Sunday Morning 12/30/2018 Last Sunday in Portland

One of our most important tasks here in Portland was getting the “travel bible” updated, with new or changed reservations printed out and put in order – mission accomplished!

This time next week Brett and I will be getting ready to check out of our Portland Airbnb to begin our journey to India for a seven-day tour of the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra and Jaipur). In the late morning we’ll move YaYu over to one of her friend’s home for a week’s stay (followed by a stay with a second friend for a few days before heading back to Pennsylvania), and then WenYu, Brett and I will go to the airport to turn in our car and get ready for our flights out of Portland: to Boston for WenYu, and Vancouver, B.C. for Brett and me. Meiling will head back to Eugene next Saturday, to get ready to start her final term of college on Monday morning.

Brett and I had originally planned to drive up to Vancouver from Portland and be there in time to catch our late-night flight, but ended up deciding to fly because 1) we really didn’t want to drive that distance (5+ hours); 2) we were worried about possible delays at the border when driving (sometimes they happen which could throw off everything); and 3) the paperwork for taking a rental car across the border was more detailed than we imagined – one wrong thing and we wouldn’t cross the border. The flight from Portland will put us in Vancouver a little less than six hours before the flight to Delhi (through Taiwan), but we are pros these days at managing long airport layovers. The layover will give us plenty of time to pick up our bags from the first flight, exit customs in Vancouver and then re-enter the airport to check the bags with the airline that will be carrying us to India. We’ll have dinner in the airport as well during our wait. One good thing this time too is that our suitcases should be a little lighter.

We had a good time meeting Meiling’s boyfriend this past week and give him two thumbs up. We all got together for Chinese food on Thursday evening and let Meiling and K order. Everything they chose was delicious, especially since they had the good sense not to order the duck’s tongue entrée (they are more adventurous eaters than the rest of us). We feel K is a very good fit for her. He currently lives and works in New York City (as a software engineer at a very well-known tech company) so for now they only see each other every couple of months, but she is planning on moving to NYC to work after she graduates next June. They will be spending a week with us in Japan at the end of March.

Our suitcases may be lighter leaving Portland, but I’m not sure that Brett or I are leaving lighter than when we arrived. Unlike other locations during our travels we have had a car here, and combined with the rain and the gloom, and the distances between our Airbnb and places we’ve needed to be, we have made good use of it and done little to no walking. We have been eating more than we usually do because of the family being together and the holiday, and that combined with a lack of exercise has meant we’ve both gained weight, even with Brett being sick for a few days. So, we are looking forward to eating less and doing more walking again in the next several months. I’m more than a little bit worried though that I might be too big for my warm weather clothes that I’ll need in Australia and New Zealand.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I still haven’t been reading anything, or at least not any books. There’s too much activity in the house during the day, and at night I fall asleep quickly. Although I’ve found it hard to read when I’m traveling because my mind is so full of all that I’m seeing and doing, I’m still giving myself a goal to read 30 books next year. First book of the year will be the new Ian Ranking thriller!
  • Listening to: The girls are still asleep and Brett is reading something so it’s very, very quiet here this morning. And I mean quiet. There are no chickens or roosters, no lawn equipment, no birds singing and no dogs barking – all the things we used to live with as constant background noise on Kaua’i, where we lived with the windows open 7/24/365 (I still miss Kaua’i though).
  • Watching: We haven’t been watching a whole lot of TV here, but we watched a wonderful film, Lion, last night. It’s the true story of an Indian boy who became accidentally lost and separated from his family at age five and was eventually adopted by a family in Australia. With the little he remembered he searched for years and eventually found his home village in India and was reunited with his birth mother and sister 25 years later. It was an amazing story and film – I can’t recommend it enough. YaYu also loves to watch cooking shows so I joined her to watch a few of those, but mostly I’ve stayed busy with things around the house and/or running errands.
  • Cooking/baking: We are working diligently now to eat up everything we bought before we depart at the end of the week. Our Christmas ham is almost finished, and tonight we’re finishing up the big chicken pot pie we bought at Costco. I sent some things back to Eugene with Meiling the other day but we’ve still got several things to finish up and then whatever’s left over after that will go to Eugene with her when she goes back on 1/5 (she’s coming back to Portland tomorrow).

    To say I needed a pedicure would have been an understatement – after four months of travel my feet were a mess!
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: We had a lovely Christmas and everything came together perfectly. Brett and I had sort of forgotten how much more work we used to do when the girls were around, but we’ve managed to keep up with all of the cleaning, laundry, cooking, recycling and composting. I got a much-needed pedicure and can once again stand to look at my feet. We have a busy week coming up with lots of small tasks that need to be taken care of, but we’ve made a list of everything so hopefully nothing gets forgotten before we set off again.
  • Looking forward to next week: I am getting together with two more friends for coffee next week and can’t wait to see them and set the world straight again. I’m also excited about the release of the new Ian Rankin book tomorrow and looking forward to diving into it, no matter how tired I am! We are going out for pizza on the 4th to celebrate the girls’ birthdays since we’ll be on the road when those happen, and then will come home to have cake and open presents. I have to admit I am also somewhat looking forward to getting packed up again (well, not the actual packing part) and getting back on the road, although I feel sad when I think about saying goodbye to the girls, especially since it will be a while since we see them all again.

    A friend said it looked like road kill, but we almost had a fight over who got the last spicy, savory PokPok chicken wing – they were that good!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: I somehow never caught the stomach bug that took everyone else down last week (or should I say it never caught me). Usually I am the first to get sick, so I feel very lucky to have been spared this time, and it was a good thing to have one healthy person operating in the house. Everyone is well again though. One of the Portland restaurants on my bucket list before we left in 2014 was Andy Ricker’s PokPok (Thai food), but time got away from us and I never ended up getting to eat there. However, just up the street from our Airbnb here is the PokPok wing shop which sells the most popular item from the PokPok menu, and this past week I got my first taste when WenYu brought home a box. They were hands down the most delicious chicken wings I have ever had – we are going back again before we leave!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We had several no-spend days this past week other than going out to eat, and otherwise spent very little money. Both of our meals out cost less than we budgeted too so we were able to bring our daily spending average down.

    Nothing better on a cold, rainy Portland afternoon but coffee and conversation with a good friend at Papachino’s!
  • Grateful for: YaYu has a long winter break from Bryn Mawr and doesn’t go back for nearly two weeks after we depart, but her two best Portland friends also have long breaks from their schools, and their families stepped up to host her and will get her on the plane back to Philadelphia later in the month. We’re so thankful because we know they will take good care of her, and she and her friends will have a great time catching up and being together. I am also very thankful for the time to get together with friends while we’re here – I have missed them so much! Finally, I have been thinking lately about our four years on Kaua’i, and how lucky we were to live there, and grateful we had that opportunity.
  • Bonus question: Do you have plans for New Year’s Eve? We are probably the dullest couple/family when it comes to New Years, and as always, we don’t have anything special planned for this year. The girls will all be here with us, but I’m still not sure if any of them have plans to get together with friends and do something (probably not as they would have said something by now). So, I have no idea what we’ll do other than we’ll all stay up and welcome in the new year together. Brett and I have never gone out on New Year’s Eve – we’ve always preferred having a quiet celebration at home. Anyway, I’m thinking of cooking a nice dinner, we’ll watch a movie together and play games together, greet the new year and then head for bed. It’s not very exciting, but it works for us!

From the bottom of my heart, a big THANK YOU to all my readers for coming along for the ride in 2018. Wishing all good things for all of you in 2019. I’ll see you next year!


16 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 12/30/2018 Last Sunday in Portland

  1. I really LOVED the movie Lion. Reading your post, I immediately got tears in my eyes thinking of it. Such a wonderful story…and when he realized what his name meant…just wow. There are a few movies that have stuck with me over years and still elicit strong emotion when I think of them, and that is definitely one.

    We are the dullest NYE people on the planet. 🙂 I haven’t seen the ball drop since the last time I babysat a nephew who is now an adult. His parents went out and we “stayed up to see the ball drop and eat junk food.” LOL. But we’re just not late night people, so I like to see the fireworks overseas and go to sleep at my regular hour.

    Happy New Year!


    1. I think one of the most affirming messages of Lion was that adopted children come with a history, even if they’re infants. Their desire to know their history, to understand their past, to create closure is not a rejection of their adoptive parents – they know who raised them and loved them, and don’t stop loving their adoptive parents just because they want to know and/or connect with their birth families. I loved Saroo’s empathy for his birth mother, that he understood that for 25 years she had had no idea what had happened to her son – he had literally just vanished as if into thin air. I think about our daughters’ birth families all the time, and wish I had a way to let them know how the girls have grown and what’s become of them. I honestly believe those parents don’t go through a day when they don’t think of their daughters, and wonder what happened to them.

      I’m glad to know we’re not the only dull ones hanging out on New Year’s Eve. I am a late-night person, but Brett isn’t, but he will stay up tomorrow. I think we may try another family Yahtzee tournament to keep us awake.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy New Year Laura and Brett! So happy the Portland Holiday family gathering was a success and you are ready for the next part of your great adventure! My plan is to stay in New Year’s Eve. I may practice a little yoga and reflect on what I want to do in 2019. When Dennis was alive, we would be anchored out on our sailboat in a quiet place and go to sleep before midnight.


    1. Happy New Year to you, Barb! Wishing you health, happiness and prosperity in 2019. Reflection on the coming year is always a good thing – I always do the same before I fall asleep. I don’t write things down, but it gets my thoughts started and a way to focus on the coming year.

      One of our favorite New Year’s memories came from the years we lived in the Yokohama area – on NYE all the ships in the harbor would would blow their whistles and horns for the new year – it went on for nearly an hour and was magnificent. I think I would have loved being on a sailboat with all that going on (although quiet would have been nice too).


  3. I found your blog last week from Bob Lowry’s blog. I just completed binge reading all posts. I am 56 and wife 63 and will retire in 12 to 48 months. We downsized to a condo not far from your youth home. Lake Avenue at th3 210 Freeway in Pasadena. I am from Maine and enjoyed reading about your daughters school decisions. Thank you for the blog and enjoy the next stage of adventure


    1. Wow – thank you for your interest! I’m so happy to have you as a reader!

      Oh my, I know exactly where your condo is – what a change from Maine! I’m not sure whether I’d recognize much of the area any more though. San Marino for sure, although there have been changes there as well. I’d probably recognize parts of South Pas and some of Pasadena as well, but overall I think it’s changed more than I realize and I’d probably get lost pretty fast.

      Congrats on your upcoming retirement. Ours has been everything we hoped it would be, and more!


  4. Firstly, I’m kind of with your friend regarding the wing photo. But I’m sure they were delicious!

    Re: NYE, we’ve been to many a party and many a celebration, but prefer to celebrate New Years with the east coast these days, and turn in by 10 pm west coast time. This year we’re grilling steaks, which we’ll enjoy with baked potatoes and roasted Brussel sprouts. That, plus a streamed movie will be our celebration.

    I was a bit worried you’d be reaching travel stimulation overload by this point, so I’m thrilled to read that you are excited to again hit the road. So looking forward to reading your trip report from India , as we have not yet been there.


    1. I really wish I had gotten a picture of the wings before we attacked them – they looked a lot more appetizing. But no one could wait and they were amazingly good.

      We are feeling antsy and ready to get going again. I think if we were in someplace other than Portland we’d be content and dreading leaving but we’ve had a very relaxing time here and are ready to get moving again. I think some of the restlessness has to do with all five of us being a small house again – we fit, and the house has everything we need, but we’re all anxious for a bit more space. I am dreading saying goodbye to the girls though.

      Your NYE dinner sounds very, very yummy. We’re having pasta with ham, red peppers and fresh spinach tossed with a garlic and basil cheese sauce. It’s one of the girls’ favorite dishes, and a good way to use up the last of the ham.


  5. No plans for New Years Eve. New years day, we will have our traditional meal of black eyed peas, rice and hog jowls (peace, riches and happiness)
    Have a great New years!


    1. I have not had black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day in years, and I think the girls would rebel if I tried it now (none of them particularly cares for beans). But it sounds yummy anyway, and I love the symbolism of the foods.

      Wishing you much happiness, good health, and prosperity in the coming New Year!


  6. It sounds like a fabulous trip! We are enjoying the sun (finally) today on the coast. I think the kids will bike to play pickleball, we may walk on the beach, and tonight we’re having steak, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts & sauteed mushrooms. Plus cookies that the kids make. We never stay up late, and are flying home tomorrow. There will be plenty to do, as we have to get the house put back in shape again: all laundry done, sheets washed, beds made, house cleaned, refrigerator emptied & cleaned. I did finally check something off of my to do list – I created an inventory of our freezer & pantry, to hopefully reduce purchasing duplication next time, and ensure we’re working things out of rotation.

    So excited to read about the next phase of your journey!!


    1. Hopefully you will be able to get back to enjoy the house sooner rather than later. We plan on going out to the coast at least once this summer, hopefully for an overnight stay. I love, love, love to get up and walk on the beach in the morning. And, hopefully we will be able to plan a meet-up this summer!

      Just did Round 1 of the packing which is a big load off my mind – all I have to do now is put the cold weather things in that I’m wearing here and I will be ready to go.

      Happy New Year!


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