The True Spirit of Christmas

We have had quite a stretch of wintry weather in Portland over the past week.  When the snow started to fall on Wednesday it started an epic traffic jam throughout the city.

I work at a 523 bed hospital on the west side of the city.  There is a range of hills between the hospital and downtown.  There are limited ways up and over those hills – and Wednesday afternoon’s snowfall combined with everyone desperately trying to get home exactly at 3:00 was too much.

Tales of commutes taking 7-8 hours were common.  Just getting off our campus was taking hours since all the streets surrounding the hospital were jammed.  At one point I went to the parking lot and hospital roads with a big bag of treats to keep these poor souls fed.  I handed out over 200 treats to grateful colleagues.

I was helping with logistics of getting critical clinical staff into work or finding a bed for those who were staying the night.  I witnessed how hard our support teams work to make sure our employees, our guests and our patients are taken care of.  In this blog post I have included pictures of some of those amazing people.

When we realized people couldn’t get home – our kitchen staff went to work cooking up pans and pans of macaroni and cheese.  For guests who couldn’t pay – we gladly gave them a free meal.  We shuttled staff and guests to the nearest transit center so they could get a train home.  Our linen team put together overnight packs with sheets, blankets, towels and toiletry items.

This isn’t my first winter storm event while working at the hospital but it goes down as one of the most memorable and the most heart warming.  The spirit of Christmas is alive and well.

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Sense of Place – Astoria, Oregon

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With no destination in mind – but with a firm desire to road trip – I left my last meeting on Friday with only the open road before me.  I had to get home from Dash Point, Washington to Portland.  This is a quarterly trip so I was used to the routine of getting on I-5 south.  Part of me wanted to get home and be a responsible leaf-raking home owner.

For no reason that I can explain, just north of Centralia I veered off the freeway and headed to the coast.  Ironically – the retreat I had been just attending was all about decision making. My head was full of ethical discernments.  This was spontaneous – absolutely no discerning other than seeing a road sign saying “Aberdeen/Raymond” next exit.

Taking all the anticipation out of this road trip tale – I ended up in Astoria, Oregon for 2 days.  Best decision I have made in quite some time – I must have learned something at that retreat.

Some of the highlights:

Early morning photo shooting in Astoria and exploring this wonderful and historic town – founded in 1811!

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Early morning at the Cannery Hotel

Wave watching at Cape Disappointment (not disappointing!!)

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Buoy Beer for dinner

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And finally, there is this little church about 2 miles west of the Astoria Megler bridge on the way to Ilwaco, Washington that I have passed a hundred times.  It’s in the middle of nowhere but is beautiful in its simplicity and isolation.  I have regretted never stopping and learning the story of this church by the sea.  I stopped.

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St. Mary’s Church, McGowan, Washington

History fans (I am one!) should read Peter Stark’s Astoria – recently released in paperback – for a closer look at the early years of Astoria.

Astoria has transformed from river city with an economy and industry (most significantly fish canneries) reliant on the Columbia River – to an artistic corner of Oregon – focused on tourism and the two mainstays of Oregon – beer and coffee.

The Columbia River is still a strong force.  Cargo ships provide entertainment as their huge hulks pass by the waterfront. And the nautical history is never far away – including the Flavel House Museum (George Flavel was the Columbia’s first river pilot back in 1850).  But you are more likely to see Willapa Bay Oysters featured on area menu’s than Columbia River salmon.

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Thanksgiving means never having to say calories

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Betty makes her annual appearance at our Thanksgiving.  She always provides sage advice on all things pie, turkey and gravy related.

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A small turkey makes all the difference and it was good!

 

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Its not Thanksgiving without the Brown n’ Serve rolls.  The rolls were the object of our only mishap… thanks to yours truly.  I took out the rolls without proper hand protection and as the pan was burning my hand – I yelped in pain and the hot tray and rolls went flying!

But Mom made the day with her smile….

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That’s called burying the best part of the day at the bottom of this blog post.  Thanks for scrolling down and celebrating my mom!