My sister had some leftover money on 2 flight vouchers she needed to use before they expired in April. So I decided to go to Portland, a place I had heard a lot of good things about recently. Stephanie had Spring Break around the corner, so she met me in Portland a few days after I left.
After I booked the flight, I found out that my sister was going to be in Portland for a business trip the day before I arrived. So I changed my flight to come 1 day early. It didn’t cost me anything since I stayed in her hotel room.
I landed first and spent pretty much the entire time at Powell’s Books. Powell’s is an amazing bookstore. It’s about the size of 5 department stores. They have new books and used books and rare books. I bought several gifts here and a used hardcover copy of Stephen King’s “Different Seasons”. I’ve wanted to read it for a long time, and now I have a classic copy of it.
They have an entire room dedicated to rare books. The most expensive book they have is one of the first historical accounts of the Lewis & Clark expedition first published in 1814. It’s priced at $350,000 and it’s stored in a vault. We also saw a 1st edition Tom Sawyer. It reminded me of the movie The Ninth Gate with Johnny Depp. The first half of the movie is about rare books and authenticating them. I don’t know why, but authenticating rare stuff fascinates me.
The next morning, I waited for Felice and her coworker to finish their meeting, and then we went back into town for lunch and a quick visit to Voodoo Donuts. I was afraid that a fancy donut would be too sweet, but they were really tasty. Later in the trip when Stephanie was in town, we went again to a different location. This one offered a coffin-full of donuts. It’s a mini coffin that holds 3 dozen donuts and costs $100. More about food later.
Next day I went to the zoo. Highlights:
Every 1st Thursday, a posh part of Portland called the Pearl District has an art walk. There are dozens of art galleries scattered around the Pearl. I was there on the 2nd Thursday. I still gallery-hopped, but without the crowds.
Portland is known for being a very bike-friendly city. I decided to take a guided bike tour. It was a 3-hour tour around downtown with some good historical context. “Portland” is not a port city. It got its name from the 2 tycoons who flipped a coin to decide that the town would be named after the winner’s home town of Portland, Maine over the loser’s home town of Boston Massachusetts. The penny that decided the name is in a museum.
The Lois & Clark expedition brought lots of people from the east coast. All the opportunities lured many Japanese. At one point, the majority of all business were Japanese-owned and operated. Just after the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II, in a matter of days, our government rounded up all the Japanese people they could find – even the citizens that had been here for generations – and put them in internment camps, which are essentially a gas chamber away from concentration camps. There is a memorial near the Willamette River lined with Japanese cherry blossoms.
Later that day, I went to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. It was a disappointing experience except for the submarine tour. And the only reason I was curious was because it was used in The Hunt for Red October. There were about a dozen people on the tour, and there just happened to be a Russian family, which I found more amusing than I should have.
Stephanie arrived that night. The next day we went to the Saturday Market which is just an area with tents setup selling crafts and art and food.
Next we went to Lan Su Chinese Garden. It’s a traditional Chinese garden typically found in Suzhou, Portland’s sister city, hence the “lan” in portLANd and the “su” in SUzhou. It’s a really nice garden in the middle of the city.
There is also a Japanese Garden in the city. It’s also very authentic and very nice. It’s located in Washington park, a huge natural area where the zoo is, a rose test garden, and an arboretum. We were early for the rose test garden, so almost none of them were in bloom. Hoyt Arboretum was a short but nice hike. Nothing compared to the hike we would do the next day.
When we asked around for things to do in Portland, the one thing on everyone’s list was Multnomah Falls in Columbia Gorge. We hiked the area for 6 hours and saw about 10 different waterfalls along the way. I think I could’ve spent a week hiking this area. One minute it’s silent, the next minute there’s a big waterfall. Here are 2 minutes from our 6 hour hike.
Here’s the big one, Multnomah Falls. The video shows it from 3 levels starting from the top, then to the bridge, then ground level. Yes, we climbed/hiked the whole way up and down.
Mussels. Happy hour is very popular in Portland. Many restaurants offer small-ish dishes and usually just require that you get a drink. This entire bowl of mussels was $5.95. I counted happy hour as dinner for several meals.
Crab and brie stuffed salmon with a side of fancy mac and cheese.
Italian Chicken fingers (another happy hour with a bonus of a Pee Wee Herman movie projected on the ceiling).
Ahi Tuna and parmesan fries (happy hour on the 30th floor of a building downtown). Not as good as it sounds/looks, but the view was nice.
Oyster french omelette with greens and banana muffin.
Fried calimari (happy hour).
Dungeness crab benedict.
MSC Albacore Nigiri. Marinated in ponzu sauce, then lightly torched. Insanely delicious.
Not pictured: pear and blue cheese ice cream (much tastier than it sounds).