Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Vacation in Oregon - Part 1

My family has returned to Oregon for Christmas.

The last time we were here in the Portland (a.k.a. "PDX") suburbs was in September 2008. Prior to that, we hadn't been back since 2005. Our 2008 visit was a brief stop during our PCS move from Hawaii to DC, so we didn't do much in the PDX area before moving onward. This time we're getting to spend some time seeing the sights and taking the boys to do cool stuff.

We flew in late Monday night after an uneventful couple of flights. Our flight from DC to Las Vegas was delayed, and we were worried we wouldn't make our connecting flight, so we sprinted across the Las Vegas airport dragging two tired boys by the hand in their pajamas. We arrived at our next gate to discover the follow-on flight was also delayed, so we had plenty of time. At least we got some exercise running through the airport, right?

Yesterday (Tuesday), my dad and I took the boys to find a couple of geocaches in Mary S. Young Park nearby. This is the first time I've been back to MSY in a looooong time. In high school, I used to play laser tag there. It used to be just an Oregon State Park, but they have since developed some sort of sharing agreement with the City of West Linn to make it also a West Linn Park.

Heading into MSY Park

I don't know whether to give kudos to the Oregon State Park system or the City of West Linn, but they've really put a lot of effort into improving this park. It's always been a nice park, but it was just kinda... there. No signs. No trail markers. Nothing really to learn. Just a nice place to go for a peaceful walk through mossy forest or to play laser tag with your high school buddies.

New bridge and trail signs.

Now, there are signs explaining the history of the park, there are trail markers, nice restroom facilities, bridges, and even trail maps on the website. Plus, West Linn opened it up to geocaching, so there are about 4 geocaches in the park now.

ES at an overlook above the Willamette River

Reflections in the Willamette River

Ahhh Oregon mossy forest

We had dinner at one of my old favorite restaurants, Buster's Texas Barbecue. My love of barbecue really began right here at Buster's. This was the first place I ever discovered different varieties of barbecue sauce and had a choice of mild, sweet, or hot. The Navy has taken me from one end of the country to the other, and I've always tried barbecue restaurants wherever I find them, but Buster's remains the best in my book.

Mmmm, Beef Brisket, Ribs, Henry Weinhards

Cowboy Decor

Coming back to Oregon always brings a flood of memories and flashbacks to my mind. Being sort of an outsider and a nerd in high school, I found my identity and made what friends I had through my taste in music. Monday night as we were driving home from the airport, the song "Home Again" by Oingo Boingo started playing over and over again in my mind. I thought that was pretty bizarre since I couldn't tell you when was the last time I heard that song. It's on an album that I never even owned on CD. I owned it on cassette tape back when I lived here in high school. Then yesterday when I was in the shower, Bjork's bizarre vocals came to life in my mind as she sang "Motorcrash" for the Sugarcubes - from another album I owned back when I lived here in high school. Again, I couldn't tell you the last time I actually heard that song.

Anyway, it's nice to be on vacation and be able to spend time with my family. My thoughts and prayers go out to our fellow servicemen and women who are deployed overseas and unable to spend the holidays with their families this year.

No comments: