Road Trip Day 10: On the Eve of the End

In my last blog post before I embarked, I estimated my Seattle arrival date as October 27th. Turns out I was one day off: it’s now the 27th, but instead of being “home” in Seattle, I’m in a hotel room in Seaside, Oregon, about 200 miles south.

This is mostly on purpose. I have a place to stay in Seattle, but I can’t move in until the 28th. Sure, I could have gotten to Seattle early and stayed in a hotel there, but instead, I took the opportunity to dawdle in the city of Portland. First I spent a couple hours in Powell’s City of Books, which is the largest used and new bookstore in the world. It takes up an entire city block, and I could have easily spent the whole day there, but my checking account would not have survived.

After escaping Powell’s, I walked through Portland’s Chinatown to the Lan Su Chinese Garden. It’s designed to resemble as close as possible a real Chinese garden from the mid-1400’s, and if the guided tour is any indication, it’s doing a dang good job of it. It was designed and built with a huge amount of help from Portland’s sister city of Suzhou, China. Every plant and tree was carefully picked and placed, and everything from the floor tiles to the shingles on the roof is designed with a very specific purpose that adds to the overall meaning and symbolism of the garden. Classical Chinese poetry is also inscribed in places, and illustrated, both in actual drawings and in symbolism, throughout the garden. It’s a fascinating look into Chinese culture and Daoism that I couldn’t do justice to in a single blog entry, so I’m not going to try. But if you ever find yourself in Portland, definitely check it out.

They also had quite a few bonsai plants there, as well as its Chinese predecessor, penjing. I had fun taking photographs of these and trying to play with the scale.

The picture above, for example, is of the pot on the left:

As the day began to edge into late afternoon, I headed back to the car and drove to my next destination: The Pacific Ocean. Part of me had wanted to visit the Atlantic Ocean before I left North Carolina, so that I could say this trip was truly an Atlantic-to-Pacific trip, but I just didn’t have time. That’s okay. I think it’s been a pretty epic trip anyway.