Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Here are my observations from our trip to Portland.

Friday, August 14th:

We arrived in Portland yesterday around 4:30. It was no problem finding Daniel...he was sitting right by our baggage carrousel! Poor boy...his luggage didn't make it from Seattle to Portland. So, first thing we stopped at a Gap on the way to the hotel. He said he needed some new jeans anyway. They've found his bags and they should arrive here at the hotel sometime before 8 am today. They may be sitting at the front desk right now. Lee just went out to run and I'm sitting in the kitchen of our little hotel suite in my pj's and the kids are still sleeping, so I don't know. This hotel is a little funky but it has a kitchen, living room and two bedrooms and it fits our needs and is in a good location. It’s clean, just a little worn and old. It’s in the Nob Hill section of Portland so everything is kind of downhill from where we are, as Portland seems to be on the slopes of a gentle incline that makes its way to downtown and the riverfront. Portland is a lot bigger than I thought it was. Wikipedia says it’s almost 600,000, but it seems bigger than that. Last night we went to a Spanish/Basque/tapas-type restaurant in an area that I think might be known as "restaurant row". Sarah picked it. I'm not remembering the name. It was right off of Burnside, around the corner from a Whole Foods...maybe NW 28th St? It was very good, lots of small plates. This is another one of those cities with lots of numbered streets with compass directions appended to the numbers. It takes awhile for street names like that to stay in my foggy little brain. Today we'll do some exploring. I want to go to Powell's, the giant bookstore, go see the river and the roses. Daniel wants to try one of the micro breweries. I'm not sure what Sarah and Lee want to do, probably be foodies and try out different eateries. I hear Portland is great for street food, so maybe we should try lunch from a street vendor? Cynthia says there is a grilled cheese sandwich man somewhere – that sounds pretty cool! But, does he use Velveeta? Hmmm.

I DON'T want to do a lot of walking, so I think we need to try out the trolleys or whatever they are. I want to be very lazy until Sunday (race day). I’m getting nervous about the race. Just general anxiousness about getting lost on the way there, getting our race packets today or having to wait until Sunday morning, going out too fast and crashing at the end…oh well!
It’s great to be together, watch Daniel and Sarah kidding around, just SEEING Daniel for the first time in 5 months. I love listening to Sarah talk; she’s so generally happy and excited about her job and life in general. Daniel is concerned about finding a job; he knows things are very tough right now for everyone. But hopefully it won’t be too difficult for him to find something to help pay his bills and maybe get a little more experience toward figuring out what he should do next. Ah life.

Friday afternoon.

This morning we went to Powell’s bookstore, the largest bookstore in the world. At least. It was fantastic! There was one book I was looking for (JG Ballard’s Empire of the Sun). It wasn’t on the shelf so I asked at the information desk and it looked like they should have had five copies. They sent me to the info desk for the literature section (this place is HUGE) and he said “oh those copies have just come in. The new books cart should be here soon. We’ll page you went it comes”. So I went off to the coffee shop for a little bit. In a couple of minutes I heard “would the person that was just in the literature section looking for Empire of the Sun please return?” So I did and there it was on the new book cart! What fun.

We walked around the Pearl District and Nob Hill, browsing little shops. I made us sit and relax off and on, because Sarah can walk my little legs off and I do NOT want to do that before the ½! Funny; here we are in a very restauranty town and where did we eat lunch? Baha Fresh…I know, I know, but Daniel longed for Mexican and the rest of us really didn’t care. I had some great espresso later in the afternoon and we also went for ice cream, although I didn’t have any cause I wasn’t very hungry and I can often just take or leave ice cream, which makes me the odd man out in this family.

I go get our race packets that afternoon so that little anxiety is put to rest. Our shirts are cool – the Hulaman on the front and they’re made of a technical fabric like the HK marathon shirt so I will actually wear it for running sometimes.

Friday evening we go to a restaurant called the Laurelhurst Market. It is a converted butcher shop and it has wonderful food. The meat is tender and the various side dishes and salads are really good. In particular a fresh beet salad stays with me. One of those things you think of requesting that Bon App├ętit get the recipe for, but of course I never will.

Saturday, August 15th.

We had breakfast at a deli in Nob Hill. God I love restaurant breakfasts! Then we took the light rail to the Saturday Market on the Portland Riverfront. This is a crafts market and there are more vendors and food than seems reasonable. We walk all over and explore it thoroughly. One of my favorite venders was a lady that makes light fixtures from tin cans.

They were really beautiful and I had fun talking to her. Check out her work at www.experiencedmaterials.com. She had lived in Thailand for awhile. It just makes me feel more connected somehow when I meet people that have spent some time overseas. I took a picture of the sweet young girl selling fairy costumes. Her name was Sarah and her business is called “Tip Top Tutu”. She gave me her business card but now I can’t find it, but her email is tiptoptutu@gmail.com if anyone wants more information about her products. The most popular booth was the spoon man, http://www.spoonman.com/. They made everything you could possibly imagine out of spoons and other tableware. I found it was easy to get permission to take pictures if I told them they would be in my blog.

After eating lunch at the market (hotdogs for Daniel and Lee, a wrap for Sarah and Thai for me) we took a walk along the river. There we found a VERY STRANGE bicycle festival going on. People and bikes in various fantastical costumes wandered around. A wonderful bike blowing bubbles passed by but I didn’t get a picture. We spent a couple minutes watching a “slow ride” contest and then head back to the hotel.

Later that afternoon we hang out at a coffee house for awhile on Nob hill. It’s fun to watching the Saturday crowds. It’s very chilly in Portland this day. I’m cold so I have another espresso. I seem to be into espressos this vacation. I like their strong, citrusy flavor and concentrated blast of caffeine. It’s just a very efficient little drink!

Sunday, August 16th. Race Day.

I’ve got the directions to Forest Grove in my phone, but I also get out our map of the wine country and make sure Lee understands where we are going as well. I’m not taking any chances! We don’t have any trouble finding Forest Grove, or the start of the race. It’s a teeny-tiny race; as we find out later there are only 140 people in the ½ marathon. But there are several different triathlon events taking place as well and that makes for some interesting observations later.

The race is so small that they just lead us all out to the starting line and Sarah and I actually stand together and chat before the start. The temperature is perfect, somewhere in the 60’s. I’m nervous but ready. Off we go!

I try very hard to pace myself, especially at the beginning. I’m still too fast at first, but I feel good. The racers sort themselves out, the faster runners disappearing quickly, the slower ones finding their position. I get my “run 3, walk 1” pace going. There are a couple of people who are going about my speed. There are a few that are running ahead of me, but I watch them and think maybe I’ll catch them later and I do, a few of them anyway. It’s interesting what happens in the later portion of a long race. There are always a lot of people that really don’t know what they’re doing and they get exhausted at the end. It’s a nice thing for someone like me, who gets to slowly pick them off, haha.

This race wound through the Oregon wine country in the Willamette Valley. It was very pretty and mostly flat. It was all on roads and they couldn’t completely block them off, so sometimes that was a bit annoying to have vehicles passing us as we ran. The other thing that was really interesting was that some of the professional triathletes were running the same course as us. I’d hear some super fit person suddenly gaining behind me and then they would whoosh past. It was a little un-nerving the first few times it happened.

I tried to save something for the last mile or so, but I really got tired at the very end. I think my training helped me to keep going and not slow down as much as I might have otherwise. I gave it everything I had and made it to the finish line in 2 hours and 28 minutes. I broke 2.5 hours, which was my goal and I beat my time in the HK ½ by 8 minutes, which is really good

It was fun having everyone there at the finish line waiting for me. Sarah had come in at 2 hours 7 minutes, which I thought was a really good time for her. When we found out our results I was in for a surprise. I won my age group! But wait, there’s a catch; I was the only person IN my age group! No matter, I still got a prize – a wine goblet engraved with the little hulaman. I felt inordinately proud of myself…I’m not sure why. It doesn’t take much I guess!

After the post race lunch and a lot of hydrating and walking to keep our muscles from getting too stiff we decided to go visit a couple of wineries on our way back to Portland. We sampled various Pinot Noirs, which seemed to be the primary variety available in that area. Two wineries were really enough for us, though, so we headed back to Portland soon afterwards.

For our last dinner in Portland we went to an Italian restaurant called Navarre. I remember that the food was good, but the only item I actually remember eating was the dessert. They served us two huge blueberry-plum-apple crisps and they were absolutely delicious. We were taken aback by their size but still managed to eat every single crumb.

This was a fun vacation. I liked Portland, especially the food and Powell’s. Definitely a great destination for a family of foodies and bookworms!


  1. Oh I really really enjoyed this. I would love that craft market of unusual vendors. I had to laugh at the before and after tone though. The before tone sounded so ordered and programmed for efficiency and business. You were in save yourself mode. "If I keep it ordered will I keep it under control and really do this???!!" Then there is the post race mode which is much more hell ya - did this thing - now let the party begin! Well it worked, you came you conquered and in the end you enjoyed. Way to go mega woman - you beat the race and the race didn't beat you... You are a star - my hero...

  2. Aw thanks Leslie! The only downside is that cause I'm old it takes a lot longer to recover from a race like that than when you're younger. I'm mainly working on recovery now...I'm actually going to try doing some swimming. Its so dang hot here that jumping in some cool water really sounds appealing, so I went and bought some swim goggles! Ha.



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