This past weekend, I had the wonderful experience of going to Portland, OR, with my darling daughter, Munch, and my 72 year-old, energetic Mother, Farianne. This was supposed to be a marathon shopping trip, with no boys allowed. I had planned for weeks, and being in charge of transportation, used the PC to log on to MapQuest, and printed off directions to all the places we were planning on going, which included some nice places to eat.
Well, we headed north, under a torrential downpour. Yes, it is Oregon, and it was living up to it’s name that Friday morning and we had a 4 hour trip ahead of us. There were numerous times the windshield wipers were going top speed. Thankfully, my Mom wasn’t talking at the same rate. I think she was nervous. She sensed each time I lifted my foot off the gas due to the standing water on the freeway.
We did a little shopping when we got close to downtown, making our way to the Bavarian Deli as a first stop, but we were anxious to make it to the Hotel before dark. I had found the Deli by memory, so with a map, I was guaranteed success, right? Welcome, MapQuest! Yes, Farie was going to follow the directions, and have no problem navigating the streets of Portland. I could do this! Well, we did make it to the Hotel, but not by way of the MapQuest directions. I actually don’t know how I got there, I was just happy that I could park my car in the parking garage and make it to happy hour, which at this point, was a medical necessity. A nice dinner became a walk to Quizno’s because no one was very hungry and I didn’t want to have to find my way around Portland again.
The Hotel I selected was suggested by a friend and was wonderful! You would have thought I had gotten a room at the Hotel Del, the way my Mom carried on about it. “You shouldn’t have spent so much money.” When you have three people who go to bed at different times, a suite becomes a necessity. Besides, I was sharing a bed with Munch, which brought it’s own issues. Munch performs gymnastics in her sleep. And I had a fear that I might just become her own personal balance beam.
On day two, we left the hotel as intrepid travelers, and had no issues with the MapQuest directions. We shopped until we dropped! We went to IKEA, the biggest TARGET I have ever been in, and then a huge mall. We hit Trader Joe’s and I threatened Munch and my Mom that they needed to be hungry before we headed back to the hotel, so we could eat a real meal. We ended up at Sweet Tomatoes. Buffet-style soup and salad bar. It’s actually one of my favorite places to eat, but I’m not sure I would have put it in the “Nice” category.
The trip back to the hotel seemed to be a repeat of the evening before. The directions worked for the first half of the journey. Then it stated something like, “make a slight left”. Sorry, there is no slight left. WTH?! I have a pretty good sense of directions and I knew where we were, and where we needed to go, but getting there wasn’t easy. I must have driven in a circle through the downtown Pearl District four times or more. I would only be a block and a half from my Hotel, but I couldn’t get there because I could only turn right off of the street that I was on. One time, I was on the right street but could only turn left from where I was, if I was a bus. Seriously?!! Well, we finally made it after having tried 4th Street and 6th Street; 5th Street was the ticket! I pulled into the parking garage, thinking that this is the real reason people walk in cities. They try to avoid the PTSD symptoms of trying to navigate and then find a parking space.
In all seriousness, though, we had a fun trip. Voo Doo Donuts was just around the block from us, which is a real experience. Adri also got to take some neat pictures of some of the old buildings downtown, and we accomplished what we had intended, filling the trunk of my car with various treasures discovered in a foreign land. The company was truly what made the trip.
But one of the more memorable moments came when I went to the front desk for directions out of town (by this time I had broken off my relationship with MapQuest) and watched in amazement as a visitor from out of town wanted to know what places the clerk would suggest she see, and she asked about the Rose Garden. The front desk clerk was very kind to the woman, gently informing her that the roses aren’t in bloom yet. Apparently, the rain hadn’t dampened that tourist’s hope! All I could think was, I pray you didn’t look up the directions on MapQuest…