Ahh Portland. Fair city of books, beer, NPR listeners, and misty days. I’ve had the good fortune to travel there many times in the last few years. This weekend was the first time S. was able to tag along with me, along with M. who got to meet her god-parents. Some highlights below the jump.

First, and perhaps most importantly, M. traveled like a dream. She got some help from the magic solution known as Benadryl, but that has failed in the past so it was no guarantee. On the way out, we flew through Chicago, which meant a 30 minute flight followed by a 4 1/2 hour flight. She slept about half of the way to Portland, then spent much of the rest of the flight playing with her books and toys we had brought along. Did I mention we flew first class? Oh, I did? Well, that extra legroom came in very handy when she wanted to spread out a bit. On the way back, we flew through Dallas, meaning a 3 1/2 flight there followed by a two hour flight to Indy. With a two hour layover, the trips were timed just right for a second dose of Benadryl before flight #2. M. slept almost all of both flights. Again, expect the worst from your kid so when they act normal, they seem like little angels.

I wish I could say she was as good on the ground in Portland. The kid just doesn’t get time zones. We worked on them for two weeks beforehand, but she just couldn’t grasp the concept. So she was awake at about 4:00 each morning, thinking it was 6:00. Thank goodness we went before we revert to Eastern time forever. If she had been waking up at 3:00, she might have slept outside. She also struggled to nap for some reason. Very frustrating.

Our hosts have a six-month-old of their own. Poor guy started teething while we were there. He had a couple baaaad days with lots of screaming and yelling. It was nightmare trying to schedule outings around the schedules of two kids who weren’t in synch.

What did we do? Walked around the Rose Garden on a perfect Saturday afternoon. Sunday, godfather and I took our kids on a hike into the trails in Washington Park. M. was in a backpack behind me, leaning around my shoulder so she could see what was coming. We climbed maybe 150 feet straight up above the neigjborhood then wound through the trees and morning mist. It was very cool. Did I mention I left our camera in Indy? You would have dug some shots from the woods above downtown Portland. Everything in Portland is organic, so we ate lots of food that was both good and good for you. Drank many a fine, locally brewed beer. Had the obligatory fish and chips. Walked around the Pearl District Sunday. Took the kidos to the zoo on Monday, then strolled around the 23rd Street (Trendy-Third Street to the locals) district on a picture perfect fall afternoon later that day. Strolled through Powell’s books while drinking a locally brewed coffee. Ate some fantastic Thai food. And enjoyed a lot of quality time visiting with our hosts. Saw one of my two college friends who live out there. Good times aplenty.

Our rental car for the visit was a Chevrolet Inlander, which I had never heard of before. It was surprisingly nice, although not quite nice enough to sway us from adding a Toyota Siena or Honda Odyssey to the garage this time next year.

Funniest thing I saw the entire trip was a four-year-old our hosts pointed out as clearly being from Portland. He was wearing black tights under knee-length shorts. He had high socks on under high tops. A sweatshirt under a t-shirt. Hair that looked as if it hadn’t been cut since birth. He basically looked like he should have been on the cover of the first Pearl Jam album. Ahhh, 1992…

Second funniest thing I saw was a dirty car onto which someone had written in the dust “Bitch Please.” Much more entertaining than “Wash Me.”

At the risk of sounding like Cliff Clavin after his vacation in Florida, have I mentioned that I love Portland? I think I could probably live there. I know there are problems I know nothing about as an occasional visitor. Now, I think the rain and clouds are somehow inspiring, as if the environment there would cause me to hole up in a coffee shop writing each day. Reality may be that my Midwest roots couldn’t handle the six months of clouds that they have instead of winter and spring. But it’s a very cool city with an extremely cool vibe. If you can afford to live in the city itself. everything you could ever want is within walking distance. Short drives take you to mountains, a cold but beautiful coast, and even the much bigger Seattle for anything you can’t get in Portland. I suppose I’ll have to settle for visiting on a regular basis, although perhaps that’s the best of both worlds.

Only frustration of traveling this time around was how our bags were treated upon our arrival in Indy. We went to the appropriate baggage claim and waited. And waited. And waited. We spent probably 20 minutes staring at the nearly endless stream of bags that were coming down the chute and dropping onto the conveyor. Finally, we noticed there were a few bags in the next claim area. That conveyor had not moved the entire 20 minutes we had been standing there. We strolled over and, sure enough, there were our bags. Very convenient. Thanks, Indy airport workers.

So, in summary, great trip, accomplished nearly everything I wanted to do, and finally got S. to the west coast. Other than trips back to KC, that may be our last trip with child for awhile. I didn’t fly until I was 15 so M. is already two trips ahead of me. She can wait awhile for her next long-distance journey.