Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hop Bombs & Flat Tires

This may be the longest I've ever gone between posts since I started this blog over three years ago. My excuses are many, but let's just sum it up by saying I've been busy this summer with beer & bikes.
our bikes parked in front of Alameda Brewing
As you already know from my Facebook status updates, checking in & posting pictures at local breweries and other beer-centric establishments, I have spent a lot of time drinking beer this summer. Part of the reason is that Portland event organizers heavily load the calendar with outdoor festivals of all kinds during our brief fair-weather weeks/months. It is not impossible to find something to do outside every day of the week from June to August and many activities are free. It's also the best time of year to invite family & friends to visit so they can enjoy all the festivities on warm, sunny days.
Greg chats with our friend Dale as we prepare to supervise at Oregon Brewers Festival
Of course, Greg & I opt to participate in many of the beer-focused events. This year, we have volunteered at all of the major beer festivals in Portland as well as some smaller fundraisers. And because we are becoming more well-known in the festival circuit, we are often asked to work as supervisors. It's hard work, but we are rewarded with free beer, so usually it's worth it! Last week I even participated in my first hop harvest, pulling fresh hops off the vines at Lucky Lab Brewing which they will use to brew a beer called, appropriately, "The Mutt."
harvesting hops at Lucky Lab
Since we moved to Portland in January, we have volunteered at an average of two events (not always for beer, but also wine, food, community projects, etc.) per month. In the five week stretch of late June through early August, we racked up a combined 40+ hours of volunteer service. Considering that Greg is working full time and I occasionally moonlight as an extra on Grimm, Leverage, Portlandia and other tv/film projects, plus we are enjoying the riches of my continued winning streak (free movie tickets all summer long, free meals and much more), there never seems to be enough time to do everything!
working as an extra on Bad Signs - The Movie
We've also enjoyed entertaining visitors and showing them why we love our new hometown. As I previously wrote about, my mom & step-dad flew in from Tennessee and spent a fun-filled week with us in mid-June. In late July, my friend Shana, along with her husband & two children from Orlando, were on vacation in Oregon & Washington and made time to spend an lovely afternoon hanging out in my neighborhood in southeast Portland. Later that same week, our friends Eva & Jeremy drove down from Seattle to stay with us during Oregon Brewers Festival for which we all volunteered but still managed to spend some quality time catching up and drinking beer. Most recently, in late August, Greg's youngest brother, Brian, and his girlfriend Colleen, flew in from Indianapolis and willingly let us drag them all around the city on foot so they could truly experience life as we know it here in Portland.
Brian & Colleen on the Burnside Bridge with the Steel Bridge in the background
Another way we're taking advantage of the fantastic weather of late is by riding our bikes. After I won a bike through a promotion sponsored by Mellow Mushroom in conjunction with the Filmed By Bike festival, it wasn't long before Greg was trying out bikes at REI. Now he proudly rides his bike to work (around three miles one way) every day. We've also continued to participate in the monthly Sunday Parkways, where the city shuts down approximately nine miles of neighborhood streets so everyone can enjoy car-free transportation & activities for five hours. And we still try to find time to take longer rides whenever possible, like yesterday's 27 mile adventure to Vancouver, WA and back.
biker self-portrait

Southeast Portland Sunday Parkways
So why the "Hop Bombs & Flat Tires" title of this post? Well, other than the obvious beer & bikes reference, it calls out two things that have happened recently. First, call me crazy, but ever since I got a hop tattoo to compliment the two-row barley that was already on my left ankle, I have developed a new-found love & appreciation for hoppy beers. And not just the standard IPA's, which I still don't particularly care for, but the Imperial IPA's, which are loaded with hops and often approach 100 IBU's! These are extreme even for a seasoned IPA-drinker, so there's no explanation for the 360-degree change in my palate other than the tattoo.
If getting a hop tattoo made me love hoppy beers, should I also get a tattoo of something else I don't like in order to change my opinion of it???
And finally, the flat tire. We knew it was inevitable, that at some point, probably when we were least expecting it, one of us would get a flat while riding our bikes. It happened yesterday, just as we were approaching the I-5 Columbia River crossing in far north Portland. Luckily, we were prepared, carrying a pump, tire levers, patch kits, basic tools, water, hand wipes, etc. (but not spare tubes). Greg had even taken an REI fix-a-flat class in early August so he at least had some hands-on experience changing a tire. While we certainly didn't set any speed records, by working together we managed to remove the rear wheel completely, remove the tire from the rim, remove the tube from the tire, identify the source of the leak, patch it, and then reassemble everything. And we did it well enough that we continued our trip into Washington, celebrated with beers at McMenamins on the Columbia, and still enjoyed the ride all the way back home.
great view of Mt Hood at Hayden Island

1 comment:

  1. Ross Brooks9/7/12, 8:53 AM

    I too have become an IPA drinker. After years of being unable to handle the super bitterness, I suddenly found a handful of IPAs that have (to my taste) a balanced palate, and now I'm getting into them. Had my first Imperial about a week or so ago, and while the first one was a little rough (mainly because I didn't know what to expect), the second one went down smooth. It could also have something to do with turning 38... but I like your tattoo theory better.