Ndjerareou Journey

Portland Retreat for Busy Mama’s

Early on, Nate and I discovered that unforgettable experiences make great gifts.  Currently, we’re knee-deep in family life and so this often involves picnics on the porch, friends around our table or simply exploring our corner of the world. It also means we don’t always get to travel together. I embrace the challenge of traveling as a family but it is an extra special adventure to take a break from soccer practice, pre-school lunches, carpool and the grocery store to get dropped off at the airport by myself!   Recently, we both admitted the realities of life were getting overwhelming and our tanks were running empty. So my husband cashed in our frequent flyer miles and we each picked out a different solo-trip created around decompressing and inspiration.

Portland’s an excellent retreat for busy mama’s for several reasons.

1.) Pack your play clothes. Stay in your active wear. Seriously, the easiest trip I’ve ever packed for.  I’m typically in work out clothes or a cute outfit that revolves around some kind of trendy running shoe. Thank heavens for Converse!  One tip I got for Portland–bring a rain coat with a hood. Hiking, exploring, doing yoga. The dress code is serious about relaxation, warmth and doing anything but stressing about your outfit.

While you’re in town try Hot-Flow Yoga and linger a little while in downtown Camas. 

2.) Epic Scenery. It’s so easy to get off the beaten and let the vistas bring you back to a place of wonder. Whether you want to stand and admire the view from Colombia River Gorge Crown Point Vista House while exploring from your car. Or a simple hike to Bridal Veil Falls or Beacon Rock to get the blood pumping.  The beauty of nature is guaranteed to sweep you away.

If you’re a Goonies fan or  have a friend who’s willing to pretend you’re still kids. Head out to Cannon Beach on the coast. About 90 minutes west of Portland.  The ocean is always restorative to the soul.   Stop at get a scone at the Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters. Park next door in the public parking and put on your heavy duty play-clothes for beach combing until you’re starving and then stop in a Mo’s for their famous Clam Chowder.  Mama tip-if you happen to bring a bag of sand back with you in your suitcase TSA might need to do some extra screening. 

3.) Come for the food, stay for the wine/beer. Portland is a hub of great food.  (Don’t believe me ask my friend and world class foodie the Food Bitch for her top places to eat in Portland.) After a day of hiking we headed over to Alberta Street in Portland and tumbled in to the Tin Shed drooling with hunger. Try the Salm I Am scramble with smoked salmon capers. Don’t miss their homemade biscuits and jam or rosemary gravy. Speaking of rosemary, locals will help you find the nearest Burgerville and let you know if their Rosemary fries are in season. This is fast food Portland style.

While you’re on vacation and enjoying carbs stop by St. Honore Boulangerie  for a Hazelnut chocolate croissant, grab a baguette to go and head out to Three Brother’s Winery.

4.) Wander, explore, shop. Portland is special for slowing down. It might be the weather, the book stores, or the fact that you don’t have kids in tow. But there are tons of places to explore that are filled with breakables or kid friendly.  Grab the kids and stroll through the Vancouver Farmers Market .  Kid free? Wander over to The French Door where you’ll find everything from a vintage piece of blue china, a Parisian Street sign or a dining table for a great price then head next door to the Urban Barnhouse  In Portland proper, lose yourself in Powell’s Books after a stop at the Portland Farmer’s Market.

While at the market pick up fixings for Vietnamese Salad  to go with my favorite Asian Pork Roast.

5.) Everywhere you look there’s a place serving great coffee! Busy mama’s run on coffee and excellent coffee feeds the soul. Grab a latte at Compass Coffee Roasting and take along walk through Fort Vancouver or check out the Vancouver Library for excellent architecture and great views.  In Portland, check out Stumptown Coffee or Floyd’s Coffee Old Town both are walking distance to Voodoo Donuts. Mama tip-bring cash if you’ve got a donut craving, Voodoo doesn’t take cards.

While you wait at the airport grab a Blue Star Donut before you go through security or have a seat and enjoy an epic reuben sandwich at Kenny & Zuke’s 

Thankfully by the time I reached the airport I felt recharged and ready to head home. I missed my people.

Until next time Portland!

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  • Ndjerareou Journey

    Portland Retreat for Busy Mama’s

    Early on, Nate and I discovered that unforgettable experiences make great gifts.  Currently, we’re knee-deep in family life and so this ...
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2 Comments


  1. Connie Armerding

    May 11, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    So glad to hear you had a wonderful visit to Portland. Next time you come out this way let’s connect!

    Reply

    • Sarah Kay

      May 16, 2017 at 6:30 pm

      Thank you Connie! I do hope our paths cross soon. Until then keep writing, I love what’s coming out of your pen.

      Reply

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The child of missionary parents, writing became a natural was to process my adventures across the world.

Ndjerareou means 'he who builds the road in Ngambai, Nate's tribal language spoken in Chad, Africa.

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  • After 25 years, my husband returned to the site of his first solo adventure in France. This wonderful family invited him in as a teenager and a family friend to be immersed in French. 
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The Pont Du Gard is a Roman aqueduct built in 1st century AD to carry water 31 miles from a spring in Uzes to the Roman colony at Nimes. 
It's engineering is an obvious marvel, part of the wonder is simply that it's still standing. What fascinates me is how many of the rectangular, honeycomb, yellow, limestone, bricks have made it in to the ancient churches and homes all around us. Locals proudly show you the parts of the Pont that have been recycled by their ancient ancestors. Once you know what to look for you notice how many of the foundations of these local villages are built out of the building blocks of their one time conquerors.  Creative destruction at its best? .
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  • Nate travels light, especially with vacation expectations. People watching on a patio, a slow day at the beach, watching his children giggle and experience the world.  It's about all he asks for-- this year he wondered out loud if we could catch part of the Tour De France. Thanks @katetravels2 for the great setup.  A beach & the tour! A match made in heaven for family travel. 
The kids stamina has really increased, they hiked a couple of kilometers in Marseille and enjoyed watching the bikes but they also loved giving daddy an experience after receiving so many great ones in return. For Christmas years ago, Nate took Sophia (three at the time) through the Musee D'Orsay so I could linger and enjoy the Monet's,  Mattise and Renoir's. 
One of my favorite parts of family travel is when we're able to give the gift of delight to each other. We will all walk a bit longer, look a bit harder, wait in the heat just so this person can have that smile, the story they'll never forget. It's not every day and it can be as simple as waiting up for the bumper cars or hunting for endives in the market. It's a language of love that we're discovering together.

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  • So we wander into our villages festival. We've been invited warmly and hear they have a running of the bulls night.  We were not prepared. . . Nothing bonds you to the French people like a bull charging your piece of fence. We had mother's holding onto our kids belt loops pulling them away from the bull,  we even have a coffee date set up with a local family after a night of thrills with the bulls. Here's to new friends and epic adventures!  P.S. I had no idea bulls actually stomped their foot that way! Toro bull! (Watch till the end) 
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  • Had a wonderful evening of tabling, serving with and worshiping alongside these sweet people. It's always priceless to me when our paths can cross and people you've had in your home open their lives, work and hearts to you for a moment. Thank you ladies,  @epolglase @katetravels2 for the special role you play in this place. What a privilege it is to see you thriving in your calling. 
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