From the moment their airliner flew over the Cascades, they were mesmerized by the beauty our State offers. Those who have caught that first glimpse of Mt. Hood through their tiny, passenger window approaching the Portland International Airport know exactly what I mean. At this time of the year, jagged mountain peaks are softened and made perfectly white with a fresh coat of new snow, and they glisten in the sunlight as brightly as any welcoming torch, anywhere. Perhaps, as they flew over the patchwork quilts of fields waiting to be harvested and the cluster of earth toned trees and foliage nestled between the rounded hills, they were reminded of the knolls in the Shire where Bilbo Baggins, his family and friends lived so long ago. I know I always am. As I had hoped, Mike and Germayne were in awe of Oregon even before they landed.
Their trip was brief, only 6 days, but they continued to enjoy everything Oregon threw their way: 60 mph gusts; hiking and the most beautiful views at the coast; dustings of snow and colder Fall temperatures at Crater Lake which just happens to be the deepest lake in the world, above sea level, and simply pristine; a sense of being miniscule as they posed amongst the redwoods; and vistas in the Gorge they will remember for a very long time to come. Their travels took them from the northern most part of Oregon to the Redwoods at most southern end, but even with so many hours of travel, they were able to find time for miles and miles of walking, picture taking, visits with friends, and delicious meals. However, if I may, please allow me to share with you just a few reasons, other than I'd love to see them again, I'm hoping Mike and Germayne will opt to return for another visit.
As much as they were able to see and do during this visit, there is still so much waiting for them to discover. On their next visit, perhaps time will permit a trip to eastern Oregon where they'll find the painted desert; rock formations streaked with colors that appear to change as the sun crosses the sky. Wildflowers will greet them at each turn as they hike through the hills and valleys with hues and vibrant colors they won't easily forget. Traveling south they'll arrive in Ashland, where if the timing is right, they will be able to join many others on the lawn watching Shakespeare's plays performed in the outdoor theater during the Shakespearean Festival. Continuing a bit further, they'll reach the banks of the Rogue River, and white water, and 3 or 4 day rafting trips through one of the most scenic areas in the world--an experience so amazing I truly believe it should be mandatory for every Oregonian to venture down this river. Many years ago, well known author Zane Gray built a rustic, one room cabin on the river which can still be seen and visited today. Along the way, rafters can choose to stay in their raft or float along beside as they are gently pulled by the currents through rock and cliff formations which are quite literally, breath taking.
Leaving southern Oregon and returning to Portland along the coastline allows
travel through Newport where they'll find the Slyvia Beach Hotel, a quaint bed and breakfast where each room is styled in honor of a well known author. Guests are able to stay in a room with décor inspired by authors, Alice Walker, Agatha Christie, Mark Twain, and many more, while, of course, their books are shelved in bookcases, waiting for guests to read at their leisure. Not only a great book to read, but also, a view of our coastline at the same time--perhaps this would be the epitome of a great 'beach read.'
As Mike and Germayne continue north, perhaps they'll choose to head inland and drive through wine country. Stopping at various wineries offers not only a taste of some of the world's best wines, or a game or two of Bocce balls, but also views of vineyards and countryside that are most beautiful. Continuing north, will allow for a stop in the city of Silverton and the Silver Falls State Park where they can enjoy 10 different waterfalls during the course of a seven mile hike.
Oregon boasts parks of every size which are used for boating, sailing, fishing, biking, hiking, rock climbing, camping, including the smallest park in the world which is used mostly for looking at. After arriving in Portland, again, they'll find Mills End Park, if they look closely, and then, so much more. Undoubtedly, they'll want to check out the tunnels beneath the city that were believed to have been used early in the 1900's to house and abduct men to be shanghaied as sailors to China. S. L. Stoner has written about this specific time in Portland's history in a most fascinating and intriguing historical mystery, "Land Sharks," chronicling some of the underhanded criminal activity that occurred in the early days of Portland's growth. From Portland's underground they'll make their way to South Waterfront, where they'll be able to rise above our torrid past, hitching a ride on the tram that travels between the river's edge and Oregon Health and Science University campus nestled in the west hills. From this elevation, there will be little of Portland left to the imagination and the views of Mt. Hood and St. Helens will only add to their experience.
It goes without saying, I would love Mike and Germayne to return to see even more of all Oregon has to offer. I know they would enjoy their visit. But in all honesty, I just want them to come back. They are cherished, loving friends, and I sense Oregon would be even better if they were here. Trusting, we are on their to-do list.