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Portland Trip

Day 4 of 5

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Sunday, October 21st
Chinese Garden

Originally, we'd planned to drive to Mount St. Helens today. Unfortunately, it was raining. Also, it was completely overcast and visibility was limited. While Portland is somewhat south of Mount St. Helens, it didn't make sense for us to drive 2 1/2 hours and not be able to see anything. The visitor's center is 5 miles from the mountain, and we had nowhere near 5 miles visibility.

I was of course disappointed, but we managed to spend the day doing other things. Our first stop was the Hawthorne shopping area. We'd been here on our last trip, and we returned to this small 5-6 block area which has been compared to Berkeley. Tattoo parlors, cafes, bookstores. Oh, and not to mention shoe stores.

Window in the Chinese Garden

After shopping and a bite to eat, we went back and visited the Portland Classical Chinese Garden, which just opened the previous year. The sun just started to come out as we took a guided tour of the garden. The garden is 40,000 square feet and takes up a city block. It's surrounded on all sides by walls, though Portland regulations require it to have windows in that wall (otherwise, by tradition, it wouldn't have those windows onto the sidewalk). Much of the garden is covered by water, with small foot bridges going across. There's a waterfall in one corner, and a large two-story tea house. All the other 8 or 9 buildings are one story. There are a couple dark rooms for scrolls, but mostly it's open courtyards, interesting rocks, plants, and frames. I could spend hours taking pictures from all sorts of angles. Unfortunately, the garden is surrounded by high-rise buildings of the city, so it's hard not to notice the incongruence. You never quite get the sense that you're in another world, when a 30-story building looms overhead, just a few blocks away.

Gateway between two rooms in the garden

Pagoda on the water; notice the skyscraper reflecting in the water

After the garden we made a quick stop in the Nob Hill shopping area before heading off to MacLeay Park, which is adjacent to Forest Park -- Portland's largest park. It's quite remarkable that such wild land exists so close to the downtown area. Urban parks like Golden Gate Park in San Francisco are no comparison -- this is wild land, full of untamed forest growing out of control. Forest Park is about 8 miles long and 1 1/2 miles wide. I took a brief walk along the Wildwood trail, encountering many joggers and dog walkers, even though it was still cloudy and threatened to rain. If I had time, I definitely would have liked to stay longer to explore the park.

After the park, we returned to Chinatown and ate at that same Chinese restaurant again (Golden Horse Restaurant, 238 NW 4th). Then we went off in search of Powell's Books technical book store. We found it, but just before they closed, so we went back to the hotel, intending to return the next day.

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