Thursday, September 10, 2015
Packwood to Portland



Goodbye, nature. Hello, city life. We drove U.S. 12, I-5, and I-205 from Packwood to Portland and arrived in the city around 1:00 p.m. Since it was early, we decided to visit a couple of parks before checking into our hotel and switching to public transportation. First we went to Powell Butte Nature Park on the east side of Portland. Visible from this vantage were Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mount St. Helens, though the views were pretty hazy. I bet it's pretty hazy here most days. Then we drove to Mount Tabor Park, closer to downtown. From there we could see downtown Portland, the Willamette River, and an even hazier view of Mt. Hood and Mount St. Helens. Both of these parks are situated on extinct volcanoes.

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Hazy Mt. Hood from Powell Butte Nature Park, Portland, Oregon

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Portland from Mount Tabor Park

Between Mount Tabor Park and our hotel, we stopped by the Alberta Arts District, one of the quirky neighborhoods Portland is known for. Here we found the Caravan Tiny House Hotel, recently featured on Fred Armisen's sketch comedy show “Portlandia.” It's even more ridiculous in person. The “hotel” consists of six portable buildings about the size of a shed, positioned in a circular fashion around a very small, fenced-in, paved courtyard. The cost is $145 per night to stay here, but that price does include marshmallows and chocolate for all-you-can-eat s'mores. I promise you I am not making this up.

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Alberta Arts District, Portland

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Caravan Tiny House Hotel

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Seating inside the bus for The Grilled Cheese Grill

Leaving the Alberta Arts District for the hipsters, we proceeded to our hotel, the Hyatt Place Cascade Station, very near the Portland airport. We stayed here one night at the beginning of our trip and booked the same place for the last two nights. Out of three nights, I got two of them free with my Hyatt credit card awards. It was a good time to use the freebies, because Portland hotels are expensive! Plus, this is a nice hotel and a good way to begin and end our trip. Score!

Around 6:00 we walked over to Cascade Station, a quarter mile form our hotel, to catch the light rail. I bought tix from a machine, $5 each for all day. We should have started earlier! The ride to Pioneer Courthouse Square, in the city center, took about 45 minutes. I took the requisite photos of the courthouse and the “Allow Me” statue, and then we wandered north on Broadway.

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Pioneer Courthouse

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"Allow Me" a/k/a Umbrella Man

We wound up at Bailey's Taproom, a laid-back little bar with 25 killer craft beers on tap. We had the AleSmith Decadence, a Belgian amber from San Diego, and the Fat Head's Blitzkrieg Bock, a bock with rye from Portland, both exceptional. Bailey's is an awesome place, and I could have stayed there all night, but since my first beer had an ABV of 10 percent, I thought we'd better move on after one, or we really would be there all night.

Tom wanted to check out Chinatown, so we walked over and admired the cool arch, but once we crossed through the arch, we were in the middle of what seemed to be a bum convention. Nothing seemed to be going on in Chinatown otherwise, so we got the heck out of there ASAP.

We passed by a couple more Portland landmarks, namely, the Dan & Louis Oyster Bar, decorated inside like an old sailing ship, and the world-famous Voodoo Doughnut, which had a huge line, as expected. We stopped for dinner at Kells Irish Pub, at 112 Southwest 2nd Avenue, where we had some of the best food of our lives. Tom had corned beef and cabbage with a mustard sauce, and I had potato farl (a potato flatbread) filled with basically beef stew. Delicious! And of course we had beer, Ninkasi Oktoberfest, Kells Seasonal, and Kells Red. The beer was fine. The food was better! There was also live music, one guy with a guitar. Very enjoyable.

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Voodoo Doughnut - The Magic is in the Hole!

After dinner we waddled over to the light rail and took the last train back to Cascade Station and our hotel, where we stayed up late watching crappy movies. Fun night!


Continue to September 11, 2015

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