The Rose Test Garden. That’s what it says when I looked it up. As usual, before we travel, we would plan where we want to go. Usually, when we travel, it’s either due to attending a class or tagging along for hub’s conferences. And usually, when it’s for conferences, I would plan where I could take the kids while hubs is at his conference.
This time was no different. I was looking for places in Portland to take the kids while hubs is at his conference. However, time-wise, we were limited, because S has Taleem Quran from morning before fajr to lunch time, and I have my recitation class around noon, so in order that everyone could go, we would have to go after lunch time. I don’t particularly like going out past noon time. I like going out in the morning. I’m also hesitant driving in strange places, even though I’ve done that several times, most of the time with the help of GPS, and some other times, without. I don’t know how I mustered up enough courage to do it without the GPS, because by nature, I’m not a willing driver most of the time. Being a passenger accords you several benefits ; sleeping, reading, studying, snapping photos, eating without being fed by your child or spouse. Being a driver restricts you of these benefits. Plus, I am always apprehensive when it comes to driving. If something happens and I’m on my own, without hubs, ahh….may it never happen! That’s all I can say. In fact, that is the only thing that forces me to remember to bring S’ cellphone (since I don’t have one, by choice!) with me when I’m going out by myself.
Anyway, one of the things that keep coming up when I googled for ‘attractions’ in Portland is the Rose Garden. Hubs had mentioned it too, as a recommendation from his friend who used to live in Portland. I told him,
“Err..I don’t think Hmz would like it.”
Well, guess what, we went anyway. I didn’t take the kids out by myself, since it was too much trouble to do so in such a short time (since Hub’s conference finished around 5 pm) and I had a lot of work to do with catching up with missed classes in the weekend, and there was my hifdh and my recitation class. So, hubs just told me to pick him up after his conference and then we would go sightseeing. That was exactly what we did, 2 days in a row’ the first day being visiting the Rose Garden.
I had however done somewhat of an extensive research on the locations of the attractions in Portland because hubs insisted on it so much. To be honest, I wasn’t that keen on seeing anything in Portland after researching it because what I was most keen on was to visit the seaside and other nature-based attractions, and my appetite for city sightseeing had dipped after seeing the wonders Allah’s creations in nature offers. The Rose garden is right next to the Japanese Garden.
Another confession I have :- I hate driving on interstate highways or just any highway for that matter. I’d rather drive through stop lights and stop signs through town and neighborhoods even if it takes me double the time, just because, and here is my reasoning :-
In case the car breaks down, it’s easier to get help than if I’m on the highway.
Of course, hubs, being a man, prefers the highway.
Oh,there is another reason I prefer the neighborhood and town route:- the scenery is nicer and it feels more familiar and less scary (except if you’re driving through some ghetto area that is).
I drove the Portland highways to pick hubs up. What was more, hubs had warned me that the GPS gave the wrong direction and that I need to look at google map to figure out which turn to take as soon as we drove out of the hotel compound. Huh…as if I needed more reason to not want to drive there in the first place! So I did what I usually do when I feel apprehensive about doing something ; I study.
I studied the route in the morning, and by the time we had to leave the room, I had assigned Hmz to sit in the passenger seat next to me, to help direct me where to go. Sorry, feminists, I do trust my son (even though he is younger) more than my daughters in this matter of giving directions. My daughters are like me – bad with directions.
Alhamdulillah, with Allah’s help (you can imagine my silent pleas to Allah while driving for Him to not make me get lost or get in an accident and for me to arrive where I was supposed to arrive without making a fool of myself), I maneuvered the highway drive and the quick-switch lanes that exited to crazy confusing bridges that led us right to the middle of downtown with a hotel that always had this valet service blocking the left lane (which I don’t really mind because it gave me time to sit in traffic while the kids call hubs to tell him we were a few minutes away and that he had better come out because I couldn’t wait on the street and if I were to drive around I’d probably get lost or run into a cyclist or dent someone’s car… and oh just be be there!) and right to The Benson Hotel which was ‘adorned’ by top-hat wearing bellboys who would look at us and nod respectfully and let us sit by the curb when hubs didn’t come out when we arrived. I felt the need to keep looking at the direction of the hotel entrance and sides to show him that I didn’t intend to reside at the curb, especially since there was a sign that said something like you’re not allowed to park there for more than 15 minutes.
When Hubs was arranging for us to tag along on his conference trip, he asked me if it’s ok if he gets another hotel which is further away from the conference hotel. Reason – the conference hotel is not kid friendly. I realized why as we waited for him at the curb of THE BENSON. It was one of those hotels that are right in the belly of downtown! It was unlike any of the other hotels hubs usually has his conferences at ; hotels that are resorts or that are wider than they are tall. No wonder this hotel is not kid-friendly! It reminded me of those hotels in Kuala Lumpur that are right in its downtown, surrounded by so many other high rises and buildings and grows upwards rather than sideways. That kind of area is also teeming with different kinds of people I prefer not to have my kids around anyway. Nuff said.
As soon as hubs came, I gladly handed over the wheels to him, and relished being a passenger once again. So, this was our first time driving through Portland. We actually passed by a home for the mentally ill, and only realized it when we noticed man probably in his 40s or 50s sitting outside a building, holding a baby, or what seemed to be a baby. When I saw him, I thought to myself,
“That’s strange. You don’t usually see a man that old holding a baby in his arms.”
When we looked closer, we realized that the baby was actually a doll! He was holding it as if it’s his baby! For a while, we wondered why, but we then realized that he was standing outside the home for the mentally ill. What convinced us was the sight of an old lady sitting on a chair with her hands wildly flailing and no one was sitting next to her. Subhanallah. What went through my mind at the sight of the man with the baby,
“Subhanallah…what must have happened to him in his life such as to leave him such traumatic memories. Did he lose a child in a horrible tragedy?”
It was a disturbing reality that some people face in this life, subhanallah. Subhanallah…as I voiced this thought out loud, we all grew quiet as we drove by that building. May Allah protect us from such calamities and make us of the shaakireen. Ameen!
On the street that the Rose and Japanese Gardens are on, we drove by some beautiful houses with beautiful gardens, kind of like a preview of the gardens we were going to visit. Subhanallah, the people living on that street had their own Rose and Japanese gardens in their yards! It was drizzling though. It was funny, and I also noticed this when Hm remarked,
“The side of Portland where our hotel was was sunny, and here it’s rainy.”
When we looked at the sky, you could see this manifested by the light blue sky in the far distance and light grey clouds in our vicinity. Subhaanallah.
There was a bicycle race or marathon going on such that the entrance to the Rose Garden was blocked. So we just parked at the Japanese Garden parking lot. We didn’t really know where to go, and hubs kept asking me,
‘So where are we going first?”
“I don’t know. Why did you want to go to the Rose Garden anyway? The kids don’t want to wander around in a garden, especially Hmz!”
But, since were already there, we decided to go to the Japanese Garden first. Seriously, if it was just me, and the girls, yes I would have enjoyed going to these gardens, but I knew Hmz, being a 13 year old boy, doesn’t have any patience with gardens of all things. And I was honestly surprised that hubs wanted to go, that it was almost ridiculous! Even now, as I’m typing this, I can’t help but chuckle.
Anyway, we went through the entrance of the Japanese garden, which had a warning sign…
The weather was cool, and wet, and I had of all my abayas, worn one that was off white, and of all my pants, worn one that was trailing-ly long so as to soak up all the wetness from the ground. I thought it would be sunny in that side of Portland as well, hence the attire.
The kids and hubs had preceded me while I took my time through the entrance, looking at the moss-covered ground, and just enjoying the sight. All of a sudden I heard a commotion from them somewhere along the trail going up towards the garden. A visitor was coming down the trail, going past the kids and hubs and their commotion, and she was smiling.
So, guess what the commotion was over…
Apparently, the Japanese garden hadn’t yet ‘started’. We were only at the entrance which led us through an uphill trail leading to the actual ticketing entrance where we have to pay. Hubs hadn’t prayed asr and Zuhr yet, so as he went down to the parking lot, he told us that if we had to pay to enter, scratch that plan.
I lingered on the trail, snapping photos, while the older kids went all the way up the to the real entrance. This is why I was hesitant to visit any garden. The kids would just whiz through them, not really appreciating the beauty, and then by the time they’re done, they would pester me,
“So, where are we going now? ”
If I’m going to visit any garden, it would be with someone who wouldn’t rush me. Seriously.
The kids came back and said,
“It’s 7 bucks per person.”
“Ok, never mind.”
I didn’t feel like trudging all the way up the trail anyway, particularly because my pants were dragging and I had to lift them up as I walked. Bad attire choice indeed!
We took some silly and crazy snapshots as we went down the trail and passed by our Japanese Garden mascot slug, which was the most interesting thing in our visit to the Japanese Garden. Really.
Since hubs was still in a ‘touristy’ mode, we walked over to the Rose Garden. Guess what, we didn’t see much roses. As we walked through the garden, one thing that was in our minds was,
“Where are the roses????”
There were some, but for a ROSE GARDEN, it wasn’t enough.
The garden was beautiful, and reminded me of Jane Austen movie settings, and I ended up taking a lot of photos, and looking for the kids and hubs who had gone wandering to look for roses.
Hubs had taken to watching the bike marathon and was saying.
“What kind of rose garden is this?”
“I don’t know….”I replied, partly ignoring him as I snapped more photos.
The kids were running and walking around and before long, our boredom turned to silliness. We took videos of each other, posed for photos, and just cracked jokes. After a while, hubs said,
“Let’s go. There are no roses.”
LOL. (sorry, had to do that)
As we drove, he said,
“The best part for me was the bike marathon.”
LOL(sorry, had to do that again)
And so, that was our visit to the Rose Garden and Japanese garden, where the most interesting thing was the bike marathon and Sluggy. Go SLUGGY!! Go SLUGGY!!!