This last weekend was a chance for me to explore Portland a little before I take off. It was my mom’s first real vacation time this summer, and it was a beautiful few days. It really set me up for the next week – I have so many things to do, and it was beginning to seem overwhelming. My to-do list hasn’t gotten any shorter since Thursday, but after three days of relaxation I feel ready to take it on.
We spent Friday morning at the Japanese Garden. I had never been, which seems criminal since we live about five minutes away. My sister took over the camera for most of the day (no complaints here, she’s a genius with landscape and architecture) and she got some great shots. We ended the meandering trip with a purchase from the gift shop – a gorgeous rectangular glass plate by a local artisan. I’m planning to give it to my host family when I get to Sevilla. My mom says the bold red and black colors remind her of flamenco, but the shape is decidedly Japanese.
After the Japanese garden, we made our way down the hill to the International Rose Test Garden for a picnic. We’d brought along sandwiches, cheeses, and strawberries, and the shady corner we found was the perfect temperature. After lunch, we went on the hunt for my favorite rose – except I couldn’t remember the name! I really am not a fan of most roses, but there was one in my backyard in Eugene that I adored. Turns out it’s a type of English rose, which look more like peonies than traditional roses. We also found a variety called the Sevillana – exactly the same red as the plate we bought! I took it as a good sign.
To complete our garden trifecta, we followed the Zoo Bomb route down the hill, then nipped over to the Lan Su Chinese Gardens in the heart of Old Town. Neither my mom nor I had been – another travesty! It was amazingly calm inside, despite the fact that all around the big walls the city was humming. We stopped for a little snack at the tea house – I had jasmine pearl, which was delicious, but this is Addie’s rose-infused black tea. We all shared a red bean moon cake, which was tasty but not quite right for the hot day.
I think my favorite part of the Chinese Garden is the fragrance pavilion. It’s such a cool concept – a whole area made just for smelling. I like to stand in the middle, close my eyes, and breathe for a good five minutes. I wish I could remember the name. It was really long and had something to do with the moon. But it was just outside the pavilion that things got a little crazy – they’d planted the Sevillana roses! I couldn’t believe it – two of the same varietal in one day, and one in a classical Chinese garden no less. Definitely a good sign!
Brunch is a huge part of my family’s weekend ritual. Most Saturdays the three girls go out for a nosh somewhere, and we love trying new places. This weekend we finally made it down to Veritable Quandary. VQ has been around for 30+ years, but it’s still as exciting as ever. I got a peach bellini to go with my fresh berry johnny cakes – it was delicious. I love the patio at VQ – it’s even bigger than the inside, and there’s just enough shade from the trees and umbrellas to keep things cool in the summer.
After brunch, I split off on my own. My barn from Eugene was in Wilsonville at a horse show and I’d been dying to go watch. Hunter Creek Farm has an incredible event facility with spectacular views, and they host a million A-rated hunter/jumper shows in the summer. The views are great, what with all the vineyards on the hills, and the riding is always top-notch. I spent a good eight hours watching, and got a nice sunburn in return. Oh well! It was so nice to see the barn family again – hopefully I’ll get to actually ride in one of the shows next time!