Last week I fell in love with a new place (or fell in love anew with an old place), which is Portland, OR. And in May, I learned a new word, which is “portage,” which is to carry a boat (in this case, canoe) across land for a bit. Both are fun, one is muddy, and the other is actual the subject of this post.
S & I traveled to the Pacific Northwest because I dig it and she suspected she might. She did, I did, we did, and it was good. Bookended by a friendly airport (I love Milwaukee’s post-security “Recombobulation Area”), the following experiences brought particular joy last week:
Hostelling. We stayed at Seattle’s Green Tortoise Hostel, which is literally a block from Pike’s Market. There’s nothing cooler than a communal morning kitchen full of eggs, pancake batter, and sizzling cast iron, especially watching how different nationalities use the same simple ingredients. (Our Taiwanese roommates: “What do you call this that you are making?” “Pancakes.” “Ohhh… they are delicious!”)
Underground. Historic Seattle had an epic battle with waste disposal followed by an almost comedically unfortunate downtown fire. The whole city was rebuilt 12 feet higher, but the underground sidewalks and original 1st floors (now basements) are open for tours. Dark, dusty, fascinating, awesome tours.
Low tide. Summer solstice means lowest tide of the year, so we met up with Charlie and his girlfriend Heather to explore what’s normally underwater. Heather grew up in the area and pointed out so many cool things: jellyfish, barnacles, crabs, starfish, crazy bulbed kelp, squirting geoduck clams, and even salmon berries. It was the perfect combination of nature and people–and wonderful people, to boot.
—— (Amtrak to Portland. Choo choo!) ——
Food, Inc., etc. Our introduction to Portland was a kickass, healthy, tasty dinner followed by a viewing of Food, Inc. Nothing in the film surprised either of us, and considering everyone always assumes we are anyway, we decided it was time to actually become vegetarians. It’s official. Other food highlights included Ginny’s cooking (see below), fresh cherries, a delightful breakfast at St. Honore Boulangerie, the Portland Farmers’ Market, and the North American Organic Brewer’s Festival. Three cheers for organic brewskies!
Ginny and chickens. My close friend from high school introduced us to her lovely world of fresh food and fine company. First grilling and singing in a backyard shared with chickens, a greenhouse, garden beds, and a bee hut. Later playing Settlers of Catan with more wonderful people. Both evenings were dressed generously with wine, smiles, and good vibes. Probably my favorite part. I wish I had pictures.
Flowers. Portland is the home of the International Rose Test Garden. There are hundreds of varieties in one beautiful garden. Not much I can say: it was just really, really pretty.
Strangers! After the ubiquity of recycling containers, my final and possibly favorite thing about Portland is the openness and friendliness between strangers. People just make conversation. They comment on whatever is happening, or tell you they like your scarf. If they ask you to sign a petition and learn you’re not local, they say “Cool! Where are you from? Are you having a good time?” Our whole visit was a process of relaxing and learning to let our guard down. It just felt good.
In conclusion, here is a nice picture of Shannon at the Portland Farmers’ Market.