Portland, Oregon: Independence, from whom?

Finally we got to visit Portland, the city we had heard so much of. It greeted us with 12 bridges of varying sizes, designs and usages crossing over the Willamette River. We had a guided tour to Portland’s coolest sites by locals.

My husbands’ cousins took us to a lovely area surrounding the Mississippi avenue with numerous chick shops and restaurants. After lunch in ‘Por qué no?’, a mexican restaurant we headed downtown.

Our tour started with delicious ice creams at Ruby Jewel, after which we went to the world’s biggest book store, Powell’s city of books. Totally worth spending a few hours exploring its million – new and used – books under three and a half thousand categories.

After Powell’s we visited the West End shop, a women’s clothing boutique owned by my husband’s cousin, and saw mountain Hood from 11th floor of her apartment.

Portland hosts tens of different food trucks serving food all over the world, from Poland to Japan, in one of its central quarters, SW 9th & Washington. A Living room movie theater offers movies with a dinner. Beautiful coffee shops and boutiques can be found side by side within a few quarters from Powell’s.

We didn’t spend our nights in the city, but in a suburb called Sherwood. Sherwood was a picturesque little place with beautiful neighborhoods and parks, surrounded by vineyards.

We got to experience the traditional 4th of July barbecue starting with a cute little parade in the morning. The boys were super excited about seeing police officers who wished happy fourth, and about candies thrown by the kids walking in the parade.

It happened to be our anniversary and so we escaped for a couple of hours to visit the Ponzi vineyards and did some wine tasting. Their oak barreled Chardonnay revealed to be delicious!

In the evening relatives came over, and the whole street gathered around a barbecue hosted by Arttu’s cousin and her husband. Fireworks echoed through the night and the US flags decorated porches.

The next morning we would start finding our way towards East. The road trip would really begin. Listening to fireworks in the darkness I took my new book, the People’s history of the United States by Howard Zinn that I bought from Powell’s and started reading about the stories that never get told in schools.

Independence Day, I thought, the day the great nation freed itself from the British Empire but destroyed all the native nations of the New Empire.

Oregon, the state of beer, mountains, and Nike

After spending a wonderful week at my husband’s cousin’s house in Saratoga – where we got to recover from the jet lag, take walks in the local neighbourhood and marvel its houses, and start taking care of the countless practicalities we would need to deal with in the near future – we headed up North to Oregon state.

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I must admit that I really didn’t know anything about Oregon state, and very little of its capital city Portland (which we didn’t visit on this trip). Oregon has a population of 4 million people, most of which voting for the democratic party, and beautiful nature including the coastal area, and the inner land with mountains, creeks, and pine forests. The biggest mountains are not just any mountains, but they are part of number of volcanoes, called the Cascades Volcanoes extending from British Columbia to California.

Oregon is also a home to one of the worlds biggest apparel companies, Nike.

We visited just a small part of Oregon, namely the village of Sunriver. Sunriver is known as a ski and summer leisure activity resort. It is located nearby the city of Bend, which is known for its vibrant brewery culture.

We had a privilege to experience the best of brewing and barbecuing in Bend. We were taken to a restaurant called Baldy’s by my husband’s cousin (he has many of cousins all together, and some of them happen to live in the West Coast of the US) and her husband (who happens to be a self learned barbecue specialist) where we tried a platter with four different sorts of barbecued meat and four side dishes, which were all very tasty.The traditional coleslaw salad included some celery, and was very refreshing. Potato salad was a bit spicy, different kind of potato salad from that of the Finnish one, and very tasty as well. Ribs were juicy, and the meet basically fell into your mouth when you touched it. I noticed myself using a lot of hot barbecue sauce, which I really liked (and was thinking whether it could be used for veggies as well).


I managed well, despite the fact that I rarely eat meat and have never tried a proper barbecue before.

We were told that barbecuing is actually a very social thing; the main idea in barbecuing is to share. Thus, barbecuing connects people – neighbours, amateurs, specialists, meet lovers, and travellers – from all over the country in festivals, in yards, and in picnic places. (There are special areas for barbecuing in many rest and a picnic areas).

Sunriver treated us well with a lovely wintery weather, and extremely hospitable hosts. My husband got a chance to go up to Mount Bachelor and spend a day skiing. I visited the lodge area with our kids, and experienced the after ski atmosphere staring at the Mountain.

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There were surprisingly many things to do at Sunriver, even in winter time (the resort is especially well known for its summer activities, such like cycling, playing tennis, or golf, visiting the water park, the nature center, or observatorium, and hiking). We went sledging, visited the gingerbread exhibition, visited the wonderful High Desert Museum, and took nice walks in the beautiful scenery.

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As a cherry on the top of our stay, we got to experience a dance of Tesla.
Click to see video. Password tesla.
After spending a week in good company and the lovely Sunriver village, we headed to our new home in Berkeley.