I sat cross-legged on a bench with my eyes closed. The sound of the crisp, clean air entering and exiting my nose soothed my inner soul. I could feel the warmth of the sun on my face and felt the corners of my mouth lift into a content smile. As I fluttered my eyes open, I took in the beautiful view surrounding me — The Portland Japanese Garden in Washington Park.
The quick moments of solace were undoubtedly needed. My friend, Jena, and I were in the midst of an epic road trip. Three days prior, we had thrown our duffel bags in the car and drove west across the country. Our plan was to travel through eight states, starting in Kansas City making our way to the Pacific Northwest in a total of 10 days and almost 6,000 miles.
We were determined to see as much as possible in the short amount of time that we had. Jena and I would take turns behind the wheel and most days ended up driving late into the night. When I wasn’t in the driver’s seat, I would answer e-mails and hold meetings with clients in attempts to keep my website development business running while I was on the road. The previous night had been an exceptionally long drive getting us into Portland at 3 a.m., but it was well worth it.
Our first day in Portland found us wandering around the Japanese Garden in Washington Park in complete and total silence. It wasn’t for the fact that we had run out of things to talk about, for our friendship there was never a lack of topics, but because we were both happily content to roam the gardens and absorb the beauty around us. It was easy to forget the long journey we still had in front of us, the car troubles we had in Washington, or the mountain of emails that were piling up in my inbox.
My favorite stop was the Natural Gardens. The moss-covered rocks and the bright green trees made it hard to believe that you weren’t far from the hustle and bustle of Portland.
Jena and I admired the perfectly drawn lines in the sand in the Sand and Stone Garden. The distinctive beauty made me feel as if I was looking at a masterpiece.
After strolling through all of the Japanese Garden, we looked at each other and knew it was time to move on. As we left, I took one last glimpse of the breath taking view of the Portland skyline and snapped a quick picture to remember my experience.
We set off to explore the International Rose Test Gardens, which was conveniently located just a stone’s throw away. As we descended down the steps to see the roses, my eyes widened when I realized there were not dozens, or hundreds, but thousands of rose bushes for as far as I could see!
I quickly pulled out my Washington Park pamphlet to learn more information. I read the description aloud to Jena. Our jaws dropped when we learned there were more than 7,000 rose bushes in the garden.
The atmosphere was quite different compared to the Portland Japanese Garden. The sound of children’s laughter echoed and the clicks of tourists’ cameras made for a more stimulating experience. When we had finished walking the rows and rows of beautiful roses, we headed back to the free Washington Park shuttle to make our way back to the car and venture back into Portland.
Washington Park proved to be a much needed zen-ful experience before we continued on our trek across the states. When the clamored into the car, Jena popped in our third audio book and I suggested a sushi restaurant for dinner. As the prologue for the book began, I smiled at the soothing and peaceful afternoon in Washington Park.