a whirlwind weekend in portland, oregon

This past weekend, the kids and I were lucky enough to have the opportunity to head South to Portland, Oregon for one of my best college friend’s wedding. Before I mention even a single thing else, I have to say that this trip wouldn’t have been at all possible if it weren’t for one of my boys’ teachers and our good friends, Sierra, for coming with us. I like to think I’m a pretty strong person, but there’s approximately zero chance I would have been bold enough to travel solo with three children for a wedding and reception. Sierra graciously offered up her weekend to us, and we ventured South for a whirlwind weekend in Portland with three littles.

I must confess, this was my first time in Portland, and I didn’t really know what to expect. It’s a beautiful city though, with incredibly friendly people, a dog-friendly vibe (wish we could’ve brought Danny!), and tons to see and do that I know we’ll need to come back for. Since Portland is a mere 2 hours or so from JBLM, we left Saturday morning around 9 AM, and we made it to Portland and our hotel, the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Portland, before noon. Huge kudos go out to them because they rushed housekeeping and got our room ready well before the standard 4 PM check-in time, too.


Spencer and Porter have been looking forward to the hotel stay for months, as well as the quality time they’d get to spend with Ms. Sierra. I was, of course, looking forward to seeing my old college friends, many of whom I haven’t seen since 2010 and 2012. The wedding took place at 2:30 PM, and Mieke and I ventured to the ceremony, then I brought her back to the hotel prior to the reception, which began at 5:30. We’d hoped to squeeze an early trip to Voodoo Doughnuts prior to the wedding, but the line was too long, so we didn’t manage it; instead, we planned to go Sunday.

The wedding was beautiful, Mieke was a dream, and the reception was everything I could have hoped for and more. The only thing that might have made it better for me? Ryan’s presence…but beggars can’t be choosers, and this mama enjoyed a rare night out, kid-free, thanks to the generosity of Sierra, who stayed with the kiddos at the hotel and held down the fort while I had fun. Truly, it was soul-fuel for me. As exhausted as I was on Sunday because, let’s be honest, I go to sleep early these days, it was so refreshing to spend time with great friends and enjoy being an adult for a change.

We knew this would be a whirlwind trip to Portland, and we planned to head back to JBLM midday on Sunday, so after an early morning, we checked out of the Kimpton and enjoyed a bit of the city’s offerings. Fun fact I was privvied to by my Uber driver; there are two Voodoo Doughnut locations, and he said one rarely has a line. We made our way to Voodoo Doughtnut Too in Davis and, as he promised, there was no line. So, we treated ourselves and two very excited boys to their decadent creations. As an aside, I barely finished one! They’re so sweet – good, but sweet!

We also found a small breakfast joint in the area, Zell’s Cafe, where there was ample unmetered street parking, ever-flowing coffee, and a variety of brunch yums for all ages. We enjoyed a good meal, and we took some time to enjoy some of the many beautiful murals that Oregon has to offer. As an aside – I actually didn’t know there were so many! The rhino was my personal favorite, and Spencer loved it allllmost as much as I did…then, we slowly meandered our way back up i-5 towards JBLM and reality.

I truly didn’t know what to expect from our quick whirlwind weekend in Portland, but it was perfection. Was it without its hiccups? Absolutely not. We had a three month old who wanted to nurse, a potty-training three-year-old, and plenty of traffic to contend with, but this weekend is the stuff memories are made of. Sierra made it possible for me to treat not only myself, but my children, to a weekend in a new place, experiencing new things, and further stepping out of our comfort zones. Our time in Washington isn’t forever, and we won’t stay here, but I’ve made a commitment to explore the PNW while we can. This weekend was another deployment weekend signed, sealed, and delivered, and you know what? It was a great one.