In late June, I got the chance to travel to Portland, Oregon, for a conference. A few years ago for our 5th anniversary, Matt and I went to Portland, the Oregon Coast, and Mt. Rainer. Five years before that, we went to Seattle, Vancouver Island, and Vancouver for our honeymoon. Sometimes I think we could vacation in the Pacific Northwest every year and be perfectly content.
Although it didn't make a lot of sense for Matt to fly cross-country for a long weekend, I convinced him it was a good idea to meet me there after I was done with the conference. He had some frequent flyer miles to burn through and we rented a condo by the week in Portland to save on costs. A good portion of my expenses were covered, so we went for it. His one request was that we stay in the city, because I've dragged him along on a few grueling (but amazing) hiking and backpacking trips, and we'd spent way too much driving from amazing place to amazing place.
There's so much to love in and near Portland that I knew there would be more than enough to keep us busy for the few short days we got to spend there.
Here are just 12 of the many things we loved about Portland:
1. The Rose Garden in Forest Park.
2. Yummy food, much of it local and made with a lot of care. Biscuits Cafe served chicken apple sausage (that Matt mixed into our eggs the next morning) and homemade strawberry jam.
3. People watching downtown. Always interesting people in Portland. Hipsters. Lots of hipsters, and some hippies too.
4. The Japanese Garden. The most authentic outside of Japan. There was an exhibit comparing the Japanese and Pacific Northwest Native weavers - and we got to hear a local weaver discuss his techniques. Years ago I used a loom to weave Matt a scratchy and unwearable grey scarf. It was quite cool to hear from someone who actually knew what he was doing.
5. Happy hour. Portland is huge on happy hour and there are food and beverage great deals to be had. We even found a happy hour guide at Powell's. Sushi happy hour was the favorite. I wouldn't have even known about this amazing aspect of Portland, if I didn't get to meet up at a happy hour earlier in the week with a friend from Boston who is home in Portland for the summer. Lucky woman.
6. Waterfalls. I wanted to hike on the 13 mile Eagle Creek trail but took mercy on Matt because there are some sheer cliffs where you have to hold onto guard rails along the way. Not his favorite activity. Instead, we stopped, with the crowds, at Multnomah Falls instead and it was worth the stop.
7. Breweries. We hit up a few different ones this time. I think I learned to really like beer in Portland. Definitely where I learned to understand the different types of beer.
8. Mt. Hood. Do I need to say more?
9. Hood River. Cute town that some say is the windsurfing and kiteboarding capital of the world. We both wanted to try. Maybe next time.
10. The Columbia River Gorge. I got to see it from the air on the flight into Portland, then we drove the Oregon and Washington sides of the gorge on our way to and from Hood River. The bridge tolls were only 75 cents!
11. Shopping. I only bought something at the Goodwill on Burnside in Nob Hill where we stayed, but it was still fun to look around at furniture, books, and clothes.
12. Brew and Views. Vintage movie theaters that run independent films and serve beer and wine. I'd been looking forward to going to one earlier in the week when I was stuck in the dark, drab conference hotel downtown. We saw Food, Inc. and have been rethinking our approach to meat consumption ever since. As for the brew, when it came down to it, we abstained since we'd already split a sampler (above) and hit a happy hour for a pint beforehand.
It was a short trip, but we packed a lot in and it was worth the long flight and hassles to get away from the East Coast for a bit.
Anyone else have a vacation spot you go to, or want to go to, over and over and over again?