Tour of Vancouver and Portland

The past several days have been a whirlwind, in a good way. In addition to work getting busy, I’ve been hanging out with my friends Darryl and Marilyn, who camped near us this past winter in Quartzsite. They call Vancouver, Washington home, and invited me to visit if I got up their way. I took them up on their offer, and have been here since Saturday.

They wasted no time showing me around. After setting Lister up with everything he needs in their house, we piled into their $600 Civic (people after my own heart) and they gave me the grand tour of Vancouver, as well as Portland, Oregon, which is right across the Columbia River from here. I actually got to be a passenger, which I never get to do anymore since I’m always either driving the van or riding the bike. This also meant I could take pictures while we were driving, so don’t get mad at me for it — I was doing it safely!

Our first stop was Fort Vancouver. We haven’t visited the actual fort yet, but they showed me around the surrounding area. It began as a trading post before it became a more formal military outpost later on. The large house here is the Grant House, named for the President. Although he served here during his military career, he never lived in this house, which was reserved for the commanding officer. Today it’s a high-end restaurant.

Our next stop was the Vancouver waterfront. We walked around a bit, including out on the pier that’s actually suspended over the water with no posts. It was fun watching the jet skis buzzing around under us.

Then we hit the highway and went across one of the many bridges that connect Vancouver to Portland. I can barely remember all of the sights. We drove through Washington Park but didn’t stop to see any of the individual sites like the Japanese garden, the rose garden, the zoo, or many other things.

We walked around downtown a bit, which gave me a good sample of the urban decay that’s been setting in here. Some parks were closed entirely, with graffiti in places. There were many homeless, as in truly homeless living in tents on the street. There were also quite a few people randomly yelling at no one in particular, likely stoned out of their minds on drugs. It made me glad I didn’t try to drive my home into Portland to go exploring by myself.

On a more positive note, we followed their son Mark’s recommendation to check out Voodoo Donut, a fixture in Portland. I got a Portland Cream, which is the same as a Boston Cream (my favorite) with the addition of two small white frosting dots. It tasted great, definitely one of the best donuts of this type I’ve ever had — whatever city it’s named after.

I’ll stop here, for now, and post about our other wanderings later. Our next stop: Columbia River Gorge.

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