Portland was awesome! It was so great to meet up with the cousins again - we got there on Friday the 28th, went out for food on Friday night (and Voodoo Donuts too!), squished 6 people in a small motel room meant for 4 people max (there were three on the bed and three on the floor) and had an early morning on Saturday so we could get ready to go white water rafting! We left at 9 and it was a half hour drive to Clackamas where we met up with the rest of the group we were rafting with. By the time we got to the rafting site, went through orientation and finally was able to get into the raft, it was after 10:30.
The experience itself was incredible. Blue Sky Rafting was the company we went with and I can't even believe how much value we got for the amount we paid ($85). We did a full day (5 hours) and it came with a full steak and chicken BBQ buffet lunch. Our guide, Dan, was really knowledgeable about the rapids we went through and knew the ins and out of each of the areas so when we told him we were up for an adventure, he was really able to maximize our trip.
We went through a number of rapids and the area that stood out to me the most was, hands down, the cliff dive area. The area was so crazy - so the whole group stopped at this one spot that had a 30-45 foot shear drop at the top. Then the guides all had us pile out and said, ok - this is the cliff dive area! Cliff dive? I didn't know that we signed up for this! Anyone who knows me knows that I am freakishly afraid of heights (thinking about heights right now is making my palms all sweaty - awesomely sexy). So there was a group who went first and out of our group, Richie was the first to check out the scene. Not knowing how he felt, we made sure to let him know that he didn't have to do it if he didn't want to but I had a feeling that he was chomping at the bit and sure enough, he was the first off that cliff! It was seriously the best momemnt of the whole trip seeing him take that dive. I was so happy and so proud of him! This whole trip was his first time on a plane on his own, his first time away from his family on his own, his first time white water rafting (and without his hearing aids!) and I'm pretty certain that it was his first cliff dive too. And after that, a fear of heights just seemed like a silly excuse to not take advantage of this experience. As I stepped off the cliff after Richie and in that 2-3 seconds it took to fall to the water, I was re-thinking my decision but luckily, it was too late and I hit the water and was able to swim to shore with a little help from the tow rope. As it happened, I started to get a small charlie horse and my shoes (cheap Toms knockoffs - go Soda!) was slipping out so it was a little awkward getting out. I got out still feeling a little dizzy but was able to see the rest of our group take their dive. So awesome and I am so glad that I was able to share that with my family.
The next morning, we all got up early again, went for breakfast and then piled into the Mazda again to go to the outlet malls to do some tax-free shopping! I thought we had allotted ourselves lots of time (2 hours!) but we could definitely have stayed there for much longer. We all got something (which was nice) and left in time for Jeremy and Richie to get their transfer from the hotel to the airport. Jen, Johann, Vic and I went out for dinner, waited 45 minutes for ice cream and drove through of downtown Portland which, as it turns out, doesn't have too much of a nightlife as one would have thought. We went back to the motel and had an early-ish night and got up the next day to drop off Vic at a poker room so we wandered around Powells for a bit before dropping off Jen at the airport.
Powells was really cool - a whole city block building with multiple levels dedicated to books, old, new, used, and other kitschy items you can think of. I bought Vic some books and picked some up myself.
We were also able to walk around downtown for a bit and saw a whole city block just covered with food trucks! We didn't get to try out a food truck downtown (except to buy a crazy looking smoothie) but just going through them all was fun.
All in all it was a great trip, we left early the next day (Tuesday) and drove home with a quick stop at the outlet malls in Tulalip and a lunch break at Carls Jr. and got home at 2, just as Vic had predicted.