Thursday, February 27, 2014

Our First Visitors of 2014

Greg's brother Doug and his girlfriend Alexis live in Los Angeles. We've been telling them since we moved to Portland in 2012 that they would love it here and should come visit. They finally made the trip this past weekend.
Irvington House
Despite having never been to Portland before, neither of them had any specific requests in terms of sightseeing other than a day trip to the coast. They both love to drink beer and will eat pretty much anything, so I knew that part would be easy. One of the best ways to experience Portland is to explore the various neighborhoods so I chose to focus on showing them a little bit of everything during the course of their three nights & four days with us.
downtown Portland
They landed at PDX mid-morning on Thursday and took the MAX & bus to our house. By the time they arrived they were hungry for lunch so we walked down NE Broadway to Frank's Noodle House. Greg had to work until 5:30 that evening so we spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the Irvington neighborhood and then relaxing at our house. We decided to go to 15th Avenue Hophouse for a beer & snack while we waited for Greg to get home, then headed out for drinks (Oregon Public House & Breakside Brewery) and dinner at La Taq.
Caucasian Wingnut
I made a breakfast pizza to get us started Friday morning and we were out of the house by 10am. We drove up to Pittock Mansion so Doug & Alexis could get a bird's eye view of the city. It was pretty foggy but still beautiful and we enjoyed looking at all of the trees, plants and birds. Since not much is in bloom at this time of year we decided to skip Washington Park and instead made a brief detour along Skyline Drive for views to the west before heading back down to NW Portland. We showed them the Nob Hill neighborhood, then went to Powell's Books and browsed for more than an hour.
view from Pittock Mansion
By then we were ready for lunch and, since it was cool & damp outside, we decided to skip the food carts and instead had a nice meal by the fire at Deschutes Brewery. We continued our tour with a loop through The Pearl District, downtown, and PSU, then crossed the Hawthorne Bridge to SE Portland.
Deschutes Brewery
We turned our focus to beer and spent the rest of the afternoon drinking at Apex, Hair of the Dog, and The Commons. We had planned to have dinner at the new Bollywood Theater on SE Division, but the line was too long and there were long waits at Sunshine Tavern and other popular spots so we ultimately had a simple but delicious meal at Appethaizing. I had also hoped to go to Imperial Bottle Shop for our final beer of the night, but we were all pretty exhausted after dinner so we headed home instead.
Hair of the Dog
The best weather was forecast for Saturday so it was designated for our day trip to the coast. Knowing that part of the plan was to visit some breweries, particularly in Astoria, I reversed my usual north-to-south route and instead we set out via Hwy 26 to Cannon Beach. We enjoyed a little bit of sunshine in the first half of the day but, after a stop at Ecola State Park and a nice walk along the beach and exploration of Haystack Rock at low tide, the clouds had set in again. Thus the perfect time to start drinking beer!
view from Ecola State Park
After a quick loop down the main strip to the promenade, we started our coastal beer drinking adventure at Seaside Brewery and shared bowls of clam chowder as an afternoon snack. Then we continued north to Astoria and, wanting to take advantage of the remaining daylight, headed straight to the Astoria Column. After a successful climb to the top for 360 degree views (while I waited below and scanned the tree line for bald eagles), we did a leisurely driving tour of the historic homes in the city center (and even found the oldest one dating to 1852).
Astoria Column
We could hear the sea lions barking on the piers below so we headed there next. By far it was the most I have ever seen in that area; they were completely covering the entire pier! As we started to leave I spotted a large bird flying toward us. Sure enough, it was a bald eagle! We spent the next 30 minutes watching it and even got to see it swoop down to catch a fish and then enjoy its meal. As it finished, we took our cue to get some dinner for ourselves at Fort George Brewery.
Fort George Brewery
After some hearty fish & chips and a variety of stouts, we walked through town to the newest brewery in Oregon: Buoy Beer Co. The location, on the site of an old fish cannery directly on the waterfront, is fantastic! We enjoyed looking at all of the photos of the construction progress and then each of us ordered a different beer so we could sample all of their current offerings.
From there we walked down the pier to the Wet Dog Cafe, home of Astoria Brewing. It was closed to the public due to the FisherPoets Gathering, but the host told me we could drink their beer around the corner at The Chart Room. The place was a total hole-in-the-wall but we still had a blast playing a made-up version of "guess the date/age." Then we walked back to Fort George's new taproom for one last beer before starting the two hour drive home.
playing foosball at Fort George
We slept in a bit on Sunday morning and gave Doug & Alexis time to pack. We planned to eat brunch at Pine State Biscuits, but encountered more long lines there and at all the popular spots on NE Alberta. The wait for a table was only about 15 minutes at Podnah's, so we happily settled in. Unfortunately, it took at least another 30 minutes to get our food! We drank lots of free coffee to pass the time and chatted about life in LA.
chicken fried steak at Podnah's
There was one more neighborhood to explore before going to the airport. We parked at the north end of Mississippi Ave and then enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the main strip, poking around various shops and wishing we could eat a little bit of everything at all the great restaurants. We capped off their visit with one final beer at Stormbreaker and then it was off to PDX for their flight home.
at the Rebuilding Center on N Mississippi
In the end, we were pretty lucky with the weather. It only rained a little on Thursday and was just overcast and cool for the remainder of their stay. Sadly, the clouds were low enough that we never got even a peek of Mt Hood or Mt Saint Helens. I think they got a good vibe from our beloved city and maybe won't wait another two years to come back. It probably doesn't hurt that they were constantly surprised by the low cost of food & drink here. Not to mention our beer drinking tally over four days: eight breweries and four beer bars!

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