Portland with pals

An adventure down to Oregon – meeting up with Brian’s brother Mark and wife Patricia.
(and I am posting this lengthy version because I think Portland is well worth a visit – I hope it adds to your travel experience)

We drove out of Van from the 6:20 ferry – and had a delayed border crossing – waiting in line for almost an hour. Still makes me feel like a criminal…But safely made our way down through Seattle and Tacoma area to the “other” Vancouver and just across the bridge to the Inn at the Meadows – Best Western. SUCH a great location – easy to enter/exit from Fwy #5 and then a few minutes walk to the great Portland transit trains straight to down town. Buy your day pass for $5 and enjoy the downtown streetcars and bus on the same ticket.

Mark having previously done work meetings  in Portland navigated us (kind of) to Salty’s on the
Columbia – not far from the hotel – and a window seat overlooking the river. Wonderful sunset views & seafood all around.And I did another trip out to the marina waterfront in the early AM to do some sketching.

Next trip I hope to make it up along the Gorge – east of Portland along the river.

Walking back through downtown – very impressed with the street art, customized transit shelters, and funky window displays – we came upon the famous block of Food “trucks” (more like carts – they are permanently set up on one whole downtown block @ SW10th & SW Washington) Well worth the visit for our lunch – we did a reconnaisance wander around the whole block to review our choices for later.

We headed for the famous Powell’s Book store –  and although the outside looks a bit weary…the inside was ASTOUNDING!!!. Many rooms and levels, places & products to explore. I could have spent the whole day in there – and lots of money!

Our wanderings took us past a great shop (not much open at 9am) and Brian & I having had experience with a specialty Oil&Vinegar shop in Tubac AZ encouraged Mark & Pat to stop. Benneserre (SW 9th & Taylor right next to Starbucks) and we enjoyed half an hour of tasting fabulous olive oils and vintages of balsamic with surpising infusions – from savoury & spicy to sweet – not to mention the great sales clerk. He was a fan of Van.BC so we had a good chat. We all came out with more bottles & bags to go with our books. Now enjoying the benefits here in the kitchen with flavorful salads & marinades.

Brian walking - elms ParkSt Portland

Our friendly clerk suggested a detour to our riverside walk – taking in the magnificent Elm tree boulevard along SW Park Ave (from Salmon to Columbia) Most of the elder Elm trees in the US have succumbed to Elm Disease – so it was great to see this stand of city greenery, parks,  public art & gardens full of activity & color.

Through the Cultural District this wander brought us to the Oregon Historical Society Museum and Portland Art Gallery – and a fabulous trompe l’oeil mural on the building behind the museum. (8 story mural painted by by Richard Haas 1989 ) of Lewis & Clark expedition (1803 St Louis to the Pacific)  and it pleased me greatly to see Sacejewea (Shoshone woman with papoose) out front & center. Famous US explorers who followed a woman with a baby accross the northwest. Gotta love history.

Now down to the river – And FYI – it is pronounced Will-AAH-Mit (not Willa-MET). There is no description of Portland that would not include BRIDGES. Portland calls itself BRIDGETOWN. And of course myself being a great fan of bridges and working waterfront – was happy to enjoy it close up. (the main #5 freeway route zooms along the East side of Willamette River – with an fleeting overview of the Riverside walk on the city side)

There are 11 bridges within view along the city center shoreline – with another in construction. The older ones lift, spilt and raise in many engineered designs to allow for large ship passage. And there is plenty of activity along the shore with paths, parks, bike and pedal/car rental, walkers, cyclists, and public events.

Sadly they were just packing up from a weekend festival  Bite of Oregon – music and major Foody event.  And the boys were disappointed that the craft beer party had also just wound up. Oregon Brewers Festival highlights the great local micro-breweries. We will have to schedule our next visit better – but we did manage to sample a little of the local suds – thanks to my phone and beer-map-app. Ya gotta love Wi-Fi.

We completed the circle along the riverfront back up to the north end of town and headed through Chinatown (not at all like Van) to the Pearl district. And this is obviously where all the action is. Designer studios, funky shops, alleys with cafes and great old buildings. Wondered what all the fuss was about when we came across a crowd on the street – happy people with pink boxes in their hands, it was hard to miss the line up for the Voodoo Doughnut shop. Where the magic is in the hole. We had read about it and just happened across it by chance.You gotta see it to believe it-but with such a huge lineup and rumbling stomachs we did not linger to sample the goods.


    It was however a great introduction to the Old Town and Pearl Disctrict neighborhoods. Wonderful old buildings, funky shops, old signage (I love Neon) The beer app led us on past the smell of doughnuts – to the Deschutes Brewpub (NW 11th & NW Davis). Another great discovery – a great space, old lofted ceilings and carved timberframe posts throughout. Great food and the light beer was excellent. I had a Wheat beer – and it came with a raspberry infusion (and tester – thank you to the great server) on the side – may sound odd but it was fabulous.

We managed a foray out a couple of blocks away to find the Guitar shop for Mark – and lo and behold an art supply (that I have only seen online…) Dick Blick’s right across the road. So I was set for a while. More bags to carry ;-) last on our list was the Columbia outdoor clothing company – their home town outlet store. Some great deals and good quality stuff.

back to the hotel after a long day. Great spots and exploring, shopping and nibbling along the way. Off early tommorrow to the volcano zone…Mt St Helen.








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