Ty had been bugging Renee and I for a return trip to Portland since early January – he really loved it when we went down there for Thanksgiving. He especially loved staying in a hotel that had an indoor swimming pool – as well as the excitement that comes with going out to new restaurants and seeing new sites. We told him we would go to Portland as soon as we had a weekend free of hockey and business travel.

We looked at the calendar a few weeks ago and saw that St. Patrick’s Day weekend would be the first that fit the bill so we made our plans accordingly – and Ty started counting down the days and talking about the trip every day leading up to last Friday.

Ty and his friend enjoy dinner with his Grandma and Aunt Lynette at dinner Friday night

Ty and his friend enjoy dinner with his Grandma and Aunt Lynette at dinner Friday night

It turned out the boys both had half days at school so we arranged to pick them up at 12:30 and head south. This would allow us to beat the horrible Seattle commute and get in at a reasonable time for a swim and dinner with Mom and Lynette. We promised the boys we would stop in Centralia at Burgerville for lunch. We’re not a big fast food family at all but I have to say the quality at Burgerville is really outstanding. They use local/sustainable products as much as possible as it really shows in their burgers and salads. And we were pleasantly surprised to see they now offer gluten-free buns as an option – so we took advantage of that with our order for Stone.

As we headed down I-5 I happened to catch a bit of a traffic report noting a major accident near Woodland that shut down 2 lanes and was causing a backup. Luckily we were just north of Kelso and I remembered that there was a bridge over the Columbia River we could take that would connect to a highway on the Oregon side and allow us to avoid the backup. We decided to take the detour and consider it a new adventure – and it was a lot of fun. Highway 30 in Oregon is like all state highways there – you can’t go too fast for too long – you’re soon in some small town where the speed limit is 40. But it was a nice change to actually see some new sites. We also managed to avoid the Portland friday commute traffic by using Cornelius Pass (which I remembered at the last minute from my Hood-to-Coast days).

We made a quick stop at Lynette’s store (Penelope’s Hope Chest). The boys really love all of her vintage items (Stone is particularly fond of the fake birthday cakes) and Renee usually picks up a few items for herself. After our visit it was time to get to the hotel (Ty could barely contain himself). We hustled to unpack and get the twins swimsuits on and they were soon in their happy place – the hotel indoor pool. After they got their swimming fill in we cleaned up and met Mom and Lynette at a local McMenamin’s for dinner.

Because Renee was recovering from a very nasty stomach flu, we all agreed it would be best to limit her exposure to Mom. So Saturday Renee dropped me and the boys off at Mom’s and went off shopping. The twins and I ate a delicious home-cooked brunch of gluten-free pancakes and bacon. The twins scarfed down nearly two pounds of bacon on their own!

We were trying to figure out a fun activity to do because the weather was spotty and I thought it would be fun to take the twins out to the Columbia River Gorge. Mom agreed it would be fun – she said it had been probably 15-20 years since she had been herself so we piled into her car and headed East towards the Gorge.

Have I mentioned what incredible travelers Stone and Ty are? No matter where we go (or how far it is) they never complain in the car – and really love our day trips and adventures. We are truly blessed with these kids!

The gorgeous Multnomah Falls

The gorgeous Multnomah Falls

The Gorge is one of my favorite places in the Northwest. The beauty is absolutely stunning. Ty gasped as we drove along the old highway and began seeing waterfalls along the road. Soon we were at Multnomah Falls and we could see the huge waterfall crashing down into the rocks. I took the boys out to explore and check out the Falls closer. They were excited – especially Stone. He was screaming and jumping around like crazy. I told them we’d hike up to the bridge and look at the Falls from there – I didn’t think they were quite ready for the full hike to the top of the Falls. They loved it. Our next stop was the Bonneville Dam and Fish Hatchery. Again the twins loved the exploring – and seeing the tens of thousands fishes in the various ponds (trout, salmon and sturgeon). We drove along the Dam to the visitor center – but passed on going into it. Soon we were on our way back to Beaverton to meet up with Renee.

After getting back to the hotel, the boys again wanted to go swimming in the pool – and Renee and I decided to join them. Luckily we had the pool to ourselves so we didn’t have to worry about jumping, splashing or screaming disturbing others. It really was a ton of fun playing in the pool with the guys – it was the first time we’d all been together like that in the pool since they were probably 3 or so. Saturday night we had dinner with Mom and Lynette (while Renee ate Thai takeout in our hotel room) and we all had a nice time hanging out together.

Sunday we again got to enjoy an outstanding home-cooked brunch from Mom (this time stuffing ourselves with french toast and bacon). One tradition that Mom started with my nieces when they were little girls was taking them to a local bookstore and letting them pick out 1-2 books that she would buy for them. She was really excited to take Ty on this trip and begin this tradition with him. So I drove them to the Beaverton Powell’s bookstore where Ty picked our a fact book about the Titanic as well as another book about Leonardo DiVinci. And before we knew it, it was time to begin the 3 hour drive back to Seattle again. We said our good-byes to Lynette and Mom and promised to visit again soon (Ty is already plotting our next trip).

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