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.
On 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.
We 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.
And 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!
Our 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.
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!
Having 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.
Our 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.
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.
Finally 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.
Back 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.
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.
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!
The Dia de los Muertos tradition combines indigenous Aztec ritual with Catholicism (All Saints and All Souls Days).
There 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.
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).
There 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.
Our 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.
Shortly 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.
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.
Towards 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.