When we flew into Portland, it was sunny, warm, beautiful. Isn’t it always? We got our car at the airport, drove towards downtown, crossing a bridge – I never seem to go across the same one on my way in, but we do get across the river – and arriving at the River Place Hotel.
A few years ago we stayed at the River Place as a splurge, but it quickly became our hotel of choice. It is right on the Willamette River at the south end of McHall Waterfront Park, a public park that runs along the river from the Steel Bridge south for 2 miles to a small marina, which is just south of the Hawthorne Bridge.
The hotel sits just above the marina and a riverfront room gives a wonderful view of the river, boats, four of Portland’s bridges: the Morrison, Hawthorne, Marquam and Ross Island. The hotel anchors the river walk area of restaurants and shops, with a wide walk, scattered with tables and benches. It’s a great place to stroll, ride, sit, relax.
So after we unpack as much as we feel like, we leave the hotel and take a walk. When we come to the River Front Café, the Umpqua Ritual begins. This little café isn’t gourmet, but the sandwiches and omelets are pretty good and you can sit at a table or on a bench and watch the marina and river traffic while you eat. But it’s another aspect of the River Front Café that matters here: the ice cream counter.
You see, at one end of the little café, there is a small ice cream counter: typical, with the glass case, the big containers of ice cream, the flavors listed on the wall. But this isn’t just any ice cream, it’s Umpqua ice cream, at the River Front Café, in Portland.
Umpqua is a brand name, you can buy dairy products of that brand in most markets in Oregon, but – for us at least – there is something special about this ice cream at this place.
So after admiring the scenery and stretching our legs a little this is where we go. A look at the board tells us our favorite flavors are still there. Yes.
We each had a waffle cone of that ice cream to start our stay in the City of Roses: I had my usual, a double scoop of Chocolate Brownie Thunder, Wife had her usual, one scoop of Vanilla Bean and one of Chocolate Brownie Thunder. We walked a ways, sat on a bench and enjoyed the view, the weather, just being there. The walkers and bike riders glided by, the sun shone, the boats on the river buzzed and left temporary white trails on the water, a family of ducks swam past. Beautiful. Very good ice cream. It’s good to be in Portland.
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