A Tale of Two Cities

Our arrival in Portland was the start of a flurry of activity: cleaning out Island Girl inside and out, vet visits, shopping, visits and outings with friends and a flight to Miami and back.  So here comes a tale of two cities.

portand-100-3On our way to Portland, we stopped by the Blue Beacon to have Island Girl and the Coquí washed. Though we were planning to do further cleaning, this initial wash was a way of getting some of the excess Canadian and Alaskan grime off both vehicles.

portland-118We also replaced a damaged wheel cover on Island Girl and while we were at it removed the valve extenders on our back tires as a precaution (we have heard of many problems with these).  We went with some simpler valve extenders, a little harder to use but more durable.

portand-100And we stopped at the auto glass repair place to get the windshield and sunroof on the car replaced. We finally had a clear windshield, after months of staring at a bullseye! And the tarp and duct tape sunroof is gone!portand-100-2

portand-4portland-117portland-116Our friends Tim and Becky generously allowed us to park Island Girl on their property near Portland.  We spent the next several days emptying out Island Girl’s basement compartments and generally cleaning out all the nooks and crannies inside and outside, removing much of the dust that had accumulated there from driving on all of those gravel roads in Alaska and Canada. What a summer!

Best of all this gave us the chance to hang out with Tim and Becky. We enjoyed several get togethers to catch up on our lives since we saw each other last winter in San Diego.

portland-119portand-200A few days later we flew out to Miami, while our friends took care of Angel. We are really grateful for their loving care of our little Angel.

It is a pretty long way from Portland to Miami, and our connecting flight was delayed so we arrived at about one in the morning. Only to have to drive from Fort Lauderdale to Miami.

But our dear Miami friends and hosts Al and Bonnie left us a wonderful fruit and cheese buffet to nosh on when we arrived at their house. We are so lucky to have such wonderful friends, old and new!

Miami Oct 15-100Miami Oct 15-121Having spent most of our lives in Miami, we always fall short of seeing all of the people that we would like to see. But we sure tried. We spent lots of time with family and also got to see lots of longtime friends.

Miami Oct 15-127Our visit coincided with Hector’s birthday and we had dinner with our niece/his goddaughter and then met a bunch of other cousins and family at a local nightclub. It was really a fun celebration and so great to spend time with family.Miami Oct 15-103

Social time continued: celebrating Hector’s birthday yet again with his mom, brother and sister and their significant others.Miami Oct 15-123

Miami Oct 15-128

A special evening was our visit with Maria (my maid of honor and lifelong friend) and her husband, Modesto, at Maritza and Rusty’s for dinner. We talked the night away. So many happenings to catch up on!

And more good times: dinner with my cousin Carolina and her husband Rudy, and breakfast by the water with Barry and Michael.

Miami Oct 15-102And more love and warmth with family.

Miami Oct 15-101Finally it was time to return and the return day coincided with our 37th anniversary. So we spent the day flying from Fort Lauderdale to Charlotte and connecting to Portland – not the most romantic anniversary celebration but it sure was a great week.

portland-105portland-106Back in Portland, we encountered some very rainy weather – November is one of the rainiest months so this was expected, although apparently Halloween’s rains were a lot even by drippy local standards. portland-104portland-103

But back to the social calendar. We visited our friends Dan (who we have known for over 30 years!) and Kay, who gave us a quick tour of the city, including some food carts. Unfortunately it was pouring rain, but Kay cooked a wonderful dinner and all was well again.portland-101portland-109

We met with them again on a much nicer day at their house, which overlooks the Willamette River and some picturesque boathouses, and took a nice walk over to a pub and later to a restaurant.  portland-102

portland-107portland-100At our last get together with Dan and Kay, their son Niki who was in town and a couple of his friends joined us for beers and dinner.

The last time we saw Niki he was still a kid, and now he is a college graduate and all around polished young man – wow!


portland-127On November 1st we met my friend Nanci at a Dia de los Muertos festival: Muertos PDX, a community celebration of life and death.

The Dia de los Muertos tradition combines indigenous Aztec ritual with Catholicism (All Saints and All Souls Days).

portland-130portland-128There were several altars representing different regions of Mexico, but the most touching one was the “border altar” honoring all of those who have died while attempting to cross the border in search of a better life.portland-129

portland-144portland-145There were dancers representing the various states in Mexico, storytelling for the kids, faceprinting and of course, food and drink.


Nanci and I had our face painted by Daniel, a local artist, who did an amazing  job.  It was quite the process.

First a base of white paint as a canvas, then a discussion of what we might like, and then the colorful painting itself.  I said I wanted a rose to be part of the design (Portland is the City of Roses after all).


portland-141portland-143There were several painters and a LOT of people with painted faces.  It really was quite something to see and a really fun thing to do. We are so glad to have spent time with Nanci. And glad she thought of this wonderful event that gave us the opportunity to get  a glimpse into the Portland Latino community.


Later that week, Becky and I took Angel to the local leash-free dog park. Then Hector and I had one last visit with Tim and Becky at a local pub for pizza and beer. We plan to see them again down south later this winter.

portland-108Our last week in Portland we moved to the Jansen Beach RV Park. Check out my review of the park here.

We dedicated a little time to looking at homes for sale, visiting open houses and generally touring around. All around we found these little groups of food carts, called food cart pods, with an amazing variety of ethnic foods at great prices. There are over 600 food carts in the city!

A less fun part of our visit was a sudden leak from the valve in the fresh water tube to our toilet that soaked part of our dining room carpet. Hector does not do plumbing so we called a mobile RV guy and he came over and fixed it.

portland-158portland-156Shortly after that, the convection oven part of our microwave stopped working. It was the original eleven year old microwave and not worth fixing. So now we have a shiny new microwave/convection oven.portland-157


Now THAT is a mushroom!

Now THAT is a mushroom!

After all of that stress, we headed out to Washington Park, a lovely urban park. Although it was too late in the year to see many roses, the rose garden was still lovely with fall foliage all around.  This park also has a zoo, a forestry museum, a Japanese garden, a children’s museum, an arboretum and much more.

portland-150portland-155Towards the end of our stay, our friend Vince arrived from Italy and we met for dinner one evening. More good times catching up but we forgot to take photos. We do hope to see him again later this winter.





We ended our stay in Portland with a night tour of the rainy city. It was quite a month visiting cities on the opposite sides of the country. Miami will always be home. And Portland has become one of our favorite cities. And after all of those great times with friends, it definitely holds a special place in our heart.

~ Brendaportland-112



16 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Cities

  1. What a whirlwind of a time you’ve had!! Love the face paint too. Hopefully you’ve had a bit of time to relax (and maybe a bit less rain). Beautiful pics as usual.


    • It was! We have taken a lot of time to relax in the past couple of weeks and also had over a week of sunny days. It started to rain again yesterday, and supposedly will be quite windy tomorrow (we are in Newport). Hopefully not too bad.

  2. Wow! I’m exhausted and all I did was read about your social life. You must need a little alone time about now:) How nice to get to see so many friends and family while you were in Miami! Looks like a real fun time in Portland. I love the face painting:) Good that Island Girl is all repaired and washed:)

    • We had a lot of fun but needed some downtime after we left, so we are spending time on the beaches and relaxing. And everything is in good working order now.

  3. Love following you on your travels. Hector, your photography really draws me in. Thanks for sharing with those of us who only dream of someday doing what you do.

    • Thank you from both of us. So many beautiful places! Glad you are along with us. We planned our journey for years before leaving. You can do it too if you really want to!

  4. A great blog but you guys are SO busy, always maximizing your time. Portland does seem like a great city and possible settling point at some time?
    It was great to see so many familiar faces from Miami. Hector, your Mom looks great and so does the rest of the family. Old friends are often the best friends! Thanks for sharing so much of your time!!!

    • It was a super busy month, but lots of fun! We are taking some downtime now, enjoying the beautiful Oregon Coast on our way south to San Diego.

  5. What a rich and wonderful time you’ve had with friends and family, from one coast to the other! We know exactly how that is — I also grew up in Miami and have family from Apalachicola to the Keys, yet our home is in Ashland, in southern Oregon. Good thing we’re traveling full-time right now so that we can spend time with everyone. 🙂

    • It certainly was! Traveling across the country is quite exhausting though. Didn’t know you grew up in Miami. We love Apalachicola and have very good friends who live on St. George Island – our first year we drove Island Girl down the West Coast of Florida, visiting friends along the way, then crossed over to Miami and Key West. We have been in Oregon for a while now, currently in Newport and heading south towards California. Would definitely love to meet you!

  6. Wow! What a busy month! I too loved the face painting. I agree that for us full-timers the joy of seeing friends and family we left behind is wonderful and for me, sustaining. We are on our way west finally along the Gulf Coast of Florida and Louisiana towards Arizona and Southern Cali for the winter. Perhaps we will bump into you guys. You will know us when you see the RV with pink flamingos on the side of it…
    Ed and Marti

    • The chance to see friends and family along the way is one of the great things about RVing. We just don’t love the trip from coast to coast, (especially after all of the driving to/from Alaska), so chose to fly this year to see folks in Miami. Safe travels to you on your journey West! We too are spending winter in Southern California and Arizona, would love to meet you!

  7. Sounds like you are having a wonderful time. I guess we are staying in Austin this winter but maybe we will run into you at a gas station in Quartzite again some year.

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