Posted by: GeekHiker | September 24, 2007

Oregon Trip Day 6: A Forest of Books

I discovered today another reason that it’s good that I don’t live here: Powell’s City of Books.

Seriously. If I did, I would just have to sign my paycheck over to them and beg to set up a cot in the stacks.

Waking up a bit late again, this morning we started out with breakfast at the hotel.

Whoever came up with the idea of the continental breakfast is a genius. Whoever it was at Comfort Inns that decided to make it decent deserves a medal.

I have to say, Comfort Inn does a damn good continental breakfast: cereal, toast, biscuits and gravy, waffle batter you pour into a cool automatic waffle machine, fruit, coffee, juices; very good way to start the day.

Heading out of the hotel we picked up a couple of day passes for the Tri-Met system and headed on the Max train over to Washington Park.

The station in Washington Park is a trip all of its own. At 260 feet underground, it’s the deepest train station in North America, second deepest in the world.

Even better, along the walls of both platforms is a core sample from the surface down to track level. Laid out on its side, it includes notations on the rock type, what was happening in geologic time, etc.

Inner geology geek: very happy.

Taking the swift, ear-popping ride to the surface (be sure to look for the little sign with the cutaway picture of the elevator shaft), we headed over to the Forest Discovery Center Museum.

Day 06 - Forest Discovery Center

The Forest Discovery Center Museum.

The museum has, admittedly, a bit of a pro-forestry industry slant, but it’s still pretty fascinating. There are stations where you control a virtual logging machine (JaG did better than me on this one) and sit in a chair and play smokejumper, guiding your parachute to the landing zone (I ‘whupped JaG at this one).

Plus, you can look for stuffed animals in a tree.

We took a break out back next to this little fall and pond, which I very much wish was in my backyard.

Day 06 - Forest Discovery Center Fountain

Fountain at the Forest Discovery Center Museum.

Heading back on the train to Pioneer Courthouse Square, we ended up having lunch at the food court at the mall. Forgive our lack of creativity, it was the easiest, cheapest solution.

We then headed to the mecca of bookstores: Powell’s City of Books.

I’m not sure quite what to say about Powell’s. Except that we spent the entire afternoon and into the evening there, quite happily browsing through the stacks.

The place is so large, it even requires it’s own map.

But the most amazing thing is how meticulously it’s organized, more than any chain bookstore I’ve ever seen. Even better: if a book fit into two subject areas (such as both California and Geology), you’d usually find a copy in both.


JaG and I met up for coffee in the middle of our wanderings and sauntered down to the technical bookstore (where JaG made a few purchases that would make any travel partner a bit, uh, nervous).

Near the end, a bit of a comedy of errors ensued trying to find the t-shirt I wanted as a souvenir (I’m not usually big on souvenirs, but the shirts were cool and clothing is practical). I wanted the Park Ranger one one, but after searching the store and failing to find it, I settled on the Fup 19 one.

But at least I got the shirt.

Oh, and Fup? That’s the store cat.

So what did I get? With great restraint, I only got the following (no one who reads this site will be surprised:

  • Uncle Mike’s guide to the Real Oregon Coast by Michael Burgess
  • A Crack in the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester
  • The Map That Changed the World by Simon Winchester
  • The Old Iron Road by David Howard Bain
  • Red-Tails in Love by Marie Winn
  • Audubon Guide to the National Wildlife Refuges – California & Hawaii

I’m so predictable, eh? Heh.

Tired, we wandered around downtown, finally asking a couple of beat cops where they would suggest to eat. We finally settled on the only open place around: a Mexican fast food place.

Jumping on the Portland Streetcar, we headed back to the hotel for a final dip in the hot tub (now even hotter than the past two nights).

Tomorrow: heading for the coast.



  1. You sorta glossed over “you can look for stuffed animals in a tree” and now I’m totally confused.

    Hot tub “now even hotter” – a metaphor? or are you really talking temperature 😉

  2. charlotte – they had a large fake tree and a camera on a post next to it. You could move the camera up and down and zoom in and out to look for the wildlife that were dependent on the trees. Nope, no metaphor, that darn thing was almost scalding by the last night we were there.

  3. Now THAT is a bookstore!

  4. Ruby – Couldn’t agree more. Makes Portland an awfully tempting town, doesn’t it?

  5. Everyone should read Uncle Mike’s Guide.
    If you enjoy sarcasm that is.

  6. […] It was on that trip that I met Just A Girl (starting or, rather, cementing a wonderful friendship), explored Powell’s for the first time, took in a movie at the Baghdad, and even attended a Pirate […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: