Peter and I visited Portland, Oregon a couple of weeks ago. It was our first (and last?) trip to Portland. It was boring. No offense to my husband.
What should have taken just over three hours took nearly five to drive to Portland due to traffic on that fucker, Interstate 5. We left at 1pm on Friday and it was bumper-to-bumper from Seattle through Olympia which is 105 km / 65 mi. For the following 182 km / 113 mi from Olympia to Portland, it was fast, slow, fast, slow. Painful.
During Peter’s third nap of the road trip, I got Klaudia up to 153 km / 95 mi per hour and she handles like a champ. I love her.
Aside from our trip to Jordan last February where we spent most of our time in a car driving around the country, I believe the last time I was in a car for longer than two hours was sometime around July 22, 2011, and that road trip was a biggie being 14 hours. I had just packed up my life in Dallas, TX and drove our remaining car hauling three cases of wine, a ginormous tile saw, all the worldly possessions that I’d live off of for the next two months, and some miscellaneous cleaning supplies from Dallas to Minneapolis, MN before departing for our big adventure abroad that following week.
Needless to say, we are not in “long road trip” shape and we certainly are not in “bumper-to-bumper traffic” shape. The drive was hell. It set the whole weekend off on a bad note because we arrived much later than planned and found ourselves somewhat in a dinner debacle.
Portland is known for its beer and, well, I’m not sure. The city felt like an industrial city after the industry had left. They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words, so here.
We ended up at a popular brewery for dinner on Friday night because we make bad decisions sometimes and this was one of those times. 10 Barrel Brewing Co. is a tourist trap. The good news is that the brewery next door, Back Pedal Brewing, was great and I’m happy we were able to spend our one-hour 10 Barrel Brewing Co. table wait there.
After eating a meh dinner, we bummed around Portland and visited a couple of other breweries. All were just ok. Not great. Not horrible. Just average. We ended up turning in early because Saturday was our big day to do some sightseeing.
On top of our meh Friday night, it was rainy and cold and the area around our hotel was blocked off for an annual flower show. Nothing is worse on vacation than bad weather.
I don’t hate flowers but when an entire city shuts down for a real-live parade with a real-live 46-person marching band with fucking humungous drums and that marching band marches past your hotel room in the wee hours of the morning, well, then, I get angry at flowers.
It’s like birds. I don’t hate birds but when they poop on me, I get angry at birds.
Woken by the drums of the parade, we realized that there are very little sights to see in Portland. I decided that the one “must see” is the “deer Portland Oregon” sign so we did that. It was underwhelming.
I mapped our route to the brunch spot so that we would cross Burnside Bridge where the sign is located. I wanted a frame-able photo but all I got was the above. Mission failed.
Brunch was also a failure. The wait for our table was over an hour and our server forgot to place our order with the kitchen. We spent three hours at brunch which was aggravating. After brunch, we meandered around the streets of Portland and we bumped into the floats of the parade of flowers, officially called “Grand Floral Parade.”
We spent Saturday shopping because Oregon is a sales tax free state! You read that correctly! Zero percent sales tax, even on alcohol (and probably cannabis?)!
Our first action item during our shopping trip was to “stock the bar” but there was a major flaw in our plan. We were on foot and liquids are heavy, so we only stocked up on Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso vodka.
The liquor tax in Seattle is very high. As an example, we purchased two bottles of the aforementioned vodka in Portland for $39.90, so $19.95/bottle. When we got back to Seattle, I called our local liquor store in Seattle and asked for the price per bottle and was told, “One bottle of Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso (not ‘expresso’) vodka is $34.10 out the door.”
So, $39.90 for two bottles in Oregon and $34.10 for one bottle in Seattle.
My one regret about Portland is that we did not stop at a liquor store on our way back to Seattle and load up on all our other alcohol-related essentials!
Our second action item was to buy a pair of hiking shoes. Hiking shoes are great for stability which is a good thing to have when you are buying a lot of tax-free alcohol. The hiking shoes were for my upcoming hike with Dexter, our 16.5-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer’s dog runner, Mel. Mel believes that because I go to Orangetheory Fitness, I can somehow hike Lake Ingalls with her even though I’ve only been hiking once in my life.
Here’s the online description of the Lake Ingalls hike:
Lake Ingalls is a 9.5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Cle Elum, WA that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, camping, and backpacking and is accessible from July until October.
Let’s first address the July until October bit of the description. The reason why it is only open for those months is that it’s covered in snow the other months. This means it’s high in altitude. The second bit that needs to be addressed is the mileage. A 16 km / 10 mi hike is a long hike, especially considering my first hike ever was just a few days ago and it was less than 6.4 km /4 mi round trip.
Enough about hiking. Let’s get back to Portland!
I found hiking shoes and blah, blah, blah. The rest of Saturday was spent at happy hour on our hotel’s rooftop deck and then we went to dinner in the Alberta neighborhood (our favorite neighborhood). We dined in a converted garage at Red Sauce Pizza and played cards and drank beer out of cans. I rank the pizza at Red Sauce in my top 10 pizza joints. So, there we have it.
Also the art on the side of the building is cool.
Sunday we departed for Vista House on the Crown Point Scenic Corridor after eating “waffles from a window” (aka The Waffle Window). How nice of the weather to clear up as we leave the city.
The view of the Columbia River Gorge from Vista House was nice!
You may look at the photo above and think, “A river. Meh. Two stars.” but it is so much more than a river. At a minimum, it’s a really wide river, the Columbia River to be precise. Compare the highway (four lanes wide) running alongside the river to the actual river. It’s so wide! It’s a gorgeous gorge!
The verdict on Portland is this: I would return but probably on a girls’ trip where we would be hammered the entire time because there is nothing to do in Portland aside from getting hammered (or hiking but who wants to do that when you’re getting hammered?).
The best way I can find to close this post is with a photo of a skull filled with banana Runts. Banana Runts are the Runts no one wants and is why they’ve ended up in a ceramic skull.