Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Goodbye Amtrak, Hello Portland

It's Monday when we awaken after a gentle rocking train journey during sleep. Joe our cabin attendant had left a newspaper and initially I couldn't figure out what town it was from. Guesses? Spokane.

The only downside with the trip from Chicago is that it goes too quickly--just one full day on the train, with two nights.

Today we're due to arrive in Portland, our destination, at 10:10 am, requiring a flurry of activity to pack, tip Joe and thank him for taking such good care of us, get a coffee, and cut up some fruit for breakfast before heading to the observation car for an hour to watch the Columbia River Gorge slip past.

Then, a minor miracle. Joe announces we'll be getting in earlier than our arrival time. First time ever in our Amtrak travels. I say goodbye to Francis, a genuinely nice guy. I'll miss our conversations.

Portland Union Station is magnificent.

Here's an old photo...

...and a series of large and what look like hand-colored photographs on the way to the women's room (click to see more).

Lovely detail on the station exterior.

We get a taxi in no time and head out to the airport to pick up a car. I used air miles to rent this car and picking up at PDX was mandatory. Our driver helped me as I scanned a map for our trip back--do I take I5 to this to that, said I? Yes, he confirmed, as we solidified our route to the storage place where our camper's been waiting for us. We got there just fine. There's Art, fiddling with the keys.

And there he is again, getting it started.

We double-team it back on the road and drop the camper at Les Schwab, a big tire and brake place, with a list of particulars. And then back into the car and into Portland proper and our hotel. It feels good to be settling in somewhere.

Here's a fine example of a modest hotel room re-done with nice design...and bamboo floors. We're at the Park Lane Inn and Suites in northwest Portland. Free parking and $71 per night.

Time to stretch it out with a walk and dinner. I'd read a lot about Vietnamese Pho (pronounced "fuh") and always wanted to try it. Just the thing--hot and beef brothy with a side of lime, fresh basil, and bean sprouts.

My First Pho

People in Portland are extraordinarily friendly. This pho resto is a good spot to regain our equilibrium.

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