Last Friday morning I rose around 5:00 am, dressed, loaded my suitcase in the car and hit the highway for the 3-hour drive from my house to the airport in Albuquerque. I was spending the weekend with my daughter in Portland, Oregon. She is getting married in July, so we had a day of dress shopping planned.

I left, fully prepared for a full day of travel. I had Nora Roberts loaded on my Audible app and a book written by my friend, Addison Carmichael, on my Kindle. I had my iPad with me so I could do a little work on my own book, writing a few scenes I had in my head that would be included later in the story. I had snacks in my purse and excitement in my heart. I was going to see my girl!

Nora kept me entertained during my drive, and the three hours flew by. Before I knew it, I was on the plane and on my way. I had a plane change in Oakland – just long enough to find my gate and grab a sandwich, then I was back in the air. 

We landed in PDX right on time, and I made my way out of the secured area to find my Jenny, future son-in-law, Will, and my four brand spanking new grandchildren waiting for me. Ten year old Chloe, who does not suffer from shyness, was the first to hug me, with Jenny close behind. Then, I was engulfed in so many arms it was like an overly friendly octopus had been let loose in the Portland Airport.

With the hellos and hugs done, the McEvoys loaded me into the car and drove just down the road to the Embassy Suites, where I would be staying. They all accompanied me as I got checked in – Owen and Chloe killed the time watching the fish swimming in the lobby pond – then we all rode the elevator to the top floor and found my room. Jenny and Lissa, my oldest granddaughter, left immediately to pick up a friend of Lissa’s at the nearby Max station. Bella, the second oldest, settled onto the sofa and found a movie to watch while Chloe and Owen, the two youngest, cavorted around the room while Will continually reminded them to keep their voices down.

Jenny and Lissa were back within minutes with Alex, Lissa’s bestie. It was then that the activity level got turned up to eleven. They all found whatever private space they could squeeze into to change into swim suits. See, originally, I had booked a room across the street at the Hampton Inn. The Hampton Inn has an outdoor pool. Outdoor pool and February in Portland = unhappy grandchildren. Rookie grandma mistake!! So, I had righted the wrong, booked a hotel with a toasty warm indoor pool and now just sat back while the chaos reigned in my suite. 

I went downstairs and pulled up a chair, relaxing from my long day while the grandkids swam. I was tired, but content, and had a chance to catch up with Jenny. Living so far apart, we talk often but don’t see each other nearly as much as I would like, so I reveled in the time with my child. Soon, the subject of food was brought up – swimming is hungry business – so they all trooped back up to the room to dress. We decided on Red Robin at nearby Cascade Station, so we piled into the car and drove the short distance to the restaurant. It was snowing by this time, and the wind was icy cold, so I did the logical thing and ordered a root beer float. I followed up with some sweet potato fries and called it dinner.

The family dropped me back at the hotel and off to bed I went, full of ice cream and fries. I set my alarm for 5:00 am because Jenny and I had business to see to first thing in the morning. Then, it was lights out.

I woke the next morning to find Portland covered in a deep blanket of snow. From my window I could see the traffic creeping by on the icy streets and worried that Jenny would have trouble driving on the dangerous roads. However, she arrived right on time in front of the hotel to pick me up. We were going to an event called “Brides for a Cause” which collects donated wedding dresses from local bridal shops and some from former brides and sells them, giving the proceeds to various charities. Every dress is sold for $150.00. We thought it was worth checking out. 

After a quick stop for coffee, we made our way across town with Jenny trying to avoid routes that would involve hills. She’s an excellent driver, even in such nasty weather, and we arrived without a hitch, found a parking space and joined a long line of future brides and their entourages, all braving the bitter cold in hopes of finding the perfect dress. I had not packed adequately for the Portland Snowpocalypse, so Jenny had lent me not one, but two coats that I layered on to my sweatshirt, and still I shivered and stamped my feet, trying to keep my circulation going. I’m not lying, people, it was COLD! I might have complained – just a tiny bit – but my Jenny just patted me on the back and smiled. She knows me. 

Then, a cheer went up from the crowd. They were opening the doors! We were going in! There would be heat inside, and my cheeks would thaw out. Hooray! But, no. They were letting people in about 20 at a time. I was disappointed but I supposed it was only fair. They had been out there freezing much longer than I had, so I tried to be happy for them. We were in the fourth group to be guided inside, and my relief was intense – for a minute. 

Let me describe for you the scene we walked into. Dresses were hung according to size on long racks throughout an enormous room. Women were riffling through the racks, bumping into each other, and rushing into a sectioned off back area with dresses slung over their arms where they stripped off their clothes right there in front of God and a room full of strangers. Clouds of white fabric and shrill female voices filled the space. But, we were on a mission, so we waded into the mayhem. 

I soon discovered that the most dangerous area in the entire building was the return rack. Jenny had picked out three dresses and joined the throng of semi-naked women to try them on, rejecting them one after the other. I was there in the role of assistant, so it was my job to take them back to the main room after she had tried them on. As I approached the return rack, I was suddenly surrounded on all sides, with hands grasping the dresses I carried, people trying to get a look at the sizes and styles before I was even able to rehang them. I gave them up and ran. 

Just when we thought we were wasting our time with this whole thing, Jenny pulled a simple off-white, lace dress from the rack that we had missed before. On the hanger, it didn’t look like much, but we decided she should try it on anyway. And, there it was. Her dress. She looked absolutely beautiful, and it fit just right. Mission accomplished, so I took it to the cashier while Jenny dressed, then we got the heck out of there!

Whenever I go to Portland, there is one restaurant that is my very favorite place to eat breakfast. Slappy Cakes! Each table is outfitted with its own griddle and you make your own pancakes. Now, being the mother of 3, I’ve made a lot of pancakes in my day, so you’d think going to a place where I had to cook my own breakfast wouldn’t hold a lot of appeal, but it’s just so quirky and fun, I go back time after time. I knew the kids would love it, so we swung by and picked up the family and headed for the restaurant.

Due to the Snowpocalypse, the restaurant did not have much of a wait, and we were seated at a long table with 2 griddles. We ordered buttermilk, chocolate and peanut butter pancake batter with a variety of fruits and toppings, some potatoes and bacon. I sat next to Owen, who had me make pancakes for him in the shapes of a sword, Mickey Mouse and a chocolate/peanut butter worm. My favorite is buttermilk pancakes with blueberries and lemon curd, and I ate my fill. We weren’t done until all the batter was gone and we were so full we had to waddle back to the car.

Later that afternoon, we left Will and Owen at home, and Jenny, the girls and I made a trip to David’s Bridal. Even though we had found a dress, Jenny had tried on two other dresses there that I wanted to see, and the girls wanted to try on dresses as well. Chloe immediately found a fluffy pink dress with miles of tulle that she wanted to put on. She came out of the dressing room looking like a frosted pink cupcake, and spent the next half hour twirling in front of the mirror. Bella and Lissa both found dresses they liked, Bella’s was black and Lissa’s was pink and black. The color coordination with Chloe’s dress worked pretty well and the style of each dress suited each girl perfectly. Jenny tried on the two dresses she had found earlier, but neither of them had the magic of the dress we had bought that morning. We left the store feeling good about our decision.

Jenny and Will had planned to take me to an outdoor festival of lights that night, but with the snow and the cold, we opted to take the kids to a movie instead. Bella suggested “Spiderman – Into the Spiderverse”, and since nobody had any better ideas, that was what we saw. I love superhero movies, I see all of them, but this was animated, so I wasn’t sure if I would like it. It turned out to be a really entertaining two hours in the warm theater lying back in my reclining seat with popcorn and a soda. It was a very relaxing way to end our day.

We had thought we would find someplace for dinner after the movie, but we were all so stuffed with popcorn we decided to skip it. We were reluctant to let the day end, I would be leaving early the next morning, but everyone was tired from all the activity so they drove me back to my hotel. Saying goodbye is always hard. I hugged Will and the kids, and Jenny walked me to the hotel entrance. We hugged and cried, not wanting to let go, but finally, we had to and I watched them drive away. I went up to my room where I took a hot shower and collapsed into bed. 

I was so happy to have been able to be there when my daughter picked out her wedding dress, and I’ll be there in a few months, to watch her marry the man she loves. I left Portland the next day feeling so blessed!