Round 2 – Portland

Mom and I continue south through the Pacific Northwest. Next stop is my Uncle Tom and Aunt Linda’s house just outside of Vancouver, Washington. This was my first visit to the Portland/Vancouver area. But I had a lot of expectations for Portland before ever arriving. I was here to see if Portland would be a place for me to move.

As a child, I visited San Francisco and I knew I wanted to live there when I grew up. I’ve been so blessed that I was able to make that dream happen for an incredible three years. I’m definitely happy with my move to Oakland this summer and have lots of exploring that I need to do. But it was time for me to find my next dream, and the next stage I wanted my life to take place. I was hoping Portland would be the place for me.

We made it to Tom and Linda’s house by early afternoon. A beautiful warm house surrounded by lush greenery. Plus, they have two guest rooms, so I got to stay in the basement and my mom was upstairs. Super comfy. I met the animals – Analii a dachshund, Walyn a mynah, and Jack the cat. Analii was definitely a bit leery of me, but I made it my goal that she’d be my friend by the end of the visit. Let’s just say that even though she growled and bared her teeth, Analii would sleep on my lap. She tried so hard not to like me, that it pissed her off when she did!

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Tom and Linda also enjoy good food and craft beer, so this was going to be a good visit. Hot toddies by the fire, while watching Portlandia which I loved. I also had the honor of introducing Tom and Linda to the third-wave coffee movement. The very first place we visited in Portland was one of the mothers of the movement, Stumptown Roasters. Linda had asked to get a drink that came with one of the fancy designs, so I got her my favorite a cortado which is 2 oz of steamed milk to 2 oz of espresso; just perfectly balanced. Tom had a latte and Mom got a hot chocolate. The drinks were divine! Masterfully pulled and poured. Plus, everyone who worked there was super friendly and lovely. Yes, I was hooked at first sight!

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We then went over to Deschutes Brewery for a snack and beer. I had the saison and chili. Yummy! Portland is at no shortage for great craft beer, and the people love the beer. I loved the atmosphere in the brewery. Everyone looked like they had just been on a hike through the lush pines and came it for a post hike beer. Completely, my kind of place. After the beer, we headed back for an incredible home cooked Crab Pot dinner! Tom and Linda had even caught the crab on their own.

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On Monday, Mom and I headed into Portland to do some exploring on our own. To drive into Portland, first we had to cross a bridge over the Columbia River and then to get into downtown we had to cross another bridge on the Willamette River. From the bridges, I loved how the hills rose above the city with both pine and deciduous trees. We drove into the Grand area of Portland to try another fantastic roaster, Coava. The cafe was lined in gorgeous wood and had a very minimalist monkish feel. Yeah, I loved it and the espresso was excellent.

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The next stop is a required stop for all Portland visitors. I’ve only heard the legend of VD in Portland, but now it was my time to get my Voodoo on! Mom and I bought a dozen so we could bring home some donuts to share with Tom and Linda, but before we left I had the maple bacon bar. Yes! Yes! Yes!

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After our delicious treat, Mom and I went to Powell’s City of Books, which is heaven on earth. We went separate ways and after two hours of browsing, Mom and I met up to make our purchases. Even though I walked out with 5 books, I pride myself with how well I did. It could have been many many more. But this meant I’d found my Portland happy place!

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We headed back to Tom and Linda’s to meet up for dinner with my cousins at the White Eagle. White Eagle is one of the many McMenamins pubs and breweries in Oregon. This was an old haunted hotel converted into a fantastic bar. My cousins Josh and Sam with their kids Dylan, Piper, and Griffin joined us for dinner. It was a great time to catch up and learn how they like Portland, since I’m thinking of moving there. They definitely are enjoying it better than the bay area, which was a great sign for me. I did a beer tasting of the non-IPA beers. McMenamins definitely does it right.

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Josh and Sam had to head out by 8 pm since kids weren’t allowed after that time, but Tom wanted to stay and listen to the live music. We watched the main performer set up and play one song to two his instruments. He was a folk guitarist which fit the bar perfectly. So Tom asked to stay for one song and we all agreed. However, first up was the opener which none of us were prepared for. Long black greasy hair, tight dark jeans, and white electric guitar we were about to hear from a complete rock dork! He raged his instantly made up lyrics into the microphone as he wailed the puck cords on repeat. We all look at each other wondering if this is really for real. Event the other tables were looking around. I couldn’t contain my laughter. The music was absolutely horrible, but at the same time madly brilliant. We listed to songs about tasering the slow people on the bus and crystal meth. Finally, I tipped the guy 2 dollars, and when he said thanks for the 2 dollars, I yelled “You owe me two dollars!” That got the rest of the tables laughing. But I have to be honest, if the kid wasn’t 15 years younger than me, I would have been totally in love with my nerdstar.

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I had originally planned on leaving Portland the next day, but I decided this trip would not be complete without a visit to Astoria, Oregon. I was a totally Goonies fan growing up, so I had to see this town. Astoria is a small, peaceful town on the Pacific Ocean. The old houses line the hills that stretch to the Columbia River and down to the Ocean. Mom and I ate Fort George Brewery, and enjoyed another tasty meal. We drove up to the Astoria Column for the views all around. Although very quaint, Astoria was a little too sleep for my tastes.

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Finally, we returned to Tom and Linda’s for dinner. Linda is a fantastic cook, and dinner was a total treat. Fillet minion, pork loin, roasted veggies, and pasta washed down with great wine; talk about spoiled! It was a fantastic way to close out my visit to Portland. Yes, I loved the town. Yes, I want to move there. I think I will fit right in. I do owe my friends who live in Portland an apology for not getting to visit with them, but when I move there I will.

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