1/16/11

Greetings from Portland….

Yep – it’s still raining…

Yesterday we decided to head out and explore the area west of Portland, OR. It was pouring down rain, but we decided to head out anyway. Our main goal was to see the ocean and coastline. We took a scenic drive through the Tillamook State Forest on a windy two lane road. Was very pretty to see all of the big trees and the bright green moss that grows on pretty much everything. We drove into Tillamook, OR and noticed a huge aircraft hanger type building:

Tillamook Air Museum

We like air museums, so we went and checked it out. John speculated that it was a hanger for Zeppelins – but I was not so sure. The Navy did have Zeppelins and one, the Akron, did fly from New York to San Francisco, and then North along the coast to Tacoma, WA. (This web site has more information), but I didn’t think they build them in this part of the country.

The Tillamook Air Museum was cool. What we found out is that the hanger was built for blimps during WW2. Zeppelins had rigid metal frames, but blimps are like large balloons with no metal structure – much like the Goodyear Blimp you see at sporting events. These blimps were used to escort ships in the ocean. From the blimp they could spot enemy submarines and ships in time to warn the fleet they were protecting. They said that no ships were sunk while under watch of the blimps.

The hanger was made out of wood with concrete foundation. It was amazingly huge inside – it made all of the planes seem small.

View inside of hanger with 8 blimps inside

We spent a few hours looking at the planes and memorabilia. A majority of the planes were in flyable condition. The planes were all in good, but not pristine condition. Here’s a few pictures I took:

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View inside of hanger

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Fragments from the Hindenberg Zeppelin

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John checking out a display of vintage radio equipment.

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Neat old plane - believe it is a Corsair

Took a bunch more pictures – you can check out on the Picasa Web Album I created for them. We then went outside and checked out their Aero Spacelines Mini-Guppy cargo plane:

not so "mini" Guppy cargo plane

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John checking out photos of the place in action

The Guppy is large enough to fit two or three 40 foot motor homes in. Would be a nice way to transport us around the country 🙂 The museum was a cool unscheduled stop for us. After the museum we continued towards the coast checking out several campgrounds. We went South along the coast to Lincoln City, OR where we checked out two more campgrounds. Found one that was a bit nicer then most – Devil’s Lake RV Park. The lady in the office was very friendly and the facility looks quite new and well maintained. Might be a nice place for us to go on an extended weekend trip. Talking to the various RV parks I get the impression that they become extremely busy during the prime camping season – they all emphasized that we need to get our reservations in early. So in the next few weeks we should try to figure out when and where we would like to go. It’s usually a bit difficult for us to plan ahead more then a few months, but we should be here through summer. John has made contact with the local Rainbow RV chapter – they have camping trips scheduled that we would like to attend.

We then headed back to Portland. It took us about two hours – not including stopping at a Mongolian BBQ for supper. The Mongolian BBQ could have been pretty good, but the guy running the big grill did not do a very good job. He kept burning John’s food by not turning it enough. My food turned out fine – of course 🙂 Prince was happy to see us when we made it home at 7:00pm – he spent 20 minutes telling us all about his day and what we missed….

Today we decided to stick around town. First we headed over to Sweet Betty’s Bistro for breakfast. The food and service was just as good as the first time we went. I had a mexican omelet that was very tasty. On the way back we stopped at Fred Meyer’s to do our weekly grocery shopping. I’m getting used to the way their store is laid out – so shopping did not take very long. We picked out five different supper items, then some lunch stuff for John. We then went home, got stuff put away and hung out for awhile. I wanted to go ice skating at the Lloyd center, but it did not open up for public skating until 12:15pm.

John got wrapped up in watching a movie and I was playing Warcraft until 2:00pm. Then headed down to the ice rink. One of the perks of the ice skating class is being able to use the ice rink for free between lessons. Showed my student card, got a wristband, got my skates on and hit the ice… for two minutes before they announced it was time to groom the ice. Had to stand around for 15 minutes watching a kid on the Zamboni machine put too much water on the ice and not let it freeze before letting people back on. The ice ended up being quite sloppy to skate on. I skated for an hour before my feet started to hurt and get tired. I mainly practiced skating on a single blade – holding my other skate in the air in front of me…. first left foot, then right foot… went well until it started to get really crowded with kids who could barely skate…

After changing out of my skates, I sent John a text message that I was done. It was 3:30pm by this time and John wanted to grab something to eat. I told him about how Panera Bread Company opened up a new “Panera Cares” store not far away. This is a non-profit store where you pay what you want. They ring up your meal like a normal store, and tell you what the recommended donation amount is. You can pay the exact amount, pay less or pay more – it’s up to you. They have a large donation box next to the register for you to put cash in. They will also make change for you if you want. Our meals came to $17.80 – so I put in a $20.00 bill in the donation box. The store want to just break even and will spend extra money earned on their training programs. They employee marginalized individuals and give them a chance. Seems like a good idea.

The store does not look any different then any other Panera, except for the Panera Cares posters on the door and walls. Their menu is the same. They were nice and gave us free cookies for coming in during their opening week.

Right next door was a large Trader Joe’s grocery store. We decided to walk through it and pick up a few of our favorite items from them. Selected some smoked apple chicken sausage, marinated tuna steaks and stuffed pork chops. On the way back to the Jeep, John declared that he will have to start shopping at Trader Joe’s again. I like how they make eating better easy – most of their semi-prepared foods are more wholesome and less processed then what we buy from regular grocery stores.

So that is our exciting weekend… so far… I have tomorrow off for MLK, jr day. Not sure what we will be doing – it depends on John’s job and what he needs to do. Off to play Warcraft for awhile… I’m up to level 32 now… going through quests in the Northern Stranglethron Vale…..

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