But the number one thing you should understand about Portland? It is: my God I love Portland. I has all of the benefits of Chicago and thusfar none of the obvious downsides, or if you prefer it has all of the benefits of Austin and none of the obvious downsides. (Well, that's not fair, I need a larger sample size to determine whether the local cool people engage in the annoying oneupsmanship games that happen in Austin.)
Here is what I have done: Met publius at the airport, and he graciously took me to the hostel because apparently people get stabbed by the homeless late at night on public transportation. Checked into the hostel, which is if not the best place I've ever stayed, more than homey enough to make up for the slightly thin bunk mattress and sharing sleep space with five other dudes. Plus also, zomg cheap.
Then it was Friday morning. So I walked a couple of miles to the haberdashery (and no, I will not get tired of that word anytime soon) where I bought a sage-colored fedora (picture likely forthcoming on twitter, @pokeyp) and bemoaned my inability to also get a charcoal-colored bowler, but one expensive hat was my limit. Then I walked to Powell's, who have in fact a pretty amazing bookstore that reminded me most of the big Half Price Books in Austin before they moved to a more sterile warehouse setting and also Powell's is probably quadruple the size of the old homey Austin spot. They had kind of a ton of used Deathlands and Outlands books, but alas none in the next couple of each series that I need, and if I buy ahead I'll just screw myself up later, so that was a wash. And also lots of new but no used copies of several other books I have been seeking, and also also no copy of the book I accidentally left on my first plane Thursday night. *sigh* That was dumb.
Then publius arrived after his half-day of work and we had a pub lunch (at which I had the best mac&cheese of my life, hands down, not that I don't still hold Slows in the highest respect plus also a pretty amazing black cherry porter), sought replacement sandals for me with no luck whatsoever, and then went to the zoo! The zoo... okay, it has a little bit of a problem where there just do not seem to be nearly enough animals. HOWEVER, many of the animals it has seemed extremely cool (river *and* sea otters you guys! All the otters!), and the setting is basically "Pacific Coast RainForest, now with some animals", and even if the animals were not in the main overwhelming, the setting still made it up to among my top 5 zoo experiences. (Fort Worth, DC, this, and Detroit, if you are counting. Fort Worth and Detroit both have implausibly good zoos.)
Then, after more sandal failures, we headed to his apartment, which it turns out has really amazing views, even if one of them was (perhaps characteristically?) hidden behind cloud cover. There we lounged a bit, both pretty sore from a ton of walking, and I watched my first ever episodes of Community. Then off to dinner at Oswego Grill in far suburbia, where I learned (okay, it is certainly "re-learned", but it *has* been a while) that salmon a few hours from the coast by car tastes significantly better than salmon a few more hours than that from the coast by plane does.
Then I immediately collapsed into sleep. Technically I struggled to stay awake, and even rallied for close to half of a third episode of Community, but the truth is I was already done as we headed for the car after dinner. Another drive in to the hostel, where I all but immediately crashed, and slept for another, less frequently interrupted, 8 or 9 hours.
Then it was today, and here is what I have done today: first, my google map directions indicated a free trolley that it failed to mention on Friday. Maybe it is not free during the week? Maybe the maps app wanted me to exercise? It is not for me to solve such a mystery. So I rode the streetcar, which had a lovely family whose mother was telling her two small sons a spooky story starring them, in which they got trapped in a giant's house, separated from their parents, and threatened with all manner of devouring and at one point a slime-filled bathtub. I got distracted and don't know how they escaped to a streetcar, only that once on it they realized it was filled with zombies, but then the family exited said streetcar, so I don't know how things turned out. Thankfully, I avoided any inspirational zombies that may have remained on the car.
Then, when I got off, a lady who once worked for the London Symphony, now possibly teaches at Portland State University, and occasionally works the local renfair performing period music complimented my cloak. I am used to two things when it comes to my cloak. Hobbit jokes, or half-hearted references to the cool cape. I am *not* used to compliments, much less on the actual nomenclature of the object in question. So, with a spring in my step, I entered the Portland Farmers' Market. Everything smelled amazing, and if I lived here I would have accidentally bought far more than I could have eaten before freshness gave way to not so much, but as it was I came through pretty okay. Spearmint tea to warm me up and the recommended breakfast burrito, which was immense and delicious. Then I wandered a bit more and snagged a pint of fresh, unpasteurized aka guaranteed to kill small children, the elderly, and the immunodeficient apple cider, which was also amazing, and at this point I'm wondering if the truth is that the food is still basically the same as everywhere and just vacation food tastes better? But either way, it was quite yum and I shall finish it as I walk to the Old Church for the wedding here in a bit. Also, I got a bottle of local [alcoholic] cider which I was going to try to bring home, but then she told me they can ship to Texas, so I'll instead have it here and order it occasionally if I love it. Which I expect to, because naming it Wanderlust was basically a guarantee that I would both try it and forgive it for any small errors.
Then I took a couple more streetcar rides culminating in another used book purchase failure, and now I'm at a local brewpub (McMenamin's) about a block from the church, drinking raspberry ale, eating salmon chowder, and waiting on Kristy to show up, and then Mel's wedding as previously mentioned! And I still have an additional 1.5 days of vacation left!
And I forgot to mention the lovely Australian gentlemen I met at the hostel who is two months into a fifteen month winery tour of the world, whose adventures you may be interested in following at intrepidwino.blogspot.com. Probably other things too?
But yeah, Portland? I dig it.
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