The sun peered through the branches of the 200-year-old Ponderosa Pine tree as the bride and bridegroom said "I do."

It was the defining moment in the eighth annual Fallstrom family reunion in Portland, Ore., and surrounding area.

My grandson, Blaine Fallstrom, married Aika Shima in the beautiful setting of the Ainsworth House and Gardens in Oregon City, about 30 minutes from Portland.

It was a perfect setting. The wedding party stood on a platform under the magnificent tree surrounded by lush grass with the texture of a golf putting green.

The weather was perfect. Every aspect was perfect, including the wedding reception in the nearby Fireside Room, especially a prime rib and salmon dinner.

Twenty family members, a record number, enjoyed the wedding and what took place earlier in the week.

Come with me as we explore Portland and the Pacific Coast:

DAY 1: Up at 2:45 a.m. for a drive to Peoria for the United Airlines flight. There's an obligatory change of planes in Denver and a box of popcorn lunch before my daughter, Kristin, and I arrive in the Portland airport and start searching for the rented house at 8217 Foss Ave.

Dinner in the backyard of the north end house is hamburgers, potato salad, watermelon and cantaloupe as we meet Aika's family.

DAY 2: Breakfast is at the Cricket Café with another grandson, Damon, and his wife, Jacinda. I gorge on biscuits and gravy. With Jacinda at the wheel, we head for the coast with the first stop at Tillamook, the site of a huge cheddar cheese factory which has yummy 30-flavor ice cream as a sideline. I wanted to sample 'em all, settled for a dip of mountain huckleberry and a dip of black cherry.

On we go. South to Newport. The target is the Oregon Coast Aquarium, an indoor-outdoor complex with every sort of fish, including an octopus. On the way back to Portland, there's a dinner stop on the beach at Kyllo's in Lincoln City. Tasty red snapper.

It's 10 p.m. before the end of a busy day.

DAY 3: Moving day. Because of the size of our group, four residences are required. I'm in a five-person place near Belmont Avenue. Before the move, a quick breakfast is a fiber bar, three apricots and apricot nectar.

The entire group assembles for lunch, a meatloaf sandwich, at Mother's Bistro and Bar in downtown Portland. And we're all together, except my granddaughter, Sarah, for a pizza party as the sun fades.

DAY 4: Back to the Cricket Café for breakfast, this time for a dish called Bob's Oatmeal, an oversized bowl flavored with brown sugar.

Much of the day is spent touring the Argyle winery in Dundee and a downtown tasting spot called Hip Chicks Do Wine on First Street in Newberg. Lunch is at a French restaurant in Newberg called Recipe, a Neighborhood Kitchen. My entree choice is a ham sandwich on French bread garnished with cornichons, pickled gherkin cucumbers.

The rehearsal dinner is in downtown Oregon City at Weatherford's restaurant. Sirloin steak and french fries.

DAY 5: An entertaining breakfast at Slappy Cakes in Portland, a cook-your-own pancake joint with a griddle in the middle of the table. Ten of us squeeze into a booth designed for four. And the blueberry pancakes stick to the griddle, causing all sorts of consternation. We finally fill up enough to head for Multnomah Falls, 542 feet high, on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge and the No. 1 Portland tourist attraction.

On the way back, a visit to Vista House, an art deco building perched atop a semi-mountain and providing splendid Columbia River photo ops. A hasty lunch is a hamburger and soda as we rush to change clothes and reach the wedding site.

The wedding happens without a glitch, the reception dinner is excellent and the dancing is frantic, including an old geezer or two.

DAY 6: Breakfast again at Slappy Cakes with fewer people and better pancake results. Then comes the long-awaited trek to Powell's Book Shop, the block-long mecca of readers everywhere. I splurge for four books, including three John Sanford titles I needed for my collection. Told to report at a rendezvous location at noon, I report at 11:57 a.m. and wait. My companions are presumably on one of the other four floors. After 35 minutes of waiting, a call comes from my daughter: "Where are you?" I reply that I've been waiting at the main entrance. It turns out there are two main entrances and I'm at the wrong one. Lost again. Only temporarily.

There is time for a return visit to the Voodoo Donut Shop, the scene of Damon Smith's wedding Oct. 31. Looks the same. The line of customers is just as long. The donuts are just as flavorful.

The last assemblage for dinner is at Seasons and Regions, a seafood grill on the Southwest Capitol Highway. Meatloaf is on the menu. Need I say more? And back at headquarters we pose for the annual family photo.

DAY 7: Getaway day. Up at 2:45 a.m. for a hasty breakfast of a croissant and a bowl of cherries before a 6 a.m. flight to Chicago and then to Peoria. At Chicago, a sandwich for lunch. Back in Decatur at 5 p.m. and still functioning on Portland time. All is well.


Bob Fallstrom, Decatur

Kristin Hargrove, Decatur

Erika Smith, Chicago

Damon and Jacinda Smith, Portland, Ore

R.B. and Betsy Fallstrom, Glendale, Mo.

Luke Fallstrom, Glendale

Bryan Fallstrom, Sandy, Utah

Sarah Fallstrom, Chicago

Jerrold and Julie Fallstrom, Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla.

Derek and Alyssa Fallstrom, Chicago

Blaine and Aika Fallstrom, Portland

Erik Fallstrom, Berkeley, Calif.

Russell Discher, Berkeley

Jim and Dianne Spaniol, Decatur

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Load comments