One of the many wonderful things about living in Portland is that two of my favorite places ever - the Columbia River Gorge and Maryhill Museum of Art - are within easy road tripping distance. Since nature saw fit to shine her light in all its glory on the first day of spring (which also happens to be my birthday), there was no other choice but to celebrate with a mini-road trip. So, I got together some of my favorite people and hit the road.
The day started with a lovely brunch with my adopted nephew and his family, who are slowly being absorbed into the auntosphere. It started with the boy. I keep his allegiance by buying him toys and feeding him copious amounts of sugar when he comes to visit, but the older daughter now makes occasional references to me as "Aunt Tina" too. The middle child is a tough teen nut to crack, but I am confident that I will win her over one day too, if I can get her to put down her cell phone and stop texting for long enough to notice there are other people in the room.
Aside from the company, the great thing about brunch was that it was the only meal I've had to cook in the past five days. Thursday lunch was Italian with coworkers and dinner came in the form of happy hour with my friends Goth Girl and The Tattooed Lady, who kindly treated me to pre-birthday porter and a roasted garlic burger. And the dining out has not stop with the weekend either! That's right Portland Area Restaurant Association members, my crew and I are keeping you afloat, so you better smile when you see me waddling up to your front door!
But, back to my story. Picture this. Portland, the first day of spring 2010. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and people's stomachs are full of maple sausage and apple breakfast casserole. The brunch shift clocks out and the road trip shift arrives. The sun is shining so hard I want to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. I am not. If it were a dream, I would be thinner and George Clooney would be accompanying me.
Even Clooney free, it turns out to be one of my favorite days ever, mostly because my mom and the friends I was travelling with really are a lot of fun. You know how some people can be good friends, but not good road friends, because their pace is too different from yours or because you like piddling around and they have to have a plan? Well, these people are perfect as friends AND road tripping buddies.
As the day progressed, we visited Starvation Creek State Park (I totally want to go back for a picnic one day!) and stopped for lunch at Big Jim's in The Dalles, where the lady at the counter surprised me with free birthday ice cream, which she brought to our table BEFORE lunch came. If there's one thing I've learned in my many moons, it's that you don't mess around with waiting for after lunch when you are full to start with dessert. Big rookie mistake. It's much more efficient to go for the good stuff right off. That way you can be too full when it comes time for the lima beans and not the hot fudge. It just makes good birthday sense and I am ever so happy that Big Jim and I are of one mind on this!
After Jim's it was off to Stonehenge and Maryhill, where we wandered around taking pictures of the peacocks, which really are sexy birds and not just fancy turkeys no matter what some members of my party would have you believe. Then, as the day drew to a close, we sat at a picnic table on the grounds while my people showered me with amazing gifts before heading back to the city for the evening. Looks like this is my lucky year!