Okay. So, Oregon.

Posted: August 5, 2007 in booze, photography, vacation

It seems that as I get older I don’t want to get up early for NUTHIN. Back when I was a child I couldn’t sleep the night before a trip, so excited was I. Now? The alarm goes off and I could be going for a month-long all expenses paid trip to HAWAII, and I wouldn’t want to have to get up to make a 7:15 a.m. flight.

But make the 7:15 flight (to Oregon, not Hawaii), we did. Calvin and I have been doing a LOT of traveling this year, and the whole check in and security dance is getting quite old. However, we were duly entertained by angst first thing in the morning, as we waited our turn at the automated check-in station of Alaska Air. The lines were suggestions at most, and a lady ended up cutting in line. Which righteously offended this guy, waiting his turn. So angered was he that he approached the woman, told her off in a VERY LOUD VOICE for being rude, then stood behind the woman, read her name off of the check-in station, and said, “This is JULIE, everyone! JULIE is the rude woman who can’t wait her turn! Let’s hear it for JULIE!” Thereby succeeding in drawing everyone’s eyes, originally staring at Julie, to stare instead at him.

So, that was fun.

Calvin and I sat to a very nice elderly lady (who was reading a naughty romance novel, which cracked me up) on the plane. She very helpfully filled us in on details of our destination, in between short naps and munching on a very strange “breakfast cookie” provided by the airline in place of actual, you know, food. We landed in Portland at about 10:00, wrestled with the luggage, waited for what seemed like an ETERNITY in the line for the rental car, and then waited for another ETERNITY to pull the car out of the parking garage as the people at the gate in front of us made the lady checking the paperwork trot back and forth to the rental desk.

That was an awesome run-on sentence.

The hotel let us check in early, and after dropping off our luggage we set off on foot to find sustenance and beverage. Nosh, if you will. Thing is? Portland Oregon is MUCH bigger than Portland Maine, a fact which I suppose I twigged intellectually, but not consciously. So, not knowing our way around at all, I’m sure we picked exactly the WRONG direction in which to strike out on our quest for food. BUT! We finally came across a Rock Bottom, which while not the quaint native hole-in-the-wall we were looking for, afforded us with an opportunity to hoover and guzzle and generally be hungry piggies. We ordered a beer sampler, were rather chagrined at the sheer amount of sample glasses plunked down in front of us, then found the consumption of said samples to be easier accomplished than originally thought (really, one gulp each x 8 or 9 samples = about a full beer for each of us).

(I do hope my judgmental anonymous reader comments again. I shall have more than enough fodder for him/her by the end of this entry.)

Okay! From there we decided to wander down to the Beer Festival (more beer! Beer is good!). There were no lines to speak of, Thursday being opening day, and most of the Good People of Oregon were still working. We bought our plastic mugs…

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…then started down one side and up the other, stopping at whichever station had the funnest name. There was Sweaty Betty Blonde, Donner Party Porter, Bitch Creek ESB, Pliny the Elder, Whoop Pass Double IPA, and Noggin Grog, to name just a few. I’m a big fan of IPA’s, so I think my favorite there was the Alaskan IPA brewed by Alaskan Brewing Co.

Along with our mugs we bought twenty tokens for twenty dollars. I kept 10 and gave Calvin 10. One token for a “taster” (about 1/4 mug), four tokens for a full mug. We pretty much stuck to just tasters, to sample the most amount of beers without having to buy more tokens. The weather was absolutely BEAUTIFUL – mid 70’s and sunny, with a light breeze going. At one point we took our samples and sat in the (SOFT!) grass under the trees.

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We must have sat there for over an hour, just enjoying the weather and people-watching.

After departing the festival, we went back up to our hotel room for a (ahem) nap. The beds were incredibly comfortable – the kind you sort of fall into and get consumed by. We were up on the fourteenth floor of the building (the Marriott on the corner of Washington and Broadway, for those Oregonians following along at home), where we could look across at the busily dedicated workers pounding away at their computers in the offices of the building across the street. (This one girl in particular in the corner office of the top floor was there late every day and even all day Saturday. The weather was so beautiful and I was tempted to go over there and drag her away from her work.)

We departed the hotel again at about 8:30 pm, marveling at how light it still was outside. I don’t think the sun went fully down until about 10:00. We had dinner at Jake’s Grill

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… then just wandered up and down the streets. There were these funky lunch carts EVERYWHERE, advertising food from every known nationality to man (plus CREPES!) that, alas, we never got a chance to eat at… and I also didn’t take any pictures of them, which is weird, for me. We stopped at Tugboat’s, a VERY hole-in-the-wall (nearly literally) bar, and then another place whose name escapes me at the moment but which I will probably recall before I am done writing this entry.

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The next morning Calvin and I got up reasonably early, and I went off in search of Peets coffee (a shop was adjacent to our hotel – BOMB almond croissants, by the way) while Calvin showered. This is the routine when we are traveling together – I get up first and get showered and ready, then wake him up to get him going, and go off in search of coffee. By the time I get back to the room he’s usually showered and dressed. A properly caffeinated husband is a happy husband. A happy husband is a happy Laura.

We claimed the car from the valet (hello, $26 a day! yeesh) and drove west on route 26 toward Cannon Beach. Along the way we hit a rest stop that, upon exploration, revealed a connection to Rock Creek and a little hiking trail.

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There’s something about being outdoors that makes Calvin want to take pictures of my nekkid butt (“Here I am, mooning the great outdoors…”), so we did that, but I’m not going to show you. Use your vivid imaginations. Just… be flattering, okay? Heh.

Since a croissant doesn’t go very far toward keeping OUR appetites happy, we stopped at Camp 18 for some KILLER burgers (and beer, natch).

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We received some very helpful suggestions and directions from our waitress, and made it to Canon Beach without a problem. I was completely geeked to catch glimpses of the ocean and Haystack Rock (GOONIES!!! Remember the scene where they line up the rock formation with the medallion?) from the road, and was totally in love with the place by the time we (finally) maneuvered the traffic and pedestrians of the town, found a parking spot, and made it down to the beach.

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After wandering around the village at Cannon Beach for a while, we got back on the road and headed toward Astoria. The only thing lacking from our drive among the cliff-side houses was Cyndi Lauper singing that “Goonies are Good Enough”. It was totally surreal; I kept expecting Mikey and the boys to come racing out to let the air out of Brandon’s tires.

We gaped at how BIG the mouth of the Columbia River is, and (after a couple of wrong turns where we were all, “We’re over HERE and we want to be over THERE,”) drove across the bridge over to Washington.

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Back over on the Oregon side, we stopped at the “Ship’s Inn”, a restaurant recommended by our waitress at Camp 18, who’s perfect and LITERAL directions (“…the road right before the Burger King in Astoria…”) dropped us right there. Calvin had a crab cocktail, I got some short neck clams.

And beer.

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By the time we finished up at Ship’s Inn, it was nearly 5:00 and time to head back toward Portland. Calvin and I really enjoyed the entire road along 26. Lots of trees, rolling green fields and farm stands sporting cherries and fresh berries. We fail to realize just now NOT green Arizona is until we go to somewhere as green as Oregon. As long as we were there, the contrast never stopped startling us.

The next day (Saturday) we spent the entire day pretty much just walking around the city. We bought some more comfortable shoes at Columbia Sports, our feet having suffered from our poor packing choice of footwear. We had breakfast at Mother’s, then went down to the open air market they hold every Saturday. We encountered a homeless man in a flowered dress and straw hat brightly decorated with fluorescent fake flowers, literally IN the dumpster we parked near, who had a very cheerful hello for us. We also were nonplussed to be confronted by a homeless man getting a BJ from a prostitute under some bushes literally two feet from the HIGHLY TRAFFICKED (by families with children, even) sidewalk.

They were too busy to say hello.

We only stayed for a few minutes in the market before leaving again – I think we were traumatized or something. So we drove around for a little bit, then took the car back to the hotel and hit a couple of restaurants and a brewery. We had dinner on the sidewalk (where most places had their outdoor seating area) at Jake’s Crawfish and watched the comings and goings of the very fancy men at the gay bar across the street.

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After dinner we walked around some more, and found ourselves back at that bar whose name I can’t remember. SIXSHOOTERS! That’s it. We sat outside (on the sidewalk again) and chatted with a couple of young men who were in Portland on an internship with Walgreens. While sitting there we deflected more requests for “compassion” from several more homeless men (and we would be more compassionate if they weren’t buying BJ’s and booze with their donated money – and I’m probably going to catch hell from someone for that comment). We also encountered two very fabulous ladies on their way to a party at Escape, who were kind enough to pose for a picture:

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Sunday was our last day in Oregon, so after the wake up/coffee/checkout/valet routine, we drove up to Cameo’s Cafe for a terrific breakfast (best bacon EVER), and got a parking ticket in the process. We spent the rest of the misty morning traversing the paths of the Rose Test Garden and the Japanese Garden in Washington Park.

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Okay, so Portland? Is hard to get around if you’re not familiar with the place. After we left Washington Park we went back down to the city proper to find this floating restaurant/bar that Calvin recalled from a trip he took back in the 90’s. We could see it from the road but had a heck of a time figuring out which turn to take that would get us down to the riverfront. We finally figured it out, but we were cracking ourselves up with the sheer amount of wrong turns we took.

First stop was the Marina Fish House, the aforementioned floating restaurant. We sat outside on the dock and watched the ducks and geese competing for the french fries a posse of little boys were tossing to them. The movement of the dock was a little disconcerting at first. We enjoyed an hour of river watching while sipping some brews – my new favorite is now the Bridgeport IPA.

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(Sometimes I just can’t believe how handsome Calvin is.)

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We walked up the riverside walk to the park end and made ourselves comfortable in the rocking chairs on the porch of Three Degrees. We could have stayed there all day long, rocking and sipping and nibbling on a cheese platter. Entertainment was provided by a huge flock of geese that was completely unperturbed by the multiple attempts made by small children to get them to scatter. As soon as we saw them we immediately thought of Marie, who as a little girl (and probably still now) would have made just such an attempt.

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We still had a couple of hours to kill before we needed to leave for the airport, so we wandered back down the walk and stopped at McCormick & Schmick’s for some lunch… and more beer.

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Winding down to the end, now… we made it to the airport with time to spare… and then discovered that we had even MORE time to spare than originally thought – our 7:15 pm flight was delayed until after 9:00. So we hung out in one of the restaurants in the airport, looked at all of the pictures on the digital camera, had some munchies, and braved a nuclear neon drink.

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So, our opinion of Oregon is that we wouldn’t mind living there, but definitely wouldn’t live in Portland city proper. It’s not small town enough for us. The countryside is beautiful, though, with a branch of AcronymCo that’s located right in the middle of some farmlands. So transferring is an option, though not in the immediate future. All in all, we liked Oregon, though it wasn’t exactly what we were expecting.

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Comments
  1. […] Street stop, walked past several of the landmarks Calvin and I had become familiar with during our trip to Oregon last year (including Jake’s Grill and POWELL’S, where I stopped all too briefly to ooh […]

  2. […] Collins concert. One on-line journal. Three blogs. One trip to Canada. Two sets of braces. Seven beer festivals. A million whispered I love you’s. A million shouted I love you’s. A handful of big […]

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