Thursday, May 24, 2012


After Louisiana, I came to Portland (Oregon). I haven't been here for a million years and I barely remember it well enough to say that I know it's changed.  For example, I'm sure I would have noticed the dozens of food carts if I'd seen them before. What I might not of noticed is something like this (well, since I never FLEW to Portland until this week, I definitely wouldn't have noticed it!):

A "bike assembly area" (please excuse mediocre iPhone pics throughout) 

Bike Assembly Area, PDX

I fleetingly thought it might be a place for cyclists to assemble, but no, it's a place to put your bike together. Because...that's how many people travel with their bikes to Portland?  I've never seen this before in my airport experience and I wonder if one exists anywhere else.

Then I lucked into possibly the best hotel room I've ever stayed in:

Hotel Vintage Plaza, "Naked Winery" Room

I never really thought I was a "view" person. As long as the room is clean and the bed is comfortable (enough), I'm happy. If you have Turner Movie Classics (ALL hotels in Alaska have this channel!), I will love you forever. But, it turns out, being this high up with full size windows covering two full walls made me incredibly happy.  The weather was terribly changeable--ranging from mild sprinkles to full on pelting rain to huge wind gusts to bright sunshine. The sun didn't shine much but it got hot when it did. Watching all the weather through the windows was fantastic. I never would have found this place if I weren't looking for a centrally located hotel that took dogs (my mom was going to come down from Seattle with her dog, but she didn't) and charged the government rate. The staff was lovely, the room was great, and the one night I got room service, the food was delicious.  Also, if you ever plan to stay in a Kimpton hotel, join their rewards club. Such a good deal and free. (Travel tip: join all the hotel rewards clubs--you may never earn a free stay but they always give you better rooms and little extras that make your stay a little bit more pleasant.)

My first day here, I took a little stroll in the early morning and spotted this place:

I was embarrassingly unprepared for the weather. No proper shoes, no hat, and no water-resistant jacket. I resolved to go back and see if they had some shoes for me. They did. I won't go into details but I now own a pair of motorcycle boots that will probably last forever. I love them but are they practical? Well, sure, if I actually lived in Portland or Seattle. Or had a motorcycle.

Another thing that I've never seen anywhere else are the astonishing number of food stands. These aren't the mobile food trucks we have in DC, that have to jockey for good parking spots and show up in different neighborhoods. No, these are semi-permanent carts built on trailers that have permanent homes on the edges of pay parking lots all over downtown. Crazy!
Food Stands
During a brief sunny spell yesterday, I got out for a decent walk along the river:
The Church of Elvis
In between all that, I managed to go to the Portland Art Museum, shop like a mad person at Nordstrom's and see two movies. Oh, yes, I also did some work! This is a work trip, right? Well, it's more like a pause between two work trips. I can't really believe I managed to pack all that new clothing into my suitcase, but that's one of the virtues of packing light--you can pack heavy on the way back. (And yarn, I also bought yarn, of course.)

I also had lunch with my second cousin. A great young woman working just a couple of blocks from my hotel. We couldn't figure out when we last saw each other, but my mom used to come down to Portland a lot when my cousin's whole family was living here. But her mom died a couple of years ago (cancer, too young), her dad is in Colorado (work), one sister is married and in Missouri, the brother is in college in Ohio...they are scattered all over the country now. I know this makes my mom sad but mostly she just misses her cousin. That was quite a blow.

I'm off now, to work. Don't know if I'll keep up the blogging, but if I could get up at 5am every day like I do on the west coast, I bet I could. 

Grateful for: the pause.

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