Labor Day Weekend Fun in Oregon

We had a great Labor Day weekend exploring and learning more about our new home. We had a more ideas on how to spend our time than we had time, and I’m happy to share with you some of our fun.

First, we hit downtown Portland. We started by enjoying lunch at Veritable Quandry, a lovely spot with great outdoor seating. The service was top notch, the outdoor seating was beautiful, and the food was fresh and good. After lunch we took a short 1.5 mile walk over to the Pearl District and spent some time at Art in the Pearl, a local arts and crafts festival, exploring a diverse selection of art from West Coast artists.

We then walked over to the Willamette River to enjoy the views of the river and some people watching. There were a lot of people out bike riding, walking, skateboarding and dancing. Yes, you read that right, dancing. For those that know me well, you will know that I love to watch people dancing: skilled professionals, amateur dancers, movies or TV shows about about dancing. One of my guilty pleasures is the TV show So You Think You Can Dance. I love it mostly because of the skill and passion the dancers bring to their craft, but I also think it’s because they are all absolutely focused on fulfilling their dreams of being dancers. I love seeing people working to fulfill their dreams. On this sunny day in downtown Portland a group of about ten teenagers had taped down cardboard to the sidewalk and brought a speaker. “The dance crew” was taking turns showing off their dance moves. It was so much fun watching them and it felt a little like Cat Deely, host of SYTYCD, might just walk up and start interviewing one of the kids. OK, so that part was all fantasy, but it was a lot of fun to watch, see and feel the energy it brought to the other people down at the waterfront.

Captain from our boat tour chatting with all of us.

The next day we returned to the waterfront for an Outrageous Jet Boat Tour of Portland’s Bridges. I’ve been especially interested in the bridges here in Portland, because there are so many and it has resulted in one of the city’s nicknames “Bridgetown.” The Portland area has eleven bridges over the Willamette River with a twelfth currently under construction and three over the Columbia River. The tour would take us under most of the bridges and provide a short amount of information/history about each. It turns out that what made it “outrageous” was we would travel about 35 mph in order to have enough time see everything.

The bridges were built from the early 1900’s up through 1982 (and one more still being built in 2012). They each have a distinct style and purpose and it turns out that some of the bridges are specifically owned and used by the railroad companies. There is lots of fascinating history that’s fun for me to learn about the bridges. In the meantime, I’ll just keep using them as a means to get to and from my place of employment and fun exploration of the city.

Incredible sparkling wine from Argyle Wineries.

On Labor Day we took the opportunity to sleep in and then decided to do some wine tasting in the Willamette Valley. We live about 20 miles from wine country (Dundee, OR) and some of the best Pinot Noir in the country. Our first stop of the day was Argyle Winery to do some sparkling wine tasting. The tasting room was hopping with locals and out of town visitors all anxious to try the award winning sparkling wines and pinots. after the tasting we asked the man behind the counter if he had any recommendations for our next stop. He gave us about five other suggestions and put a lot of emphasis on getting out to see Vidon Vineyards.

Vidon Vineyards is in Newberg, OR just a short drive  from Dundee. The drive through the country is gorgeous and we arrived at the vineyard and entered the tasting room to be greeted by Don. Don is the eighty-one year old NASA astrophysicist retiree who started the vineyard with his wife in 1999. He grew up in North Dakota and spent time in France during his military service and knew that one day he wanted to own a vineyard. The wine was tremendous and only enhanced by Don’s bright personalized touch with each guest that arrived.

We lingered for awhile and enjoyed the gorgeous day and view. We decided we needed to come back to this vineyard, so we became wine club members and left with some wine in the boot of our Mini Cooper. Driving back to Portland we talked about how fun the day had been and how exciting it is to be so close to wine country. We are already planning our next trip and I’m appreciating all of the dreamers (of the dancing and astrophysicist variety) that I keep meeting in Oregon.


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