35 – keep portland weird

Shannon and I flew up to Portland to attend her old college roommate’s wedding…and it was, well, interesting. So interesting, that I’m breaking the one picture per week rule! This week’s update is going to be a travelogue…because that’s the only way I can sum up the dichotomy that is Portland.

Going to Portland, I definitely gained a better appreciation for public transportation and trees. The MAX is very nice and I could easily get accustomed to using the train to go places – I don’t remember the BART being so effective, but then again, I’ve only ridden on the BART as a tourist and not as a commuter. Why can’t LA/OC have an effective rail system? The MAX took us everywhere we needed to go…well, almost everywhere.

The wedding venue was in an arboretum – off the beaten path. Literally. The train took us to a stop at the park entrance, but the transportation for us that was supposed to be there was late to the wedding and we were early – so, we had to hike it up:

As much as I wanted to hike around, I didn’t want to hike around in formal attire – me in hard-soles shoes, slacks, and a long-sleeved shirt and shannon in a nice dress and flip-flops (I kept her shoes in my backpack). It also didn’t help that I can’t tell one tree apart from another, so…we got lost. What was supposed to be a quick ten-minute ‘walk’ became a half-hour (it felt way longer) hike on mostly unpaved trails. I’m sure we made some hikers and trail runners laugh.

I really hated life after the hike – Shannon noticed and told me to go and take pictures. So, I took pictures of the trees. Trees were plentiful and green. The color green is beautiful, but definitely in your face. If you looked around, the color green was EVERYWHERE:

The wedding was good. The open bar made it great. The music was awesome (I need to ask Wajma for her playlist and I need to make at least 30 Indian friends).

Other than the wedding in the forest, we also managed a little bit of time to ourselves to explore around the city. We made it to Powell’s bookstore – the LARGEST used bookstore I’ve ever been through. Shannon felt out of place walking in there with her Kindle.

That’s another one of the dichotomies – Portland, though seemingly sophisticated, is trying very hard to hold on to things. Everywhere we went, people were reading paperbacks – and not just typical NY Times summer reading fare – rather, older, denser – tomes. I saw a couple people reading philosophy in a restaurant and another guy reading Neruda.

Speaking of restaurants, we have a better appreciation of proper service. The seafood place that was recommended to us:

…either had the world’s most laid-back service or had the world’s best server who could pick out the anally-retentive couple from fast-paced SoCal. Typically, if you ask for a fork, you’re promptly brought silverware. Not here. We had to eat our salad with our fingers and used the knives already on the table to eat our entree. Once my first pint of IPA was emptied, I asked for another – which was brought when I asked for the check. WTF?

On the other side of the street though, we ended up at Voodoo Donuts:

I could have ordered a donut with bacon on top. Or skittles. Or something deep fried and covered in chocolate. I played it safe and had an apple fritter with a large cup of local Portland coffee. It was a good breakfast. Unfortunately, Shannon didn’t think so, so we ended up walking around the Saturday market to look for food.

We ended up with a vegan breakfast burrito made by a hippie, two wooden tops with launchers, and a clay 3-note whistle shaped like a fish. You can guess who bought the toys and who bought the healthy food.

The Saturday market wasn’t what we expected. It seems like Portland has a surplus of ‘unique’ artists. We did see some very unique art – like an artist who drew pictures out of numbers. Literally. Beautiful pictures but every line/color/shape was a number. We talked about the meanings of the numbers and I totally geeked out when she said that her snail pictures used the Fibonacci sequence. I love snails and I love the golden ratio, but I already had three toys…

The Saturday market definitely brings Portland’s motto to life:

Portland is definitely weird. I could probably fit in, but probably not. The idea of being weird implies that you subscribe to a specific way of life. Hearing punk music in a restaurant seems appropriate in Portland…but hearing Lady Gaga wouldn’t be. It’s hard to describe. In Portland, it’s mainstream to be antiestablishment, but to be disestablishmentarian in Portland means you’re really supporting antidistestablishmentarianism.

Finally, I appreciate cookies. The Doubletree (where we stayed) is a very nice full-service hotel, but the only thing that was free was the supply of warm cookies at the front desk. Internet wasn’t free. Towels weren’t plentiful (there was only ONE towel in our room). Thus, our requests for free cookies went from “Welcome to the Doubletree, please enjoy a cookie” (the standard reason for getting a cookie) to “my husband ate my cookie, may I have another?” to “can we get cookies to go?”.

The view out of our room was nice – definitely well-worth the trip. The daytime view was great, but I really liked the view at night:

Anyway, thanks for the wonderful weekend Portland. I’m sure we’ll see each other again – but this time, with hiking shoes. This coming week, we’ll be ‘camping’ in Santa Barbara, followed by a week in Calgary (for me). It’s going to be hectic.

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