At Pacific Regent, we are always looking for new ways to push the envelope with outings and events. Once or twice a year we try to really push the envelope and take what we call an “extraordinary outing”. This means that this isn’t something we could do every month, or even every 6 months. In early June, we took a trip with Alki tours to Portland for their annual and beloved Rose Festival! It was only one night but man were we exhausted just from a two-day, one-night trip! We departed by train and took the rail all the way down to Portland from Seattle King Street Station. Directly from the train station in Portland we hopped on one of two charter buses that would be toting us around for the next 36 hours. The tour was large – over 100 people were on our tour alone. The trip sold out so fast back in January that they had to add a second coach!
When we got on the bus, we were immediately chauffeured to a river cruise on the Willamette River. While we were being driven our lovely tour guide, John, gave us some interesting factoids and history about either the city or the location we were heading to. He told us that people very often mispronounce “Willamette” and say “WILL-ah-met” when in fact it’s “will-AM-ette”. There is apparently a shirt you can buy in a bunch of local gift shops that says “It’s Willamette dammit!”
The cruise was nice. The servers sang to us at the start and end of the cruise, we were served a lovely lunch choice of chicken, fish, or beef tips, and had a wonderful time seeing the Rose Festival carnival grounds from the river side. We made friends and explored the ship before hopping back on the bus on the other side of the river and being toted off to our next destination.
It was about a 30 minute drive to the Portland Rose & Japanese Gardens from the river cruise. It’s not an exaggeration when I say we could smell the gardens before we could see them. The scent of the roses was overpowering (but not in a bad way). It didn’t come close to the scent of flowers you can buy in the store… this was otherworldly and magnificent. The clouds had just parted from raining earlier so we got to see the flowers freshly washed by the rain, which probably just enhanced the brilliant colors! I think people kept looking at us because our jaws were just dragging on the floor behind us while we strolled the gardens.
After touring around the gardens and “oohing” and “aahing” at the sights, we were shuffled to the hotel where, after a slight booking mishap, we settled in for the evening. The group of us from Pacific Regent had broken off to do our own thing for dinner – two got dinner together and met up with another for drinks at the hotel bar, while others went to a highly recommended restaurant a few miles away, and then we all got settled in for a good rest before being up at 7:00am the next morning!
The next day we were up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ready to leave at 8:00am for the parade itself. After fighting through some traffic and getting a call that we had left a lone member of the tour group back at the hotel, we finally made it to the parade! We filed into the arena, had front row seats to the very start of the parade, and were there early enough that we got to see the Rose Festival Princesses give their speeches before one was crowned Rose Queen! The parade was an interesting mix of horses, organizations, marching bands (including one from Taiwan), and flower floats. We had a wonderful time watching and listening to the parade in the comfort of a covered and air conditioned arena!
After the parade, we got a quick bite to eat at the nearby mall and then off we went on a 4 hour trip back to Seattle. We don’t get to do trips like this often enough – it was a blast but we were just pooped by the time we got back home! The next day, a few of us ran into each other at the front desk and we laughed about how much one overnight trip takes out of you!
Enjoy the pictures below.