My brother and I were supposed to leave early on Friday, but he was having a hell of a day at work, and couldn't leave at his usual 3pm. I didn't want to deal with any hellacious I-5 traffic, so we didn't get underway until about 7. Got into Portland a bit before 10, and checked into the Lloyd Center Doubletree. I'll definitely keep that place in mind for future weekend getaways: $109/night with parking, really nice hotel, the MAX runs *right* in front of it and is free to downtown, it's right next to a mall (not an attraction in itself, but convenient if you need it), and hey, free cookies!
Joe was a little zonked, but I wanted to get out a bit, since we did make the effort to get down Friday night. Took the MAX over to Spartacus, which I'd been told was a decent leather store. Sadly, this was no longer true. They had a few racks of nice leather clothing on clearance, none in my size, so they clearly were a quality leather place at one time. However, they appear to be deliberately converting into a fluffy, pink, sex-toy and-oh-yeah-there's-some-leather-over-th
After that was a brief stop at Ground Kontrol, the completely awesome bar+80's arcade. The place was completely rocking and the DJ was spinning an awesome mix of all the best songs from that decade. Played a few games of Q*Bert and Paperboy, walked over to the MAX, and took it back to the hotel.
The next morning was an early wakeup so we could get the best pastries at Pearl Bakery. As usual, I took home many delicious baked goods that got frozen and will be slowly meted out over the coming weeks. After that we had breakfast at a nearby diner that looked interesting. It was decent enough, but not something I'll rush back to. We headed back to the hotel to drop off our stuff, and headed off to the gondola.
Yes, Portland, OR has a gondola.
The Wikipedia article on it is totally worth reading. It connects the two sections of the Oregon Health & Science University campus, and I've wanted to ride it for a while. Completely worth it. There was a meditation garden as part of the hospital at the upper campus, and it was just stunning. The trip is highly recommended.
The plan had been to next visit the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, but parking was a nightmare. This turned out to be a good thing, though, because it turned out that cow's train had gotten in early, so we moved up our timetable a bit. Joe and I headed over to the Bridgeport Brewery for some lunch and beer. Had a lovely salad and a meatloaf sandwich, and quite enjoyed the hop ale. cow had gotten a recommendation that a local pub had the region's best french fries, so we headed over to the New Old Lompoc. The beer there was mostly very good, the cream stout in particular was excellent, but the fries were terrible. Still, probably worth a return visit.
From there, we stumbled all the way over to Powell's books. After about 90 minutes, I'd only made it one-third of the way through the science-fiction section, and my arms were too full of books to continue. Need to stop going to Powell's. Fortunately it turned out to be only $40. Must be some kind of miracle.
We were also all getting just a bit too sober, so the next stop was the Deschutes Brewery Public House. This place is *so* going on the list. The menu was amazing, and the beer was wonderful. We all stuffed ourselves silly, and then topped off the night at Ground Kontrol with some more gaming.
The next morning was breakfast with cow's very cool aunt and uncle, which was supposed to be at Mother's Bistro. However, the crowd scared us off, so we went to Red Star a few blocks away. This is now the third time my brother Joe has been denied going to Mother's. But we had a good time anyway, and it was really neat meeting and talking with more of cow's family.
At this point, we parted ways with cow, whose journey was now off to San Francisco. My brother Joe and I drove off east on I-84 out to a winery I'd heard about. The drive was wonderful: right up the Columbia River valley, surrounded by gorgeous snow-capped mountains. We stopped at one big waterfall along the way, and had a nice short hike. We also drove by the well-known Multnomah Falls, but the place was just packed, so we didn't really stop.
The Pheasant Valley Winery was a neat little place. It was back in the hills of Hood River, and it had just snowed that morning! They had quite a number of interesting wines, and at decent prices. Between the two of us, we bought a case. The main reason I went there was for their pear wine, which was very good, but not as awesome as I was hoping. The big hit was a lovely, woody Chardonnay that was quite good! Their Syrah was good, so I bought some of that, and the big surprise was the Cab Sav. Usually they're way too tannic for me, but this one was very well integrated. Looking forward to breaking those open. Not that I needed more wine.
We drove all the way back to Portland, and headed down to Woodburn Company Stores, a huge outlet shopping mall. I was most interested in going there because they had a number of shops that the Seattle-area outlets just don't have at all. The shops were good, and even the ones I was used to were larger and had a better selection, but the practical upshot was just that there were that many more great things they didn't have in my size. Still, if I were in the area, I'd go back, but I'm not going to make a special trip.
Once that was done, it was time for the long drive back home. The plan had been to stop at the third big Portland brewery, Widmer, but neither of us was really feeling up to it, so we decided to save it for next time, and took cow's uncle's advice and had a wonderful dinner of tater tots and buffalo wings at Fire on the Mountain. They were the best wings I've had on the west coast, hands down.
The whole weekend was just fantastic. I got to do many, many things I'd been wanting to do in the area, got to all of my old favorites, and even have some new ones for next time. I love, love, love having Portland, OR so close by. Until next time...