It was going to be an eventful week with the International Master Gardener Conference in Portland but before flying out late Tuesday, I had to get through 2 days of work. And get through them I did.
I started the week with a 7:40 a.m. appointment with my surgeon and as I suspected he would, he called me done. I need to keep doing exercises to get my strength completely back but it’s all good. After a quick stop for gas and to air up all my tires, including the spare that I could get to because my back was empty after all the tree hauling, I got to work for a short 2 days. I was busy cramming in allocations and everything else that couldn’t wait but busy was good. I ran home Monday, prepped strawberries to take to knitting and headed to the library. When I got home, minus the rest of the berries and a pineapple Andrea took, I set up an extra litter box, finished packing and did the final neatizing of the house, getting to bed late but with just about everything done.
Tuesday was over in a flash and I was home for just long enough to pack the last few things, do the dishes from the blueberry banana bread I’d make to take for breakfasts (neither the hotel nor conference included breakfast and continental at the hotel was $18 – no thank you!), water the plants and fail at getting Pie to come in. I’d warned Andrea that Pie might be outside, where she’d be happier anyway, so I gave her both wet and dry cat food and was ready for pick up at 6:30. Our flight wasn’t leaving Omaha until 9:00 p.m. and it was a good thing we left plenty of time because Bob took the most out of the way route to the airport so what I’d drive in 45 minutes took more than an hour. Sheesh! I had scored TSA pre-check, like I do 80% of the time, so sailed through security and our flights were uneventful. Since we got in at 1:00 a.m. after any mass transit was shut down for the night, we took a cab to the hotel. We got rooked on the price but were checked in and in bed quickly. The conference started the next day.
We both woke up early (we were 2 hours behind Nebraska time after all) so had coffee and banana bread in the room and headed to the conference for the opening keynote. It was fun to be in the midst of so many avid gardeners. The keynote was on suburban birds and we met some lovely women that we had lunch with then it was on to our sessions. I went to one on pruning to renovate an old garden and then one on creating and managing plant communities, which was VERY inspirational and gave me a lot to think about. Dinners were not included but we’d asked some locals where to eat so after a quick stop at the hotel, which was made easier by the free transit pass they’d given us with the conference, we headed to the Pearl District for dinner at The Deschutes Brewery. We had to wait half an hour to get seated but it was worth it. I had the most delicious chicken and waffles (something I’ve always wanted to try) and a yummy dark beer. Then it was back to the hotel to coordinate Thursday’s dinner with a friend of Lorri. Unfortunately she wouldn’t drive into Portland so we were taking the train out to the burbs to meet at a mall restaurant. Whatever..
Our new friends Cynthia and Barb had recommended a restaurant for breakfast – Pine State Biscuits – so we looked up how to get there (the transit website told us to walk – only in Portland!) and went first thing. I got The McIsley – a yummy biscuit topped with fried chicken (I know – odd breakfast), pickles, mustard and honey. Yum! Lorri’s biscuits with mushroom gravy was delish too. Then it was off to the conference. The keynote was by Dan Hinkley, who apparently is famous but I’d never heard of him. He was a dynamic speaker so I immediately decided to ditch the clematis session I’d signed up for and go to another of his. I was sitting knitting when the woman sitting next to me asked if she could write something down. I assumed she was taking notes for herself but she handed the notebook back and it was full of info for me about a group she’s involved with in Oregon. I talked to her at length later and she was wonderful. Somehow at first glance she just got that we were two peas in a pod. I got her contact info and will definitely be keeping in touch. The session was great too, btw. After another lunch with Cynthia and Barb (they’re keepers too), I went to a 2nd session on plant communities and then one on photographing your garden, which was inspiring and had me retaking pics of things I’d already taken. Check out these before and after pics.
We headed out to meet Lorri’s friend and it was rush hour so the train was packed. I had an interesting conversation about gardening with a homeless looking man in a wheelchair then chatted with a woman who works for the utility company that has all the dams on the Columbia River. Dinner with Lorri’s friend was fine, despite the chain restaurant. We had to wait on the train for a bit to get back to the hotel but I had my knitting so it was all good.
For Friday’s breakfast, we were walking to Voodoo Doughnuts Too, which wasn’t too far. I had a Old Dirty Bastard – a raised donut with chocolate frosting, crushed oreos and peanut butter. Delish! It was fun walking through the less touristy parts of Portland too and I took lots of picture of the gorgeous plantings that were everywhere. All we had Friday was a keynote and closing meeting from 9:00-11:00. It was a great conference and after saying goodbye to Cynthia and Barb, we headed back to the hotel to check out.
I was super excited because we were going to a local yarn shop to meet Michelle from the Knotty Knit Wits podcast I’ve been watching on YouTube. Since I couldn’t go to their event on Saturday, she had offered to get out of work early and meet me at Twisted. We grabbed a cab there from the hotel and Lorri and I shopped while we waited for her. It was so amazing to meet her and I went total fan girl! She was lovely and even brought me a bag of presents. We went next door and had lunch at a coffee shop with her then went back to Twisted to wait for Lorri’s sister, who was picking us up.
Lorri’s sister, Dort (short for Dorothy), lives in Sandy, which is an hour east of Portland. She and Judd live in a modest house on the most gorgeous property with woods, blueberry bushes, a big vegetable garden and a view of Mount Hood from the deck. It was a little piece of heaven. They had a big family cookout that night so I got to meet their kids, grandkids and a cousin. We ate yummy food, chatted and enjoyed the glorious weather – just warm enough, zero humidity and no bugs. I totally get why people want to live there.
After yummy breakfast on Saturday, Lorri, Dort and I headed to The Oregon Garden. We started with the tram ride around the park to get oriented, walked around for a couple hours and had lunch in the café before heading home. Lorri laid down for a nap and I picked blueberries with Judd for an hour. We had cookout leftovers for dinner and talked until bedtime. What a perfect day! And the icing on the cake was that as soon as the sun goes down, it cools off to the 50’s at night so we could sleep with the windows open. Nice.
We were leaving before noon on Sunday so didn’t have much time. After another nice breakfast, we packed and then Dort did a show and tell of all the old family linens, which was fun. The lines at the airport were huge but I’d scored TSA pre-check again so breezed through and then called Carolyn to catch up while I waited for Lorri. Despite having C boarding passes on the first flight, we managed to get a row to ourselves with an empty middle seat. We were 2nd row from the back but with a 3 hour layover, we were in no rush to get off the plane. We had Chinese food in Denver and otherwise the trip home was uneventful. I walked into my door just after midnight, emptied my suitcase into the washing machine (I’d dry the load in the morning so I’d have A list undies to wear all week) and went to bed. I could get 5 hours of sleep before the alarm went off so would live to tell.