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Evil, but cute & gay about it
...ramblings of the imperfectly innocent
The land below 
3rd-Jun-2011 12:27 am
The day started off with a comedy of errors. Despite the busy days before, I had sufficiently packed, and was able to get up early enough for the train. The bus I wanted to take to the station ended up leaving 7 minutes early, but no big deal, another (involving a slightly longer walk) was supposed to be along shortly. It didn't show. As didn't several other buses that the arrival app said had come and gone. It turns out that due to the haze of insufficient sleep, I was waiting on 2nd Ave, not 3rd. Oops. OK, fine, walk to the bus tunnel, and just miss another bus. Ended up waiting several more minutes for another bus to take me down to King Street Station, only 15 minutes later than I wanted. However, between the holiday weekend and the fact that one of the two ticket machines was down, the station was 10x crazier than I'd ever seen it, and that was almost not enough time to get ticketed and on the train. Yay once again for booking business class. While pulling out of the station, we stopped to let more passengers on. I'm not completely convinced that some people weren't left there, what with the crazy lines, but I guess I'll never know.

The ride down was pleasant and uneventful, and despite the late departure we actually pulled into Portland early. And this is where the second round of break downs began to occur. I'd only had a flimsy breakfast on the train (not enough time to get a good one before boarding), and I was very much in the mood to complete the task. Walked down to the Bijou Cafe (one of my usual spots), and it was packed out the door. Walk a few blocks south down to Mother's, which is even busier. OK, well, Yelp recommends a particular brunch-oriented food truck; nope, it's closed for the holiday weekend. *sigh* Fine, Flavourspot now has a downtown location, so I'll take the MAX over that way. Whoops! Yelp's/Google's map is completely wrong (though the listed address is correct) and the actual location is 12 blocks in the other direction, within sight of the Bijou Cafe where I started. ARGH! Fine, they're open, and they're not out of sausage! But they are out of lemon curd! And they don't take credit cards anymore! DAMMIT. As it happens, I had $9 in cash (only because the tunnel bus in Seattle was free!) and another $1.25 in change, which was precisely enough for a sausage/maple waffle, a Black Forest (nutella and jam) waffle, and a small coffee. So, breakfast, finally, and only just barely*.

Things got a lot better from there. Checked in to the hotel, did a bit of relaxing and planning my days, and headed off for some shopping. I randomly ran across the store for Moonstruck Chocolates, which I had attempted to visit in the past, given their rave reviews. Thanks to a generous sample policy, I can say that their caramels were disappointing, but their alcohol-enhanced truffles are amazing! I bought a few of those (scotch, cognac, and port) and a hazelnut praline truffle to take home, as well as a small cup of their caramel malt hot chocolate. That last was good, but not great. If I go there again, I'll definitely try their dark hot chocolate.

From there, it was off to Clear Creek Distillery for another sort of tasting. As it happens, that was one of the two days a year they do a tour of the facility, which was a nice little bonus. It was especially interesting hearing the details of the distilling process, and all of the fun things that they use the "head" of each batch (which is mostly methanol) for. They mentioned that their "scotch" whiskey will be bottled in late June, which I made specific note of. Got to try another small portion of their offerings, and ended up buying some raspberry and loganberry liqueurs, as well as mini-bottles of some things to try later. Bussed it back to downtown, did some more shopping, and dropped all my acquisitions back at the hotel.

Dinner was, as planned, a multi-stage affair. First stop: Blueplate, an old-timey soda fountain place, which, in addition to phenomenal homemade sodas, also serves delicious, petite meals for cheap. I sat at the counter, and chose the beef stroganoff, which I got to see cooked up right in front of me (by the very attractive Chef Jeff). For a beverage, I went with the "Purple Haze", a sweet-tart number full of star anise, allspice, and hibiscus. Both are recommended! Second was Mother's, for their mac-and-cheese of the day. Sadly, though, that day's was ham, mushroom, and swiss cheese, which somehow wasn't working for me, so I headed right over to stop number three: Widmer Gastropub. Now, Portland has no shortage of brewpubs, each seemingly better than the last. Sadly, though not unexpectedly, they were sold out of the amazing, amazing mead I had last time, so I had to "settle" for a hot pretzel with cheese fondue and a pint of their Drop Top Ale. As good as Widmer is, it doesn't displace my current favorite of Deschutes; I like the beers at Widmer a bit better, but their food is that same litlle bit inferior. I'm sure I'll be back to both!

Since I wasn't able to indulge in some mead, there was enough time to head back downtown for another soda at Blueplate. This time, a Hawaiian Sunset: coconut cream and pineapple, with a strawberry sunset. Yum. Ended up having a huge conversation with Chef Jeff, keeping him a half hour past closing, comparing transit/rail politics between Seattle and Portland. Which... I don't think I have words for how awesome that was.

The last planned stop of the evening was Ground Kontrol, which have completed their renovations from the last time I was there. Their new place is clearly TRON-inspired (blue el-wire, glowing geometric shapes hung from the ceiling, white illuminated glass-top tables), but it's definitely not overdone; upon further inspection, for example, the shapes I mentioned resemble a collection of n-sided dice instead of Bit. It was also much more difficult to get around in than I ever remember (not that it was ever trivial), but that may have been due to the massive crowd. Glad to see them doing so well! Had a great time playing a bunch of Frogger, Pac-Man, Burgertime, and Mappy; Tempest wasn't working, though.

On the way back to the hotel, on a whim I stopped at another waffle food truck I'd spied earlier, which is where I got my apple/caramel/whipped cream concoction I posted about earlier. It was great! The waffle was a different style from Flavorspot, but no less delicious. I almost can't call them a competitor, their serving approaches are so different. After that, it was an early turn-in for me.

Sunday was a deliberately slower-paced day. Got up around 10, showered, packed, stored my bags, and headed for breakfast at the Bijou Cafe. Wait was not as bad as yesterday, and it only ended up being about 20 minutes. The food was just what I wanted: scrambled eggs, house-made sausage, salad, and whole-wheat toast with jam. Glorious. The sausage patty, though, had some stray bacon on the bottom, which was sufficiently tasty to get me to order a side of it separately. This was an error; it cost $6 for 4 pieces (my whole rest of my breakfast was $8.75), and took 23 minutes to arrive. Won't make that mistake again.

Headed off to the MAX station to check out the stop at the Zoo: it's North America's deepest underground train station, and the station itself is really neat! It has, encased in glass, one of the core samples they took to excavate the station, and it's all annotated with the layers of rock and different bits of art and scientific exposition and whatnot. Took the elevator to the surface (it shows your current height above sea level instead of floor numbers), walked around for a bit, and headed back downtown. Went to Powell's for some book hunting (came away with only 3 new books: The City & The City by China Miéville, and Pattern Recognition and Spook Country by William Gibson), and then headed over to the east side of the city for some sightseeing. I wanted to hunt down the location of the coffee shop from the Portlandia sketch "Harajuku Girls". I found it! :) It was closed. :( Ah, well, I still got a picture. The neighborhood was interesting. Cute, but much lower density than I was expecting, based both on my experience of things like the Pearl District and the listing of businesses that I saw. Also, I continue to be amazed at Portland's bike infrastructure.

Next was Voodoo Doughnut. As it happens, their downtown location is closed for remodeling, but their other Portland location was right in the neighborhood. And, man, was it popular: the line was out the door. It moved quickly, though, and it ended up being only about a 40 minute wait. Got a bunch of really good stuff! Dinner was at the nearby Fire on the Mountain, home of the best buffalo wings I've found on the west coast. The tater tots are a nice addition, too! Took another bus back downtown, got questioned 8 different times about the Voodoo Doughnuts box in my hands ("Yeah, it's about 20 blocks that way." "Oh, nevermind."), and gathered my belongings at the hotel.

As luck would have it, I was running a bit early, so time for a delightful little latte at Backspace, just to cap things off. While waiting in line, I spied a postcard with some very nice art of Spock looking into a mirror at Evil Spock, with the quote "Conquest is easy, control is not". Intrigued, I flipped it over.

O. M. G. They're doing a *live* performance of the ST:TOS episode "Mirror, Mirror". Apparently this is a thing. I'm told that these people put massive effort into it, and it's actually impressively good! Immediately, I decided I must see it, and given the Clear Creek bottling, the dates work out, so I'll likely be back in Portland the weekend of 7/9. Because how could I not?

Yay for Portland!

* First world problems of the now.
3rd-Jun-2011 02:48 pm (UTC)
The part here that astounded me was that you had only $9 in cash. Is this a generational thing, not always having lots of cash?

I suppose in part it's because I lead a life where at least once and usually three times a week I am out with a group of people at a pub or restaurant, where paying in cash simplifies things tremendously. Plus for a long time I was going out to a bar at least once a week, which is cash only. But still, if I have less than $100 in my wallet at any time I start to get a little fidgety about it.
4th-Jun-2011 02:57 am (UTC)
I think it is largely a generational thing, what with the ubiquity of debit and credit card acceptance these days.

That said, I tend to stick to cash also, for a variety of reasons. In this particular instance, I'd not been able to get to even an ATM in the preceding days, and I knew that my bank had several in Portland, so it would only be the narrow window between leaving Seattle and just after breakfast that I'd be so cash-poor. When I get down to my last $20 or two, I tend to get slightly nervous also, so I *completely* understand.
3rd-Jun-2011 11:53 pm (UTC)
You should tell me what you think of Pattern Recognition and Spook Country, as I've read both and would be interested in your opinion. Once you're done reading them, of course.
4th-Jun-2011 03:00 am (UTC)
Will do! I've happened to have been given two other Gibson novels lately (Idoru and.... I forget the other), so I remembered just how good he is (despite the level of derision he sometimes receives), which is why I decided to pick those up (being the two novels of his I haven't read). Didn't know you were also a fan. Glad to hear it! :D
4th-Jun-2011 06:52 am (UTC)
Yeah, I've somehow ended up working my way through his stuff chronologically backward.
Read so far- Neuromancer, Difference Engine, Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, Zero History. Just got Idoru at a going-out-of-business sale, but haven't started reading it yet.
5th-Jun-2011 07:47 pm (UTC) - OK ! AWESOME !!!
How do you get the motivation to do all of this alone? However, this is really f-ing amazing and makes me want to run all over town on foot and TriMet (yes, I admit I could survive here car-free).

Also, I am sorry the coffeehouse on SE Stark was CLOSED. :-( I have *really* wanted to check it out too. Have you looked at their Web site? Amazing history.
6th-Jun-2011 05:56 am (UTC) - Re: OK ! AWESOME !!!

I don't know where I get the energy. To me it doesn't really take too much of an extra effort to do these things. Maybe it's just being on vacation? I do tend to try to pack as much in to them as possible; just lying around isn't usually fun to me unless it's at home. If I'm somewhere new and exciting, I want to make sure I didn't miss anything.

You should absolutely do that! Here's a suggestion: go to Powell's and pick up a used and/or old copy of a Fodor's guide to Portland, pick one restaurant and one attraction a weekend, and just go visit them. My persona is called "tourist-in-residence" for a reason. :)

But thank you for the compliment!

The coffee place wasn't on SE Stark, it was more like NE Sandy. Urban Grind Coffee to be precise. Which coffee place were you talking about?

Edited at 2011-06-06 05:57 am (UTC)
10th-Jun-2011 10:28 pm (UTC) - Re: OK ! AWESOME !!!
you do have an amazing (and uncommon) capacity for enjoying your own company, darling
16th-Jun-2011 04:20 am (UTC) - Re: OK ! AWESOME !!!
Um, thanks, I think?
16th-Jun-2011 04:29 am (UTC) - Re: OK ! AWESOME !!!
oh, totally a compliment!

it's a wonderful thing and i love getting to be the beneficiary of it, by reading your accounts
5th-Jun-2011 07:48 pm (UTC) - oops, one more
This year's live Trek episode is Mirror, Mirror? OMG WTF BBQ Awesome! :-)

Last year's performance in the park (and later at the Bagdad) was great.
10th-Jun-2011 10:26 pm (UTC)
postcard of awesome!

"(it shows your current height above sea level instead of floor numbers)"

holy fuck that's cool!
16th-Jun-2011 04:20 am (UTC)
Eee! How could I not go?
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