DESTINATIONS, TRAVEL, Travel Books, Travel Planning, United States

The What Next of Arizona

Arizona, Sc
Getting Away to the Desert


The first time you visit an area there are just things you must see and thanks to a great trip early in our marriage, as well as several times passing through AZ, we’d knocked out the musts.  From Monument Valley in the northeast corner to the Grand Canyon in the west, to BioSphere down south and seriously, everything in between, I’d taken care of the must-sees.  So why were we going back?

A Desert State of Mind

We like the desert.  There is a peacefulness that comes from the landscape.  Some people like beaches and others prefer mountains, but I’ll take a desert every time.

Bill made it very clear that he wanted to take it easy, very easy on this trip.  He wanted to play golf.  I wanted to have tea at the Phoenician.  The rest was supposed to be relaxation.  Message received.

Those Free Guides from the Internet

For most trips, the first thing I do is go out and buy a travel guide, but I already owned an AZ guide and it had served me well.  I just needed the latest information, including festivals and events.  The internet is great for that and so are those free travel guides the cities and states will send you.

In the world of free travel guides, Scottsdale has won the prize.  I pored over their guide the moment it arrived and continue salivating over it to day.  It was full of information without being overwhelming and hip without being shallow.  It had great maps and references to online resources that I really cared about.

Phoenix did not fare so well.  It was virtually anonymous, merely a template someone sold advertising in.  I yawned over it and it’s greatest contribution to the trip was some headlines I used in my scrapbook of the trip.  

Sedona’s guide was somewhere in the middle – not as snazzy as Scottsdale, but not as boring as Phoenix.  A map in the center served us during the stay and made it to the scrapbook. 

Wonderful Websites

From various websites I was able to glean a lot of useful information about some art festivals and events that proved to be very helpful in planning the trip.  There were Artwalks, Art Festivals and other Arty things just begging for us to take part.  The trick is not to merely google the city, but google “visit wherever.”

I used the local New Times sites to find the best places to have breakfast.  The internet is also where I found the amazing inn where we overnighted in Sedona.  Thank you, Expedia!  

Playing It By Ear

For those of you who say phooey on all that planning, I’m just going to play it by ear, I say good luck.  I find it is a lot harder to be ready to play it by ear, than it is to plan things out in detail in advance.  This only happens on the first Friday, that is only open one evening of the week, something else needs reservations at least two days in advance.

If you just show up somewhere, without doing your homework, and then try to play it by ear, well, you might have a great vacation, but the chance of you actually getting to see and do the things you were most interested in are slim to none in most cases.

The trick in this household it to be sure I know what’s most important to me and work it in early in the trip, then as the time plays out and the options get smaller, I haven’t missed my priorities.  I work out a list of daily options, focusing on the one time or limited access events.  I don’t get to see everything I want when Bill is playing it by ear, but I don’t miss everything either.

Next week, we’ll start out on our Arizona Adventure.  Please come join me.


ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, International, Libraries, Music, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Books

Back on the Bus


It had been a very long day and there was still some left as the bus headed back to Cancun.

The Joy of a Good Book

I had read it before, but even so, I had chosen James Michener’s book Mexico, as my reading material for the trip.  Unlike many of his novels, which begin even before the appearance of man in a locale, this novel focused on a modern day journalist covering a bullfight festival, who was at the same time Mexican, American, Mayan and Spanish.  The book does look back at the ancient residents of the country, but instead of choosing an actual tribe, such as the Mayans, Toltecs, Aztecs or Olmecs to showcase, Michener made up a sort of conglomerate tribe called the Altomecs, allowing him to comment on them all.

So many years had passed since my last reading of the book that it seemed fresh.  Occasional scenes gave me a sense of deja vu, but I was still following the plot with interest, unsure how it would end.  (I still haven’t finished it as I write this post, but the more I read the more I remember, and I have recalled the end.)  On the bus ride back to the Seadust, I was only a third of the way through and the Altomecs had not even entered the narrative, except a brief mention from time to time of the pyramid which was near the primary locale of the story.

It had been a long day and several times I caught myself dozing off.  At one point, I woke from a dream to discover it was pitch black outside.  I had been asleep for quite a while.  In my dream I was back at Chichen Itza.  I was among the crowds watching the sacrifices, but somehow I was doing so as a character from Michener’s book and at the same time, I was privy to all the knowledge I had accumulated in my actual lifetime.  I stood on the plaza remembering scholarly data about the Mayan civilization, our own lifestyle in America and the many other civilizations I have studied and observed.

When I woke up it took a few moments to figure out exactly where I was.  I soon noticed the guides were fiddling around with the technology.  TV screens folded up and down as if on their own and the guides huddled over a remote control.  I suspected something was up, but they still managed to surprise me with their tequila service.

The interior lights of the bus flashed on as a rather loud rendition of the song “Tequila” played on the loudspeaker.  A man in a strange costume, his face covered with a stocking mask was standing in the aisle.  Though I was pretty sure it was supposed to be entertainment, a part of me was still under the influence of my strange dream.  It wasn’t exactly a pleasant experience, but I understand they intended it to be.

Bill had a little tequila, but I had no interest.  My stomach was ready for its next meal and had no interest in alcohol.  We were soon back to Cancun and we were fortunate enough to be the second stop.  Unfortunately, the first stop was the Iberostar which had refused Bill entrance the previous day.  Before the night was over, I was also wishing we could visit the Iberostar!  Come back next week and find out why!

Architecture, ART, Attractions, Decorative Arts, DESTINATIONS, Gardens, International, Libraries, Museums, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Books

A Sampling of Alexandrian Museums


Our second day in Alex began with the usual buffet breakfast and a quick cab ride to the Alexandria National Museum.  (No adventures this time!)

Ancient Artifacts

If you somehow landed in Alex and hadn’t yet figured out that Egypt is a country with very ancient roots, you should visit this museum.  It’s not as extensive as the famed Cairo Museum, but it is arranged in such a way that you can get a quick overview of Egypt’s history organized by deities.  If you’re just somebody like me that geeks out on history, well then you have even more reasons to spend and hour or so here.

Down in the basement is the Pharaonic section when Egyptians worshiped a pantheon of gods led by Ra, the sun god, and Isis, goddess of marriage, fertility, motherhood, magic, medicine and probably a few other things.  The main floor is devoted to the Greek and Roman eras of Egypt, when the Egyptian gods mixed and mingled with other religious traditions.  Many of the artifacts have, in fact, been fished out of the sea right there in Alexandria.  Our favorite floor was the top floor.  There Christianity faced off against Islam in a sort of duel by artifacts.  

Like many things in Egypt, if you visit this museum you’ll be on a constant seesaw.  One moment you are wowed out of your socks by an item you can’t even believe still exists.  Then you won’t be able to see into the next case at all, because the light has burned out.  It’s exhilarating, frustrating and totally unique.  Gorgeous white marble edifices with spectacular polished black granite floors and dust collecting in the corners.  It made me want to shake someone!

At this museum you can take all the pictures you want outside, but you are supposed to pay to take pictures inside.  Bill didn’t think he wanted to part with the coin, but once he got inside he couldn’t help taking a few pictures of the beautiful Christian artifacts.  They didn’t say anything right away, but when he left, they hit him up for the photography fee.  Since we had to pay to take them, I’ll share them with you.

The Royal Jewelry Museum

This trip to Egypt was so marvelous from so many standpoints I would be hard-pressed to pick out my favorite thing.  However, I can easily tell you the Royal Jewelry Museum is a strong contender for the position.  In fact, it is on my short list of favorite museums ever!

We took a taxi from the history museum to this gem of a palace. (Forgive me the pun, I couldn’t resist.)  It was immediately apparent this was something completely different from the previous museum.  Both buildings were magnificent, but the history museum was past its prime and showing its age.  It didn’t look like anyone loved it anymore.  The edifice holding the jewelry museum is pristine.  It’s well-loved and it shows.

The jewelry museum is in a lovely part of the city, obviously still home to the well-to-do.  An impressive rod iron fence guards the one-time palace.  The security procedure into the grounds is more than cursory, but it was very polite.  This is the museum-less-visited, competing with the well-known Bibliotheca and the official history museum, but I would like to see that change.  This is a rare and wonderful experience and if you go to Alexandria you should not miss it!  They were glad to have such obvious American tourists entering their facility.  So glad in fact they gifted me with a beautiful souvenir guidebook.

If this museum did not hold a single piece of jewelry, I would still say it is one of the best attractions I had ever visited.  The palace is just awesome – and I use the word in the traditional sense, not in the way it’s used to describe a hamburger.  I walked from room to room wishing I could live there or at least I would have had the opportunity to visit when Fatma Heidar herself called it home.  She was a several-times-great granddaughter of Mohammed Ali Pasha the Great.  I think she and I could have been great friends.

But there was jewelry, magnificent jewelry, in attractive cases spread throughout the elegant rooms.  The house looked as if they had only removed the furniture the day before.  It was easy to imagine dignitaries in gorgeous caftans and morning suits wandering around.  Among the treasures in the cases were items which once belonged to King Farouk I and his wife, the lovely Queen Farida.  Here’s a shot of my very favorite piece stolen from the gifted souvenir guidebook.  We saw it, but couldn’t get a good shot.

After a morning and early afternoon of touring, we were hungry.  Come back next week and find out what we did about it.

DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Books, Travel Planning, United States

Getting Ready for Summer 1969

My Mom's Travel Bible
My Mom’s Travel Bible


Hard copy travel information is still very important to me.  I print out all my reservations and tickets, not trusting my phone to deliver on demand.  I read and mark up several travel guides before every vacation and tote them along on my trips.  I will not head anywhere without a printed map, because you never know when your GPS is going to get confused.  However, I do most of my actual research online.  My mom didn’t have that luxury.

The Mobil Guide

The hardest thing for me to throw away when I cleaned out my parents’ house was my mom’s collection of old Mobil Guides.  Though the information in them was totally outdated, the memories of our travels with them are ever fresh.  I was trying to be practical, because I knew I couldn’t save everything.  Now I wish I would have kept at least one.

These guides were her Bible for travel.  She discovered them while we were still making those wild dashes between Georgia and Texas.  My dad had a penchant for getting hungry or sleepy at places that scared my mom and her Mobil Guides were her defense against his whims.

Dad would say, “I’m taking the next exit to find a motel/restaurant/service station.”  She’d say, “No you’re not.  It’s not even listed in the guide.  We’re about X miles from ______.  You can exit there.”  Then she would go on extol the virtues of the town she deemed appropriate.  Occasionally she’d even beat him to the punch.  “George, I think you should stop in _______ for lunch.  After that we hit a stretch of road where there won’t be anything for at least  a hundred miles.  You can fill up the tank there, too.”

When we moved to Texas and didn’t need the Southeastern States edition anymore, Mom started her collection of other editions.  Though I don’t specifically remember her using it on the way to Carlsbad NM or Houston TX, I am quite sure she did.  Our next summer vacation was to Washington D.C. and I do remember her poring through the appropriate Mobil guides for months in preparation for the trip.  Her elegant handwriting filled the margins and listings in the guide had circles, underlining, check marks, question marks and stars.

To Begin at the Beginning

By the time Mom purchased a Mobil Guide, she’d already decided where she was headed.  When it came to choosing a travel destination Mom and I were a little bit alike.  She wanted to go everywhere, so the only real problem was choosing where to go next.  I’m fully convinced that, like me, Mom had 10-12 potential itineraries floating around in her head at any given time.

As to her sources of inspiration, forget the Travel Channel.  All we had were ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS and in Dallas, one local independent channel.  None of those channels had travel shows such as we think of them.  There was Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, which sometimes featured a possible destination, and Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, which might mention a National Park, but that was pretty much it.

Print media was her travel source.  The Dallas Morning News arrived daily on our front lawn and on Sundays it included a Travel Section.  Whenever Mom saw something that interested her, she’d cut it out of the newspaper and file it away.  By the time I was an adult, that collection of articles took up a four drawer file cabinet.  The articles from the Dallas Morning News weren’t the only thing in there, because Mom and her scissors found a lot to snip.

For years the only magazine my mom took was Better Homes & Gardens, but once we moved back to Texas and she went to work, our selection of magazines grew.  The first addition to the list was National Geographic, so Susan and I could “use the magazines for school reports.” (Uh huh, sure!)  Then there was Texas Highways and eventually Southern Living.  They rounded out their magazine collection with The Smithsonian Magazine.

I’ll tell you more about Mom and her travel plans for our trip to Washington D.C. in the coming weeks.  Grab your Mobil Guides and join me!


Attractions, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Books, Travel Planning, United States

Oregan’s White River Falls

White River Falls State Park, Maupin, OR
The Beautiful White River Falls


Welcome to Oregon! Well, sort of. This past summer my husband and I spent twelve days traveling the state and now I’m sharing the experience with you. I’ll tell you about the attractions we visited, the meals we ate and where we stayed. Maybe you’ll decide you want to visit Oregon, too. Today we’re going to one of my absolute favorite places in Oregon, White River Falls.

How I Found White River Falls

Some of the things I enjoyed most about our Oregon vacation were the ones I found on my own, without a guidebook pointing me towards them.  Places like Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens which is almost ignored by all the sources I used, Starvation Creek which I happened upon as I drove along and Maryhill Museum of Art which was actually in Washington, but certainly deserved to be part of my Columbia River experience. White River Falls is the same sort of thing.

As I plotted my route through Oregon, I knew the furthest point east I wanted to visit

White River Falls State Park, Maupin, OR
The ‘This Is It’ Vibe

was The Dalles and my next destination would be Timberline Lodge.  Had I depended solely on the usual resources, I would have missed Maryhill Museum altogether (which would have been a great loss) and I would have never found White River Falls.

With one finger on The Dalles and another on Mount Hood, I scanned the map in my National Geographic/ The American Road Atlas to figure out if there was anything worth seeing along the way.  I saw lots of icons for ski areas, but that wouldn’t do me much good in June.  The travel magazines pointed me towards The Fruit Loop, south of Hood River and I’m sure that’s an interesting tour, but I didn’t  get those vibes that said, “This is it!”

White River Falls State Park, Maupin, OR
Soaking Up the Falls

Squinting my eyes and holding my nose close to the map I saw “White River Falls” and decided to google it.  “One of Oregon’s secret hideaways is located just east of Tygh Valley along Highway 216,” said  That                                                         sounded pretty good, so I clicked back to images and fell in love.  I had that This Is It Vibe.  (Since my visit there’s been a tragic drowning there at the falls, so the google experience has been dampened.  Don’t let that discourage you from visiting.)

My Visit to White River Falls

So on the day I visited the falls we woke up in The Dalles and spent the greater part of the day

White River Falls State Park, Maupin, OR
Don’t stop your visit here. You’ve just gotten started!

enjoying Maryhill Museum.  Then we headed south on US 197.  The day  turned warm and we commented on how Texas-ish the  80 degree weather was.  At OR216 we turned left, obeying a sign  promising to lead us to the falls.  The only other place I’ve been that felt so completely out in the middle of nowhere was on my way to Monument Valley in Arizona.  As promised we found the very modest entrance to White River Falls State Park.

White River Falls State Park, Maupin, OR
On the way down

There were a few picnic tables sprinkled around the edge of a small parking lot and a pathway led to an overlook of the falls.  I can imagine anyone saying, “Ooooh aaaah,” at this point and heading back to the car, but I’d seen the pictures on the internet.  I was anxious to find the right vantage point and that meant climbing down the hill.

Today, this stretch of White River is just a pretty place to visit, but

White River Falls State Park, Maupin, OR
Antique machinery

until the 1960’s (according to a visitor I met) it was an hydroelectric plant. You could see the dammed-up spillway on your way down and at the bottom  of the hill was an abandoned building full of equipment.  The roof has fallen away and the doors and windows have long since quit trying to keeping anyone out.  We found the old water works to be almost as interesting as the falls were beautiful.

As we reached the bottom of the hill we heard sounds of laughter and splashing water.  Following the sound we discovered a family having a picnic down by the river.  I admired them for carrying their stuff all the way down the hill and they said they did it frequently throughout the summer.  But they were impressed a Texas girl found her way to the park, much less climbed all the way down to the bottom of the falls.  That’s where I learned the history of the location.

White River Falls State Park, Maupin, OR
This is the bottom of the rocky waterside slope which goes about 10-15 feet in the air.

When you get to the bottom of the hill, you still haven’t gotten to the best vantage point.  You have to squeeze in between the side of a rocky waterside slope and the abandoned building, use a large pipe as a balance beam and then start climbing again.  From the bottom it looks like you’ll have to climb one of the rocky towers to get the best view, but once you get over the pipe, you find fairly level ground.  A well-worn path will take you to the best  vantage point. That’s where I planted myself for as long as I could get away with it.

If you get anywhere near White River Falls you’ve got to visit.  I’ve been a lot of places in my life and I still think this is one of the prettiest I found.  If they’d move it to Texas, I’d buy it from the state and build a house where I could sit on the front porch and stare at the falls.

These pictures are just a small sample of what Bill took, but eventually he ran out of angles and aperture

White River Falls State Park, Maupin, OR
Built in 1910

settings, so he was ready to go.  I really didn’t want to, but I had paid-for reservations at Timberline Lodge, so I knew we had to.  I reluctantly dusted off my jeans and headed up.  Beach-side the family offered us liquid refreshment for which we were grateful.

As we went back up the hill I wished I’d asked the visiting historian when the dam was built.  Serendipitously I glanced down the slope and there before me was the answer.  At the top of the hill we explored the upper reaches of the falls, but not for long.  There was road we needed to get behind us.

So go!  Please go!  You’ve GOT to go to White River Falls.  You’ll feel as if you’ve found a magical place.  And if you are fortunate enough to go, please let me know what you think.

Accommodations, Architecture, ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Books, United States

Multnomah County Poor Farm

McMenamins Edgefield, Troutdale OR
The Erstwhile Multnomah County Poor Farm


Welcome to Oregon! Well, sort of. This summer my husband and I spent twelve days traveling the state and now I’m sharing the experience with you. I’ll tell you about the attractions we visited, the meals we ate and where we stayed. Maybe you’ll decide you want to visit Oregon, too. Today’s focus is a slightly funky Troutdale resort caled McMenamins Edgefield.

Setting Out on the Road

Leaving Portland behind on the fourth morning of our vacation, Bill and I headed East to spend a day on the Columbia River Gorge.  I hadn’t anticipated some of our culinary challenges in Portland, but way back in Dallas I’d  decided that I wanted to start our tour of the Gorge with a special meal.  In my research, I depended heavily on DK Eyewitness Travel’s Pacific Northwest Guide.  On pages 90 and 91 is a two-page spread of the “Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood Driving Tour.”  DK Eyewitness suggested that we could do the whole tour in a day.  Good thing I didn’t take them up on that one!

DK Eyewitness used Troutdale as the starting point for the tour, so I googled

McMenamins Edgefield, Troutdale OR
Taking a stroll around the resort

Troutdale to find breakfast.  That led me to McMenamins Edgefield.  “Historic Edgefield, built in 1911 as the county poor farm, is a destination resort in the Pacific Northwest that blends Oregon’s natural beauty with McMenamins’ signature whimsy: original buildings carefully restored with cozy interiors, gardens grown using organic methods, great food and drink, live entertainment and more,” read the home page.  (How could I resist that?)  “On the grounds, you will find an array of diversions. Enjoy our fine-dining restaurant, classic pub, numerous small bars and summertime grill,” continued the home page.”  That sounded like breakfast to me.

Even Frommer’s Portable Portland agreed, “With so much in one spot, this makes a great base for exploring the area.  The beautiful grounds give this inn the feel of a remote retreat, though you are still within 30 minutes of Portland.”  Sold!

McMenamins Edgefield, Troutdale OR
Delicious meals grown right here!

The GPS took us right to the resort and we immediately knew we’d arrived somewhere out of the ordinary.  As we turned on to the tree-lined gravel path, guests wearing terry robes and flip flops meandered along, chatting among themselves with the air of folks who were having a grand old time of it.  We found a parking lot and I pulled out a map I’d downloaded from the McMenamins Edgefield website.  There are ten (count them TEN) different eating and drinking opportunities on the property and you might want to stroll around and visit each one before settling on your venue, but Bill and I were hungry.  The first place we found was the Black Rabbit Restaurant, so we sat down to order breakfast.

Chicken Fried Steak and Eggs, Grilled Steak and Eggs, Poor Farm Biscuits, Smoked Salmon Hash, Corned Beef Hash,
Chilaquiles Tortillas and Challah French Toast Amaretto.  Toto we’re not in Denny’s anymore!  I had the Edgefield Breakfast: “Your choice of Canadian bacon, pork-apple sausage links, pepper bacon or veggie sausage patties; three eggs cooked to order, roasted potatoes and toast.”  Bill had the Challah French Toast Amaretto.  The next hour was blissful, but neither of us could clean our plates.  How does anyone eat three eggs?

“The next hour?” you ask.  I told you, this is not fast food.  I can also tell you that no one at McMenamis Edgefield has ever been or ever will be in a hurry.  So just sit back and enjoy yourself.

After our leisurely breakfast, we made a tour of the grounds.  Yes, there’s a nine hole golf course and also a vegetable

McMenamins Edgefield, Troutdale OR
An Edgefield guest enjoying the environs

garden where they grow much of what they cook.  Many of the buildings left behind from the County Poor Farm days have been re-purposed.  We discovered that all the terry clad guests wandering the property had been down to Ruby’s for their spa treatments.  Other folks were just sitting around enjoying the day.  There’s a sense that you’ve just joined some really retro commune when you’re at the resort, but it’s an utterly charming sensation.

I give a big thumbs up to McMenamins Edgefield.  Someday I hope to spend a few nights there, not just eat breakfast.  A lot of attractions claim to be a “must see,” but this is one you really must see (and taste) to believe.  Our pictures just don’t do it justice.  Come back next Wenesday and we’ll head out into the Gorge.

Architecture, ART, Attractions, Decorative Arts, DESTINATIONS, Gardens, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Books, United States

Pittock Mansion in Portland OR


Welcome to Oregon! Well, sort of. In June my husband and I spent twelve days traveling the state and now I’m sharing the experience with you. I’ll tell you about the attractions we visited, the meals we ate and where we stayed. Maybe you’ll decide you want to visit Oregon, too. Today’s focus is is the Pittock Mansion in Portland.

Visiting the Pittock Mansion

It was raining as we pulled into the mansion’s parking lot and we didn’t want to lug around our new SLR camera, so I reached into my backpack and pulled out my old point and shoot.  That’s when I discovered I didn’t pack any batteries for it.  (So much for good intentions.)

I think Oregon needs to invest in some good PR.  Pittock Mansion is every bit as grand and glorious as the other grand and glorious mansions I’ve seen around the nation, but figuring this out without a lot of research is almost impossible.  On Portland’s own tourism site, it takes several clicks to get to the top attractions and Pittock Mansion is seventh on the list below a book store and a coffee shop.  There is something wrong with this picture.  And speaking of pictures, the photograph on the Portland site wouldn’t excite me to visit the mansion and the other travel guides I read didn’t do much better.

However, historic homes rate right up there with gardens for me, so I wasn’t satisfied with the information I was being fed.  I kept digging.  Still, even after I decided to make visiting the home a high priority, I really didn’t get impressed until I was inside the mansion.  There is no grand entrance as you climb the hill approaching the home.  After buying our tickets in what seemed to be a gatehouse, we were directed to a porte cochere where a nondescript side door provides access.  After a modest entry hall, we wandered into the grand Stair Hall.  Finally, I felt like I was in a mansion.

We were lucky enough to hook up with a tour which was only a couple of rooms ahead of us.  Maybe one of the reasons Portland doesn’t take this grand old lady of architecture as seriously as they should is because the owners didn’t take it very seriously, either.  According to our guide, this lovely Stair Hall was used by the Pittock children as a skating rink.

Another reason for the house’s less than spectacular reputation might be that the architect hadn’t quite figured out how to do homes when he designed the Pittock Mansion in the early 1900’s.  The guide told us the architect had only designed office buildings prior to his commission for the Pittock home.  The way the Stair Hall dominates the house on all three of the main floors demonstrates a similarity to commercial spaces.

Also very commercial is the way the house was set up in suites, instead of having a floor or wing of the house devoted to sleeping spaces.  Since Mr. Pittock was already seventy-five when he started planning the mansion, his girls were married and the children who skated in the Stair Hall were actually grandchildren.  Mr. & Mr. Pittock had one suite and then each of their daughter’s had separate suites which held their immediate families.

In spite of it’s odd configuration, this is a home you should see.  Sadly, Mr. and Mrs. Pittock only lived in the house for a few years after it was finished.  She died four years after the home’s completion and he passed away a year later.  One of their grandsons, Peter, lived in the mansion until 1958, but by 1962 the house had fallen on hard times – or you might say suffered a hard fall.  The Columbus Day Storm of 1962 had hurricane force winds which knocked down trees, which in turn fell on the home, threatening the integrity of its structure.  Had it not been for devoted Portlanders, the home would have been razed.  It took several years to gather the funds they needed, but restoration began in earnest in 1968.

Even if architecture and history isn’t exactly your thing, you still might enjoy the mansion.  Henry was an innovator and a forward thinker.  His bathroom rivals anything HGTV designers dream up.  The views of Portland from the lawn are spectacular.  And it’s only $8.  A ticket to the Biltmore Mansion can set you back $59.

You’ll learn more about the Pittocks as I share more information with you about Portland, but I’ll stop here for today.  Next week I’ll tell you about the Portland Museum of Art.

DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Books, Travel Planning, United States

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions


Before the week is out, I’ll board a plane to Oregon. In December, Bill and I decided to visit the Pacific Northwest for  this year’s vacation.  A couple of months ago in this blog I explained how I arrived at that decision.  Well, since then I’ve been in travel-planning mode.

Doing the Research

As soon as we’d decided on a vacation in the Pacific Northwest, I started doing my research.  My first resource was Pacific Northwest published by Eyewitness Travel, something I picked up at the local Barnes & Noble.  It’s a delicious travel book and within hours of owning it, I’d already marked it up and had sticky notes hanging off the pages.  I like hard copy for travel planning.  Next it was a pair Frommer’s guides, one for Portland and the other for Seattle.  From there I started googling and my printer was red hot for weeks.

Ambitious soul that I am, I was trying to stuff Washington, Oregon and parts of British Columbia into a two week vacation.  Silly me!  Even though I planned to hug the coast and focus on major cities, there was a lot to see. Maybe if we had two months I could have made it to all the places on my wish list, but even then it would be tough.  I was faced with a dilemma.

Twice the Fun

So I planned two vacations.  One was for Washington with a few days devoted to the San Juan Islands and Victoria, British Columbia.  In the other, I focused on Oregon.  I hoped that one or the other of them would capture Bill’s imagination, but I did such a good job he liked both of them as much as I did.

My mother didn’t hesitate a moment.  She lobbied for us to go to Washington and British Columbia.  Her reasoning consisted of a list of all the people she knew who had been on Seattle-focused vacations and how much they’d loved it.  I asked her if any of her traveling friends had been to Oregon.  She didn’t know anyone who’d traveled to Oregon and that seemed to be all the proof she needed to provide in her case against the poor state.

The Road Less Traveled

I love my mom and I hate to disappoint her, but the more she tried to convince me of Seattle’s charms, the more I knew I’d be flying to Portland.  I loved the sound of everything there was to see in Seattle, Tacoma and Victoria, but I longed for the road less traveled.  As I weighed the pros and cons of both destinations, Seattle lost out to the Oregon Trail, Lewis and Clark, Sacajawea and a historic inn at the foot of a mountain with year-round skiing.  I live in a big city with great museums, but I don’t get much in the way of lonely stretches of beach, lighthouses, waterfalls and jet boat river excursions.  Oregon was my dream destination – this year.

Don’t get me wrong.  Washington has a lot of nature to run around in, but there are entirely too many other distractions.  I knew I’d be juggling ferry schedules with museum opening times and the hours at Pike Place Market.  I’d come home as worn out as I felt before the vacation.  It was all well and good for me to say I wanted to focus on nature and take a more relaxing vacation, but I know me.  If there’s a museum within striking distance, I think I’m supposed to go.

Washington, Maybe Next Time

Eventually, I had to share my choice with Mom.  She was not happy about it and she extracted a promise from me that I’d take that Washington vacation at some time in the future.  I faithfully promised that I would, but the more I learn about Oregon, I’m not so sure.  I may just have to keep visiting Oregon.  I’ve planned a twelve day excursion, but I think I’d need twelve weeks in each of the locales I’ll visit to really do the state justice – and that’s just the Western part of the state.

For the next two weeks, I won’t be blogging, but I’ll be thinking of you and I’ll gather enough memories to write a series of blogs that I hope will excite you enough to inspire you to plan your own trail through Oregon.