Day One: Drive to Portland and the Portland Japanese Gardens
The drive was *much* longer than mapquest lead me to believe. Lesson learned, I have a AAA membership - use it! Actually, I did but then changed my game plan and I didn't have time at that point to order another triptik (which btw, they have come a LONG way). The 3 hours and 22 minutes mapquest told me it would take, was more like five hours of actual drive time. That does not include the lunch and running-around-like-a- mad-woman for Emi stop. But, we did it. Oh, and only left 32 minutes later than planned that morning. For us, that's something!
We dropped off Max and we were on our way. It was an awesome drive, but I wasn't able to take pictures because 'hey, driving!'. After we drove through the Yakima Nation and the mountains (interesting, but sometimes scary) we stopped for our picnic lunch. By this time Emi was more than ready to be out and zooming around. Back in the car, another dvd in (thank goodness again for the Grandma fairy and that portable dvd player). Gave Emi her 'sip' (water bottle) thinking she was probably thirsty and about ten minutes later realized the cute little devil was sound asleep. I'm telling ya, she really is a little angel. When she's asleep.
She completely missed the awesome drive along the Columbia River Gorge. We passed The Dalles (Oregon) and I made a note to myself I wanted to stop on the way back. While I didn't get to take any photos, I did find some on-line. This is what we drove past much of the rest of the way to Portland. Amazing scenery. (BTW, I completely lifted these from folks who take much better photos than I can ... I should have made a note from where but a certain toddler was chattering at me and I forgot. Bad Kiy!)
Emi woke up as we got closer to Portland, which was a good time to stop, let her run around and change her diaper. Back in the car and into Portland, and our hotel. We tend to stay at Holiday Inn Express hotels. They are typically all the same, no frills but not yucky either. Just your basic hotel with a pool and breakfast. This one was one of those, no great frills but the staff was great and quite helpful. They let us check in early (sweet!) and I am so happy they did. I was able to get us all unloaded, unpacked and set up in our room before heading off to our first adventure. Which, looking back, was oh-so-smart on my part as I was pooped at the end of the day and it was so nice to come back to the hotel and just be, rather than unload, unpack and set up!
Sadly, the weather had taken a turn for the HOT since I had checked it over the weekend. Last I had looked, it was supposed to be cool and rainy. Perfect! Yeah, I know, I'm odd. But I hate hate hate hot and humid. Guess what we had the whole time we were in Portland? Yep. Yuck. But, we were here so I wanted to make the most of it. The gals at the front desk told me a much better way to get to the garden, thankfully. So off we headed.
The Japanese Gardens were nice, but I was expecting more flowering plants. Much of it did remind me of our time in Japan, which is why I so wanted to go. Unfortunately, I was thinking the gardens would be a perfect place for Emi to be able to run around, especially after the long drive. There were signs all over to stay on the path, and yeah, I should have thought about that beforehand. So Emi had to stay in her stroller and many of the paths were not stroller friendly, so it wasn't easy going much of the time. Actually, the high point of the trip for Emi was the shuttle ride from the parking area to the entrance. No car seat! She sat next to me, let the wind blow in her face and just enjoyed every moment. Sadly, the ride was much too short, as I found while trying to quickly dig out the camera. I forgot about this until the ride back, so didn't get a picture then either. I do want to go back when Emi is older and can understand running around a bit, but also staying on the paths. I am thinking a spring trip. I would love it to be this spring, but it will depend on Emi and her willingness to listen to mama. :)
We didn't last long at the gardens. It ended up being a bust, but not a complete one. I was able to drive around the area, finding out that the zoo and the museum that were also on my to-do list were both right here. Bonus! I still hadn't decided at that point what order we were going to visit them in, but that's another post.
- Better mapage (like my new word?)
- Try to check into the hotel, then start sight-seeing (did this and will continue to do so)
- Double and triple check the weather, using various sources
- Look at the attractions closely to make sure they are truly toddler-friendly