This year we chose to go to Portland. I've never been there, but I've seen every episode of Portlandia and have long wanted to see this city. The reunion was this past weekend. I found Portland just as lovely and quirky and homey as you would expect.
I have collected a bunch of Portland-related links and blog posts over the past few years. In preparation for the trip, I grabbed them all and made a map:
View places in portland OR in a full screen map
I made it to precisely six of the above places I aimed at, but it was a lovely weekend and I'm not sorry for the choices made.
|Just waiting for the elevator is lovely|
Jacqui and her wonderful daughter Phoebe took us to a real Portland coffee place. Then we went back and met up with Dana and Jim in the hotel's lovely lobby. We hung out there for a while talking and catching up. Eventually Jacqui left to take Phoebe to a synchronized swim practice, and we went up to the bar on the top floor, Departures. This turned out to be a glossy, highly stylized take on a yacht cabin, complete with navigation maps covering the walls and captain's chairs around the bar. Soon enough the rest of our reunion gang showed up.
Once we were all convened we went out to find a brewpub for some dinner. The first place we went, Cascade Brewing Barrel House, was kind of a drag, super packed with youths and a bit generic and a long wait. It was just chilly enough not to be able to sit outside.
So we left there and drove out to McMenamins Kennedy School, a converted elementary school in NE Portland that has been, to put it mildly, renovated. It now contains a hotel, a theater, a brewery, a soaking pool, several themed bars and restaurants. It is an entertainment complex by and for strange and quirky people. It was just amazing and delightful. There was art covering the walls of the hallways and the bathrooms and the restaurants and the bars. There were loads of funky lights and murals and door decorations and signs and every creative thing you can think of. I was blown away. It was very nearly a creative overload. We had to wait for a table there, too, but it wasn't a hardship as there was lots of room and stuff to look at. I was pretty tired by this time - it was already about 9:30 pm when we got there (12:30am Eastern time) - and all I could do was gaze about me in wonder.
|A map of McMenamins!|
After that we headed back to our hotel and crashed. I really was asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow. I woke up at 6:00 (ET 9:00), but since I'm adept at going back to sleep on a weekend at that time, I knew I could soldier on back to sleep. So I did and got 3 more hours and more or less set myself on Pac time.
After breakfast some of us went to the Saturday Market, a craft fair down by the river. I bought some hand balm and a CD by 9Swords, a musical duo who were busking and were really good. We were agog at the bass player's duct tape repairs to his flannel shirt. I felt pretty touristy when I asked if I could take their picture!
|Tiny twig dam at the Japanese Garden|
|Pano photo of the Flat Garden|
It was transporting, as expected. That was all we were able to do on Saturday. I think Beast consumed us, rather than the reverse.
On Sunday we had a firm plan to meet up early to go to breakfast at Meriwether's. This was, if possible, even better than the breakfast the previous morning. At least mine was: I had a Dutch Baby lemon skillet pancake, which is a kind of custard-bottomed lightly sweet pancake, baked and served in a small iron skillet. My friends reported delighting in their choices as well, though I was pretty focused on my own amazing meal to examine others' choices.
After we ate I pushed everybody to set a date for the next meetup. Dana and Jim were leaving after breakfast and I wanted to get everyone to discuss it in person. [In the past, we've typically done this over email; it's a giant pain getting everybody to reply to the email, much less commit early to a date. If the date is in one's calendar already, however, when one is planning things for the fall of 2014, for example, then one may be less likely to accept another event during that time.] So despite pushback from Dana, who protested it was way too early to think about it, I referenced advice from her husband Jim, who had said to pick a date and just stick to it. And when he chimed in with, "You should just say, Columbus day weekend next year," everybody else fell into agreement. I was delighted. I told them, these mini-reunions are a highlight of my year! I love seeing all these people so much. I get to see them far too rarely. After agreement was reached, Jim said, "And now, Barclay, when you get back, you send everybody an Outlook invite!" (Which I did today.)
After lunch Fred took Jim and Dana and Jena and Robert to the airport. Jacqui took the rest of us back to the hotel. Adam took a nap, and I went out in search of one or two of the craft destinations I had been planning to visit. It turned out that the Button Emporium was closed. What a bummer - from what I could see through the window it looked like my kind of shop indeed. But I did go to Knit Purl. I had read about them on the Juniper Moon Farm blog; they were a stop on JMF's yarn tour earlier this year. KP has its own new yarn line, containing one yarn so far but a doozy, a lovely thick cashmere. I bought a skein and they gave me a free pattern as well for a scarf they had a sample of in the shop.
Portland Timbers game on Sunday night! We were totally excited to get to go. I absolutely love that kid and we were delighted to be at the game with her. It was super fun. It was a big deal of a game, in which they beat the Seattle Sounders to take first place in their division. We sat in the North End, where they have booster club volunteers to pump up the crowd and lead sheers. They even pass out a cheat sheet with all the words. I put a couple of videos on Instagram, including one of the crowd right after Portland scored the only goal of the night! (Warning: it autoplays, in case you're at work.)
I love these college buddies so much and it was great to see them.
Next year in Austin, maybe, or Boston, or ... well, we'll figure it out. But at least we know when it'll be!