Once again, a long, photo heavy report. Taking pics of grandkids is more interesting than pics of dinosaur bones, I guess.
Spaghetti Factory, Clackamas OR 12/27/12
I envisioned a side trip to Portland in the planning stages of the epic journey, but implementation details were always sketchy. Various friends in Portland gave us advice and such, but meeting up in our narrow window was tricky. Maybe I should go alone, leaving Carole and the kids overnight? We eventually decided to take the kids and go for two nights. Wenonah and Justin agreed, which also gave them time for some hiking. This schedule gave us time to do a couple of Portland Things and still make the 3 1/2 hour drive in a leisurely manner.
We checked the weather, checked for kids things to do and arranged a hotel. Transfering the kids' seats to my car, we gathered all our gear and took off through the Oregon mountains.
Beautiful. We had missed the scenery by arriving at night, and finally had a chance to see the mountains in their glory. The weather cooperated, and all the "carry chain" areas (where you could be fined if you didn't have tire chains or studded tires) were clear. We occasionally encountered "Runaway truck" side roads: How much of a problem are they?
Driving through the mountains from Bend to Portland, 12/27/12
The drive to Portland -- really, the suburb of Clackamas -- was no problem and we found the hotel easily. For some reason, finding a kid-friendly place to eat in the afternoon was tricky: Quite a few places were closed until 5pm. We wound up eating at The Spaghetti Factory. I was trying to avoid chains (heck, we have one in Mpls), but you take what you can get.
Legend, happy with Carole's camera. Oregon Zoo 12/27/12
Based on a suggestion from Nancy McClure, we headed to the Oregon Zoo for their ZooLights event. In the winter, after the Zoo closes, they display more than a million LEDs throughout the grounds, and the train ride has special delights. ZooLights included an admission to the Zoo, though the animals were largely tired after hours. Still, we saw a few chimps and turtles and such. Plus lights, lots of lights.
Two photos of lights as seen from the ZooLight train 12/27/12
The kids were reluctant at first, as they wanted go swimming in the hotel's pool. Then they wanted to explore the Zoo while it was still light and we had to get to the train by darkfall. As it was, we were in the third trainfull of people. Legend was a little mollified when using Carole's camera. Bangii had been to zoos before, but not this one.
Carole and the kids mug in front of ZooLight ape, 12/27/12
Kids silhouetted against ZooLights 12/27/12
Nearly four hours after arriving, we had to drag the kids away. Carole was starting to seriously hurt from the rises and falls in the Zoo grounds but we needed both adults to wrangle the kids. Unexplored territory beckoned, perhaps for another trip.
Bangii looking at fish at the Oregon Zoo 12/27/12
The hotel restaurant/bar was open so we ate and went to sleep.
The next day, we went swimming. Well, Carole did some PT and the kids splashed around while I took pics. This was good for all, but put us behind schedule. Well, my schedule. I wanted to see more of Portland. We wound up going to one place. Admittedly, a great place.
Bangii swimming 12/28/12
Legend diving 12/28/12
Somewhere in here, Christmas wore off. Maybe Santa wasn't watching too closely anymore, or maybe Best Behavior for Grandma was in decline, but they started acting, er, more age appropriate. Not actually bad, but harder to manage, paying less attention to where their socks went, needing to be coralled down the hotel hallway. I'm often divided when this happens. On one hand, it's hard work being an adult, and I try to avoid the situation wherever possible. On the other, it means they've accepted me as part of normal and they're free act like kids. I found myself threatening with one of Bangii's favorite lines: "Don't make me eat you!" (from Ice Age). Not too much of an actual threat, but the mock seriousness gave emphasis to commands.
Legend inside of a nose, not quite warmed up to OMSI 12/28/12
The kids were reluctant at first, wanting to be back in the pool. Fortunately. the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, aka OMSI is for kids. The hands-on exhibits are a lot of fun to play with and if you learn something so much the better. They also have an iMax and a Planetarium. After some discussion, the kids wanted to see the movie about tornado hunters, and Carole and I wanted to see the laser show at the Planetariaum. Fortunately, they were at the right times for our visit.
Carole was still hurting from the Zoo, and took advantage of the wheelchair available. Basically, I then had three kids to shephard. The actual kids were antsy, and tried to wander off. Legend really wanted to take the escalator, but I couldn't follow him and push Carole at the same time, so we had to keep everyone close.
Wandering down the entrance hall, the first major set of exhibits was Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body. We had loads of fun amid the snot, mucus and skin disease.
Bangii climbing skin wall, OMSI 12/28/12
Watching mucus being made, OMSI 12/28/12
The iMax show Tornado Alley was good, though not great. Carole and I had seen it here at the Minnesota Science Museum. But the kids liked it.
We had to make a quick transition over to the Planetarium for the Christmas Laser Light show. It was pretty good, as laser light shows go, but Carole and I were a little disappointed that it didn't have more stars. Ah well, that's how the timing worked.
Inside a Gemini capsule, OMSI 12/28/12
Outside the Planetarium were various astronimical and science toys to play with.
We barely made it to the cafeteria before it closed, preventing various meltdowns. The museum was open longer than the cafeteria, so we headed back in. Grossology was just outside, and the kids got caught up in the fun yet again. We barely saw the rest of the place, and never made it to the second floor.
Four hours after arriving, we had to drag the kids away. OMSI was closing.
Inside the intestine slide/crawl space, Bangii makes friends with the "gut lady" ("I also do mucus"), OMSI 12/28/12
No McClures, no Powells. Ah well. We headed back to Clackamas. Carole had seen a Red Robin restaurant, a favorite of hers from an earlier time and close to the hotel. Crowded, but kid-friendly. They didn't have a business card so I scarfed one of their blank electronic gift cards to remind me of our visit.
Saturday was a travel day, but that didn't preclude a little touristy exploration. We were too far from Portland to really duck into town before heading east, but the Clackamas Promenade shopping mall was right near the hotel. I let Carole pick various places to go shopping for her daughter and the house. Eventually, we wound up at a Pendleton's and bought some mugs.
I'd planned the route back carefully, allowing for kids' attention span and my need to explore. Just under an hour away, in the Mount Hood area, was The Rendezvous Grill. The food was good (claiming regional fare) and the service great. We had fun with the waitresses and the owner.
with Tom, owner of the Rendezvous 12/29/12
But between everything, we were behind schedule. We kept passing overlooks, which are not marked in advance as were similar rest stops in Montana. I was aiming for one a bit less than an hour from home... and we missed it in the dusk.
On the road back to Bend, OR 12/29/12
A great experience with the kids, but I wasn't a happy camper. I was itching to explore a brand new (to me) state. Don't make me eat you.
Continued in 20121230-1231am Trip to Oregon and Back: Bend