If you full time or “most of the time” RV as we are doing now, there comes a time when you probably have to leave the RV behind. We just traveled to the Portland, Oregon area this week to attend the wedding of our nephew, Ben. We had given thought to driving the RV out there, but decided that we weren’t ready for an extended west coast trip and it would be too expensive to just take a couple of weeks to drive to the wedding and back. If we were full timers already, we may have taken a different approach, I’m not sure. I will discuss in a later post what we do if we have an event, a medical appointment, or an emergency and we are somewhere a long way away from where we need to be. For this post I will focus on our cross country trip without our mobile living quarters that we have become so used to.
Now that we have the RV, we haven’t flown much which is OK with me based on all the talk about long lines at security and close seating on always full planes. As a result, I wasn’t looking forward to making a 6000 mile round trip by air. We departed on Wednesday, May 18th from Jacksonville at 8:25 AM which meant we had to leave the house in Georgia by 5:15 AM to make sure we wouldn’t have to rush. I dropped Liz and the luggage off at curbside check in and then had to park the car in one of the long term lots and then go back to the terminal. Liz was still having problems with her knee and couldn’t walk too fast (surgery scheduled on our return) so we allowed extra time for that too.
As it turns out we had TSA Pre Check which put us in a shorter line at security – always a good thing. Well the Pre Check coupled with our early flight made for a trouble free quick trip through security.
Liz also did “Early Bird” check in when she purchased the tickets at Southwest Airlines so that meant we were assured boarding in the “A” line and consequently a pretty good seat on the aircraft. This all reduces my stress level, but I do have to say that I much prefer travel in the RV, and if I could, I would never get on an airplane again.
The trip to Denver and the connection on to Portland was for the most part uneventful. Both were full flight and those seats seem to get closer each time I fly. I’m sure I’m not getting any bigger : – ) Once we got to Portland we had a rental car booked through Southwest with Payless. I had never used them before, but thought if it was through Southwest it would be OK. The signage to get to the rental car area was confusing and involved several levels of the airport. We finally worked our way to the outside curb island to wait for a shuttle that never seemed to come. We watched Avis, Hertz, National, Enterprise, Dollar, etc. come and go, but not Payless. We waited well over a half hour for the shuttle and still nothing. After traveling for over 7 hours and being up since 4 AM, my patience was wearing thin. I checked our confirmation email and there was no phone number and they had no desk at the main terminal. Liz, knowing I was at my wits end, found a number and called. She got a recording. Now I’m ready to go rent another car, but I know if I do that I will have a mess trying to get a refund and I probably would pay twice the amount for another one at this point – so I wait. Liz then calls the 800 number and gets a sympathetic person who says that they will contact the Portland office and let them know we are waiting. Finally, after a total of about 45 minutes the guy shows up in a van. He was very nice so it was hard to get mad at him and he explained that he is the only transport and he had to go off property for fuel. Not much we could do at that point, but if you are considering a car rental you may want to consider what we went through before using Payless.
The Portland area is always a treat for us when we visit. You can count on seeing artistic expression like the the face that tops the newel post at the Hotel Oregon pictured above. It is certainly different culturally from where we live in Georgia and even a lot of the east coast. We thoroughly enjoy the multitude of coffee shops and small restaurants both in Portland and the surrounding area. We tried numerous ones in the McMinnville area where we stayed and were never disappointed. The prices aren’t cheap though and it seemed we paid $12 or more a piece for lunch before drinks on average.
The one thing we discovered new this year were the many vineyards located in Northwest Oregon and the McMinnville area. I knew that there were Vineyards in this part of Oregon, but didn’t realize how many there actually are. Pinot Noir seems to be the grape of choice as the climate is perfect for growing them. The wedding we attended was at Maysara Winery which is spread over 500 acres with 300 acres being actual vineyards. We lacked time to tour any of them this trip, but hope to do that next time we come back to the area.
I don’t want to bore you with all the details of the wedding, but I will say it was nice to get together with family and friends that we don’t get to see that often and the wedding was a really nice affair at a beautiful venue. I will share a few more photos of the wedding and our time in McMinnville below.
Our trip home was not without a little drama. The Payless van was only a 5 minute wait for the return trip to the airport and we had TSA Pre Check again so we breezed through security. However, we were on the runway ready to take off and all of a sudden the pilot pulled back on to the taxi way. Well he said the “check engine” light came on! I hate that light cause I never know what it really means. Well, I guess the pilot didn’t either so we went back to the gate. Of course, I rather he does that than ignore it!!! Anyway the good news is that we didn’t have to change planes as they fixed the problem, but it did take an hour. We were expecting a late arrival in Jacksonville and now it ended up being even later. Well we finally arrived home at 1:30 AM Monday morning. We were exhausted, but full of many memories from our latest adventure.
P.S. Liz had surgery on her knee on Tuesday after we arrived home. The doctor repaired two tears in her meniscus and she is doing fine. She was off the crutches after just one day and the stitches are out now and she is walking pain free again!