So I guess those H&SCA folk wore me out because I put my head down at 10pm and didn’t wake up until 10.45am the next morning! Oh boy, 15 minutes till checkout time – not an optimum start to a long day of driving.

No breakfast for me as I hurtled out onto Route 299 in the knowledge that I would now have no hope of making Portland before dark. The road meandered exquisitely through the Redwoods and past a half dozen cute-as-hell hamlets and, at times, rivers cascaded off in two or more directions. Despite a spitting rain, I stopped often at the vista points to take it all in.

Redwoods and Rivers

Redwoods and Rivers

My congratulations to the gas station at ‘Happy Camp’ who stocked a good supply of fresh fruit and an eclectic range of trail mix combos. That took care of my (very late) breakfast, lunch and snacks for the long trip to Portland. For five hours, Route 99 wound its way east back to Route I-5 where I turned left and hammered it for another four hours.

Courtesy of ‘Lulu’ my GPS guide, I pulled up exhausted and late, but without a scratch, out front of my cousin Emma’s place in Portland where the warmest of welcomes awaited me. Hugs all round with Em and Jude and I poked my head into the big boys room, had a giggle with Zahn and planted a kiss on a slumbering Xavier. Yves was curled up in his cot but it wasn’t hard to see that he had grown a tonne since I saw him last. Fed and watered I hit the hay feeling very safe and sound with family.

Up early the next morning (courtesy of a bouncy Zahn Vittorio), I went with Jude to drop Zahn and Xav at school. What a cool place! Just like it is in the movies – plus I learned that the school and the environs of Portland were the inspiration for Matt Groening when he penned The Simpsons.

Jude and Yves Cafe

Jude and Yves at the local cafe

Jude, Em and I (and Yves) had a little time together doing hire car drop and a quirky Portland café before Jude headed off for a trip away in Korea. And then there were five….

Yves and Em

Yves and Emma at home

In between baby sleeps/feeds, school pick ups, dinners, breakfasts, homework, near miss migraines and bed times, Em and I managed to catch up on recent and ancient history (as you do) and to solve some problems of the world. We had a rousing game of Energy In Energy Out and Emma, Zahn and Xav provided some very valuable feedback.

R&D Energy IN Game

The Portland R&D Department (aka Zahn and Xavier Celedin)

It was a brief visit, but I saw enough of Portland to work out that it is cool as hell and that Em and Jude and the boys are well set up to have a very enjoyable time in this town.

Hugs and kisses for the boys as they set off for school on the final morning. Sniff! Em and Yves and I did a walking tour of the immediate neighbourhood and picked up a coffee at The Clearing café. We could have been in Melbourne. Yay! The lovely Kara at Karna hair salon down the road gave me a cool blow wave and we were on our way to Union Station to get me aboard the 516 Cascades train to Vancouver. Hugs and selfies at the station and I bid a sad farewell to my dear cousin and the gorgeous Yves.Yves and Jo

Yves Jo and Em Union StnOne more sleep before I see my beautiful daughter Samantha, who I have not seen in over a year! So excited!