Our final morning on the west coast started with a drive around downtown Portland where we stopped at the Union Station rail terminal. Union Station currently serves as an Amtrak station located near Old Chinatown in Portland, a classic old building complete with a 150′ tall Romanesque Revival clock tower. In 1948 classic neon signs were added, reading “Go by Train” on the northeast and southwest sides and “Union Station” on the northwest and southeast sides.
As we drove about the city the thing that surprised us most about Portland was the number of homeless people. We saw the homeless in every corner of the city and sometimes “tent cities” and panhandlers.
While still downtown we decided to check out Voodoo Doughnuts but the line was outside and wrapped around the block; I guess a lot of others had the same idea. Voodoo Doughnuts is known worldwide for specialty donuts and the quirky shapes and names of their products. This doughnut shop was also featured on the Food Channel.
We skipped the donuts and slipped by an art piece for Zoobomb Bikes at 13th and Stark Streets of a sculpture of small bikes mounted to a pole. I assumed it refers to the bike club that has been hauling absurd varieties of bicycles up to the zoo and hurtling down Washington Park’s steep hills every single Sunday night for the past 10 years.
For our final stop in Portland we drove into the hills of neighborhood homes that have great views of the city or the mountains, interestingly finding the best spot in a small cemetery looking out at the snowy peak of Mt. St. Helens.
We crossed the Columbia River again to go to Washington just to explore and use the extra time until it was time for us to get to the airport. After dropping off the rental car to Thrifty, the shuttle took us to the Portland airport.
The baggage drop off with Delta was a hassle even though I had checked our luggage online. The attendant asked us to recheck our bags at the kiosk while he flirted with the young girl ahead of us, smiling and saying ‘oh your bag weighs 55 pounds, that’s ok’. When it was our turn to check in with our luggage, one of the suitcases was slightly over the 50 pound limit. Our 55 pound suitcase was about to cost us an extra $100 for the extra 5 pounds. This took me straight to angry and annoyed that the attendant allowed the girl before us slip by the extra weight limit fee.
So we shuffled clothes and items from one bag to the other. Once I finished repacking, I dropped the bag onto the scale only to find that once more the bag was overweight. We finally got it worked out but not before the attendant asked me to not slam the bag on the scale this time. So we made it through security and into the concourse where we ate lunch at the Rogue Restaurant. We were in no hurry since our flight was set to leave at 7 pm.
The flight from Portland to Phoenix took two and one-half hours. It was a smooth flight most of the way until we flew into cloud cover lasting about a half hour. We were surprised to see the urban sprawl of Phoenix lit from above. My last visit to Phoenix was the opposite expecting a much larger city; but then that was more than ten years ago. We landed with a thud and walked into a nearly empty airport. It was difficult trying to find food and we were very hungry because we missed dinner. We had to settle for two cookies and a bottle of water then had to run to our gate for our connecting flight back to Columbus.
Our red-eye flight to Columbus was quiet given that most passengers tried to sleep. I was unable to sleep so I spotted lights of the cities along the way. As we approached Indiana, dawn surfaced with varying colors on the horizon. Yellow first appeared and a line of pink, then orange and more pink with a hint of blue the farther we flew east. We hovered over Ohio and the sun rose a gold and orange layer but I could still see the line of yellow and pink behind the plane in the distance as it hung at the horizon. I gazed at the sunlight as it grew brighter and more colorful from my 39,000 foot seat. The sun popped up over the horizon and it was just as magnificent as the other wonderful sights of this trip.
We continued on toward Columbus in a layer of clouds but still able to see the patches of farmland in a quilt-like pattern. The clouds were interesting in the tufted cottony stratum floating in the sky, when at last; our plane broke through the clouds landing at 6:30 a.m. Columbus time. Two tired people emerged from the plane and climbed into the car to head home to end another excellent adventure.