The morning sun fills my room when I open the curtains at 7:50 am. I am getting acclimated to Pacific Time and waking at a time closer to my norm. I decide we need some real coffee this morning, not the stuff you make in the diminutive coffee pot they have placed in the room. It is the only part of the Homewood Suites that is less than satisfactory. I mean, if two or four people are staying in this suite how are you supposed to manage with a coffee pot that only make two cups?
I let Mary sleep in and fetch two BIG cups of coffee from the bottomless pot in the lobby. I also bring back the local paper, The Oregonian and read it cover to cover. Mary rises around 9:00, too late to get the free breakfast, and we decide to pack up and leave around 11:00.
Returning to Mary’s apartment, I spend the several hours doing laundry and watching the SpongeBob Squarepants Movie – first time for me, second for Mary. It is very silly and we laugh openly, most of the jokes would go over the head of a young child.
At 3:30 pm, Mary announces it’s time to leave. Sadly, we pack up the remaining pieces of my detritus stuffing everything into one of the three bags I am carrying.
We drive to Downtown Portland taking the scenic route over the mountain that Mary takes to work. This circuitous route takes us through a delightful park and winds through some hairy turns that would be a real challenge in bad weather. We soon descend into a series of pretty, affluent neighborhoods in Northwest Portland, past fancy restaurants and eventually to our destination, Union Station.
I am hoping to have some time to soak in the final minutes in Portland, but time is now moving too fast. I take some last minute photos of the station – a grand lady with a feel of the Old West and a fitting terminus for a train called The Empire Builder. I will have to research more information about Union Station when I get access on-line again. And I want to come back here and spend more time soaking in its history and warmth.
We go to the Metropolitan Lounge, the special area for those traveling First Class in the sleepers. The attendant announces that the train will boarding in a few minutes and I ask if there is time to buy some souvenirs in gift shop. Time is now in hyper speed and I am tense with the fear of missing the train even though I know I have 30 minutes left.
We drop the bags and then go to the gift shop for some final mementoes of Portland and Oregon; gifts for my neighbors who have been caring for my plants and a final present for Mary.
A few more photos, hugs and kisses and waves; I make the walk around to the train and look back one more time.
The Empire Builder leaves exactly on time. I am again in the last car although this time on the lower deck. I ask Carl, our attendant if it is okay to stand by the back window and take some photos as we leave the station. He says it is fine and I once again take my perch at the second best seat on the train.
I run the video on the camera and capture the scene of Portland as it is disappearing in the view finder. As we start to cross the Willamette River my cell phone rings and it’s Mary. She is already home and we are both sad that our time together was all gone. She wants me to come back at Christmas; indeed she would like me to move permanently to Portland; an interesting proposition.
We make some small talk and I describe the ride as we continue across the Columbia into Vancouver. We say good bye again and I promise to call her again tomorrow. I’m very sad.