Thursday, October 07, 2010

day 3

The nice part about traveling without a specific place you have to be at a given time is that you can get a leisurely start to your day. Sleep late, have breakfast, pack up and get in the car and drive. The Comfort Inn where we stayed provided a complementary breakfast that was better than anything I could prepare myself, so it was worth taking our time and enjoying the nourishing breakfast without rushing to get somewhere. Our more or less goal for the day was to reach Portland by mid-afternoon.
Our first destination along the way was Tacoma. That was only a short distance, but that was ok because we wanted to stop and see some of the Dale Chihully art that is displayed outside around Union Station. Chihully is an artist of worldwide reputation who creates some rather amazing glass sculptures. Tacoma is his hometown so naturally there is lot of his work on public display. We first became aware of him when our Milwaukee Art Museum had a featured exhibit of his work a few years back. Mary is especially fond of his work so we had to stop to check it out.
Union Station in Tacoma was at one time a train station. It has been wonderfully restored and turned into a Federal Courthouse. We had to pass through two security checkpoints and metal detectors and I had to remove my shoes before being allowed to enter the courthouse. Homeland security and all that. I felt sorry for the 4 federal agents who had to sit around the place waiting for someone to enter. Boring. At least they got to see some of the Chihully pieces that were hung in the atrium of the courthouse. This one of the window pieces.

This hangs in the center of the atrium.

We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the courthouse so I can’t show how beautiful the restoration was. As an artist and woodworker I could fully appreciate the design and craftsmanship that went into the project. A good use of our tax dollars.

Outside the courthouse there is a walkway that passes over the freeway that connects Union Station to the glass museum on the other side. That walkway is adorned with a number of Chihully works that define the ceiling and walls of the walkway. These two pictures are part of the ceiling.

And this is part of the wall.

And halfway across there are two vertical columns of glass that are stunning against the blue sky.

We were pleased with our stop in Tacoma. Now if we could just find a way to use those 4 security agents more productively.

We made it to Portland by about 3:30 so we drove around a bit to get a sense for the city. The downtown area is quite congested and parking was nonexistent so we were unable to stop there. Portland isn’t a tourist city—that is, there aren’t a lot of attractions that would draw the attention of travelers. But it has the reputation of being a very livable city. Who needs tourists anyway?

Portland does have one attraction you don’t want to miss if you ever find yourself there. The Japanese Garden is well worth seeing and experiencing. It is an oasis of calm in the middle of the bustling city. Just beautiful. For someone like me with PD it can be a challenge to navigate the hills and somewhat rough terrain, but going slow is a definite advantage here.

After three days on the go, we are falling into somewhat of a routine. Once on the road we try to stop frequently so that I can stretch and relieve the numbness and ache of sciatica (driving and sitting in one position for an extended time aggravates it).
And also since we are in no hurry, we aren't reluctant to stop if something grabs our attention. We also try to reach a destination point by late afternoon so that we can check in to a hotel and I can grab a quick nap before we go foraging for dinner. Speaking of food, other than breakfast, it is particularly difficult to eat properly when traveling. America runs on fast food so finding something nutritious to eat is a challenge. We have learned to split a single entree between us because the portions are so ridiculously large. Each day so far we have liberated a couple of apples from the Comfort Inn breakfast layout so at least we have that in our favor. Lousy diet and lack of regular meaningful exercise (I need to stretch a lot to prevent getting to rigid. PD again) means I will probably return home in terrible shape. We will undoubtedly need a vacation from vacation.

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