My first trip to the Pacific Northwest was in 1992 (91?) for Tamara's first wedding, which I will never mention again. We had lots of things to do and lots of fun, and I met some great people, but didn't do anything very touristy, really. Honestly, it could have been a trip to Cleveland as much as it was a trip to Portland, Oregon. (No offense, Tam.)
Since then I have lost count of the number of times I have been to the Pacific Northwest, to Portland and to Seattle (where Tamara now lives), sometimes both cities in one trip. In my life before teaching, I took several business trips to those cities, and always extended my visits if I could to spend time with Tamara, her son Matthew, and eventually her second (and much better) husband John and second son Jack. I have explored some things with her and her sons, like Mt. Rainier, and some things on my own, like Mt. Hood, the Columbia River Gorge, and the Oregon desert during what I call the Summer of Tevas, when at 35 I needed to prove to myself and anyone else who doubted that I could go on a vacation that wasn't all about drinking, eating, and shopping. And I did it. I even went white water rafting. By myself. (Well, on a tour.)(And, no, I didn't go overboard.)
I love the PNW, as they like to call it. I love Pike Place Market in Seattle, home of the original Starbucks and the original Sur La Table. I can't wait to walk through the spectacular fresh flowers and then create my own Verbena lotion at The Soap Box just around the corner. I love Portland and its Saturday Market with the scent of patchouli wafting through the stalls overflowing with pottery. And as much as I love the Brookline Booksmith, there is something completely unique and lovable about Powell's, the coolest bookstore ever really (and on steroids), where new and used books are shelved together. I couldn't be more thankful that Tamara is going to try to get me there this visit, although it means a 2.5 hour/140 mile drive to indulge my inner bookworm (and so that I can replace a couple of first printing hardcovers of Elinor Lipman books that I was kind enough to lend, but never got back!).
I haven't been in 6 years, which is way too long by any standard, especially for a woman who loves the PNW, loves to travel, and has a dear friend there. I leave today, and know I will have a very good time, a vacation like the one I had with Jill back in April in San Diego. Which is to say the day trips to fave places are icing on the cake. The real treat will be sitting, chatting face to face, not finagling phone calls between time zones, sipping coffee in the morning and wine or cocktails in the evening, laughing so hard that my cheeks will hurt.
TTFN. I'll post from there.