I've yet to tell the tales of Ireland, London, and Paris - but since we just returned from Portland (almost 3 weeks ago) and I just posted up some photos I thought I'd tackle that first.
Portland, in short, was as weird as was expected. It was laid back, progressive, fun, wet, green (shocker coming from a white February Minneapolis), and overall an amazing adventure. Cady and I went into the trip with a very well put together itinerary (which we lost along the way) that was chock full of opportunities to explore.
The couple flew into the cool rainy night (I'm going third person here) that was Portland, OR. They landed, and per the itinerary, hailed a Lyft to the Kennedy School aka McMenamins. McMenamins is a vintage school converted into a hotel/bar/restaurant/brewery/etc/etc. Keaton recalled the 90's memories from elementary school with the old urinals, dated tile bathrooms, gymnasium woodwork - it was a total throwback with an adult's dream menu of hipster beers and vegan burgers - sorry, no chicken patties on a hamburger bun.
The couple then ventured to the tiny house (of course they stayed in a tiny house). The house was parked in the owner's back yard which posed for an awkward first entrance through a stranger's yard. "This is how people get shot," Keaton whispered, following the side-yard mud trail. The house had a 3/4 fridge-freezer, couch, full kitchen and 3/4 bath and a full sized bed. Definitely live-able. Unsure how two humans plus two full-sized dogs would do in such close quarters but that lifestyle is about spending more time outdoors anyways.
Public transit - $5 per person to ride all the rails and buses for 24 hours. This was primarily how the pair got about town. Day two started on the rail towards Voodoo Doughnuts and WOW Keaton can't even wait until the next sentence to describe the Chocolat-ey, Sugary, Cereal-ey creations. Hands down, best doughnuts they've had. The couple even met folks from Minneapolis who happened to be boxing up some doughnuts for the flight home.
About town they found the "Keep Portland Weird" sign, Powell's - the world's largest bookstore, the Peculiarium (a store with a tour of oddities - maybe like a circus freak-show?), MIll's End Park - the world's smallest park - about two feet in diameter, and last but not least Casa Diablo - the vegan strip club. Portland is home to the most strip clubs per capita in the US. Casa Diablo, fittingly for Portland, is a vegan food serving strip club. The couple stopped for lunch which consisted of tacos, quesadillas, chips, salsa, and beers. The food was mind-blowing, especially considering they were in the lunch crowd at a strip club.
Day three was equally jam-packed. Keaton rented a Car2Go and the two headed westward towards the pacific. Keywords: Car2GO, Pine Trees, Forest, Coffee House, Walking on Cannon Beach, Cool Ocean Wind, Testing offroad capabilities of Car2Go, Nature Photo Ops, and that was just the morning. Next on the agenda was Multnomah Falls (it was a big day for the little Car2Go). What a beautiful sight, and refreshing feel. The hiking trail and bridge at the falls were closed, but standing at the foot and feeling the power from a distance was more than worth the trip. The remaining daylight was spent on a hike up Mt. Tabor - a beautiful view from the top of Portland.
Day four welcomed Cady's friend Amy from Seattle. The group had no real plans which resulted in hiking muddy tennis shoes and boots miles through Forest Park, the Japanese Gardens, and the Rose Garden (which smelled great but was pretty bare and apparently out of season or something). There is a pattern here: Forests, Hiking, Nature, Fun - every day was loaded with these things and its fairly apparent the people of Portland are here for those reasons.
There is so much more to tell: the breweries, the dive bar with hilarious vending machine prizes, the way the Willamette river carves through downtown, the logging roads, the free spirited people, the list could go on and on but here's where the post starts and ends.
The trip to Portland was inspired by the beauty of the northwest, the show Portlandia, and was given wings via a flight voucher gimmick Olympus had when I purchased a camera. There were absolutely no regrets and Portland was every bit as wonderful as we hoped.
More to come...