Portland Vacation 2014: Day Two

To start our Saturday, we went and got breakfast at Sweetpea Baking Company (a vegan bakery) which is in the Buckman neighborhood of Portland. I got an iced Americano and a delicious almond ring pastry. This place is really good; we always visit whenever we’re in town.

Andrew_SweetpeaEnjoying my coffee while watching some puppies wrestlin’ outside the window.

The main activity that we had planned today (and really, this is the thing helped us decide to come down to Portland on this particular weekend) was attending the Portland Fruit Beer Festival hosted by the Burnside Brewing Company. We wanted to get there fairly early before the crowds got too nuts-o (the festival started at 11 am), so we headed over after we finished our coffee. Luckily, the brewery is only about ten blocks away from the bakery, which meant we could just walk up.

We got there at the perfect time. There were enough folks milling around so that the environment felt festive, but not so many that you had to wait in line to get beer. As part of admission, each person got a commemorative pint glass and 12 tickets good for samplin’. Most of the samples “cost” one ticket for a 3 oz. taste, but some of the fancier/rarer/higher ABV stuff was two or three tickets. The majority of the pourers were ~sticklers about not giving you more than 3 oz., but a few of the guys were pretty generous and filled your glass halfway. Woo! There were more than 45 kinds of beers and ciders from ~30 different breweries available for tasting.

glass and guide Portland beer festStephanie Portland Beer FestFestival guide (left) and Stephanie enjoying Ecliptic Brewing’s Lacerta Frambuesa (right).

Between the two of us, Stephanie and I tried 18 different varieties. While we were sippin’ on our beverages, we split an order of pretzel knots and a bucket of truffle fries. My favorite drinks on the day were the Peach Slap by Deschutes Brewery (a semi-sour ale with strong peach, peppercorn, and juniper berry flavors – absolutely my favorite drink today), the Sweet Triple Hot ¡Tepache! by Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider (pineapple juice fermented with habenero, aji, and ghost peppers – sweet with a pretty good kick; pineapple pairs so well spicy), and The Tiger Cub by Stone Brewing (a very sour saison with a strong cherry flavor – mouth-puckeringly delicious). Stephanie’s favorite (which I also enjoyed a lot) was a Belgian Framboise infused with cocoa nibs and raspberries. By the time we left (around 2 pm), the place was packed. We had to stand in line for ~10 minutes to get our last sample. I’m glad that we got there as early as we did.

beer notes PortlandHastily scribbled notes about some of the different beers we sampled.

Once we left the brewery, we mosied over to downtown Portland and made our obligatory visit to Powell’s. We also walked through the Saturday market and did a fair amount of window shoppin’. It was really nice out, so it was pleasant to just wander around ~aimlessly.

For dinner, we went to Sushi Ahi. It was okay (not great). Sushi is definitely one of my favorite warm-weather foods because it’s so light and fresh and easy to eat. Unfortunately, the menu they had in the restaurant was significantly different than the one on their website (way fewer veggie sushi rolls), so we ended up mostly ordering a bunch of veggie appetizers/starters. They did have one vegetarian roll (the SUPER VEGGIE), which we did get. It had a whole lot goin’ on, but it was good. We also split an avocado+tofu caprese salad, some deep fried tofu wrapped in daikon, some broiled taro potatoes in miso paste, and some edamame.

Ahi sushiSuper Veggie: cucumber, avocado, oshinko, gobo, kaiware, inari, and asparagus wrapped in soy paper. Oh my!

After dinner, we went out for a drink at Hereafter (the sister bar to The Bye and Bye). It was still really nice out, so we sat out on their back patio. I ordered a tart n’ tasty black currant cider and Stephanie had a glass of red wine. Once we finished our drinks, we went back to the hotel and watched a few episodes of Chopped. Another successful day in Portland!

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Miles run in 2014: 145.5
Books read in 2014: 37

Portland Vacation 2014: Day One

Earlier this week (on Wednesday), Stephanie and I agreed to go on an impromptu vacation this weekend down to Portland. We’d been thinking about doing this since February, and the weather was forecast to be so nice this weekend (75-78 °F and sunny), so we reserved a hotel room for Friday and Saturday night. We ended up leaving early this afternoon, just a little after 12 pm, because we wanted to try and miss as much traffic as possible. Without any congestion on the road, the trip from Seattle to Portland generally takes about three hours. Although we made fairly good time for most of the way, there was a big ol’ accident just south of Tacoma, so it ended up taking us about three and a half hours. To help pass the time, we busted out some super fresh road trip tunes.  These consisted of Dormarion by Telekinesis, The Bones of What You Believe by Chvrches, Passive Me, Aggressive You by The Naked and the Famous, When It Was Now by Atlas Genius, and Lungs by Florence + the Machine. All of these albums are catchy and upbeat and lovely to drive/ride along to.

Once we crossed into Oregon, instead of driving straight to our hotel to check in (we’re staying about 20 minutes east of Portland), we continued up the Columbia River Gorge on I-84 for an extra half an hour and went and hiked around Latourell Falls. This waterfall plunges 224 feet (or 249 feet, depending on which part of the internet you choose to believe), cascading straight down off of a huge column of basalt. It is exceedingly impressive. And beautiful. And awe-inspiring. Also, the trailhead/parking lot is located only a short walk from the base of the main falls; if you’re itchin’ to see some impressive nature-y stuff, but are disinclined/unable to go hiking, this seems like it’d be a pretty good place to visit.

Andrew_Latourell_Main_FallsLatourell Falls is only 42 times taller than I am! This image captures the lower ~1/3 of the waterfall.

Stephanie and I, however, did come to hike, so we hopped on the loop trail that climbs to Upper Latourell falls. The roundtrip trek is about 2.5 miles and gains ~520 feet of elevation. It’s certainly not a strenuous hike, but I probably wouldn’t rate it as being “easy”. The way up isn’t particularly well marked, with lots of “unofficial” offshoots, but we made it to the top without too much backtracking. Upper Latourell Falls is about half as tall as the main falls and has some swoopy curves along its drop. Despite being somewhat less impressive, I think I actually enjoyed the upper falls more; I thought that its meandering descent made it more visually appealing. In any case, we had very nice conditions for the hike. The weather was warm, but there was a slight breeze to keep the bugs down, and although it was a late Friday afternoon, the trail was pretty empty. I don’t think we passed more than four or five groups of people on the entire hike.

Stephanie_Upper_Latourell_Fallstop of Latourell FallsUpper Latourell Falls (left) & the stream beginning its 250′ descent from the top of the Main Falls (right).

Once we got back to the car it was already after 6 pm, so we decided to go check into our hotel and head into Portland to find some dinner. For the trip back west, we forewent taking I-84 and opted to follow the aptly named Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway. This is a fairly labyrinthine route that teeters along shoulderless cliff faces and has navigates many blind curves and narrow bridges. It was way better than the interstate.

Stephanie_Vista_HouseThe view from Vista House, a scenic overlook along the Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway, sure isn’t bad.

The last time we were in town, we happened across The Bye and Bye (a vegan bar in northeast Portland). Their victuals and their vibe were both quite good, so we elected to go back tonight for dinner. Stephanie got their Eastern Bowl (Portland has a crazy strong food-in-bowls presence), which came with approximately seventeen pounds of nutritional yeast-breaded tofu, broccoli, and brown rice with a tasty ginger-peanut sauce. I got the Weeping Tiger Sandwich which layered marinated tofu cutlets with lettuce, tomato, avocado, jalapeño, and Sriracha/miso mayo. Both entrées were very good. I also had an “adult” slushy made with gin+cucumber+mint. It was super refreshing: a perfect summery beverage to end a wonderful summery day.

Andrew_Bye_and_ByePretty excited for some food and drinks. And Sriracha!

We were a little pooped from all the sitting/driving/hiking, so we called it an early night and drove back to our hotel once we finished eating. Stephanie was looking forward to floppin’ into bed and watching some HGTV… but our hotel’s cable subscription didn’t include this channel, so we had to settle for the Food Network instead. Despite this disappointment, today was definitely a good start to our mini-vacation.

Note: Once again, although I’ll be writing/finishing these posts once I’m back in Seattle, I’ll be pre-dating these to the date on which things actually occurred.

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Miles run in 2014: 145.5
Books read in 2014: 37

The Meat I Eat #26

Instead of going and playing Ultimate Frisbee today (like we would’ve done had we won on Tuesday), a few of us decided to go over to Fremont Brewing Company for some sunny, almost-summertime drinks on the patio. It was warm and festive and we had a lovely time.

Danni+Andrew+Fremont BrewingCheers! With a black bean burger and a saison.

They don’t actually serve food at Fremont Brewing, but they do allow/encourage folks to bring in anything they wanna eat. With this in mind, Stephanie and I stopped at Paseo, which is a happenin’ Caribbean sandwich spot just a few blocks north of the bar. Stephanie got a tasty lookin’ tofu sandwich, but I opted to go for their most popular sandwich: the Caribbean Roast. This sandwich comes on a lightly toasted baguette and has slow-roasted/marinated pork shoulder in addition to fresh cilantro, pickled jalapeños, crisp romaine lettuce, caramelized onions, and a garlic aoili sauce. It was delicious.

Andrew+sandwich Fremont BrewingBailey at Fremont Brewing

SANDWICH! (left) and lil’ pup Bailey, whose presence necessitated going to a bar with a patio (right).

I probably would’ve rather been playing some Frisbee, but hanging out and eating/drinking in the sun with a bunch of friends is certainly a great way to spend an evening.

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Miles run in 2014: 142.3
Books read in 2014: 34

Ultimate Frisbee and (Lack of) Running

The observant blog-follower will likely have noticed that I haven’t been running much over the past five or six weeks. This is due in large part to the fact that my left knee feels kinda wonky after I run sometimes. It doesn’t hurt, but it does feel kind of… sensitive? This has led me to become almost hyper-aware about the smallest little knee pain/twinge, and I feel fairly anxious when I’m running. I don’t want to explode my leg so I’ve been trying to take things a bit slower and limit my runnin’ until my knee decides to stop being dumb. I also bought a small knee brace, which I think has helped. In any case, I’ve felt much better on my runs lately.

The other reason I’ve stopped running three times a week is that I’ve been playing Ultimate since the beginning of April. We have games every week, and I’ve essentially been substituting a Frisbee game for a run. Unfortunately, our last game of the season was today (sad).

Seven on the line UltimateIt was very bright today. Here we are waiting for a pull and staring right into the sun.

Despite playing quite well during the regular season and earning a #6 seed (out of 30 teams), we got a tough draw in the second round of the playoffs. We were matched up against the champions from last year, and they beat us tonight. This is particularly frustrating because they were also the team that knocked us out of the postseason a year ago! Boo. We didn’t play particularly well (people looked kinda tired), but it was still fun.

Ultimate Frisbee Deep HuckAction shot! I’m about to throw it super far to the guy runnin’ deep all the way on the right.

Anyway, now that Frisbee is over and my knee is feelin’ ~better I reckon I’ll start running more consistently. Hooray!

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Miles run in 2014: 142.3
Books read in 2014: 34

The Meat I Eat #24 and #25

Thursday, May 15th, 8:30pm:

As I’ve done for the past four or five years, I’ve been playing on a co-rec intramural Ultimate Frisbee team this spring. Our regular season finished last week, and our first playoff game was Thursday at 6:15 pm. It was pretty hot out (~83 °F), so I didn’t eat much food during the day because my stomach is fairly sensitive to eating+exertion and I didn’t want to feel gross while I was runnin’ around. Because I’d had such a light lunch, I was super hungry once the game was over (we won 14-6!). I didn’t feel like fixing dinner, so we just went to Subway and got sandwiches. Instead of my usual veggie sub, I opted to get the Subway Melt (which has turkey, black forest ham, and bacon). It was good and filling, but probably only about 10% better than the meat-free sandwich.

Saturday, May 17th, 7:30pm:

One of our friends is celebrating her golden birthday this year (she turns 25 on May 25th) so she threw a party on Saturday to commemorate the occasion. Folks were encouraged/instructed to dress up a little bit and to incorporate something gold into their attire. (I went to Goodwill and picked up a swanky, golden, $4 tie.) At the party, there were also tons of golden balloons and origami cranes folded from metallic golden paper and marigold (maybe?) flowers and Werther’s candies in shiny golden wrappers… the theme was artfully embraced and helped make things feel particularly festive. Our hostess cooked up a big ol’ slow cooker full of carnitas and we stuffed ourselves with tasty tacos. There were also tons of handmade desserts on hand including an apple-crepe birthday cake, sriracha+orange+chocolate truffles, cupcakes, and so much more. Everything looked and tasted delicious! It was a truly wonderful birthday party for truly wonderful individual. Hooray!

Golden Birthday dessertsAndrew Golden Birthday Party
Fancy dessert spread (left) and enjoying some delicious carnitas nachos (right).

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Miles run in 2014: 139.1
Books read in 2014: 31