Oregon, Portland

Portland, June 2019, Days 1 & 2

My friend Susanne and I headed out to Oregon on June 22 to attend the Focus on Book Arts conference at Pacific University in Forest Grove. We decided to spend a few days in Portland first. We got out there early and took the MAX light rail line and walked the rest of the way to a sweet AirBNB in northeast Portland on the edge of the Mississippi Arts District, something I will not do with heavy luggage again, although I would stay there again. The neighborhood was full of Craftsman houses and creative gardens and the historic Peninsula Park Rose Garden was only a block or two away.

We had heard of an awesome store named Cargo, so we called a Lyft and went shopping on Saturday afternoon. While we were there, we bought snacks and take-out dinner from the Japanese deli within, called Giraffe, and then drank a smoked marzen and pear cider at the brewpub next door, Hair of the Dog.

Portland, Oregon

^^^Entrance to Cargo

Portland, Oregon

^^^Happy Susanne in front of Cargo

The next morning we walked to a coffee shop for bagels and caffeine, then strolled around this historic park:

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

^^^Peninsula Park Rose Garden

My friend Cat picked us up from our AirBNB at 11 and we ate brunch at Gravy, then walked around on Mississippi Avenue.

Portland, Oregon

^^^Lovely dying tree in front of our AirBNB

Portland, Oregon

^^^Mississippi Avenue sidewalk

Cat and Laurie in Gravy, Portland

^^^Cat and I at Gravy

Cat, Susanne, and Laurie in Portland

^^^Cat, Susanne and I somewhere on Mississippi Ave.

Blue Star Donuts

^^^Susanne, Donut Bitch, in front of Blue Star Donuts.

Cat dropped us off at McMenamin’s Crystal Hotel, where we dumped our luggage and immediately went to Powell’s City of Books, our happy place.

Portland, Oregon

^^^The Crystal Hotel

Crystal Hotel, Portland

Crystal Hotel, Portland

^^^The Gillian Welch “Revelator” room

It’s kind of funny that we got the Gillian Welch room since the one concert that I attended with my friend Cat was a Gillian Welch/Dave Rawlings show.

Portland, Oregon

^^^”TriPPPy” Cider at Al’s Den in the basement of the Crystal Hotel, and the last photo with long hair.

We ate take-out from the Whole Foods deli across the street the rest of the time we were in Portland. I don’t usually shop at Whole Foods, but this time I was thankful that it was next door. Plus we had all those damned doughnuts to eat. It was just terrible, forcing me to eat doughnuts like that. I got a chocolate donut with CBD and the server seemed really concerned that I might not know what CBD is. Uh, I feel like I am pummeled with information with CBD constantly, so I am not that out of touch, thanks anyway, now for your own safety, remove your body from between me and that doughnut.

Oregon, Portland

Portland for a Day, June 26, 2017

Crystal Hotel, Portland

View from Crystal Hotel window

When Susanne dropped me off at the Crystal Hotel in Portland on Sunday evening on her merry way south, I wanted to go out. I really did. But I was so tired, and it was so hot outside and the room was so cool and comfortable. So I let myself collapse on the bed with a copy of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn, with an occasional peep out of my window to see the street life below.

Crystal Hotel room

This time my room was “Wrecking Ball” by Emmylou Harris, which is funny because Emmylou is an alumna of UNCG, where I went to college and now work. Each room at the Crystal is decorated on the theme of a song by an artist who has performed at the Crystal Ballroom.

books from Powell's

I had one day to spend in Portland. Going to Powell’s Books is a requirement for me, so after breakfast in the Zeus Cafe downstairs, I headed there for a couple of head-swimming hours.

I decided to take public transit out to Washington Park to see the Portland Japanese Garden that afternoon. It’s a tad pricey at $14.95 adult admission, but well worth it on a mild sunny day. I wandered up and down the paths for a few hours, sitting occasionally on a shaded bench listening to a water feature or watching the koi.

Japanese Gardens, Portland

Japanese Gardens, Portland

Japanese Gardens, Portland

Japanese Gardens, Portland

Japanese Gardens, Portland

Japanese Gardens, Portland

Japanese Gardens, Portland

Japanese Gardens, Portland

Japanese Gardens, Portland

Japanese Gardens, Portland

Japanese Gardens, Portland

When I returned, I drank a Crystal Terminator Stout on the sidewalk besides Ringler’s Annex (also part of the Crystal), and then I took advantage of the saltwater soaking pool in the basement for the first time. I will never skip this again. I wish I could go back in time and do it the two times I stayed here before. Then I went to Al’s Den (also part of the Crystal), and had a bite to eat while listening to an Irish band. In other words, I ate and drank everything during my day in Portland at the Crystal, and I was happy with that. I heartily recommend it, unless city noise really bothers you (there are earplugs), or you just can’t survive without a TV, or sharing a bathroom in the hallway is extremely objectionable to you (they are clean and I’ve never had a problem with it).

buying local, Focus on Book Arts, Forest Grove, Local food, Marvelous meals, Oregon

Forest Grove, Oregon, 2017

FOBA 2017

Susanne and I love Forest Grove, a beautiful small college town in the middle of rolling farmland with the backdrop of the Coast Range on its west and only a thirty minute drive from Portland to its east. We discovered it through our three trips to the Focus on Book Arts conference we went to in 2011, 2015, and 2017.

The first place we went when we got there was Maggie’s Buns, which I’ve written about before. They had an abundant and delicious lunch selection. I had their veggie lasagna, which rivaled my own in texture and taste, and I am very snooty about my lasagna. I’d go back just for it, but we all tried each other’s salads and they were wonderful too.

Table at Maggie's Buns in Forest Grove, Oregon

Maggie's Buns ceiling

I took a photo of the ceiling at Maggie’s Buns this time because if I’m ever able to look up long enough to do it (neck issues) I’d like to paint the acoustic tiles in my bedroom like this.

At the Wednesday Farmer's Market

The Wednesday evening farmers market downtown is one of the things we love about Forest Grove. When we go, in late June, there are abundant fresh cherries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and all kinds of vegetables. This time there was a baker, Slow Rise Craft Breads whose breads are made from local organic grains and wild yeast. Oh, the complex flavors from that bread. We bought some Face Rock Creamery smoked cheddar cheese from Urban Decanter to go with the Slow Rise rye levain and rolled our eyes in pleasure for the rest of our time there.

We didn’t make it to the King’s Head Pub this time, but we did buy Cornish pasties and almond shortbread from the Great British Bakery at the farmers’ market. The pasties were better than the ones I ate in Cornwall!

Goofin' at Waltz Brewing

^^^Goofing around. We’re sitting on an old Cadillac seat at Waltz. Look closely and you’ll see that the photographer caught my beer just as it was spilling out of my glass.

Susanne talked to a street fiddler who invited us to a bluegrass jam that evening just a couple of blocks away at Waltz Brewing, a very small brewpub in a renovated garage. The garage door was up, there was seating on the sidewalk, and the weather was perfect. We munched on our goodies from the market, petted the local dogs, drank ginger ale and porter, and enjoyed the music. We enjoyed it so much that we skipped the conference lecture again the next night and went back to hear a blues guy play guitar and sing to a karoake machine. I bought a growler of Coffee Porter with To the Roots Espresso (from a local coffee roaster) to keep back in the dorm room fridge.

We were invited to a potluck on Sunday with a group of folks who are developing a co-housing community, which I was quite interested in, but we didn’t have time, it was roasting hot, and I can’t even think about doing anything like that for at least several years. I was curious, though.

Waltz Brewing

Forest Grove has a community edible garden program. Plots with veggies and berries had signs that invited you to help yourself. One was in front of Forest Grove Community School, which also had lovely flowers and artwork.

Forest Grove, Oregon

On Friday evening, we went to a Hawaiian restaurant – a new experience for me but a trip down memory lane for Susanne, who spent a year of childhood living in Hawaii. At Kama’ Aina, Susanne had manapua (sweet bbq pork in dumplings), I had shoyu ahi poke. Poke hasn’t made it back to North Carolina yet, but my bet is that it is the next big foodie thing. Very much like sashimi, but with different seasonings. We also blew everyone away with our garlic breath the next day after sharing garlic furitake fries. Just when you think that you can’t make fries less healthy, somebody decides to fry them with butter and garlic and sprinkle them with sesame seeds and flaked seaweed. God, they were good.

We were sorry to leave Forest Grove, but not sorry to leave the dorm, which was not air conditioned and had no fans. The temps the last two days we were there got up to almost 100 degrees. Pacific University is a lovely campus, though.

Forest Grove, Oregon

^^^From the garden in front of the Forest Grove Community School.

Montana/PNW trip, Oregon, Portland

Bend, Sisters, Portland, home.

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^^^The Three Sisters

After the Painted Hills, we drove through an area where a lot of the forest had been burned by the wildfires last year. It was beautiful in its own way and I wish that I had stopped to take photos, but at this point I was ready to experience the area without a camera and I was driving to give Sandy a break.

We decided to stay in a cheap motel in Bend, the Rainbow Motel. It was a good value and clean, but there was a slight funky smell that I didn’t like but was able to get past. At least it didn’t set my allergies off. We went downtown and walked around a bit before eating at the Pines Tavern, beside a couple of large pines that grew through the roof of the restaurant. We were definitely winding down.

The next day we needed to return the car by 6:30 p.m. We stopped in Sisters and spent a few hours wandering around and having lunch, visiting a local weaver’s shop and buying some more clothes. I will need to make some clothing donations to Goodwill after this trip, but to be honest, most of my clothes came from thrift shops to begin with so the worn out ones will show up in some cloth woven squares.

We drove on to Portland, dropped our luggage off at the Crystal Hotel, and Sandy got to drive in rush hour Portland traffic. We turned in the car at 6:27 p.m. and then took the train back downtown and spent a couple of hours at Powell’s Books. We didn’t eat out – we were tired and I had a lot of really good snacks with us that we didn’t have room to take home in our luggage.

The Crystal Hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places and each of its rooms is decorated with the theme of a song by an artist that has played at the Crystal Ballroom. Our room was “Long Haired Child” by Devendra Banhart. I’ll probably stay there every time I go to Portland because I like being so close to Powell’s and the TriMet light rail system.

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The next day we were beginning to feel the burn to our checking accounts and our hips so we walked around downtown then took the train to Washington Park, then a bus to the Rose Garden, which had free admission. We were there during the Rose Festival and even though I am not wild about formal gardens I have to say that the variety of roses were stunning, as well as the view of downtown Portland.

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^^^I apologize but I had to laugh at this sign in Chinatown.

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Two more visits to Powell’s Books (God, how I love that place) snagged me several books from my list, mostly on collage and fiber art. We ate pasta and seafood (but no crawfish) at Jake’s Famous Crawfish that night. We were clearly ready to go home, which means that we traveled for exactly the right amount of time.

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Once again, we were assigned pre-check at the airport. Sandy took some nice photos of the mountains from the plane. Everything went great until we cranked up the car in Raleigh and the check engine light came on and the engine was running a bit rough. It was Saturday night on Memorial Day weekend so we pushed on home although it made Sandy quite unhappy. Later we replaced a coil and a spark plug. The cats were happy to see us but not stressed out at all. Thank you, Susanne!

It was a wonderful trip, and I came back with lots of ideas of where I’d like to visit the next time we go to Montana and Oregon.

John Day Fossil Beds, Montana/PNW trip, National Parks and Monuments, Oregon

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument: The Painted Hills

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We reached the Painted Hills section of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument around mid-afternoon.

The Painted Hills are included in this travel marketing campaign of the seven wonders of Oregon, and you understand why when you get there. It is up there with the most beautiful and unusual terrain I have ever seen. I’ll just let the photos speak for themselves.

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Wildflowers and a little wildlife:

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Textures and colors up close on the Painted Cove Nature Trail:

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From the hill above it:

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The Red Hill Trail:

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