My Trip to Portland

Today I have come back home after a trip to Portland, Oregon.  I was in Portland to attend the National Library of Medicine Informatics Training Conference.  The National Libray of Medicine provides funding for 18 educational institutions in the U.S., who in turn fund students to pursue education and research in informatics (bioinformatics, clinical informatics, public health informatics, imaging informatics, library informatics and more).   My institution, Vanderbilt University, is one of the schools that receives the fundings and it is through this program that I am able to pursue my MPH degree.   Once a year, the NLM brings together all the trainees for an annual meeting as an opportunity to get to meet one another and become aware of the various research and projects being undertaken.  Our hosts for the meeting was Oregon Health &  Science University (OHSU)  in Portland.

After two very full Southwest flights to get there, I arrived in Portland Monday evening.  I stayed at the Hilton downtown, which offered great accommodations.  I was quite tired so ended up ordering room service rather than venture out anywhere.   From my hotel room, I had a good view of one of the hillsides in the area.

On Tuesday, our meeting activities started bright and early, with buses at the hotel to take us to the OHSU campus at 6am.  The OHSU campus has a prime location – they sit at the top of Marquam Hill, which offers a stunning view of the city of Portland.  I was not able to find a recent picture that I felt showed the height of the campus well enough with all of its extensive development now, but here is an image from the OHSU Library Digital Archives of the campus in the 1920s.  From this, you can clearly see their positioning at the top of the hill.

After a good morning session of presentations and posters (I’ll post later about them), it was time for lunch.  Our visit to the campus happened to coincide with the campus Farmer’s Market.  Vanderbilt has a Farmer’s Market too, but theirs was more extensive – they had many tables set up with items ranging from fruits, veggies, bbq, gifts, candy even!

They also had performers playing live music.  It was lovely, and we all ate lunch out on one of the campus lawns. This was the view from where I was sitting, on the steps of MacKenzie Hall.

After lunch, there were more sessions. To leave the OHSU campus, I took the Aerial Tram – this was definitely a major highlight of the trip! The tram goes back and forth from the top of the hill down to the bottom, where I took the streetcar back to the hotel. The views from the top were absolutely stunning. From there, you can also see the omnipresent Mt. Hood off in the distance.

Of course, my photos don’t even do it justice. As we rode down the tram, Mt. St. Helens also comes into view. Can you imagine that? All that scenery, plus two mountain off in the distance? Gorgeous!

That evening, I went out to dinner with my friend Aimee. We went to Library school together and she is a teen librarian in the area now. We have not seen each other in 7 years, so of course it was good to see her! We ate Mexican and then afterwards she took me to Voodoo Donut, a Portland tradition – a place known for its outrageous donuts.  Tell me, did I really need to eat The Old Dirty Bastard (chocolate, oreos and peanut butter) and the Marshall Mathers donuts?

As Kelli said, these were heart attacks waiting to happen. But, they were good :-)

On Wednesday, there were more conference activities, and after I left I had planned to go back to the hotel for a restful last night.  However, as I was taking the streetcar back (and yes, I took the tram down again), I saw the stop for the Multonomah County Central Library, and it was very near my hotel.  So, I hopped off and had to visit.

And what a great visit it was!  First of all, the library is absolutely gorgeous!  It is the oldest library west of the Mississippi with this particular building erected in 1913. It has had a renovation since then and the interior is gorgeous.  When I walked in, I was immediately taken by the steps of the grand staircase.  They are a deep black with engravings and words etched into them.  The design was created by Larry Kirkland and is called “Garden Stair,” however, I’ve had difficulty finding any good pictures of it online. I knew I should have taken some myself, but my camera battery was dying. I did get a postcard, so I took a picture of the postcard.

I did not make it over to the Children’s section, but there is a big tree there and the room is named for Beverly Cleary, who is from Oregon.  I can’t tell you how many of her Ramona books I read growing up.  I didn’t find this out until I was leaving, but if I’d realized this, I would have looked around there too.

I quickly made my way to the periodicals section as I was there on a mission.  I will post more about that on my genealogy blog.   Free wi-fi access made for a comfortable few hours there before I headed back to my hotel room.

Thursday morning, I overslept so left the hotel in quite the hurry, but I really did enjoy my brief stay.  Mabye next time I’ll get to stay longer.  While I’ve put plenty of pictures in this post, I have more in my photo album.

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