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Portland is world unto self

Submitted photos by Susan Meine and Jeff Pilgrim

The Terwilliger Vista Bed and Breakfast.

The Rose Room, where we stayed, is the original owner’s suite. It looks out on the snow-capped Cascades, clouds permitting.

A wedding on the bridge of Multnomah Falls was both upstaged and drenched when a bus-sized rock separated and fell into the upper pool.

Becca and Jeff Pilgrim

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Rocks along the beach at Ecola State Park.

The Needles rock formation at Cannon Beach.

By Jeff Pilgrim

Visiting Portland, Ore., provided the chance to stay at the luxurious Terwilliger Vista Bed and Breakfast and to visit a place residents feel is so unique that some call it the "Republic of Portland." Winter is definitely the offseason, but Portland still offers so many sights that a week-long visit wasn’t enough. Rather than plan the trip in advance, my friend Susan and I decided to do one day at a time to best accommodate the fickle weather.

First we stopped at Kell’s tavern, an Irish pub that served some of the microbrews that makes Portland famous. That gave us time to recover from the flight and use some brochures we collected to plan the next day. Our next stop was Powell’s bookstore, sprawling an entire city block. It’s a reader’s dream, with so many subjects in so many wings that it would take days to browse the whole store.

We checked into the Rose Room at the Terwilliger B&B, where my daughter Becca is the innkeeper. Construction on the inn started in 1939 and finished in 1941 as a home for a well-to-do woodworker. It features blonde Honduran mahogany in its elaborate built-in cabinets, curved archways, carved handrails and posts and white oak floors throughout. There are ivy-covered stone walls and moss-clad steps between terraces in the backyard separated hedges and ornamental trees and shrubs.

The Oregon coast had recently seen torrential rain and 100 mph winds. On our drive to the coast, we were delayed or routed around landslides and saw entire hillsides where trees had been snapped off about 30 feet from the ground. Our first stop on the coast was Ecola State Park, where the trailhead sign stated "last cougar sighting 9/16". We walked along the shore looking for sanddollars, watching the waves and a pair of wetsuit-clad surfers until dusk.

Looking for a dinner spot, we opted not to eat at Cranky Sue’s but instead at Dooger’s. We both had seafood platters that included Alaskan razor clams, thin fried clams that neither of us had ever tried before, and neither of us seemed to fully appreciate. That night, we stayed at the Tolovana Motel, right by the sea in Cannon Beach. The next morning we took an even longer walk up the beach. Even more massive rocks were offshore here, including one that’s been declared a marine sanctuary called the Haystack.

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On the way back to Portland, we were on a mission to collect the makings for dinner. First we stopped at the Tillamook cheese factory — after returning to Rochester we were surprised to find some in my refrigerator purchased at HyVee. We also stopped at a seafood shack and bought fresh Dungeness crabs, oysters, shrimp and steamers. All of us took a turn at opening the oysters, but Becca outdid herself cooking all the seafood. As an innkeeper trained in culinary arts, she often is asked to create custom meals for guests. Few parents get such a fine return on their child’s tuition.

We also explored the Columbia River Gorge, stopping at Multnomah Falls and hiking to its top on a drizzly, cloudy day typical of winter in Oregon. We had a late lunch at a brewpub in Hood River and played backgammon overlooking the river. Mount Hood wasn’t visible because of the clouds, nor accessible because our rental car didn’t have the chains required to drive in the Cascades. We visited the Cathedral Ridge Winery, where the owner gave us an impromptu tour of the back room and a sample of red wines he siphoned directly from the oak barrels.

Portland is known as the City of Roses, but winter isn’t known as the rose season. We walked through the huge city arboretum and saw more species of holly than we knew existed, and appreciated the labels on the conifers, which were so different from the Midwest, including coast redwood, Douglas fir, white fir, Western red cedar, Port Orford cedar, incense cedar and sugar pine. Another visit when the roses are blooming and Mount Hood is accessible is surely in the future.

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