Do you remember that crazy time when you used to be able to meet family and friends at the actual gate as they deplaned? Nearly made it through college before all that changed, and things certainly have changed. However, the upside of all those layers of security separating passengers and the arrivals area now is that you have a bit of a chance to get yourself looking and feeling like something closer to human before reuniting with loved-ones, which may be pointless in my case, but still welcome. Grammy and Grammy (Lori’s parents) had the dubious distinction of being the first to greet the three of us off the plane after 34 hours of travel. Needless to say, it was nice to have that all behind us — and a fun-filled month Stateside with family and friends ahead.
It’s always great to be back at PDX. This place holds so many special memories for Lori and me. We’ve spent countless hours of our adult lives coming and going through the gates and terminals of Portland International. Ironically, the longest stretch I’ve made it not utilizing PDX in the last twenty years was the 18 months we actually lived in Portland. Regardless, I still got to visit PDX a half dozen times picking up and dropping off family and friends.
Close family friends, John and Shirley, were gracious enough to host us all at their house for a long weekend in the Portland area. They’re amazing hosts and really any time spent at their house feels like equal parts home and cocktail party, not a bad mix if you ask us. It was fun reminiscing about their visit with Lori’s parents to Laos this past January, getting caught up on things Stateside and in the Portland area.
That evening, not really knowing what time or even what day it was, Noe was offered his first corn-on-the-cob. It’s pretty hard to think of something more quintessentially summertime in Oregon than fresh cob…okay, maybe Marionberry pie and craft brew, but cob’s close enough. It’s not enough to say that Noe liked the stuff — he loved it. And devoured it, much like a zombie devouring human flesh, and at this point, that may very well have been what he felt like.
While he may have faired far better on the trans-Pacific journey from Vientiane than we could have hoped for, it still took him several days to get on something resembling a sleeping schedule. We’re incredibly grateful that Grammy was willing to step in and be on Noe duty that first night. It really made a world of difference, allowing Lori and I to get a good night’s sleep after about 4-hours combined over the past two nights. In terms of jet lag, it may have been our quickest recovery and adjustment to date.
And as for Noe? Well, he was up fairly frequently, but Grammy was able to help get him back down if needed. And every subsequent night was better. We made sure he only took two naps during the day and no more than two hours at a time (we had to wake him up from his naps for a few days until he got adjusted). After about three days, he was more or less sleeping through the night…that is, until we changed everything on him again and headed down to Roseburg.
On our first full day back, we met up with some close friends visiting from Seattle at the Fields [park] in the Pearl district. It’s always surreal being back in the PacNW in summer after long stints in the tropics. The tropics are beautiful in their own way, of course, but nothing beats those deep blues and greens of Oregon in July (before everything dries out in August). We’ve had great weather about six months out of the year in Vientiane, but never get a sky this blue, even on the clearest days. And that grass! Good golly, that grass is green! I’m not sure Noe knew what to do with himself.
After our visit, Noe went to sleep on mommy in the carrier, so we took the opportunity to stroll around the Pearl a bit before eventually ending up at Ringler’s McMenamins for lunch and a couple of beers. And would you know it, Noe slept through the whole thing.
Yep. Definitely back in Portland.
Over the next couple of days, we also got hang out with these goofballs.
Uncle Dan (Lori’s brother) and fiancee, Lauren, helped us reacquaint Noe to classic PacNW summertime activities, such as visiting brewpubs, playing in the park, hiking, and visiting more brewpubs.
Before leaving town, we also had a chance to spend time with more close friends and their kids and sig-others in Vancouver.
The original plan was to head south to Roseburg Monday afternoon, but after having been in the U.S. for 72 hours, we knew that Nanny and Poppy (my parents) were dying to see their grandson after not having seen him for the past 10 months. So, we opted for doing the three hour drive Sunday night, which ended up being one of the best Portland to Roseburg drives in recent memory — a gorgeous night, very little traffic, and Noe slept the entire way. Can’t ask for more than that.
First stop, Nanny and Poppy’s “outpost” with Poppy.
Then, to the backyard for some quality time with the splash pad. Noe loved this thing so much, we ended up taking it back with us to Laos.
I think he might be on to us…
Fun times with extended family on Lori’s family’s side of the street for Noe’s Stateside birthday party. In case you’re new around here, Lori’s parents and my parents have lived across the street from each other for three decades. But then again, everyone’s in-laws do, right?
He’s sporting one of his favorite outfits that was given to him for his birthday by a mother and daughter who run a restaurant we frequent and have watched Noe grow from a tiny little three-month-old to the busy little dude he is today. And yes, I’ve already been searching for an adult version of this very outfit.
And what visit to Southern Oregon would be complete without a stop at a couple of wineries!? As always, we hit up Hillcrest (our favorite in the Umpqua Valley, and maybe even in the state), and finally, after seven years of failed attempts — Reustle Prayer Rock. During my sister’s wedding week in 2009, I passed on the chance to visit the newly opened winery to spend some time with a certain someone who had just flown in from Atlanta. A half dozen subsequent failed attempts over the years to visit firmly entrenched this place into our family folklore. Once it became evident we were actually visiting this time, we were a bit hesitant to mess with fate. But in the end, all turned out well and we had a great time. We even managed to snag one of their coveted nooks in the cave.
In addition to wine tasting, a visit to the area isn’t complete without a stop at the Wildlife Safari. My parents have an annual pass (they say for the grandchildren, but everyone knows it’s so my dad can ride the choo choo for free). Noe visited last summer when he was around two months old, and unbeknownst to him, a time before that while Lori was quite pregnant. This time around he was able to enjoy it just a bit more, though it took also took us returning on a second day because poor Noe slept through most of the first.
Spotting wildlife on the “Uganda Railway.”