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Sep 5, 2003

The Road Trip - Part 3(Oregon) Portland and Tillamook

We were supposed to have an early start today. But after an hour at Kinkos getting the laptop hooked up, to download and print our car insurance papers, then some more maps, then a small shopping for road trip supplies at Kmart at Everett Mall we were finally off to Portland, 200 miles of south of Seattle, at 1pm. Well, for some people day begins at noon. Drive to Portland on I-5 was uneventful, we reached downtown Portland at 4 pm. Parked on the curbside of 'South Park Blocks', which is the area in downtown Portland canopied by hundred year old elm trees.

Portland seems to be a big city with small town charm and plenty of greenery, it'd fit snugly into the term 'beautiful city'. Most of the city blocks are half the size of ordinary city blocks, planning and the layout of streets & blocks are pedestrian friendly, so are the street cars. We didn't have much time to spend in Portland as we were planning to hit the Oregon coast, ie US Highway 101 tonight itself. The shortage of time made us forgo a visit to Tim McCall Waterfront Park, and we headed towards the west of the city, across the Willamatte river to Washington Park, home of Rose Test Gardens, Hoyt's Arboretum, Zoo and Japanese Garden.

It was a surprise to see quaint old fashioned residences inside Washington park, you wouldn't believe that people lived, raised families and went to work, living in such houses that looked liked gingerbread houses, Irish castles built in granite, fairytale homes in white and red, but they did, in Washington park. Inside the park most of the drive was along the curving road within Hoyt's Arboretum which housed trees from all over the world. One end of the arboretum is Portland zoo and the other end is the Rose Test Gardens and the Japanese Garden. As luck would have it, Japanese Garden closed a few minutes before we reached its entrance gate.The brighter side of it is that it offered a good climb up the hill and thus woke up our lazy bones.Hihi. Rose Test Gardens was just nextdoor, their layout and landscaping reminded me of the Mughal Gardens in Northern India, Pakistan and Afganistan, except that Roes Test Gardens were confined to roses whereas the Mughal gardens were not. Laid out in terraces, interspersed with fountains, alcoves and pavilions, I could have been in a Mughal garden somewhere in Kashmir or Himachal.

Drove back to downtown Portland, going around a bit and then headed west on Interstate 26 towards Oregon coast, towards our destination for the night, Tillamook. While driving towards Tillamook I realised that US 26 was pretty dark compared to the other bigger highways we had driven on and not being in an expert in tackling a lethal combination of extreme curves and pitch black darkness, I passed the wheel to N, who takes on the persona of a race car driver under such circumstances. Well, we didn't get any speeding tickets that night and reached safely at Tillamook at 11pm. We did a market survey of accommodations available (Best Western - 80$, Western Royal Inn - 64$, only smoking rooms available Red Apple Inn- not a hotel chain, but 60$ only) and decided to crash at Red Apple Inn. Though it was not a real looker, Red Apple had a TV that looked ancient, but worked perfectly well and a microwave that looked like a cabinet (worked perfectly well too), in addition to the usual room accessories. Not bad for sixty dollars. Our first night in Oregon.

(Link to all posts of Road Trip)