So we successfully land in Portland, + immediately the difference in the general tone + attitude of everyone around us is noticeably chill than either our city of origin or any of our previous stops. Even the grumpy, in-a-hurry people are polite. Andrew is waiting to escort us to his cool pad in Southeast P-town. We dump our gear + jump on the vibe.
Andrew’s neighborhood is pretty nice, but even the relatively-divey part of town where we used to live (‘sup Division!) is all tidy + respectable these days. . . amazing.
Meanwhile, my brain is continually freaking out at how green it is here; memory is no replacement for vivid reality! Many of the neighbors have gardens overflowing with tasty bits to sample; one place in particular has chooks that O “better talk to,” AND huge overgrowth of large, sweet blueberries. Very nice.
There’s also plenty of tasty cafés in this neck of the woods, several awesome playgrounds (including one with giant slides, see-saws, a merry-go-round + always a lot of friendly children for Orlando to play with), + a farmer’s market around the corner every Wednesday, complete with all the fresh organic produce you could want + a mariachi band to boot. Something else you notice that I don’t remember; people actually stop + give way to pedestrians. Maybe it’s just a Southeast Portland thing? I dunno, pretty cool though.
>>>>follow on! >>>>
First day in town I sleep in + wake up to a quiet house, so I take myself downtown where I score a 2-week bus pass (Portland’s public transit being pretty good, between the bus + the MAX lightrail, you can get pretty much everywhere), stop by the Multnomah Public Library to restore my card + pick up a copy of Journey to the West which I’ve been having trouble locating in Adelaide. I chase down a payphone, unsurprisingly difficult in our age of cellular pocket technology, + ring up an old bandmate, Mark, who is still keeping the rock alive with our former band Shortway as well as a new project, Spinning Wheels. I killed some time with a chocolate malt in a mock-50’s diner (all the while, the jukebox playing all my favourites, + I never put a dime in) until he finished work + then we hung out a bit, doing the six-year catchup even as he prepared to blast outta town to play a festival on Seattle’s Capitol Hill.
Meanwhile, ‘lando is fast making friends with the household beast, a large black + white Akita named Argus. Luckily “Bub” (as Mr. Argus is affectionately known around the house) reciprocates the affection, + is also possessed of a fine + even temper, very fortunate as O hasn’t had much experience with having pets around consistently. As you can see, they had many common interests (for the record, Ghostbear was fine after a good spin cycle).
(to be continued)
from the lack of update I’m a bit nervous…but from the fact I can still view the page a bit relieved…this makes me think you went thru the pain of waiting on hold to make sure you can keep ninjakitty.
Makes it bloody hard to get back to, though! Where were we. . ?
Ah yes. Warm nights in Andrew’s backyard.
Being the foodies we are, we had to hit all our favourites. One of the first places I insisted we drop by was Riyahd’s on Hawthorne;
Still the best roast veggie wrap + lentil soup I’ve had (also the best fries anywhere in Portland, oddly enough). Try the manakeesh! It’s weird but you’ll like it. We also made sure to get the black beans + Salsa Verde in as much as possible, you ask for ’em around here, “no way!” – luckily there’s a decent place just around the corner from Andrew’s, so Wu + I would just rock up anytime either of us felt the urge.
Of course, Andrew himself is well on the path of BBQ Mastery, having no less than 3 grills at the time of this writing, all suited to their own purposes. Absolutely spoiled; during our stay we dined on the likes of rainbow trout, porcini mushooms, veggie kebabs, salad right out of the garden, + fresh Oregon berries by the fistful. There is a farmer’s market up the street every Wednesday, always something delicious on offer there at a reasonable price. . . + of course, Andrew always pulled something appropriate out of his wine cellar, along with a bit of story or schooling about whatever plunk happened to come up. Why Syrah became Shiraz remains a mystery, however.
Weather was basically gorgeous the entire stay, + Moreland is a great neighborhood. Walk along the top of Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge + you get a long view of the Willamette River + downtown Portland. Orlando discovered how very nice grass can be, + spent more than a little time flopping down in patches of the longer stuff, waxing philosophical about dandelions. He also discovered the magic of the backyard sprinkler on a hot day; no water restrictions in Portland! I think we all appreciated being able to stay out in the sun for so long without turning into bacon, too, although certain members of our party did get rather lax about putting on suncream + eventually it caught up with them. Slip slap slop, yo!
I met up with our friend Ben, one of Reya’s former Reed coworkers. He took me around to a couple of SE’s better microbreweries, the H.U.B. + the Hedgehouse. The H.U.B. was a big, clean operation, with almost as much parking for cyclists as cars. Lots of nice woodwork + random bicycle frames in the architecture. Enjoyed their IPA + just had to try the “Survival Stout” – “Beer of the Ancients! Barley (Egyptian), Wheat (Mesopotamian), Oats (Egyptian), Amaranth (Aztec), Quinoa (Incan), Spelt (Mesopotamian), and Kamut (Egyptian) sustain the soul with a nutrients cultivated through the millennia. Finished with 15 pounds of cold-pressed Stumptown Hairbender espresso. Unlock the mystery entombed in darkness.” Yeah, @__@”. Hedgehouse was on a much more local feel, lots of people camped out on the lawn enjoying a pint. Microbrews are yet another thing I miss living in Adelaide, + I was quite surprised at the family-friendly atmosphere at both places. Definitely a completely different sort of beer culture than you see in Oz!
We made a field trip out to see Multinomah Falls, + made a visit to the Japanese Botanical Gardens, but I’ll give those their own entries after I edit up the pictures.
4th of July crept in with pops + crackles + bangs starting on the 2nd. On the day, the street above Oaks Bottom was closed off + people had set out their blankets reserving spots along the cliff. We wandered that way when it started getting dark, + by then the festivities were well underway. The street was packed, sparklers waving, black cats exploding, tubes spraying columns of fire every few meters, + (although Oregon is one of the states banning residential aerial fireworks) the occasional roman candle. Argos expressed his dislike of the rowdy vibe, so Andrew & Emily had to turn back.
We pressed on through the smoke, seeking a decent vantage over the river to the display downtown. At this point the Oaks Bottom Amusement Park started launching their own aerial display.
I stuck O on my shoulders + we watched this for a bit, until Mr. Wu decided that was quite enough + where was Argos Woof anyway? So we made our way back through the crowds. When we reached the end of the street, some cyclists were turning past the blockade. There was a small boom close by + one of the cyclists shouted “Americuh!!” + we all had a good chuckle. Let freedom ring 🙂
Aurelia led us across a playing field, narrowly avoiding having a few roman candle bombs dropped on us, to a spot where we could more or less watch the downtown display uninterrupted. Booms + sparkles continued well past midnight, much to O’s chagrin. . . but he was ready for more the next day + kept asking where the boom sparkle went! Silly.
With our days in P-town running short, we managed to meet up for some Hawthorne Pizza with our old buddy Matt Sheehy, he was lookin’ good + doing well. Ran across the street to buy us a copy of his latest album (go go vinyl ^_^). Thanks Matt.
After some B&J’s ice cream, Mister O + I split off to visit the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry, ‘cos they’ve got a whole room set up for toddlers to cut sick with the laboratory-stylie. Orlando loved it, making sure to hit the giant sandbox, joining the general melee at the pneumatics tube (a helpful 8 year-old was on hand to make sure the wee ones knew just how to launch the balls at maximum velocity), exploring the giant eagles’ nest + squirrel’s nut cache, caught a bit of puppet theatre, spun the wheel to turn the rainbow rotor, + of course got completely immersed doing science to the waterworks.
On our last day we rented a car + made a trip to Cannon Beach, that too will get its own blip. Then it’s a short drive to Renton to grab Jamie-san + we’re off to Alaska!
Cleaning out the cobwebs. . .