Oregon – The Places: Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of the Oregon tale. I’ll pick up today where I left off last time, just in time for the story of Nye Beach.

Nye Beach: When I think of this place, I think white. It was an overcast, very misty and foggy day when we sat on the beach for several hours, soaking in the sound of the waves, the feel of the sand, the treasures of the tide, and the expanse of the ocean. One remarkable thing that happened there was the witnessing of a Kilt Race that was happening at the exact moment of our trek back to the car. That weekend Newport, OR, was hosting a Celtic Festival; but regrettably that was the only Festival activities we saw. Nye Beach was restful and restorative.

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Stumptown Coffee & Roasters: You know how you read about and research a place for a long time, dreaming of actually visiting the place and taking part in the experience? This was such a place for me. This place is like what the Eiffel Tower is for some. I never ever thought I’d actually set foot when I first read about them on Design*Sponge, and saw the pins on Pinterest. So it was, for me, an is-this-for-real moment when we pulled open the door and moved our bodies into the atmosphere that is Stumptown Coffee. It was amazing! They had free postcards! and live succulents on the counter! legit art hanging on the walls! That bar by the huge window is for really real — and it is every bit as cool as what it seemed. I have my travel buddies to thank for indulging me in this. Thanks, ladies. :)

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We grabbed our coffee and scurried a few blocks away to join the growing crowd at Voodoo Doughnut. What a fun, even more legendary place! While we stood in line, we met a very cool lady and heard about her life a bit. She very helpfully pointed us to the Voodoo website for a full listing and description of every doughnut. Have a look if you’re curious. The interior was shady, but funny in the daytime. The doughnuts were meltingly delicious. Every part of my body celebrated at having such a delicious thing to enjoy! Mine truly was the best doughnut I’ve ever had, and the coffee went very well with it.

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Coffee, doughnuts, and then books to complete the perfect morning; our next stop was Powell’s City of Books. It’s an entire block of bookstore. With three floors and hundreds and hundreds of aisles full of every variety of book there is, we were in book heaven. There was great selection too, with new or used options. Like Stumptown and Voodoo, Powell’s was a must-stop.

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Saturday Morning Market: Crowds of people. Vendors wearing fanny packs. Booths decorated precariously full and overflowing. Street performers and a preacher. Pressing, hurrying, brushing, excuse-me-ing, shifting, thickening, and dull roaring. A kaleidoscope of color and life, set beside the lovely Williamette, offering handmade and imported goods. We bought locally designed and printed t-shirts there, as well as our lunch, two big cups of fresh fruit to eat on the road. Yummy. Look at us go and be accidental vegetarians for a weekend.

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The Hazelnut Grove: You can’t put down a street address for this one, but I feel like it was so legendary it can’t go without mention. The story started as we were driving down I-5, when we kept seeing groves of trees rising up out of the ground like a low, flat, rounded mushroom. There were rows of perfectly planted trees that showed light at the end twice in a second. It was the kind of thing that entrances you by the very glance. So when we drove past one on our way to our hosts’ place near Brownsville, we decided to visit it in the morning. And we did. It was so cool and ethereal, we would have loved having our church service there.

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And then our fair St. Sharbel again. Yes, we went back to that little church on the corner. We walked in twenty minutes before the service began, and descended into the basement to freshen ourselves. Upon ascension, we ran into a couple who, of course, had to ask five questions before we could ask one. (We got used to that.) Turns out, these people are really well connected with a friend of Barbara’s mom, which was the coolest thing ever! Anyway, we had this conversation in the stairwell, and considering the size of the church, I’m sure the worshippers in the sanctuary heard every word, and were just itching with curiosity. So we walked in, sat next to the friendly couple, and took in the service.

The Maronite Catholic Church service is a very long one. Their liturgies are read in English, Arabic, Aramaic, and Greek — the languages of Jesus. Worshippers value that connection to the Biblical world, and to them, I guess it’s like drinking a superior brand of coffee. Once you’ve experienced something this good, you don’t want to go back, even if the services are three times as long as a traditional Roman Catholic.

But for this service, the regular priest had to be out of state for the weekend, so a Roman Catholic priest officiated. So essentially, we experienced a Roman Catholic service in a Maronite Catholic cathedral. This group adhered to St. Sharbel, whose only portrait hanging in the sanctuary was of a monk with head bowed and hands together in prayer. One lady who adores him told us he’s the most humble man she’s heard of, and she has studied and read extensively about the Catholic saints.

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The Portland Aerial Tram: Following our curiosity and desire to see the city from the sky, we found this mode of transportation to be the perfect answer. We got the perfect view while being transported through the air to a rooftop porch of the Oregon Health and Science University. Lovely.

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OREGON – The Places: Part 1

Life is too good for words sometimes, and the most transformative experiences must have time to steep in memory. That’s a corny excuse for not writing about this trip sooner. But it’s been a month ago already, and so I think the time has come to break the silence and tell you everything.

Today I’ll tell you about the places we went and the sights we saw.

Lan So Chinese Garden: Right in the middle of the city there is this little Oriental oasis. We thoroughly enjoyed our experience there, walking through the arches, the bonsai garden, over the bridges, around the pond, and into the art and calligraphy room.

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The International Rose Test Garden: Above the city, neighboring a wealthy neighborhood full of super-interesting houses, rises a garden built into a hill, offering refreshment for the eyes as well as respite from the city skyscrapers. Evergreens tower here; roses romp, climb, and bloom; lovers stroll hand in hand; and tourists take lots and lots of pictures.

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St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church: Oh this dearly beloved church holds a special corner of our hearts! Its steps provided a calm and safe place to enjoy a picnic supper, and its sanctuary and faithful disciples welcomed us back Sunday morning to their worship service. Let me tell you how we found this place. On the west side of the Williamette River, there is a unique street design. We noticed it on our paper map, and immediately decided to investigate the circle in the center.

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And so, Thursday afternoon, we bought a light supper, and headed across the river, following the map to find this whim. Upon finding the circle, we discovered it really was smaller than we imagined it to be. It was full of lovely roses and had several benches around the middle, but the church on one corner of the circle (haha) caught our attention, and to its steps we gravitated. And that’s how we got acquainted with St. Sharbel.

Oblation Papers and Press: We were innocently walking around in the streets of Portland on our first full day there, admiring the shopfronts, when we discovered this hidden gem of a place. We walked in on a whim…and immediately realized we had found something really significant. There were letterpress cards, stationary, fountain pens, wax and seals, Moleskin and Rifle Paper Co journals, ribbons, and envelopes. We felt as though we had stumbled upon a slice of heaven. Fifty-four minutes later we emerged, wonderstruck and clutching bags of paper goodies. We enjoyed this place so much that we went back on Saturday for items we regretted not buying on Thursday.

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