Well, actually I've been back since late Monday, but it has taken me a couple days to get back in the swing of things. We had a very nice trip to Portland, I really like it up there. The weather was great, we had fun doing the various activities we picked out, and we generally had a very nice time. If anyone is doing any sightseeing in the Portland area, I highly recommend the jet boat tour of the Willamette River that leaves from the dock at the OMSI Science Museum. It was a lot of fun, and a really neat way to see a bit more of the area. I was amazed to see that there are bald eagles and osprey nesting above the river about a mile south of downtown. We also went to their excellent zoo, OMSI (where we also toured the USS Blackhawk, a Cold War era diesel sub), the World Forestry Discovery Center (it just reopened a couple of months ago with all new exhibits, very nicely done), Powell's (of course!), and the Portland Art Museum. All were definitely worthwhile adventures. I also really wanted to go to the Japanese Gardens as I didn't make it there last year, but since I was traveling with some late risers it just didn't happen. It was very strange to not leave the hotel until at least 10:30 every morning... I'm glad they had a good breakfast at the hotel, otherwise I don't think it would have worked out at all! We also had the additional adventure of missing our return flight, mostly due to poor time management and certain individuals not wanting to get to the airport too early. Oh well, Emma and I caught the next flight out without a problem and we had a very nice (and relatively inexpensive) dinner at the airport while we waited. We also read The Mouse and the Motorcycle for about an hour, which we both enjoyed.
I enjoyed the trip, but I think that next time I would rather just go with the munchkin(s) by myself, or with my husband. Traveling with people who work on different time schedules is definitely rather challenging, especially when you can't really hurry them along.
I think northern Oregon and southern Washington are places I would consider moving to - I think having Portland be the nearest "big city" would be pretty cool. Some of our criteria for relocating are that we wouldn't be more than about 1.5 hours from a city with a good airport and with the cultural amenities like a zoo, science museum, art museum and the like. We'd also like a place that isn't as hot as it is here, but still has a decent growing season. I'm not sure about the legendary rain in that area... although if we did move there we'd be more towards the Cascades rather than the coastal mountains, which I think does cut down on the rain somewhat. I think that so long as the sun reaches the ground when it does show itself occasionally we'll be just fine. That was one of the hardest parts of living in a redwood forest - it would be a beautiful, clear, sunny winter day and you'd step outside and it would be extremely damp and cold with not a sunbeam to be found anywhere. I hated that from November to March I had to drive several miles just to stand in a sunbeam! That was one of the biggest factors in deciding we didn't want to stay in the Santa Cruz mountains... well, that and the drowning, smothering feeling we got every time we paid the mortgage. :-)