05 October, 2016

A Tourist With Parkinsons In Oregon; Part Three

To properly see Oregon, you must go on a balloon ride. At 6:30 in the morning.

One of my guests has Parkinson's Disease. When visitors come, we usually take them around to see the sights which involves a lot of walking, something my friend, Asko, doesn't do well. Trying to think of new touristy ideas, my husband suggested a balloon ride.

 Late September is definitely almost the end of the season for balloons (until springtime).
Portland Rose Balloons operates out of Aurora Airport. Local to me.

That's the basket. It can hold more than 12 people, which we had. I've been on two other balloon rides with the more usual smaller basket which holds 4 -5 people.

The pilot had two of the three grammas lie down when the balloon was near  round, and scoot into the basket. He also had my friends do the same on the other side. This is for two reasons. One - very accessible for older people. As the balloon continues filling and coming upright, those people also come upright without having to clambor over the sides of the basket. Two  - now you have some weight in the basket so it won't float away ( UP!)

Yes, you heard me right, three old grammas. That makes this super accessible for any person. I'll tell you - those grammas were calling people (all the bars are in the sky), texting, talking. They were more connected than me.

Our pilot and our three grammas.

Hazelnut/Filbert trees in the background. These are newly planted filbert trees in the foreground.

Big or Little Pumpkins
Our balloon ride took just over an hour and five miles as the crow flies.
Slow and beautiful.

How can you top that morning?
You  go on a lunch cruise on the Portland Spirit up the Willamette River.

City of Portland

We each selected different items for the limited menu ( five entrees to pick from). Mine was fresh steelhead.  Everyone agreed their meal was delicious.

Once you board in downtown Portland on the waterfront, they immediately seat you. When the boat gets underway, lunch is served.
The cruise is about two hours in length.


 As far as accessibility, this is a very steep ramp (september --when river levels are low). There is help available if need be.

Parking is best as a drop off for the passengers and then the driver can park about two blocks away. There is a short, flat, walk to the waterfront of maybe 300 yards and then this steep ramp down to the boat.

Once on the boat, you would only need to use the stairs if you want to go up on deck.  Banks of windows are on each dining deck  (two) and if you have accessibility issues, then reservations will seat you on the first deck closest to the water.

So, other than the steep ramp, this cruise is very accessible.

The new, old, Sellwood Bridge
 After lunch, I immediately pop up to the top deck --which is just for viewing. I love being on a boat. However, I rarely get to do so in our Portland. We used to have a little fishing boat but we would put it in south of Milwaukie.

The lunch cruise of the Portland Spirit cruises from Portland down to Milwaukie. If you went further, you'd hit Oregon City and then pass through the locks (which are currently closed because of maintenance) and hit Canby where we live.

We have used the Columbia and Willamette rivers to find our way home when clouds unexpectedly closed in when we were flying home from an airshow years ago. These  rivers are a big help for navigating the wide open skies. Even when cloudy, there will be breaks in the clouds above the river.

Waverly Golf Course. 2nd oldest golf course west of the Mississippi.

There are some homes that defy tiny houses.

 You were so focused on that Mediterranean humongous house, you might not have seen the floatplane docked there.

Floating homes. It used to be you did not have to pay Oregon property tax on these homes as they were floating. That tax loophole has since been closed up.

Coming back up river.

This is our brand new pedestrian bridge crossing the Willamette river. It's only for pedestrians, bicyclists, and trams. No cars allowed.

It finishes up on the left at the new OSU/OHSU medical building where my son was one of the first students.


 The Willamette, as well as the Columbia, serves a lot of big ships. Dredging has to be done to keep the channels deep enough for ocean going ships.  Most of the ocean going vessels stop just north of Portland. South of Portland is for the smaller boats.

During June, many military ships dock right on the Waterfront during our Rose Festival.

Directly ahead on the east side of the river is our acclaimed O.M.S.I. The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. There is even a submarine to climb aboard.

Maria and Asko really enjoyed this day.

Having friend s visit allows you to see your home in a new light. Because of Asko's Parkinsons, we stretched our tourist thoughts and saw some Oregon highlights we might not have seen otherwise.

Asko's problems with walking is the eye/brain connections. If he can see a line to follow - a rug, a flooring line, a sidewalk line, he can walk quite normally. Otherwise, he has to shuffle. Which makes long walks out of the question. 

He can and did ride my bike up and down my street. He rides motorcycles quite well. However, he knows as his Parkinson's progresses and trike motorcycle will give him more stability.


  1. Whoa! What a cool day! You make a great tour guide! Plus, it's nice to know we can still ride a hot-air balloon when we are grammas! Yippee!

    1. You should have seen us at the end --rolling them out.

  2. I'm a gramma.. but the idea of getting on the ground to roll into a basket might put me off of going in a balloon.. lol. Very fun thing you did for your friend. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  3. That sounds like a fun day, I'm sure your friends appreciated it Fiona

  4. What a lovely post. Thank you so much. I loved the balloon ride!


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