I had planned a post as soon as I returned the first of this week, but for the past week my family has been dealing with a very sad situation--the death of a close family member who died very unexpectedly, leaving behind a young widow and two small children. It's been a difficult time for all, and I haven't felt like blogging at all, needless to say. But it has been a reminder of just how fragile and precious life is; we must appreciate and take advantage of every moment given to us.
While everyone back home was digging out from the Great Blizzard of '11, I was enjoying the relative warmth of Portland, Oregon, where 48 or 50 degrees felt like spring to me. I managed to get out of town just in time. My flight from Indianapolis was delayed for awhile, including some time to spray the plane down with de-icer ("Yes, I'll gladly wait here on the tarmac if it means those wings don't ice up!), but the flight was uneventful otherwise, thank goodness.
|Rear view of Pittock Mansion|
Completed in 1914, the mansion featured many innovative features for that time, including a central vacuum system and intercoms. But it is the architectual details that really capture a visitor's attention, especially this beautful three-story marble staircase. Daughter and I both took time to pose for photos on this staircase, but thought it would have been more appropriate if we had been wearing ballgowns instead of blue jeans and sneakers.
The home is filled with 17th and 18th century antiques; I'm not sure why the only photo I took, though, was of the cookstove:) Perhaps it was because I was distracted by the view--the cook could roll out pastry while looking out a window with a breathtaking view of the city. The estate remained in the family until the late '50's when it was put on the market. Fortunately, a group of concerned citizens supported its preservation, and in 1964 the city of Portland purchased it and began restoring the mansion, saving it from demolition and land developers.
As beautiful as the interior is, the exterior is even more appealing. Strolling down the back lawn, a visitor finds one of the best views of the city with Mount Hood clearly visible on the horizon.
Georgiana Pittock, who commissioned the building of this house along with her husband Henry, was an avid gardener and originated the tradition of Portland's annual Rose Festival. The grounds around the mansion are filled with many different plants; I hope that on my next trip I'll be able to see these in bloom, because even in winter the garden was impressive. There were even roses blooming near the front door--an amazing sight in early February! Daughter took great delight in testing my knowledge of different plants; it wasn't hard to identify the large plantings of azaleas--or maybe these were rhododendrons.
Nor was it hard to pick out these Japanese maples. Judging by their thick trunks, I thought they must be fairly mature specimens, yet both were less than 5 feet tall.
But I had no idea what kind of tree this was, and there were no identifying markers beside it. It certainly has a unique trunk.
The Pittock Mansion is open year-round and is in close proximity to both the Rose Garden and the Japanese Garden. I'd definitely recommend visting all three of these places if you're ever in Portland.
One of the things I love about Portland is that you don't need a car to get around. While Daughter was working one day, I took advantage of the excellent mass transit system to do some exploring on my own. For less than $5.00 you can purchase an all-day pass that allows you to ride to and from anywhere in the city and the outlying suburbs (where Daughter lives) on the train, then take any city bus or the streetcar downtown.
Of course, if you want to travel further, you might need additional transportation as this street sign in Pioneer Square indicates:)
I was content, though, just to stay where I was, enjoying some precious time with Daughter and, of course, Coconut, who is quite the fashionista at times, as you can see.
I think Coconut was just as happy to have me visit as was Daughter, especially since we took frequent daily walks past the wetland area across the street from Daughter's apartment complex. We both enjoyed seeing the ducks, geese, and different species of birds flying about and swimming in this nature area. I'm almost positive that one day I saw an eagle flying above the area as well.
Although afternoons in Portland were warm enough that I could comfortably shed my winter coat on walks with Coconut, I didn't completely escape the effects of the big winter storm. My flight home late Sunday evening went without a hitch . . . until I reached Indianapolis. I had left my car in the long-term parking lot, and I soon realized what everyone there had had to endure, as I spent an hour chipping ice off my windshield ... and then needed assistance to get "unstuck" from the ice in my parking space!
I'm glad to be back home, but it was -8 degrees (-22 C) when I woke up this morning, and I'm already dreaming of finding someplace warm . . . maybe it's time to visit Older Daughter in Phoenix, too!