Poking around PDX


I had the chance to get away to Portland with a girlfriend and her Bo. It’s been a few years since I last visited. It was during Portland Fashion week to watch my students show their wears and catch up with an old high school friend. It became quickly apparent I really should go down more often. It never fails to pull me out of whatever slump I’ve fallen into and give me a sense of release. But I suspect travel in general would do that for me these days. So I am hoping to plan some more trips.

On this excursion I made a few observations about Portland I can’t say I’d noticed before.

  1. There is an inordinate amount of single men walking dogs all over the city. Perhaps I should say solitary men because after much discussion I had to contend they might actually have significant others that have shoved them out the door tasked with walking the dog. But seriously while sitting in a bar for happy hour we must have seen a dozen walk by.  That was only on one count. They seemed to be taking over the city. Where were the gals we wondered?
  2. Joggers. Ok, so Seattle is healthy. Go to any park and you’ll see runners, but Portland steps up the game. There are people jogging everywhere-not just along the waterfront.
  3. Many, many, many women in Portland have very cute short haircuts. Love it! Hope the trend comes north.
  4. Food carts are everywhere. They’re giving Austin a run for their money.
  5. Portlandians love their food, particularly sweets. The line for Voodoo doughnuts was around the block. I saw a guy give one to a homeless man and you’d think he’d struck gold. Seriously I suspect they might have magical properties (or drugs in them). Then there was the line for ice cream at Salt & Straw– also down around the block. It was cold outside folks. Not that anyone noticed. I have never been so thankful for such long lines. It helped curb my intense and insatiable sugar cravings.

Actually the waits at restaurants all over town were long. Granted it was the weekend. But that led to people milling about waiting to be seated, which in turn led to talking and meeting new people. There was a sense of community around every corner, perhaps one of my most favorite things about Portland.

Straight away we headed to the Saturday Market. It was 3 blocks along the waterfront from our hotel. I’m a sucker for art fairs. Shockingly I managed to escape making only one purchase. A print by Renee Staeck called Found. Very me, my friend pointed out.

Renee Staeck

Artwork by Renee Staeck (Found is the upper left print)

There was another artist Sienna Morris I adored. She painted these elaborately colorful works with numbers and formulas scrolled all over them representing scientific, mathematical and psychological concepts. She was speaking my language. The strings on the cello where the hertz frequency of the actual notes A, D, G, C. The shell was drawn with the Fibronnaci sequence and the women adorned with the chemical compound for Oxytocin.

Laughing, I admitted I could use a little of that. The artist educated that besides the obvious skin to skin contact, holding hands, prolonged hugs and sharing a meal with others releases Oxytocin. (No I didn’t ask her for a hug. But I should have). As we headed away from her booth, my friends holding hands, I commented they were shooting up.

Sienna Morris

Artwork by Sienna Morris (Oxytocin anyone?)

Of course It was mandatory I drag them to Mother’s. There was an hour wait. So we put our name on the list and headed down to the Oyster Bar. These two are Oyster fanatics. I watched in awe, witnessing a science experiment. As far as I’m concerned I might as well hack up a luggy and swallow it. (texture issues). So I began watching them taste this and that then make notes in their database. Sadly Portland you did not rank very high on the Oyster connoisseurs scale. But I don’t know what to say about people who eat a living animal. I was aghast with this new awareness. Another long debate ensued about any other food people eat while it’s living. Sure convince yourself that it dies the moment it’s cracked open but let’s be honest it isn’t until it hits your stomach acid that it really done for.

Now alcohol has basically been removed from my allowable beverage list, since it is nothing but easily consumed sugar and carbs. So I had to get creative. I’ve been told I can have hard apple cider (Angry Orchard Apple Ginger is fab), very dry wine (Yuck), or perhaps the occasional vodka drink. Very occasionally! My stomach has been slow to actually tolerate any of these. I can’t have syrups or carbonated beverages so this makes happy hour all the more challenging. So I created a drink. In a short glass pour Sweet Tea vodka. Preferably use a brand sweetened using honey or at the least pure cane sugar. Then simply add water and a lemon garnish. Viola! I had already gotten my friend hooked on these, so we ordered two. Then I realized it needed a name, this new concoction of mine. Hence it was dubbed The Tealight.

We got the “You’re table is ready” page and headed back to Mother’s. One of my biggest fears around traveling was being able to find foods that fall inside my new wild dietary needs. This was quickly alleviated. Our waiter sat himself down to take our order. He had no problem with my high maintenance questions about what oil was used for cooking things. I feel like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally these days. Not a pretty site. Ultimately I landed on the Cobb Salad with olive oil, a titch of balsamic, no chicken (since they grilled it with canola oil), no tomatoes (because blah!), extra bacon and passion fruit tea.

Our waiter was a wealth of knowledge when talking about health, food and energy properties. He talked about roots and teas (sharing his personal favs) which are particularly good for kidneys. My girlfriend and I looked at each other with a “no way” glance. How did he know? He says I touched my back. Subconsciously no doubt, but he was attuned enough to pick up on it. But that is a story for another day.

So let’s just say we had a bit in common, a kindred connection. We both liked to think of ourselves as poets. We were metaphysical in nature. He was German and Danish. And when I inquired if he too suffered romantic melancholy he answered without hesitation. “Of course, I have a map of my exs.” He could take my poking and then push back. “I’m demanding I said” ribbing him for my tea to arrive quicker. “No, you’re impatient.” Mishearing him I said “in what universe is this considered patient.” He corrected that indeed I’m not. He had Tibetan tattooed along his forearm and a triangular labradorite necklace that he pointed out was a “masculine stone in a feminine shape for balance”. He called me Angelic. Well actually my necklace.  “Seriously, that’s a first” I told him.

My friend’s Bo wanted to play matchmaker trying to urge me to give him my number. He had a long list of reasons why men need help and encouragement. I argued that men need to be men. That when they’re truly interested they go after what they want. Either way my friends thought the waiter was sweet on me. Perhaps he was, but I’m not looking I reminded. Not that the attention wasn’t nice. It really was.

My girlfriend said he’d make a great friend if nothing more. “No doubt”, I replied. Male friends are something I’ve always had and truly enjoy. Then she pointed out to her Bo, when it appeared as though he might try and meddle,  that the waiter was at the very least geographically challenged. This did not deter her Bo’s conviction. “Really?” I thought to myself, this coming from a man that won’t move from Puyallup to Seattle to be closer to his girl. And here he wants this guy to move to Seattle because as he argued “he can teach QiGong anywhere”. He was becoming a worse Yente than my very own DT.

So of course being my cheeky self, I told him it simply wouldn’t work. As my in-house Yente has already informed me the next man in my life will look Italian but be Jewish. So can you guess Bo’s next move? He actually asks if he’s Jewish. I nearly choked on my fork. “Well yes, half Jewish”, he replied. Now what was I to do? Smile, say Goodbye and head out for the rest of our escapades around PDX.

We traipsed all over town walking from one end to the other. Hit up Powell’s Book because we simply couldn’t pass it by. But it was so much larger than I remembered and honestly a bit overwhelming. So we quickly existed. Though it did remind me of CU Boulder’s Library. Once considered in the top 10 pickup places on college campuses. I think it is because people like to steal away and make out in the stacks. Yes higher education at it’s finest.

We bought a day pass for the transit which is phenomenal, but to be honest we barely rode it. We could walk the 20 blocks in the 15 minutes between trains and stay warm. So we walked and walked and walked. And ate and drank and window shopped. I am very sore today.

After dinner, a comedy sportz show, and a final nightcap at Paddy’s we headed back to our hotel, The Rose. Ugh! This is where my evening turned. I wanted to watch a little TV. But it wouldn’t turn on. Once I determined it wasn’t late night pilot error, I called down to reception. Where I was informed that there was no maintenance man, she couldn’t help me, and they did not have another room they could move me to. Seriously they would want me to switch rooms at midnight? So she offered me a $20 discount. I took it. It was something considering I was already paying more than my friends, who managed to snag their room at the Groupon rate. By the time I had called I was informed all the rooms available at that rate where booked. And I was traveling with them so there was little choice.

Then rest of the evening proved unsatisfying. The max went by right below the window every half hour till around 2am. After managing to drift off I was awoken at 3am by some man pounding on the door either next to mine or across the hall. I wasn’t the only patron he awoke as some yelling ensued. Then at 4am I was awakened with a bout of leg cramps. By 5am it was a dream where the concierge came to tell me it was important I call my roommate immediately. It was 5 in the morning so I thought it best not to actually call her. By 6am I was wide awake. So I dressed and took my camera out on the town to capture some early morning sights. I love cities in the wee hours when they seem to still be sleeping.

So next time I head to Portland I’m staying at the Embassy Suites again. That is a hotel I can rest in; that is still near the Saturday market and Mothers.

Portand wweb