I woke up to another morning of fog with the promise of sunshine later in the day. I looked out my window to Delta Park and the Saturday morning football practice.
After one or two missed turns I found my way to PDX, the Portland Airport, and was in position, on time, to meet Sue. I had found half a dozen choices for breakfast, the sun was breaking through and the only thing I forgot was to play the theme music from Portlandia (Feel It All Around by Washed Out) as we cruised into town.
We decided on Tasty n Sons for breakfast. There was a line-up, something I’d been forewarned of, but we were happy to stand in line, read the menu and have a cup of coffee. The place was buzzing. When our meal arrived we discovered why. I had the Cast Iron Frittata with butternut squash, caramelized sweet onions, broccolini, provolone piccante, marinara & fresh basil. So good! And great, friendly service. Highly recommended!
Completely contented we made our way back out into the sunshine and took a look at some of the local businesses.
The dresses caught Sue’s eye and the classic UK double-decker mine (I trained to drive one of these right hand drive, left hand shift behemoths!) The variety of mobile stores in Portland is outstanding. Everything from the food carts to new and vintage clothing to bike repairs.
We checked into our hotel, parked the car and walked across the bridge the Portland Saturday Market, which has been operating at the same location since 1973.
Crowds thronged the huge market with its food and arts/crafts booths. Sue bought a heavy metal triangle, the type traditionally used to alert people that dinner’s being served on the ranch. I bought a deck of playing cards with drawings of all Portland’s breweries on the cards (52 breweries? wow!).
After the market we meandered further into downtown.
Indeed Portland has more bicycles per capita than any other city in America. And they love the big print on buildings…
I thought this was the one seen in the Portlandia opening credits but now I’m not so sure. Meanwhile, just across the street…
The line-up was in full swing for Voodoo Donuts. We were saved standing in line because, well, we’re not fans of the holy deep-fried things. We’ll come back to Voodoo Donuts later, however.
On the way uptown this incredible truck-like vehicle passed us and I got off a quick snapshot. Once we were home and I downloaded my photos I zoomed in and read ‘Skyhorse’ on its door. With a bit of Googling I found out about the Adventures in Skyhorse. It’s quite a story. I got a kick out of their descriptions of their time in Canada.
We continued uptown until we found one of the first Portland places recommended to us: Powell’s Books.
We spent about an hour in Powell’s and we certainly saw only a portion of their stacks. And luckily we’re not rich or we would have come out laden with books. I did find a book of being looking at for a few years, marked down to half price: the MOMA Jeff Wall catalogue. If you’re a photographer, or if you’re Canadian, you should know about Jeff Wall. I saw an early exhibition of his work at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and it left a lasting impression. His Picture for Women riveted me with its large glowing presence and art historical references. While in Powell’s we saw a family of four, all seated on a stairway, reading. A sign of the good life. As were all the record stores I spotted in Portland.
And the ubiquity of neon signs… this one saved by the citizens when the business closed:
We wandered the streets a while and then headed back to the waterfront walkway, making our way back to another of Portland’s bridges, this one with a pedestrian walk on the lower level. We ascended the riverbank and on our way past the Oregon Convention Center mingled with a wedding party. Having photographed many weddings I instinctively whipped up my camera.
We refreshed at our hotel and headed back out on foot for our evening entertainment. The sun was setting behind the glass towers of the Convention Center, which on this particular weekend hosted the Portland Retro Gaming Expo.
Meanwhile I kept seeing ironic reminders of the state of the Union:
We stopped for dinner at Burnside Brewing Company (no surprise there, eh?) where we sat out in the warm evening air. I had a pint of their Sweet Heat, a slightly spicy, fruity brew. Perfect for the time of day and complemented the nachos we had for dinner.
After our repast we continued on to our entertainment destination, the Doug Fir Lounge, where we had tickets to see Laura Veirs that night. While researching Portland, before leaving home, I’d looked for music venues and who might be appearing that weekend. I’ve been enjoying Laura Veirs music since about 2008 when read about her on the NPR web site. She’s from Portland and her music has a West Coast naturalism. The Doug Fir itself is a bit of West Coast naturalism with its half-log interior walls, lots of wood used in interesting ways, great lighting and a chilled ambience.
We sat upstairs first. I ordered at the bar and discovered they had Aviation Gin, made in Portland by House Spirits, which was on my list of places to visit, things to buy. Excellent.
Then we went down for the concert.
We found some cushy seats, ordered a couple of beers and settled back to listen to the opening act Karl Blau. His web site is a lot like he is: quirky, poetic, laid-back. Unfortunately a number of people near the bar continued chattering during his show which was distracting, both for him and us. However, he persevered and won lots of hearts and applause.
He came back to play with Laura Veirs. Her music ranged from mellow/melodic right through to loud/ravishing for her final encore. It seemed an appropriate way to end the night and for her likely a cathartic ending of her tour.
We enjoyed the show, enjoyed the Doug Fir and on our way out enjoyed an exhibition of large photographs by Gigi Conot at the neighbouring Gallery at the Jupiter (Hotel). We decided we’d like to return to the Doug Fir sometime soon.