Digitize This, by Marlene Bruce



Portland, Oregon for a weekend

March 14 - 18, 2002


Rash and I spent Valentine's Day weekend in San Francisco. For White Day Rash planned a trip for us to Portland, Oregon. White Day in Japan is one month later than Valentines (where the women give chocolate to men), and is designed for the men to give chocolate to women. After planning this trip, I got a two week contract job in Houston, and managed to get the recruiting company to fly me to Portland for the weekend.

I arrived late Thursday night and met Rash at the airport. We took the Max train and trolley to our hotel, the Shiloh Inn near the Convention Center, on the East side of the river. Nice hotel in a convenient location and relatively inexpensive. We had a late dinner at the Denny's nearby.

Friday we skipped breakfast (save an orange) and caught the trolley to the main location of Powell's City of Books (passing some really neat sculptures—reminiscent of yet very different from totems—near the waterfront and bridge). Powell's is a famous bookstore the size of a city block in downtown Portland ("the largest used and new bookstore in the world"). In addition to its vast size, one of the delightful things about Powell's is that the used books are tucked in with the new for easy comparison. I don't shop for used books that often, and I hear Powell's used prices can be higher than some, but the break in price relative to quality caused me to purchase 3 used and one new. These included the beautiful and informative Hatha Yoga by Godfrey Devereux, The Massage Book, an original classic by George Downing, and the currently popular Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook, by J. Piven and D. Borgenicht. If you're a bookworm and want to get a sense of what you might be missing, check out this PDF map of Powell's (257K).

As we walked to and from the bookstore we saw several interesting sights. Here are a few:

In general the city seems to be full of art objects, something which adds to the its other charms of interesting architecture, cleanliness, an apparently liberal bent, and a mix of both trendy and mom-and-pop shops and restaurants. This would be a pleasant place to live, though I'm getting spoiled by the warm winter in California.

In the afternoon we took the Max to Portland's upscale-yet-quaint Nob Hill district. We perused numerous fun and interesting shops and lunched at Escape from New York Pizza (one of our favorites back in SF). Soon after Rash and I were Moonstruck. I was taken by one of their attractive window posters, which read, "We won't change your life, but the next ten minutes look promising." Indeed their Mexican cocoa was the best ever. I'm surprised we managed to extricate ourselves from this chocolatier without spending more money!

A shop which did manage to get me to part with some of my cash was Monkey Business Trading Company. Not only were their dresses and sweaters great (I bought two and one), but they had a fabulous collection of do-dads, artisan pieces, and decorations from all over the South Pacific (including Indonesia, etc). Best of all, everything was on sale! I found a gift for my brother there and was tempted buy much more than I purchased.

While walking around we found a barbershop within which I got my hair trimmed. I'm letting it grow out, but was really getting bothered by the long stragglers at the nape of my neck. Just after this adventure we happened across Gypsy, a bar and restaurant with a groovy space-age bachelor pad / lounge-inspired interior.

Friday evening we were picked up by my friend Erika, and transported to meet with Amanda and her husband Tom for dinner. We had delicious, abundant and relatively inexpensive sushi at Kappaya Japanese Restaurant, a local favorite east of the river at 3384 S.E. Division Street. It was great seeing Erika and Amanda, who were fellow admins at evolt.org. This was Amanda and Tom's first sushi experience, and we gorged and had a great converstation, pausing for a few group shots as we left.

Erika took the long way back to the hotel, and in the process we happened to pass this billboard which exhibited just a touch of vandalism. (It originally read "Daisy takes folic acid.")

Saturday morning Rash and I walked to a nearby Asian grocery (Anzen, at 736 NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, across from the Oregon Convention Center), grabbed a few items including more sushi lollies, my coveted coconut juice and a couple cans of Green River (which is mentioned in one of my favorite movies, The Razor's Edge), a pin cusion for Kerin, and steamed buns.

We then walked a few blocks over to Broadway in search of brunch. We passed and peered into several possibilities (some with long lines, others attractive, a few not even open), and ended up coming back down the street to Pizza Schmizza which looked especially promising. (Pizza twice in one weekend ... oooh!) We were pleased with the slices—as usual we ordered extra crispy—and the accompanying salads, but we were most taken with the quirky decor. In a couple ways it was not unlike the Saturn Cafe in Santa Cruz, but with its own bent for games. This would have been a good place for a game of Aquarius.

Just after 1 PM Rash and I met Erika, with whom I spent the rest of the weekend. Rash took off for the airport to fly home. Erika and I picked up her mom and daughter Brooke and dropped them at an art museum (driving through some momentary hail), and spent some of the afternoon back at Nob Hill shopping in a very light rain. We then met Amanda for coffee and ice cream. What a fun time; I laughed 'til I cried!

The evening meal with Erika was at an attractive and comfortable Thai restaurant (Thai Thai, at 4604 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd), which had really good satay and soup. Breakfast Sunday morning was tasty and filling at [someplace], within a short walk from Erika's. She and I then cruised a few of the secondhand/vintage clothing shops and saw some neat stuff, including an original Peter Max "Love" scarf. We picked up Brooke, walked up and down Hawthorne street (the hippy district) and had a great time going in and out of shops and swinging Brooke as we walked.

The next stop was at the airport, so I could catch my plane back to my contract job in Houston. But oops, I misread the itinerary. Instead of being 2 1/2 hours early, I actually was 1/2 hour late (I'd mixed my Portland departure time with the departure time of my connecting flight in Phoenix). This meant I spent another night at Erika's and caught an early flight out the next morning. Thanks Erika for your generous hospitality!