Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) in Portland

Hanane’s citizenship ceremony was two days before Thanksgiving and rather than going to Portland and then driving back to Reedsport, we decided to revel in the company of family and friends and enjoy being surrounded by people who overwhelmingly did not vote for a certain spray-tanned hate monger – so we stuck around Portland for a few days. We stayed three nights at the Portland Meadows Best Western – since coming to the states in 2013, we’ve stayed mostly in Best Westerns (follow the link to read about the history and model of this great brand) – for a couple of reasons 1) The standard of quality is largely consistant across properties 2) Each property is individually owned, it is not a big corporate chain – rather a branding and marketing cooperative of hotel properties across the world 3) The value of a stay, breakfast, and amenities is usually quite good. The Portland Meadows property is in North Portland, and while it was a bit farther from things than I’d hoped, it was also remote from traffic, drug problems, the rampant homelessness you find downtown, and the airport – all things I prefer not to put my family next to. Breakfast at the hotel was great, the room was comfortable, and the staff was accommodating. It was a good choice.

After the citizenship ceremony, we grabbed a pizza at the Lucky Labrador Beer Hall with my cousin Amoris, a huge family friendly beer hall with ultra-cheesy delicious pizza and home brewed root beer (plus plenty of adult -beverages and a varied menu and I’ve been told special events on a regular basis) – a super cool, laid back place.

On Day 2 in Portland, we spent nearly the entire day at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry – OMSI for short. We went all in for the ultimate explorer package so we got to see a planetarium show, an Imax movie, explore the exhibits, and take a tour of the Blueback submarine. It made for a full day with the two story outer space explorers exhibit, the gingerbread architecture show, and the regular exhibits plus the extras. For the three of us, the bill including lunch and popcorn came out to right around $100…which was quite a deal. We opted for the Sesame Street planetarium movie – which was safe and fun for Sophia, but probably she could have enjoyed one of the more advanced shows just as much – she’s five but inquisitive and already knew most of what Big Bird and friends taught. We watched the Exploring Space IMAX which was a great introduction to the two floors of space related science exhibits and hands on displays. The Blueback tour was interesting if you are interested in military history or life for military submariners but since none of us were – we could have easily skipped that one – the smell of diesel while comforting to me was overwhelming for both Hanane and Sophia and the tour was only mildly interesting for any of us. We were very happy to see a Dr. Who themed Gingerbread house – Tardis actually- and the rest of the space themed structures were equally impressive. Finally, we didn’t spend nearly enough time just playing with the general science areas and hands on experiments – areas in physics, lasers, design, and more. It was a full day and we left feeling like we got much more than our money’s worth.

That evening, we dined at Imperial – one of the many unique Portland restaurants. My friend Autumn is a server there and had printed special celebratory menus for us to celebrate Hanane’s new citizenship. We feasted like Imperials! While we didn’t try everything on the menu, we asked Autumn to order for us and dined like royalty on a smorgasborg of delights. Imperial was voted Portland’s top restaurant by Willamette Week in 2015.

Inspired by warm and primitive burning campfire, and big open spaces of the Pacific Northwest, Imperial concentrates on healthy and uncomplicated preparations, serving the community by remembering its past and providing a warm, welcoming and generous place to eat.

Chef Vitaly Paley has created a restaurant that captures the essence of Northwest cuisine and eliminates all bitterness from his kale salad…the Brandt Beef Flat Iron melted in the mouth and the Portland Poke was worthy of the name. A fantastic meal in a wonderful environment.

For Thanksgiving we joined old friends in Southeast Portland for a deep fried pickle brined Turkey, delicious sides, snack ham, and great company. And then, after one last night at Portland Meadows, we made the drive back down to our town, which feels very much like it lives in 1965.

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Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook