Portland Center for the Performing Arts “Music on main street”

Portland Center for the Performing Arts “Music on main street”

On our way out of the Portland Art Museum (see prior blog post) my husband and I noticed the side street was blocked off and we heard some sound equipment being set up so we thought we’d check it out.  We had nicely stumbled upon the last night of the “Music on main street” free concerts put on by the Portland Center for the Performing Arts (PCPA).  There were tables with food and beverages being served from the PCPA restaurant and also rows of chairs.

Tonight, Wednesday  7.29 5-7 PM was Jujuba who performs Nigerian Afrobeat music.  There was a dancer with a shaker, drumbs, vocals, etc.



One of the sponsors was the winemaker Thorny Rose handing out samples and selling glasses of their wine.  I tried the Thorny Rose red blend expecting it to be mostly cabernet sauvignon and merlot and not particularly delicious.  I was pleasantly surprised that in addition to the cabernet sauvignon and merlot it also had malbec in it!  That gave it a nice bite of flavor at the end.  The tasting notes from their website are as follows:  Black cherry cherry, quite contrary. Raspberry and blackberry marry. Graham crackers and sassafras get to know vanilla and cocoa.

It was sure a nice way to close the day with an hour of good music and wine after a couple of hours of great art. 🙂


Portland art museum

Portland art museum

Wow, was this an adventure.  It’s quite a maze of buildings and wings and floors with no visual map to figure out the layout.  We got through just part of the main building in 2 hours.  While I enjoyed some of the Asian works of art, I primarily enjoyed the California Impressionism collection of paintings (natural landscapes) and the Native American collection-particularly the carvings and masks from the Northwest-Haida and Maki tribes.

We enjoyed the Asian artwork, furniture, and ceramics-Korea, Japan, and China.  There was a wing on finds from “funerary art” with this beautiful dish below.  Click this link on information about the “money tree.”

chinese dish

There was also an interesting collection of snuff bottles.

snuff bottles

There was the most amazing Ossip Zadkine, quartz human face that I would love to personally have. 🙂


California Impressionism on loan from the Irvine museum.

These were my favorites.  They remind me a lot of the Canadian “group of 7” and Emily Carr from British Columbia.

William Wendt, When fields lie fallow (note: it’s the Laguna Beach area)

Check out this blog post from a person involved in getting this exhibition to Portland to see this painting.

Paul Lauritz, Mountain silence, 1922

Click on this link for the California Art Club and an image of the above painting (Paul Lauritz is the current president :-))

Click on this link for more information on California Impressionism and William Wendt and Paul Lauritz.

Helen Forbes, Furnace creek wash

George Gardner Symons, Southern California coast (note: it’s the Laguna Beach area)

Click on this link for a blog post on the history of the Laguna Beach Art Association with timelines about William Wendt and George Gardner Symons.

The website askart.com has information and a few of the paintings of all 5 of these artists.

Native American art collection-Northwest tribes such as Haida and Makah as well as other regions.  The Lattimer Gallery in Vancouver, British Columbia has some of the most beautiful silver Haida jewelry and other pieces of art.

There were 2 anthropomorphic figures from the  Columbia River that were made out of basalt that I liked.  One of them is called “stone figure” 1000-1500 AD.  Click this link for a photo of it along with information on the “People of the River: Native Arts of the Oregon Territory” exhibit returning to the Portland Art Museum in 2005.

Mask-central Mexico, Mixtec-Aztec empire-there used to be pieces of turquoise all over it that you can see if you’re close up.  You can see a similar Mixtec mask with turquoise at this link for the British Museum.  There was a very interesting Mayan jaguar half mask that didn’t photograph well.


“Dance horse” in the sculpture garden outside of the museum


At the end we stopped at the gift shop to peruse their wide selection of interesting items from jewelry to scarves to pottery to books.  I got really lucky to find a Japanese shibori style scarf by Asian Eye (it’s referred to as bandhani in India) tucked away among some items in a display.



Bonneville Lock and Dam, Oregon side

Bonneville Lock and Dam, Oregon side

On our way back to Portland from Skamania Lodge, we stopped at the Bonneville Lock and Dam on the Oregon side.  We were delighted to take I-84 home after the slow, windy trip on State route 14 a couple days before on the Washington side. 🙂

From the parking lot there is a beautiful view of the “spillway” and tables for a picnic.


There was also a little concrete house called a “pill box” which protected armed guards protecting the dam during World war II.

pill box

We caught the tail end of the tour of the powerhouse. It was interesting to learn more about how water is converted to electricity and how about 55% of our electricity in the area is hydro and about 9% is wind and the rest is coal, etc.


It also was interesting to learn that the federal gov’t asks the dam to run 2-3 generators this time of year to run the “spillway” to help adolescent salmon make their way through the river.  The fish ladder was assisting the salmon upstream for spawning.  We were able to view a lot them in the underwater viewing area down below.

underwater viewing area


Our last stop was at the fish hatchery to see the trout, salmon, and sturgeon.  The famous sturgeon “Herman” lives there.  He is 70 years old, 400 pounds, and 10 feet long.  We don’t think this one was Herman as there was a longer, larger one than this that swam up and then away from photo taking range.



Rainbow trout

rainbow trout

Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, WA/Columbia Gorge

Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, WA/Columbia Gorge

My husband and I stayed at Skamania Lodge for 2 nights for a little post anniversary exploration of the Columbia gorge and pampering at the lodge.  We were impressed by the various walking/hiking trails (click this link for the hiking guide to the 3 trails on the lodge grounds) as well as golf course, fitness center, volleyball court, hot tubs and indoor pool, restaurant and spa services.  Our room had an absolutely gorgeous view of the Columbia River and the Columbia gorge!  What a way to wake up in the morning. 🙂

river view

Note: they do charge an advance deposit of 1 night (that is lost if you cancel) and a “lodge fee” for the various amenities that are provided.  So, make sure you are solid on your plans and that you plan to enjoy the amenities provided. 🙂

We were disappointed by the service our server provided at the Cascade dining room our 1st night.  She seemed to be struggling to manage the tables that she was handling and continued to comment about it and that she’d then stop ignoring us.  Meanwhile, the table seated next to us who arrived after us had a completely smooth process from drinks to dessert always one step ahead of us with a different server. 😦  We are well versed in the challenges of serving with many restaurant friends including a restaurant manager of a popular lodge restaurant in the Portland area, but this was far too expensive of a dinner to continue to have a bad experience throughout the process-and there were only about 5 tables being served at that 7 PM hour.  The food and the view were spectacular, but it was ruined by the slow and incompetent service.  Hopefully this was an unusual server experience.

What a gorgeous view from the dining room!


I had the 8 oz. tribal salmon with citrus thyme beurre blanc and the bacon and cider braised brussels sprouts and wind mountain goat cheese smashed potatoes sides.  My husband had the 12 oz. ribeye with roasted red pepper béarnaise and wind mountain goat cheese smashed potatoes and asparagus, roasted red pepper béarnaise sides.  They were all spectacular!

We were so unhappy with the dinner that we opted out of dessert and chose to have it next door at the River Rock.  They had tables in various configurations (including outdoor dining) as well as cozy couches perfect for a drink and dessert.  The service was excellent in comparison with dinner!  This is an example of one of the couch areas.


After dinner we chose to take advantage of the “adults only” after 8 PM in the outdoor hot tub.  What a beautifully landscaped hot tub with a view.

hot tub

On the 2nd day we decided to explore the history of the gorge and started our day out with a breakfast buffet in the Cascade dining room (getting the same server as the night before :-().  We then went to the Columbia Gorge interpretive center down the hill from the lodge.  It was a nice walk down and a bit more challenging back up the hill afterwards.  The 3 story waterfall was visually appealing as well as a nice audio backdrop as we explored the history and culture of Skamania county and the gorge.  There was a lot of Native American artifacts and history, information about ships and logging in the area, Mt. St. Helens, etc.  There were 2 movie theaters.

We had spa treatments planned for the afternoon at waterleaf spa.  I had a mud wrap and then we had a couples massage following it.  I was about 10 minutes into my mud wrap while my husband was out running the trails when we were evacuated from the lodge because of a bomb scare.  I grabbed my iPhone so I could alert my husband and communicate with him as needed and then I spent 1-1/2 hours in the parking lot in nothing but my spa robe and slippers.  My husband found me and we sat and waited until it was okay to return inside.  The police department and fire department did respond quickly and it was good to take all precautions, however, it was quite a disruption to what was intended to be a relaxing spa treatment afternoon.  The spa adjusted the time and ensured we received all treatments in as relaxing of a manner as possible.  Apparently this has never happened before at the lodge and so it threw off everyone’s schedules.  Fortunately, it wasn’t the day before when there were wedding receptions and a business conference.

Because of the negative experience we’d had last night in the dining room, we cancelled our reservations for tonight and had dinner in the River Rock that we’d enjoyed dessert last night.  We had the same server as last night and she was excellent again.  What a relief!  The salmon mac and cheese was delicious!

salmon mac and cheese

Maryhill winery (Goldendale, WA) and the Columbia gorge

Maryhill winery (Goldendale, WA) and the Columbia gorge

I haven’t ever ventured out to the Columbia gorge and my husband and I were on our way to Skamania Lodge so we thought we’d go farther east and explore Maryhill winery and the views.  We wish we had taken I-84 (multi lane freeway) on the Oregon side as State route 14 on the Washington side was a pretty meandery 2 lane road with very slow drivers in front of us the whole way. 😦  It added a significant amount of time to our trip.  At the same time, the views were absolutely amazing of the Columbia River on the entire drive.  It was amazing to see the landscape change from the west side to rocky slate type cliffs and pine trees and sagebrush.  It would make some amazing paintings with a palette knife!

rocky cliffs

The winery was much busier than we’d expected and it was challenging to get a place at the tasting room bar to taste the wine and also lines for purchasing our picnic lunch. I had the “Reserve Flight” tasting of approximately 5 Reserve wines.  Chardonnay, I can’t recall the 2nd one, Syrah, Barbera, and Zinfandel.  I was prepared to like the Syrah and the Zinfandel as these robust, red wines tend to be my favorites, however, the Barbera (which is a wine I’ve never had before) was quite good.  It’s not as strong as Syrah or Zinfandel, but also not as light as a Rose and it has a bit of a bite at the finish like a less sweet Rose.  We bought a bottle for later that night.

Check out the Maryhill winery website for information about their concerts on the well groomed amphitheater lawn.


We enjoyed our picnic lunch of meat, cheese, bagel crisps, and wine/root beer/water from the terrace overlooking the gorge.

picnic lunch


Pink Martini at the Oregon zoo!

Pink Martini at the Oregon zoo!

In an earlier post I mentioned that this is the first year I’ve gone to the Oregon zoo and I’ve been hearing about how popular the concerts are at the Oregon zoo.  Pink Martini happened to be playing this summer.  Of course, you HAVE to see Pink Martini when they are in town!  Thomas (the pianist and originator of the band) is a Portland native and they are now internationally known and loved.  Our friends introduced us to them about 8 years ago and we have been hooked since. 🙂  They perform quite an eclectic range of songs.  China sings in many languages including French, Portuguese, Spanish, English, Turkish, Greek, Arabic, etc.  Thomas is quite an amazing pianist who also conducts from the piano and the rest of their band are amazing as well.

Click the “media” link on the homepage of their website and check out the video of “The story of Pink Martini with Thomas Lauderdale.”

Also, click the “audio” link on their homepage and listen to #2 “Hang on little tomato,” #12 “Sympathique,” and #13 “Lilly” which are a few of my favorites along with “Brazil” which is not available on this list.  You can access it by clicking on “discography” on the homepage and clicking on the album “Sympathique” and scrolling down to #10.

It was quite a packed venue with no rhyme or reason to how you got a seat even 2 hours before the concert started so we stuck to the concrete wall on the edge so we could easily spot our friends when they arrived.

zoo concert map

pink martini concert

During the concert they took the time to sing “Let’s never stop falling in love” to assist in a pre-arranged marriage proposal. 🙂

pink martini

Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle

Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle

What a great find!  This is the 2nd year that my friend and I have indulged in the pastries at the award winning Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle.  The lines are always long, but efficiently managed and the employees are always very helpful.

bakery nouveau

Just check out some of the mouth watering pastries on their website homepage above and in the pastry case below.

pastry case

My friend always enjoys the twice baked almond croissant which is a bit too sweet for me so this year I indulged in a caprese sandwich along with a chocolate croissant which reminded me of the napolitanos that were abundant in southern Spain.


Cedarbrook lodge nestled in behind SeaTac airport

Cedarbrook lodge nestled in behind SeaTac airport

What an amazing find!  This is the 2nd year that my friend and I have stayed at Cedarbrook lodge when we have gotten together in the Seattle area.  She lives in Vancouver, BC and I in Portland, OR and Seattle is always a great spot to explore. 🙂  This lodge was a better price last year when there was no charge for parking ($12 per vehicle this year), but it’s quite an oasis just next to the bustling activity of SeaTac airport.  The slideshow on the homepage of the Cedarbrook lodge website provide some great photos of their food and lodging areas.

There are miles of gorgeous walking trails to explore and the food is quite good.  This is the view of the lush greenery around the walks from my room.

window view

Additionally, there are snacks and a lounging area in each of the buildings.

Last year the restaurant and bar were amazing, however, this year we were turned away for not having a reservation despite a fairly empty restaurant so we went elsewhere.  There are many delicious eating spots at the nearby Southcenter Mall just 1 exit north on I5 as well as in the SeaTac area.  Duke’s Chowder House at Southcenter Mall was where we went.  They always have delicious pasta, burgers, salads, etc.  Oh, and, of course, their chowder. 🙂  They are located throughout Seattle-mostly where there are gorgeous views such as Lake Union, Alki, and Green Lake.

Portland Japanese Garden

Portland Japanese Garden in Washington Park

There is a virtual tour of the garden available at this link.

It was a hot day at 108 degrees,  but in the Japanese Garden it was very cool.  Our tour guide, Andrew, did a spectacular job of weaving culture and language and history into our exploration of the landscape and architecture.  We learned that there should always be 3 elements-rock, shrubs, and water.  You always place the rock first and then everything else around it.  We also learned that every pond should have a tortoise which lives 10,000 years and a crane which lives 1,000 years.  We enjoyed the waterways and the foresty trails as well as the sandy rock areas like a Zen garden.  It’s called “dry water” when gravelly sand is used to represent water.

The tour started out at the “Wisteria arbor” with an antique 5 tiered stone pagoda lantern given to Portland from its sister city, Sapporo, Japan.  The stones at the based of the pagoda are in the shape of the island of Hokkaido.


We continued on to the “Strolling pond garden” passing the koi pond on the way.  The tortoise and crane stones in the “Strolling pond garden” are for longevity.

koi pond

strolling pond garden

The “Tea garden” was nicely tucked away with interesting architecture.

There were interesting stones on the bottom of the water under the “Zig zag bridge” along with lily pads on the surface of the water.  The waterfall at the end of the bridge was well worth the wait.

zig zag bridge


The “Natural garden” was a windy path with natural looking river streams throughout.  The guide told us that the shrubs in that area are maintained but in a “natural” way and it’s intended that you’re not able to notice that they are maintained at all.

natural garden

natural stream

The “Sand and stone garden” was probably my favorite of the entire garden.  It reminded me of a Zen garden.  It was perfectly raked with 1 large column rock and 7 smaller rocks facing it.

sand and stone garden

sand and stone garden

The “Poetry stone” was a beautiful piece of artwork along with the poetry and translation that was read to us.

The “Flat garden” was also spectacular with a sea of raked sand (a “dry lake”) as well as well placed stones and trees/bushes.  There were 2 grassy islands in the middle.

flat garden

flat garden

Our tour ended at the “Pavilion” with an amazing view of Mt. Hood. 🙂

mt hood

garden exit

I purchased a gorgeous silk, tie dyed scarf at the art sale in the pavilion.  I love that to me it represents the 3 elements-green shrubs, cream stones, and blue water.


Patanegra (Spanish restaurant)

Patanegra (Spanish restaurant)


What a delightful, hidden restaurant off the beaten path of NW 23rd! It was a bit tricky to find since it’s not actually on NW 23rd Avenue, but rather NW 23rd Place.  Pata Negra apparently stands for Iberico ham.  Check out this slide show of the Pata Negra (black pigs) as well as the restaurant and food served there.  We were seated at the nice, cozy table pictured in the slide show by the window.  Check out their dinner menu.  This link to the wine list provides a map of Spain and the various regions.  I only drank by the glass which is listed by clicking on the tab “by the glass” on the far right.

Open kitchen at the back


Well stocked bar to the side


We passed on the paella this visit and indulged in tapas to try a variety of their dishes. I started out with gazpacho and a glass of mencia (red wine from the Bierzo region). The gazpacho was absolutely refreshing given the warm day with a nice bite at the end.


My husband started out with the classic tortilla espanola. It was delicious and perfectly prepared.

tortilla espanola

I then had the rollitos de berenjena (grilled eggplant). (pictured on the back right)  I recall an amazing deep fried Aubergine when in Spain 2 years ago, but this was not quite the same. I wasn’t a fan of the fuzz that was like eating a peach.


The grilled asparagus was simple, but delicious!


My husband ordered the filete de ternera (grilled beefsteak and fingerlings). The steak melted in your mouth and the fingerlings had great flavor.


I then finished up with the pan con tomate, jamon y queso (bread with Serrano ham (from Spain) with manchego cheese).  (pictured on the front left)  This was delicious with a glass of monastrell (red from the Alicante and Jumilla regions).


The service was impeccable and we’ll definitely return again!