Our home away from home; Phil & Susan’s house in Portland, Oregon.
We all managed to stay asleep until D’Arcy woke up at 4am local time; 8am at home. Unfortunately, he managed to wake the rest of us, but we tried to stay quiet upstairs so we wouldn’t wake Phil & Susan. Luckily Phil & Susan, both nurses, are naturally early risers, so we were all downstairs by 6am. We had a wonderful Christmas Eve morning breakfast of homemade cherry-almond scones, fruit, bacon, juice, toast, hot cocoa, and coffee. We were so happy to have had a great night’s sleep in a cozy, warm bed and to be clean after long, hot showers! We had to plan our day out somewhat carefully, as we hoped to join the McDonahs for the annual Christmas Eve get together and cousin gift-exchange through technology.
The girls were getting antsy to get out and explore and were out of their element until Santa sent Phil the following text:
New technology – who knew Santa now texts to check on children’s behaviour?!
We decided to go out to explore the immediate neighbourhood. They live within walking distance to many neat shops and restaurants. Our first stop was the favourite; a hat shop. We spent a good amount of time there, and the kids had a ball. Alex ended up buying a fez and Olivia bought herself a black fascinator.
Alex and his fez. He fits right in, wearing it in Portland.
Sarah and her cowgirl hat.
Olivia in fascinator #1
Sarah in a poinsettia fascinator.
Olivia wearing a New Year’s headband.
Funny how Evan did not allow his photo to be taken in one of the outrageous hats…
From the hat store, we went to Powell’s Book Store, where Sarah bought herself a journal, and I found a craft kit to make Christmas crackers for Christmas dinner; Susan had never heard of them. We loved window shopping, looking at the vintage clothing, exotic shops, new plant life, and people completing their last minute shopping. I was relaxed and happy that I wasn’t doing all the normal last-minute craziness that I would usually be trying to complete on Christmas Eve.
We’ve been fascinated by some of the plant life here on the west coast.
After our neighbourhood tour, we went back to Phil & Susan’s in time to take part in the annual McDonah family gathering and cousin gift-exchange via “Facetime”. It was fun. We got to be part of the festivities and talk to everyone there, (except for our great nephew Phinn who was camera shy) and still felt like we were part of it, despite being so many miles away.
Face timing with the McDonahs during the annual Christmas Eve gift exchange.
When we finished with our call, we got ready to go into downtown Portland to do some more exploring. We hopped on the bus, located just a few steps from the house.
Waiting for the bus to go into downtown Portland.
Portland is beautiful, despite the fact it was quite foggy. It is known as the City of Bridges, with nine bridges spanning the Willamette River. We crossed over at the Hawthorne Bridge, a steel design with a drawbridge. It just happened that the drawbridge was up, so we got off the bus and walked over the bridge.
Another of the Portland bridges, looking from the drawbridge we walked over.
Walking across the drawbridge. Someone gets a lift from her big brother.
We walked along the riverfront to the downtown, outdoor Christmas craft market. It felt really good to be outside in the crisp fresh air, and to be getting some exercise. Spirits were high. Alex spotted a telescope and couldn’t help himself. He loves those things!
Alex can’t walk by a telescope, despite the fact the view was pretty foggy.
Evan & Olivia taking in the view.
It felt good to be outside and walking around after being cooped up for a few days.
We enjoyed the Christmas market and even made a couple of small purchases. Each of the kids has their own money to use for souvenirs so for the most part choices are being made wisely. We did have a stalemate for a few minutes when Olivia spotted duck tape wallets being sold for $15 and wasn’t going to leave until she bought one. Santa had to send another text before she’d move.
We encountered many interesting people along the way, including a woman who “charged” Alex with having an attempted moustache, and Phil for being too good-looking. She gave out stickers, and Alex & Phil each gave her $1. Another man persuaded us to enter into his tent and he equipped us all with slings on our lower back. I have to admit that one felt really good – I just wasn’t willing to spend $65 (a deal for today only, as it was Christmas Eve)!
We found the perfect gift for someone special – a stained glass garden dragonfly.
A women spreading joy at the Christmas craft market.
This guy was determined to sell us this sling that would cure all of our back problems.
After the craft market, we passed Chinatown and the original Voodoo Doughnuts location. Unfortunately for Alex, the line was out the door and down the block, so we did not go in. We had a laugh when Sarah declared she knew exactly what their tagline means, and also when walking by the “Pussycat Show” she thought it would be fun to go see. Wrong kind of pussycats!
The famous Voodoo Doughnuts store. Sarah said she knew exactly what their tagline means…
The line for doughnuts went out the door and down the street, so we did not stop in, much to Alex’s disappointment.
We did, however, stop in at Powells City of Books, the largest new and used bookstore in the world. It has over 1,000,000 titles and takes up an entire city block! We could have spent an entire day there, but I bought some postcards (I’m sending those instead of Christmas cards this year).
After the bookstore, we went to a restaurant/pub called “Henry’s Tavern” for a Christmas Eve drink. The kids had hot chocolate (Olivia had a “Dr. Pepper”), and the grown-ups continued our craft beer tour of Portland. The kids were getting tired and cranky by this point, so we ended up changing seating arrangements a couple of times to separate them. We decided that we should probably go somewhere to feed the animals before the behaviour got worse.
Our beer tour of Portland continued when we stopped for a mid-afternoon drink at “Henry’s”. I had a rhubarb-pear hard cider.
Phil and Susan suggested a restaurant called “Pastini Pastaria” which is a local chain featuring Italian food. The best part? The menu was full of “safe” items for Olivia’s allergies! It’s not often that she goes to a restaurant and actually has choices of what she can order! I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone from or in the Portland area with food allergies. We had a bit of an adventure on the way to the restaurant when we ran to catch the trolly and only six of us made it. Phil & D’Arcy texted that they would meet us there. Meanwhile on the trolly, there was an incident with a man who wanted to bring his grocery cart on the trolly, and the driver who would not allow it. It was an interesting learning experience for the kids!
The allergy menu from Pastini’s Pastaria, a local chain.
The Portland Christmas tree – someone was getting tired!
We headed home by way of the Portland Christmas tree and stopped for a photo. When we got home to Phil & Susan’s the kids quickly got into their pyjamas and got ready for Santa, leaving out a glass of milk, cookies, and some carrots for the reindeer by the fireplace. We had some excitement when “Rocky Raccoon” stopped by the back step to eat cat food Phil & Susan leave out for a neighbourhood stray. The kids had been tracking Santa on Norad throughout the day, and when they went to bed, he was delivering gifts in the Amazon; he had already delivered gifts to Nova Scotia. The kids were asleep by 8pm. One of the easiest Christmas Eve bedtimes ever!
Rocky Racoon paid a visit to Phil & Susan’s back porch before bedtime.
Phil, Susan, D’Arcy & I stayed up until about 10:30 hanging out, doing the things that parents do on Christmas Eve while visiting and having a beer. When we went to bed, Santa was in Arkansas.