Are you planning on going to the World Parkinson Congress in Portland this September? Are you thinking of extending your trip beyond the conference, September 21-23? Or perhaps you are traveling with a spouse who would rather be seeing the sights than learning the latest about alpha synuclein?
Well, you are in luck. Oregon is one of the most beautiful states in the US. Portland itself is known as the Rose City because of its beautiful public rose garden. I was unable to verify that Portland has the highest number of brewpubs per capita in the US, but trust me, you should have ample opportunities to test some local microbrews. Unlike my home city of Seattle, Portland is well served by public transit, including MAX light rail and a streetcar that goes through downtown and the Pearl District (warehouse district north of downtown now gentrified into trendy shops and restaurants). (WPC will be providing free transit passes to attendees!) The Pearl District includes the legendary Powell’s City of Books, a full city block of bibliophile heaven.
By the way, if you are thinking of taking a camper/RV to WPC, here’s probably as close as you could get to the Portland convention center where the conference will be held. (Please do your own research — if you find some other options, I can pass those on to WPC.)
—Columbia River RV Park: Good news is that it only 7 miles from Convention Center. Bad news is that it looks more like a parking lot than park and is within shouting distance of the airport. It is possible to reach this park by public transportation, but at least a mile of walking is needed, according to Google.
—Portland Fairview RV Park: Further out, about 12 miles east, but nicer looking park (on their website at least), and walking distance to public transit. Per Google a combination of bus and MAX will get you to convention center in about 40 minutes (more in rush hour).
Further afield from Portland, you will need a car to get around. Some day trip ideas:
Columbia Gorge waterfalls: East of Portland, the mighty Columbia River flows though basalt cliffs on both the Washington and Oregon sides of the river. On the Oregon side are several waterfalls, most notably the 611- foot Multnomah Falls, which features a number of hikes by (and beyond) the falls. You can reach this fall from Interstate 84, but to see all the falls (and great views of the Gorge!), you’ll want to take the historic Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway, an early tourist road built in 1913. Warning: the road is narrow and frequently crowded. Try to avoid it on the weekends.
Mount Hood: Take Route 26 out from Portland and within 60 miles the scenery changes from strip suburban shopping centers to small towns along a spur of the Oregon Trail to finally the deep mountain forests around Mt. Hood. As you approach Mt. Hood, look for the sign just past Government Camp (a collection of motels) to go up a spur road to Timberline Lodge. If you have a mental image of what a ski lodge should look like, this 1930s job
creation project is it: huge beams, roaring fire, beautiful wood carvings, and a glorious view of Mt. Hood and the Cascade mountain range. Bonus: there are ski lift operations nearly all year — don’t miss riding “The Magic Mile”.
Yamhill County wineries tour: Oregon is a major wine producer, primarily pinot noirs. Most of the vineyards and vintners are in Yamhill County to the southwest of Portland. The rolling farmland is unbelievably picturesque, and there are dozens of wineries to try a taste. The county seat is McMinnville, home to tasting rooms and various gourmet restaurants, plus the quirky Hotel Oregon. This is one of over fifty properties in Oregon and Washington owned by McMenamins, a company that specializes in transforming quirky, historic buildings into quirky, historic hotels and restaurants. (There are several in Portland, check ’em out.)
And longer than a day trip:
Astoria and Fort Clatsop: This historic town filled with Victorian architecture is worth it just for the full-size Coast Guard rescue vessel crashing through the waves right at you as you enter the excellent maritime museum. Here you will find out why the mouth of the Columbia is called “The Graveyard of the Pacific”. For Lewis and Clark aficionados, Fort Clatsop, where the explorers wintered after reaching the Pacific, is about 7 miles away.
Hood River: You can combine the Columbia Gorge Waterfalls and Mt. Hood into one trip by staying at Hood River, a charming agricultural town with views of windsurfers on the Gorge. Check ’em out on this Warren Miller clip.
Pendleton Round-Up: One of the West’s most famous rodeos takes place in Pendleton on September 14-17, right before the WPC. If you’ve ever wanted to see barrel racing or bronc busting in action, here’s your chance, pardner.
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge: I feel I need to mention this place so that visitors don’t think it’s just where armed wackos who want free public land hang out. The armed wackos are gone, although at this writing the Refuge is still closed — hopefully it will be back open by September. Be warned: Malheur is a good six hours from Portland and is the definition of “middle of nowhere”, with the nearest facilities over 30 miles away. However, it’s a special place to seek out. Malheur is a waterfowl haven becase it is a wetland which suddenly appears in the middle of a desert.