Saturday, May 5, 2007
May 3 -- Portland to Salem
The day started with a ride on the commuter rail to downtown Portland. It's all above ground, so you get some good views. We passed the Rose Quarters and Chinatown before arriving at Pioneer Square, were we started our walking tour. The good thing about traveling this time of year is that hardly anyone else is out yet, so we had the tour guide all to ourselves. That allowed us to go at our own pace and ask questions as we went without irritating others. A couple things of interest were the statue of "Portlandia", which is attached to the front of a building in downtown. That was unusual because she is based on a figure in Portland's city seal of a woman, dressed in classical clothes, who welcomes traders into the port of the city, yet it was the only place you can see a statue of her. We also learned that the two founding fathers of Portland each wanted to name the town after their home towns. One was from Portland, Maine, and the other from Boston. They settled their argument by flipping a coin. The other unusual site was Mill's End Park near the waterfront. This park is identified in the Guinness book of world records as the world's smallest park. You can see it in the picture--it is the lone tree in the middle of the street. After the tour, we went to an authentic Chinese Garden in Chinatown. A beautiful oasis in the middle of a bustling city. The Garden was built (the Chinese build gardens not plant them) in China and brought to Portland and assembled by Chinese craftsman. Although much smaller, it rivals the Japanese Garden we described earlier in beauty. We then drove on to Salem to complete the day. Thus, another Capitol. This one is very different from the others, but has a beauty all its own.