If I was going to describe my most recent trip to Portland with the lyrics to an old song, it wouldn’t be the ones to “I Never Promised You A Rose Garden.” Because I DID spend lovely leisurely time in the beautiful Portland Rose Garden, which was on the top of my list of things to do. As my son Mike, Kelly, Romeo and I entered the garden in the sweet light of the Saturday evening of Memorial Day weekend, my thought was “maybe this is what heaven is like,” and tears came to my eyes. The moist warm air was full of the intoxicating perfume of familiar and exotic roses, and people of all shapes, colors, ages and sizes were seeing themselves and each other through rose-colored bliss.
Here is a lovely shot Mike got of Kelly stopping to smell one of these beauties:
And here is a fun shot of the two of them I got with Mike’s iphone:
The wet Portland weather cooperated that evening by letting the sun shine long enough for us to wind up the hill to the Japanese Garden, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Here is a glimpse into that world:
In case you were wondering, yes, I walked up all these stairs. And down others. And up the hill on the winding trail to the entrance. And back down again.
But these two magical places are not the only unprecedented Portland adventures I had. I was all set to meet up with Susan Voisin, who was in town for the Vida Vegan Conference with her daughter E. But I hadn’t planned on attending the conference. I wasn’t sure I could do such a thing, especially after an 8 hour trip. But at the last minute someone couldn’t make it and was giving their ticket away. Susan was able to accept the ticket for me, so Friday morning I found myself riding into downtown Portland with my son, who dropped me off at the Portland Art Museum in one of Portland’s beautiful park blocks on the way to a video editing job he was working on. Since he would be at the computer until late into the night, and Kelly would be at school teaching, he set me up with a cab for whenever I was ready to go home and rest. I spent the morning before the conference officially started camped out with Romeo on a couch outside the museum library, where I had the honor of a relaxed visit with Susan and her daughter. I attended two workshops that afternoon, and then Romeo and I rode in a cab across Portland, including a ride across one of its beautiful bridges, back to my son’s house where I took a much needed nap. Saturday Kelly drove me down for another workshop, and then I had lunch at the conference, too. I met some wonderful bloggers, who were all very kind and welcoming to both Romeo and me, including such well knowns as Dreena Burton and Jill Nussinow the Veggie Queen. Everyone I met was wonderful and supportive, and now I have some new vegan blogging friends to learn from and follow.
I was so amazed I was there at all I didn’t think to take pictures. I probably should have pinched myself several times during my attendance at the conference so I would know I wasn’t dreaming. Yes, it was me navigating my way in a crowded room or lunch line, while visiting and picking out what I could eat and carrying my plate to the table (and feeding Romeo some baked tofu cubes in the bargain). Yes, it was me lugging a swag bag of goodies out to the curb with a full backpack on where the cab driver took it all and put it in the trunk and drove me across one of Portland’s unique bridges. It was me reading and answering my phone in a crowded room without my glasses on. It was me speaking up in a discussion to a room full of people about my blog.
And that’s not all I did. We also managed to take a trip out to Bob’s Red Mill store where Mike bought me a 25 lb bag of gluten free oats.
And we went to an Asian shopping mall called Fubon where I was treated to a large container of dried shitake mushrooms and we picked out wonderful bok choi, kumquats and other delectable exotic goodies for our meals and snacks. We walked the dogs in the park at the base of Mt Tabor. Kelly made us delicious vegan sushi. We watched the cool and amazing documentary A Band Called Death, which, despite the title, is one of the most inspiring stories I’ve come across in a long time . And we laughed at the antics of the two dogs and the cat. And Sunday night we went out to eat at Canteen with Susan and her daughter. I had a delicious “Portland Bowl,” an “Orange One” smoothie, and an extra side of kale. I was able to keep low fat by asking for the sauce, the hazelnuts and the tempeh that tops the Portland bowl “on the side.”
On the road to and fro with my friend Jody (who graciously drove the eight hour scenic drive on the Washington side of the Columbia River, which was gorgeous) I packed and ate two salads each way. In the interest of full disclosure, although what’s in them is my creation, I did not come up with this salad in a jar idea. I first heard about it from my friend Cathy Fisher at Straight Up Food, then again on Engine 2 blog. Most recently I came across this entry on Happy.Healthy.Life. The mouth watering photos in that blog entry convinced me to give it a try. Here are a couple of shots of the salads that got eaten on the way from Moscow to Portland:
Bottom to top in Lentil Taco Salad: Tomatillo sauce (courtesy of my friend Ellen’s blog, Vegan Day to Day, red pepper, red cabbage, pineapple, lentils mixed with Susan’s Cheesy Cauliflower Sauce and ancho chili powder, red russian kale, cucumber, brown rice, sweet potato chunks, cilantro.
Bottom to top in Asian style salad: Dressing made of mashed chickpeas, lemon juice and Thai sweet red chili sauce, carrots, red pepper, apple, chunks, zucchini ribbons, kale, quinoa with mustard seeds, a few slivered almonds, and chopped mint.
The only bummer on the whole trip was that I lost my prescription glasses during the outing to Canteen. But even that I could have seen coming if I’d paid closer attention, though not in the way you might think. I’d been noticing my eyes were focusing more easily and even in my overwhelmed exhausted state I was seeing so much better that I kept asking myself, “Do I really need these glasses?” I guess the universe decided to take me up on my question and suck them out of my everyday world so I could find out. For the meantime, I am making do alternating between my old prescription glasses and some heavy duty reading magnifiers I picked up for 50 percent off at a Portland Whole Foods that are stylishly emblazoned with–yes–roses. It seemed like the perfect choice, since Portland calls itself the City of Roses, and even the sewer plates on the street are engraved with them.
So even though I don’t have a lot of pictures of the food or photos of the wonderful people I met at the conference to show for it, if I had to choose an old song to describe my trip to Portland it would be Ethel Merman belting out the classic from Gypsy “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” Because it did. And I had a sweet sweet time.