It is not so hard, really, to tour Portland in four hours. All it takes is NO PLANNING.
A couple of years ago a I reconnected with a childhood friend. I mean a real childhood friend. Not one that shared a classroom and play ground each school year and then a disconnect during the summer weeks. I am talking the kind of friend that competed for the top place in scripture memory every Sunday in Sunday school. The kind of friend that you had sleep overs with any time your parents would let you. The kind of friend that you got lost in the woods with, after hours of hiking and ended up on I-5, in the days of no cell phone and new you had to walk all the way back home. Through the field of strangers, across creek-beds and finally explaining at dusk that you hiked in the wrong direction to your parents. The kind of friend that you wrestle with as young girls to fend your position of strength. Come to think of it we were not very girly. Hiking, biking, wrestling and a lot tree climbing. Hours of gabbing about our lives together. Our mothers taking us on adventures all over Oregon, as far as gas would take us. Then time, circumstances and lack of today's technology and many years lost.
Technology connected us some 30 plus years later. Strange how you still know this person. She mentioned she would be in the area late June so I kept the day open. I got a text that we would meet at the base of the Sky Tram. In the moment I did not realize I would be a tour guide. I really did not know how the morning would unfold. Are we meeting for a cup of coffee? What would our time look like? I assembled the boys, made a call to David for some free tram passes and headed on over, picked up the passes and took the ride down the tram to meet up.
Is it odd that people do not ever change? Why did I still see this young girl not at all grown up? Still this sweet, caring and giving person. She brought me a gift. She was always giving, and even in our first meeting in three decades still that giving person. I came empty handed. We hugged and sized the other up. And then a plan unfolded. "Lets hop on a street car and find some lunch."
So we hopped on a street car which took us into downtown Portland. It was so fun to have that confined place to visit and catch up. Watching the city life pass by. Making observations of Portland from the other side of a window. We chatted away, while the boys swung from the handles. They were like caged monkeys, but I did not care today about manners and seating. There were few people on the street car and they were not bothering anyone. Pretty soon we were in the Pearl District and just decided to hop off the street car walk until we found something we would all like. It was fun to have her mother and daughter along. Her mother, who was my mother's best friend. She truly knew my mother and commented how much like my own mother I was. I smiled to hear this.
We walked a few blocks and passed Jamison Park. What a picture perfect day to show off Portland. The park filled with young moms and their children, business people taking a lunch break in the sun, reading a paper or magazine. It looked to be a peaceful city. Angie said..."I have never seen such a clean city." I said..."I think the rain does a good job of that." But today, no rain, just sunshine and warm. We continued to walk, and watch and found Bridge Port Brewery where we decided outdoor seating and a great selection on the menu would satisfy all seven of us. The view from the patio gave these out of towners a wonderful scope of city life. The high rise condo's, the sweeping views, the surreal life of being down town, the bikers, the brewbiking....really might have to try that out. What a fun way to view Portland.
We finished lunch and decided to just wander some more. Walking, talking and continuing to catch up on our lives. I know we could not do that in just a few hours, but it was fun to try. We found a stop at 13th and Lovejoy where we jumped back on the Streetcar. This took us through Portland State and then along South Waterfront. They had a different view of the city. The bridges, the bikers, the woman crossing in front of the street car yelling colorful words in her colorful dress, missing most of her teeth. The boys asked what was wrong with her. I said she is very bitter for missing all her teeth. It was all I could come up with in the moment.
As we approached the Sky Tram a Street Car worker came to collect money. I told him I did not know there was a fare for this ride. I told him I had been riding the street cars for years and never had paid, nor had I seen any signs to pay. He said it was $2.00 a person. I said this was embarrassing with my out of town guests. They did not take $20.00 bills nor did they give change back. Oops. my bad. He smiled and said next time I ride the street car I can make it up. So we got off and made our way to the Sky Tram.
We hopped on the Sky Tram and had our 2 minute scenic ride up to OHSU. There we went out on the deck and looked at the views of Portland and there my boys slid down the railings. We stopped into the cafe, had icecream and then said our good byes. Four hours later, all over Portland and a terrific visit. It did not dawn on me until they left that this was by far the most exciting, memorable, and most ground covered in a tour given of Portland. Thank you Portland for making me proud today.