Mark Johnson, our CEO, has come up with some pretty creative “milestone gifts” to help Star employees celebrate their five-, 10- and 15-year anniversaries. But the “20 Years of Service at Star” gift takes the cake—the chance to make one of our dreams real and check something off our bucket list with an “experience” of our choosing. How great is that?
It didn’t take long for me—with the help of my spouse, Gary—to decide what that experience would be: a long-weekend getaway. And while that may not seem like much to many, we’ve only had one vacation without our kids in 15 years! So, after much research and deliberation, we decided to visit Portland, Oregon. How could we not when the city’s slogan is “Keep Portland Weird”?
We left the Twin Cities on a Thursday-morning flight and were surrounded by food trucks by noon: chicken curry steamed buns from Bao Bao, tasty bratwurst from Altengartz, a simple chicken and rice dish from Nong’s Khoa Man Gai and the best gyro $5 can buy.
Our hotel, Hotel Lucia, was great. It boasts all sorts of cool features, including free beer EVERY night from 5:30-6:30, ice cream socials, a rooftop filled with beehives that produce “Bee Local Honey” and complementary bikes.
Besides eating and drinking our way through the city, we also enjoyed a full day of adventure exploring the Historic Columbia River Highway, including hiking up the 611-foot Multnomah Falls.
After stopping at a few U-Pick farms for fresh blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and cherries, we stopped at sweet little Lost Lake. Thanks to the advice of a local resident—and with Mount Hood as the backdrop—we followed Lolo Pass to Timberline Lodge on the south side of the mountain. What a drive! The mostly dirt road was single-lane, with cars (and trucks!) moving in both directions. Just the adventure we were looking for!
Other highlights of our trip included an underground tour of the city, a visit to Portland’s open market, bike riding along the Willamette River and a soccer game in Providence Park.
Here’s what I learned: after 21 years at Star and 18 years of marriage … WE’VE STILL GOT IT! I also learned that we shouldn’t wait years before taking another vacation without our kids.
I am grateful to work for such a great company that offers amazing gifts—like this experience to their employees.