I visited my brother in Portland, Oregon last week, and since I love Portland and I love my brother even more, it was a great trip. Without discussing it, we managed to almost entirely avoid spending money and do fun free activities. My only splurge was taking my brother out to dinner and drinks one night. Otherwise, it was an almost entirely non-consumer vacation.
We cooked at home twice. My brother picked me up from the airport and when we got back to his house he had made a delicious quiche. The only problem with it being so good is that I had seconds and then ate another piece for lunch the next day and realized I'd eaten half a quiche in less than 24 hours. The next night he made a delicious soup, while I assisted him washing and chopping the vegetables. He even taught me how to slice an onion, which I had been doing wrong all my adult life! I'd been cutting it in half sideways instead of top to bottom.
We took advantage of Bank of America's Museums on Us program to get in free to Pittock Mansion, which was the home of the publisher of The Oregonian. It's billed as an architectural wonder that soars 1000 feet above the city's skyline. The home was gorgeous, but efficient, creating an interesting paradox of a modest mansion. The view of Mt. Hood from many of the rooms was spectacular.
We took walks every day with his dog, either in the neighborhood or at a nearby park. That's a photo of her at the beginning of this post, modeling the sweater she wears when we go outside. One sunny day we took a two-hour walk on the trails up at Mount Taber, which also has stunning views of the area. Another day we walked the paths of the Rhododendron Gardens, over lovely bridges connecting ponds full of ducks. We had fun identifying the different species, including one with a blue bill. There were many more colorful varieties than the standard mallard.
I used my Editor's Guild Card to get us both in free to the new local movie theater in his neighborhood, where we saw Up in the Air. I had already seen it and loved it, and my brother loved it as well. Even though this is a frugal measure specific to me, most of us have some kind of discount cards or passes we can use. Make sure you get the most out of your triple A card and any other memberships you have, as well as gift cards and certificates.
We visited friends, old and new, including Katy Wolk-Stanley from The Non-Consumer Advocate, maven of all things non-consumer and my favorite blogger. It was so great to meet Katy in person after a year of exchanging emails and reading her blog. She truly makes the lifestyle of The Compact seem fun.
My brother's friends gave a spectacular dinner party where I got to see some of his friends I already knew and meet others I'd heard about for years. The food was absolutely delicious, and guests brought wine and beer to supplement the libation offerings, which included a ginger/whisky concoction. The host and hostess really inspired me, because even though their house was small, they don't let that deter them from having dinner parties often. They made room for several dishes on a table and the 20-plus guests were free to eat wherever they could find a spot. They avoided the temptation of paper plates for a big party and used a set of plastic dishes that could be easily cleaned and stored.
We didn't have time for the ultimate non-consumer activity of visiting the area Goodwill stores, where Katy always seems to find amazing deals. I'll have to leave that for the next visit.
Our visit was packed with fun activities, and the perfect balance of socializing and just hanging out. I didn't feel deprived in the least, and I don't think my brother did either. We both had a great time.
What non-consumer activities do you enjoy while on vacation? Please leave your tips in the Comments section.