A Portland Summer Solstice
Monday 6 July 2015 — Category: Outings
The day before the summer solstice (and Father’s Day), my wife, daughter and I spent the day exploring central Portland, Oregon. Around 9:15 a.m. I dropped them off at the Oregon Convention Center to attend a homeschool conference while I did a bit of shopping at the nearby IKEA.
I was finished before they were, so I parked the car at the Gateway Transit Center and took a MAX Light Rail train back to the Convention Center. From there I took a MAX Yellow Line train north to the Portland Metropolitan Exposition Center — a part of the MAX system I had never ridden before.
Within a couple of minutes of arriving at the Expo Center, my wife called to say that they were finished. So I hopped aboard a returning train and met them in front of the Convention Center. Then we took a Portland Streetcar south to have lunch at Olympia Provisions’ Southeast Restaurant. The food was quite different and quite yummy!
From there we walked a few blocks southwest and crossed the Willamette River on Morrison Bridge. Then we walked north along the Tom McCall Waterfront Park a short ways to the Portland Saturday Market.
What a riot of sights and cacophony of sounds! Hundreds of booths, thousands of visitors, food, music, street performers, and more, all squeezed into the space of two or three blocks. This country bumpkin and his family were bewildered and impressed!
Two of the most captivating sights and sounds were the amazing mime Wells Oviatt, alias Mr. Statue, aka the Portland Silver Man, as well as the stunning violinist Djinn Maury. You can watch videos of Djinn’s performaces as well as listen to samples of his three albums on iTunes.
A small dose of Saturday Market went a long ways, so after a little while we took the MAX to Pioneer Courthouse Square. After a quick potty break at the Visitor Center, we walked to the nearest Streetcar stop to take a ride down to the South Waterfront district.
There we boarded the Swiss-made Portland Aerial Tram for its one kilometer (0.6 mile) ride 500 feet up Marquam Hill to the Kohler Pavilion of the Oregon Health & Science University hospital. Each of the two 12-ton (when empty!) tram cabins has a capacity of 80 passengers / 13 tons. Thousands of feet of two-inch steel cables keep these gigantic bubbles floating in the air.
As you can easily imagine, there is a pretty awesome view from the aerial tram as it ascends and descends, and from the upper terminal as well. Once at the hospital, we walked down a number of long corridors to get to the other side of the building, where we encountered another breath-taking sight: the 660-foot VA Skybridge. This passageway — the longest suspended pedestrian skybridge in North America — connects the OHSU Hospital with the VA Medical Center. It is an awesome place for photography!
After all of our exploration, discovery and photography, it was finally time to head for home. But that itself only served to further the exploration, discovery and photography! First we had to navigate all the hospital corridors, and then take the aerial tram back down the hill. From there we took a Streetcar back downtown, and then a MAX train all the way across the city to the Gateway Transit Center where I had parked our car. All that took about an hour, and we were still in Portland!
After another hour, as we were heading down the I-5 to Albany, we stopped at Gustav’s Bargarten in Keizer. It was after 6:30 p.m. by this time, and I was ready for some good German food and beer.
We ordered two plates of spätzle (knöpfli) — which my wife also makes at home from scratch. One version was the Käsespätzle from their menu, with melted Gruyère cheese and chopped bacon on top.
The other plate was a special request that does not appear on the menu. Instead of the cheese and bacon on top of the spätzle, I asked for the Cremini mushroom and paprika cream sauce that tops their Jäger Kalbschnitzel and spätzle, which I usually order when I eat at Gustav’s. In other words, I wanted that dish without the meat ... only the spätzle and mushroom sauce. They were kind enough to grant my request (see photo to the right).
We finally arrived home around 8:00 p.m. — exactly 12 hours after we had left in the morning. It was quite a full day celebrating the summer solstice in Portland ... and our stomachs were pretty full of spätzle as well!
Because the 166 pictures I took that day were shot in various locations, I have grouped the resulting photos into two separate albums. The best 33 from the Aerial Tram / OHSU part of the outing can be found in Portland Marquam Hill 2015. All of the other keepers (45) are in the Portland Summer Solstice 2015 album.
The day of photography resulted in a whopping 20 new images in the Portland in Black and White 2015 album, two new photo sequences, and a guest colour splash contribution from my 13-year-old daughter Olivia (the skybridge interior photo above).
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