• Portland's climate is ideal for growing roses. In fact, that city was known as The City of Roses.
• Portland's Rose Festival takes place every year in June and includes dragonboat races.
• Its current unofficial city slogan is 'Keep Portland Weird', borrowed from Austin, Texas.
• It was founded in 1845 and named after Portland, Maine
• Home to one of the oldest amusement parks in America, in operation since 1905.
• Population has been, and remains predominantly white.
• In the 1800s, the law permitted immigration of Chinese laborers but forbade them to bring family or to own property. Fortunately, that has changed!
• Powell's City of Books, in downtown Portland, is reputed to be the world's largest independently owned bookstore.
• Voodoo Doughnuts – a fun, different kind of doughnut shop originated in Portland, and has since spread to Denver, Colorado.
◦ On each of our downtown forays, where this fabulous store is located, the line was so long it was out the door and around the block. I wanted to have a doughnut from that shop as soon as I saw how popular it was, but I didn't want to stand in line with little Ben in the cold and rain.
◦ While he was occupied at school, I saw my chance to experience Voodoo! After dropping him off I headed downtown and saw... no lines in front of the store! I thought it was truly meant to be: this is the day I would have a doughnut!
◦ The store was closed: that is why there was no line. However, I found out that there was another shop, not too far away. After asking for directions, off I went!
◦ I tricked my family by telling them only half the story: the store was closed. However, at eveningtime, after our dinner, I finished the story and took the doughnuts out of my backpack. We all laughed and enjoyed our Voodoo doughnuts: 2 kinds of sweetness to finish the day!
• Portland is home to the Classical Chinese Garden 兰苏园, a Suzhou-style walled garden.
• One of Portland's sister cities is Suzhou.
• Seattle was named after Chief Si'ahl of the Duwamish and Suquamish Indian tribes.
• The area was inhabited for over 4000 years before European settlers arrived.
• It is the largest city in Washington state as well as in the entire Pacific Northwest.
• Its nickname is The Emerald City because of the lush greenery in the surrounding area.
• Seattle's noteworthy musical history helped develop the careers of Ray Charles and Quincy Jones, among others. It is home to the grunge rock music movement. Prominent grunge band leader, Kurt Cobain committed suicide on April 5th, 1994 at his home.
• Seattle is known as 'the whitest big city in America'. Asians have consistently been the largest minority, with Chinese comprising 4.1% of that 13.8% group.
◦ I freaked this kindly erhu 二胡 (traditional 2-string Chinese violin) player out when I spoke to him in Chinese!
• Home to Boeing aircraft plants, where 707, 720, 727, 737, 747,757, 767, 777 and 787 model planes are put together. Those factories are visible from the interstate, and they are HUGE!
• Home of the 华美大屠杀 (Waa Mee massacre) – a gang related multiple homocide on February 18th, 1983 in Chinatown. It remains the deadliest mass murder in Washington state history.
• Home to amazon.com, Microsoft and cell phone giant T-mobile.
• One of Seattle's sister cities is Chongqing.
These are just a few fun facts about these two cities, dashed off as I board the next plane.
Next stop: Carlisle, Pennsylvania. All Aboard!!!