In July, my brother and I embarked on another one of our BroGo trips—Brothers Going on a trip together. But as it turned out, it was one that almost did not happen.
Less than a week before our scheduled flights, my brother injured his back and over the next few days got progressively worse, to the point at which he could barely get around. Fortunately a trip to his doctor two days before our departure and some medication helped him get enough relief that he thought he could go. For me, my late in the day flight was canceled while I was sitting on the plane due to mechanical issues and I had to scramble to get an alternate flight (which is almost impossible since planes are so full today). So rather than meeting at the airport at the time when both are flights were scheduled to arrive, I eventually got to our hotel room after midnight (which for me was after 2 AM due to the time change). Even a three-hour time change for my brother who was not in 100% health, did not keep him from graciously waiting up for me. What brotherly love!
Here we are at breakfast for the first day of our adventure glad that we could both actually be there. For this trip, we selected Portland, Oregon as our destination for several reasons.
First, I have wanted to see the Spruce Goose ever since I read this book about it. It originally was on display in a special pavilion in Long Beach, CA but I found out it had been relocated to a museum in Oregon. When I researched it further, I learned it was relocated to McMinnville, OR, a city just about 35 miles from Portland.
Second, for sometime now, I have also wanted to go explore the craft beer industry in Portland. Being an avid beer lover and in particular being fond of IPAs (India Pale Ales), Oregon in general and Portland in particular has one of the largest concentrations of craft breweries in the US, being one of the pioneering states where craft brewing all began back in the 1980s. And Portland seemed like it would give me a cool break from the record hot temperature Memphis had been experiencing (turned out not to be as they were experiencing their hottest weather of the year).
Third, my brother had been to Portland over 10 years ago and he wanted to go back. And having recently retired, he also wanted to take a celebratory trip. So all three reasons together made Portland the perfect spot.
Never before in my experience had so much planning gone into drinking beer. My brother did an excellent job of researching the best breweries, the best brewpubs and the best brewpubs for food as well to come up with a three-page itinerary that also interspersed fun activities (we couldn’t just drink beer). He narrowed the list of potential brewpubs down to 16. This was not an easy undertaking considering there are 275 microbreweries in the state of Oregon with 105 in Portland alone (as of November 2017). Our informal goal was to visit at least three brewpubs each day over the five days we had for our trip; we even considered a beer breakfast our last day to make sure we met that goal but in the end chose not to. Considering that Memphis has only six microbreweries and one brewpub, we would outdistance my hometown in just a couple of days.
Thanks to my brother’s organizational skills, he established five themed days for our trip, the first day being our “Flight Day.”
Not long after breakfast, we picked up our rental car and headed southwest to McMinnville, site of the Evergreen Air and Space Museum (easily recognizable by the 747 turned water slide parked on top of the building) and home of the Spruce Goose, the huge, all wooden plane built by Howard Hughes and his company during World War II.
We arrived in town just in time for lunch at our first brewpub, the Grain Station Brew Works. This afforded my brother the opportunity to have a “beer flight” before we took off to the flight museum.
After excellent beers and lunch, we headed over to our main attraction, arriving at about 1:00 PM. We stayed there until they closed at 5:00 PM and still didn’t get to see everything. But we definitely got to see what drew me there in the first place—the Spruce Goose.
Amazingly, you are allowed to touch this 70+ year-old plane…
…and when you thump it, you can tell the airframe is made of wood.
We quickly learned it was impossible to get a photo of the entire plane and so my brother took a panoramic shot to try to get it all.
From inside the cargo hold, you can get a perspective of the massiveness of this 320 ft. wingspan, 218 ft. long, 8-engined behemoth (its wingspan is larger than a 747 or A380).
Thanks to my brother’s wise insistence after touring inside, we opted for the more costly behind the scenes tour that let the two of us with a guide behind the glass partition and included access to the flight deck (definitely do this if you go).
The thrill for me was to get to sit in Howard Hughes’s pilot seat…
…the only pilot to have ever flown this enormous bird (my brother got to sit there too).
It was an exciting day, made all the better by the many other aircraft on display at the museum. While it was sad to leave the museum as it was closing, it was tempered knowing that we would soon land for another “beer flight” at the Golden Valley Brewery and Pub before heading back to Portland…
…where we had additional excellent beer samples graciously provided by a very friendly wait staff.
On our drive back to Portland, we reflected on the fun day we had had and all the great beer we had tasted and drank. We estimated (although we lost count) that we had tasted about 20 beers that first day, not a bad start. After checking into our VRBO rental, we ventured out for a late dinner at our third brewpub of the day and at least one more beer.
To Be Continued…