In all my travels, I have one no fail rule. When the rest of the country is taking to the highways for a three day holiday – that’s the perfect time for me to stay at home. I’m not a lover of crowds, or traffic for that matter, so joining millions of people fighting for a camping space or a hotel room at the beach, or sitting bumper to bumper on the interstate…not my cup of tea. I’m probably missing out on something, but so be it.
What I really wanted to do this weekend was take advantage of these last few gorgeous late summer days. I know that any week now, it will start raining in Portland and it won’t stop until sometime in 2013 – say around June. So, when Saturday morning brought us a beautiful sunny day, cloudless blue skies, and the masses out of town, we had the perfect opportunity for an in town adventure. Hubs and I headed over the bridge and across the river into Washington State to explore the City of Vancouver (The ‘Couve) on foot. Urban walking is my new thing since I bought the book “Walk There! 50 treks in and around Portland and Vancouver”. My goal is to do all 50 at least once. I’m up to four, but I only bought the book a few weeks ago so I’m feeling pretty good.
Today’s route had lots of historical points of interest. Our walk was a 6+ mile loop that started at Fort Vancouver. We walked by the beautifully restored homes on Officer’s Row where Hubs stopped to read every one of the historical markers. I bounced around trying to keep my heart rate up.
Following the map, we wound our way over the Interstate and on into downtown Vancouver to Esther Short Park where the Saturday Farmers’ Market was in full swing. We’d worked up an appetite and homemade tamales were calling us, so we stopped for lunch. That’s when we stumbled into the middle of a Kumoricon convention. Thousands of young people in the streets and the park, each dressed as the character they have created for online fantasy role-playing games. (the simplified explanation that someone gave me). We had stumbled into the world of Animé and Mange, and it was absolutely one of those fabulous serendipitous moments that I love! We reluctantly left the revels in the park and headed down to the shores of the mighty Columbia River where our path followed the shoreline for a couple more miles before turning inland and back up the hill towards the barracks of Ft. Vancouver. We stopped to watch several small planes take off and land on a tiny air strip. That’s when we discovered the best surprise of the day. The Pearson Air Museum – two airplane hangers filled to the rafters (literally) with vintage planes, flight simulators, amazing old photographs, assorted gear… and Gordon, aviation buff extraordinaire. Gordon knew everything about these beauties and had stories to share. I chatted him up a bit and then went in with the big question (and a big smile to match). “Uh, Gordon, do you think my husband and I could sit up in that plane and you could take a quick picture of us?” “Sure, not a problem,” said my new best friend. He showed us how to climb into the plane and explained that this baby was a WWII era training plane. I put on the headphones and learned how to move the rudder and the flaps and all kinds of cool stuff. Thank you Gordon!
We spent an hour at the museum, and a return visit is definitely in order so hubs can play on those flight simulators. Next, a short hike up the hill from the original Fort Vancouver. It was a Hudson Bay Trading Post in the early 1800’s. It’s now a National Monument filled with living history. We crossed the expansive parade grounds, stopping to look at each of the old wooden barrack buildings – home to thousands of troops until the 1950’s. If you stood still and closed your eyes, you could almost hear the footsteps of all those young men as they marched across the grass so many years ago.
Sometimes you don’t have to travel to the other side of the globe or even the country for adventure. We had the backpack, but no rollies were required on our close to home sightseeing trek. Four hours on foot + $15.00 for lunch and a donation to the museum + warm sun on my face + time spent outdoors with my walking buddy and partner in crime = a perfect Labor Day Weekend getaway. And, we managed to get home in time for hubs to watch his favorite Saturday afternoon show, Trout TV.
Life IS Good.