So, RR and I went to Portland, Oregon. We've never been to Portland, Maine, but I hear it's lovely there. But we can only speak about Oregon. It was pretty.
One reason we went was to visit our friend who just moved there. She doesn't know anyone in Oregon, and she's starting her Ph.D. program and was a little nervous about it (I don't know why, she's brilliant). Another reason is because we'd heard that there are lots of restaurants and bakeries that were willing to accommodate people with multiple food allergies--that, unfortunately, turned out to be true (see references to weight gain, below).
I had never been to the Pacific Northwest, but I'd wanted to for a long time because I love trees and green things, and they have lots of coffee there.
So we did a lot of this:
You know what they also have a lot of there? Chocolate. CHOCOLATE, y'all. [side note on the importance of commas: without a comma in the previous sentence, I would have been saying that they have a lot of "chocolate y'all" in Portland, and I don't know what a chocolate y'all is, nor do I know if Portland has any. Commas matter, y'all.]
Anyway. CHOCOLATE. That even I can eat. And I did. A lot.
RR and I were a little afraid that the housekeeper at the hotel would open the fridge and see it stuffed full of partially eaten chocolate items and think "this is why everyone in this country is fat." That's not incorrect, but I really don't want to be Exhibit A in the case of The Problem With The American Diet.
That is one of the reasons why we kept the "do not disturb" sign on the door for most of the trip. The other reason was that I don't need housekeeping to notice that I pack each article of my clothing in its own individual Ziplock bag and decide that I'm crazy. I'm not crazy. I'm just really, really paranoid about bedbugs, and Portland has problems in that area.
We also visited the Portland Farmer's Market, where they had a lot of beautiful vegetables, some good coffee, and, oh, yeah, a stand that sold chocolate pie we could have.
We bought two.
We ate one that night with a coffee stirrer, being unable to make ourselves wait until the next day when we could acquire cutlery. In our defense, I can't tell you how long it's been since we were able to buy pie we could safely eat. And we seriously love pie.
To help balance things out, we walked a ton, and I love that Portland's downtown area is very walkable. Some of our walking was due to our repeatedly getting lost. Even with phones with GPS, we still had problems. Yes, we are that talented. But it is always a little bit of a blessing getting lost, however annoying it is at the time, because you get to see parts of a city you might otherwise not ever visit see. Of course, when we got off a bus at the wrong place on the Pacific Highway, it didn't feel like a blessing.
That bit was kind of my fault, as I'd insisted that we take the bus out to this one particular grocery store that we all like here in Texas. I thought it would make my friend feel more comfortable in her new city, and she could stock up on her favorite groceries. But not only is it not close, but it's a smaller store than the one she's used to, and it didn't have some of the items she was really looking forward to buying.
I won't consider it a total waste of time because now my friend won't spend any time thinking she'd like to go there but feeling too afraid to get on the bus to the suburbs. No, she won't be going back there soon, if ever. I think it was the nearly missing the bus on the way back that did her in. Or maybe the weird guy at the bus stop in the middle of Sketchyville on the Pacific Highway. I'm not sure. But either way, she's seen it, and now she knows she's not missing anything.
They did sell this:
I've seen this mistake before, but only on the Internet, never in person. I was delighted to see it. I don't always laugh at mangled English. It's not hard to learn enough of another language to get by in restaurants or at grocery stores, but it's very hard to learn another language really fluently. So I try to give people a break. But I do laugh when the language mangling is done by a company that surely has access to people who speak fluent English. And I do laugh when, by merely changing a letter placement, the company changes the name or description of the product from something people want to buy to eat (bean curd) into a word that people use to avoid saying "sh!t."
So that was our trip to the suburbs. Tigard, Oregon, I salute you and your bean crud.
We didn't just walk around in circles while we were there, although sometimes it felt like it. We saw "Dial M For Murder" in 3D. We, of course, went to Powell's Books, where I bought Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior. It was an enjoyable, interesting, easy read, and I managed to get most of it read on the plane ride back. That was a huge deal for me because I usually get too nauseated on planes to read. Our friend was so happy that we didn't get sick on the plane, she jokingly said, "Hey, now you're ready for the trip to Korea!" Yeah, not so fast. I haven't even made it to Europe yet. And I still get antsy if I have to sit on a plane for four hours. But still! Progress! Maybe one day I'll even make it to Australia, although I've kinda given up on that dream because of my fear of all the deadly things there. I can't pack myself in a giant Ziplock. Right?
And of course the Farmer's Market and the chocolate places. Thank you, Moonstruck and Cacao, for making us a little fatter.
Cacao. The picture's a little blurry because I was too excited to have a steady hand.
Oh, and, the cafe at the Nordstrom in downtown carried a cookie that we had over a year ago and haven't been able to find since.
Yea, peanut butter fatness.
Oh, and we went to the Oregon DMV. Twice.
I don't mind going to the DMV, generally, because it provides cross-section data of Americans. Everyone has to go to the DMV (well, everyone who wants to legally drive or go places that require I.D.), so you see all types. But it can't truthfully be described as a pleasant experience, and twice seems excessive. And sadly, our friend will have to go yet a third time because even though we had all the right forms by the second trip, we weren't told on the first trip that she needed to wait until school started so that her enrollment could be verified. The DMV employees were all very nice when they turned us away, but it still gave one the feeling of defeat. That was ok, though, because as we discussed with our friend, going to the DMV is a universal American experience--meaning, wherever you go in the U.S., the experience will be the same. You always know what to expect there. So it kind of makes you feel like no matter what state you're in, you're still home.
I guess that's enough about our trip for now. I don't have a good ending for this post, so here's a picture of trash that was in a chair in the lobby of the hotel we stayed in.
Stay classy, Hilton! Thanks for charging us pages we tried to print on your computer that never actually printed.