The rain continued as we crossed over the Siskiyou mountains into Oregon, the second state on our sales trip. Summer had definitely abandoned us by this point, and Autumn chills became cooler the further north we went. Our first stop was in Ashland, home of the well-known annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and we encountered the first of several arts communities in the state. In Eugene, we discovered a large contingent of dance shops and studios, and many of them were preparing for upcoming presentations of the Nutcracker. All throughout Oregon, we kept hearing from the stores that our product was certainly the right look for the place. We were encouraged by this, but we know we'll have a lot of following up to do once Winter has passed.
While in Eugene, we enjoyed Sunday worship with Awakening Church. Pastor Clint was very friendly and energetic with a good message to begin their series on Luke. We caught them on a day when they had planned a breakfast potluck to encourage their fellowship. Score!
After service, Dawn and I drove out to the mountains and forest to find hiking trails. Unfortunately, the route I had selected followed the Blue River and never gained the elevation needed for trails, so instead, Dawn satisfied her urge for activity by freeing a log trapped at the river's edge. When she has a goal in mind, she wants to see it accomplished.
As we inched closer to Portland, we definitely felt the trip beginning to wind down. We were finished with hotel stays for the trip and were looking forward to time with family. In Portland, we roomed with my cousin, Allison, and her husband, Chris. They both gave us additional areas of Portland to visit and spent each evening asking about our adventures and sharing their experiences. We also spent the nights watching the events in Ferguson and across the nation unfold, which gave us plenty to discuss.
While in Portland, we were able to meet up with a couple of my former students from my time overseas. Jonathan and Jared are now both married and in their 30s (has it really been that long?), and we had a wonderful time catching up, introducing all our wives, and enjoying some great pizza. We enjoyed remembering our good times in the past but also learning about all that God is doing now and hearing about what is coming in the future (including little ones!).
Portland is a weird town--and just the place for Made for Freedom. It may not be quite the right season yet, but we know we will end up with products there. All the boutiques were open and interested in our business, and even those that did not feel our product was quite the right fit still either considered what might work for them or knew of stores that would be happy to carry us. We had to agree with the locals that the street planners may have some learning to do, but we were able to get around well enough and found a lot of nooks and crannies to satisfy our curiosity. We enjoyed the Cheesus and Baby Cheesus (among other delights) during our outings and finished our stay in Portland with a stop at the famed, original Voodoo Doughnuts before heading along the Columbia River out of town toward eastern Washington, where we were to spend Thanksgiving.