TV as friends and family watched the traditional show. The air was filled with the aroma of Christmas dinner being prepared in the galley kitchen; a bone-in ham, with sides of scalloped potatoes, and corn. Christmas cookies made by Grandma, from old family recipes handed down from generation to generation, would finish the feast.

After dinner the younger generation played a multifarious board game called “Terra Mystica“. I watched as they moved their pieces and planned their strategy. My eldest daughter won in the end, and all declared the game to be exceptional.

It was truly wonderful to be able to spend Christmas with my children.

 

And I’m Off… OR Not

Well, my trip is off to a rocky start. In my email this morning there was a notification that my flight was delayed. The plane I was supposed to leave on, was going to be about nine hours late arriving at the local airport. Needless to say, there was no way I was going to make my connection in Chicago. It seems that the airline’s computers automatically booked me on the next available flight from Chicago to Portland, after taking into account my delayed arrival. The next available flight, with available seats, was Christmas day! Leaving me with a layover at the Chicago airport of about 40 hours!!! I think not.

I called customer service but didn’t have much luck getting the flight rescheduled to my liking, that is, arriving in Portland before Christmas. So I decided to drive the 45 minutes to the airport to chat with the ticket agent there about my other options. After an hour or so waiting in line I was transferred to a different airline and had tickets in hand that would put me into Portland today at about 9:00pm.  As luck would have it, easing the frustration of this SNAFU, the only seat left on the cross-country flight was first class. Since the delay was the fault of the airline (apparently an aircraft maintenance issue), there was no extra charge for the first class seat.  Or, maybe they knew I was blogging and wanted me to write nice things about them. 😉

In the end I’m glad I went to the airport to reschedule my ticket. Telephone support seemed unwilling or unable to book me onto another airline to complete my trip in a timely manner. Hopefully the rest of the trip will be uneventful. Or if it is eventful, it’ll be in a good way!

Your comments are requested and appreciated.

Traveler

Eagles and Ducks

Here are a couple birds that were outside my front door today. I live near a river and the ducks are quite plentiful. The eagles are seen less often, but at least monthly.

Eagle

A relatively young eagle – Head and tail feathers haven’t turned fully white yet

Eagle Flight

Eagle takes flight moments later

Ducks Flight

A breeding pair of mallards fly upriver

Turkeys

Just a quick post to share a photo I took today. These two turkeys seemed to know hunting season was over for their species. They were trekking through the woods less than 75 yards from a local hunting cabin. The fall hunting season for turkey ended here in November and the spring season is months away. The snow is about 10 inches deep now and these two were amusing to watch. They’d clumsily stroll along atop the deep snow but occasionally post-hole a leg, dropping into the snow up to their breast. Not what you’d call graceful, but then who ever called turkeys graceful?

Turkeys-

Two Wild Turkeys

Traveling Light

This season I’ll be traveling for the holidays and packing for the trip has come to the top of my to-do list. My personal preference is to travel very light whenever I can get away with it. I’ll be using a daypack type backpack similar to this Osprey Escapist 20 as my carry-on.

DayPack I’ll also wear a Gore-Tex jacket with several large pockets. No checked baggage at all. What I pack in these two items will be sufficient (mostly) for my two to three month trip across the U.S. and half way around the world to Thailand. I’ll pack clothes for five to seven days doing laundry along the way as needed. The daypack will be my carry-on and is small enough to fit in the overhead compartment on any airplane from regional commuter to jumbo jet.  The Gore-Tex jacket has four very large pockets. The pockets will be stuffed with clothes and gear making it my second piece of luggage, but the airlines don’t consider it luggage since I’ll be wearing it. Being Gore-Tex, it’s highly versatile. Light enough to wear on cool 60 degree days, yet when worn as a shell over several other layers it’ll keep you warm down to freezing temperatures. It’s also waterproof, which may come in handy in the rainy, tropical climate of Thailand.

I’ll use an Android tablet instead of a laptop computer for web, blog, and email. This saves a lot of space and it uses the same charger as my cell phone.

Bundle packing is a great way to keep things from getting wrinkled. Just remember to pack some items that you might need outside the bundle for easy access. Here’s a video I found on YouTube that explains it.

 Consider traveling light the next time you travel. No overweight baggage fees, no waiting to check bags, no waiting to retrieve checked bags, and no lost luggage.

Happy Holidays!

Now Comes the Clean-up

The storm has passed and it left behind 7.5 inches of snow and ice. The last several hours of precipitation were sleet so the surface is crusty. Now comes the clean-up. I see a snow thrower in my very near future.

A squirrel gathers some seed before the storm

A squirrel gathers some seed before the storm

And here’s the first embedded video. A little snow thrower action after the storm.

Being so new to blogging, I’m undecided whether it’s better to post daily or to post less often but with better content.

It’s snowing now, light but steady. I expect we’ll get another three to five inches overnight.

Check out the Photo Gallery. I added 24 new pics while learning how it works.

Update – Forecast revised down, Six to Eleven inches of total snow accumulation for the storm.