Friday, August 21, 2009

We arrived in Portland yesterday afternoon after one of he most trouble-free cross-country trips I've ever experienced. Both planes took off on time and landed early, our change being in Chicago, blessedly at Midway and not O'Hare. Traffic out of the airport at 4:20pm was just about like it would be in any major urban area. But we got down to Salem by 6:15, checked into our motel and walked the two or so blocks to my daughter and son-in-law's house in a charming area filled with arts and crafts cottages and bunglows, gardens and quiet streets.

And then I met Sasha Julia, my very lovely granddaughter who has no fear of being confronted by new people as long as they know how to hold a baby and give a bottle. My son in law's parents were there for their last night before going home to Philadelphia so we got to see them again after far too many years, and we all went out to dinner at a great little bistro in the neighborhood. Sasha slept through all of that in her little carrier cradle. We finally got back to the motel at the equivalent of 1am east coast time but we made it through the evening, slept in a bit this morning and then set out to explore Salem, Oregon.

It's the state capital but not it's largest city and is, in fact, a fairly quiet place. Within three blocks of the motel is the Capitol Building on one side of our street, and the beginning of the Willamette University campus, where my son-in-law teaches, on the other. We decided to explore the campus which is quite beautiful, the usual mixture of buildings from the last third of the 19th century (it was founded as a Medical School in 1867), the 20s and 30s, then various modern periods. Red brick is the predominant building material, combined in one case with copper facing in a kind of board and batt configuration that is striking if somehow not particularly handsome. Maybe when the copper gets its green patina--or maybe not.

The very first building we encountered was this reproduction French baroque hall, the great sconces dramatic but just out of scale for the building as a whole. It turned out to be the showiest building on campus, which is low key and handsomely landscaped.

This circular grouping of giant sequoias was planted by an alumni group in 1942 but has obviously grown fast, towering over everything else.

We walked inside the circle and all I could think of was what a lovely setting the space inside the giant trunks would be for a wedding or other affair.

Next to the Library runs the very fast moving stream that had already rushed through the lumber and woolen mills on which the city's original economy had been built.

The mill buildings, adjoined by the original wooden frame houses and
Meeting House of the Methodist founders of Salem (one of them the oldest surviving framed building in the state) are now a museum complex.

The University has a fine botanical garden for quiet study and just plain enjoyment.

We love purple foliage as an accent in a garden and have some of it in our own back home.

We're off now to their house where I think some new pictures pictures of the baby will be taken that should be ready to post here tomorrow.

Beautiful photos! Glad your flights were trouble-free and on time. Enjoy.
You've done a nice job of bringing some prettiness to Salem....I've never seen it in quite your artistic or perfect way! See you today!!
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