Thursday, June 12, 2014

Exploring Portland

Rose Festival Float


We had heard about the Portland Saturday Market, which is kindof a cross between a Farmers Market and an Art Fair, and thought it would be fun to go see – either on Saturday or Sunday (it runs both days).  When I looked it up online, though, I found out that this weekend was also the Portland Rose Festival and City Fair, and the Grand Floral Parade was Saturday morning.  As is that weren’t enough activity, it was also Fleet Week, and there were a couple of Navy ships in port, and they were open for tours all weekend.

Knowing that the crowds would be especially crazy on Saturday, we decided to wait until Sunday for our visit.  We thought we’d go early, right after mass, and hopefully be able to tour the ships, too.

USS Lake Champlain


On the recommendation of some fellow campers, we took the MAX train from Gresham into the city, where it dropped us off at the waterfront.

The line for the Navy ships was already a mile long, and we were hearing that it was a 2 – 3 hour wait for a tour.  We weren’t sure if we wanted to wait that long, but the boys got a spot in line while Tom and I walked over to see what the Saturday Market was all about.




Portland Saturday Market

We walked through the rows of booths – more of an art fair than a farmers market – and looked around for a while.  There was jewelry, clothes, and pottery – most of your typical Art Fair stuff, as well as a food area.


Tom and I were hungry, so we got some polish food for lunch . . . it was really good!

We offered to trade places with the boys so they could walk around for awhile and get something to eat, but they didn’t want to.




We walked around some more and checked out the local entertainers.

Silver Man

Tom finally got Nicolas to agree to walk around with him, so they talked to several of the Navy guys that were around.  Bryce and I held our spot in line, and we were slowly moving forward.  It started to look like 2 – 3 hours was an under-estimate!

3-1/2 hours later, we finally reached the security check-in booth, and found out that Tom wouldn’t be able to tour the ships because he hadn’t brought his picture ID with him!  Since we’d been waiting so long already, the three of us decided that we would go ahead and take the tour without him. 

So we waited almost another hour . . .

USS Spruance

until finally it was our turn to board the ship.  The USS Spruance is a Destroyer, and only three years old.  It’s the 2nd newest Destroyer in the fleet, and stationed in San Diego, CA.

Our tourguide


We met our tour guide, an Ensign who had just graduated from the US Naval Academy last year.

He took us to the front of the ship, where we saw several of the big guns.

Big Gun

We continued to an upper deck,     Going up

where we saw the storage location for the missiles and torpedoes.

Torpedo Storage


Missile Storage

Machine Guns on each corner

There are also machine guns at every corner of the ship, and this big gun that can shoot REALLY fast.

A VERY powerful gun!

Despite all that firepower, in a small contained space like the riverfront, this ship is a sitting duck, so the Coast Guard is constantly on watch.

Coast Guard patrolling the river

Back on the lower deck, we saw the small boats that are used for special missions – like checking out suspicious ships, bringing sailors into port, or rescuing somebody that falls overboard!

Small boats for special missions

We walked through “the garage” (workout room),

Helicopter on deck

Workout Room



and out on the back deck where a helicopter, “Wolfpack” had landed.


Nick spent some time talking to the Pilot,

Talking to the pilot

and that was the end of our tour.

Touring the ship


It was a nice tour, and we saw lots of cool stuff . . . but we’re not sure it was worth a 4-1/2 hour wait in the hot sun!!






So, what did Tom do while we were on our ship tour?


Touring the floats

Well, he walked around the waterfront, and looked at several of the parade floats that were on display in the park.

Parade Float

Lots of flowers!

Dragon Boat Float

Like the Parade of Roses in Pasadena, these floats are all constructed of flowers – very beautiful!

So, it was a very long day, and in hindsight we probably should have skipped the Navy ship tour (and definitely would have if somebody had told us that photo IDs were needed back when we first got in line!), but it was a nice day and probably our last visit to a big city for this year.

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