I returned to NOLA this evening after over a week on the road. There was a conference Christian wanted to attend in Seattle so we decided it would be a great opportunity to check out a part of the country neither us had ever seen. So, while La Luz was busy entertaining Nana and Papa-T in Atlanta, Christian and I spent a few days kicking around the Northwest. We started in Portland, spent a few days in the San Juan Islands visiting Richmond, and ended the week at the conference in Seattle. I am still adjusting to the weather (I forgot how hot 95 degrees feels), getting used to the time change, and aching for the return of La Luz who is still in Atlanta. I haven't seen La Luz in over two weeks and I am not sure how I have been able to stand it. I have never missed anyone this much and don't know how I will sit still at work tomorrow while waiting for her return.
Day 1 of our vacation started in Portland, Oregon. Christian flew from Atlanta and I flew out of NOLA. I had an awful flight as far as flights go. The generator on the plan was not working properly so, before taking off, we had to wait for an external generator to cool the engines. We started the journey about an hour late. An hour and a half into the flight the man directly behind me had 4 or 5 seizures and the pilot (thankfully) decided to make an emergency stop at an air force base in Colorado. The delay (though understandable, of course) only got worse when a drunk (and possibly drugged) woman smoked in the airplane bathroom (granted, we had been waiting in the hot plane for over an hour - remember, no generator so no a/c in the cabin). I am sort of unclear about what happened after she got caught but it involved an investigation and her removal from the plane, but not before she vomited in the bathroom. Needless to say, I missed my connecting flight and arrived in Portland about 5 hours later than expected, but the second I caught my first glimpse of the city I forgot about the chaos of the plane (and, relatively speaking, there are worse things).
I don't generally have the occasion to write about cities. I suppose I write about NOLA now and then incidentally, because it is where we live. I am having trouble writing precisely what it is (or was) about Portland that captivated me; it was something. These are the things I liked about Portland - it is a walkable city, the temperature is comfortable, there are tons of kids everywhere, the architecture is interesting, the neighborhoods are all very different and all comfortable, people ride their bikes or take public transportation everywhere, the downtown area is becoming revitalized in a way that I wish the downtown of NOLA would, there are good restaurants, great coffee shops, open-air markets, and possibly the most incredible bookstore I have ever been to in the heart of the downtown.
We stayed at the ACE Hotel. It was an interesting experience. There are parts of the hotel that I loved - waking up to the smell of fresh-brewed coffee from the coffee shop downstairs in the lobby, the lobby, the photo booth, the location, the minimalist decor and the old-fashioned vibe of the place. There are parts that I didn't love - the walls were sort of thin, the bed was not super-hotel-soft, and someone pulled the fire alarm at 4 a.m. on our first night. Not cool at all.
Here's the ACE from the outside (notice the firetruck doing a follow-up check the next morning:
and the lobby:
The delicious coffee shop downstairs:
The guy(s) on the wall in our room, okay, a little creepy, sure:
While in Portland Christian and I met up with some friends for a street fair, brunch and a bbq. Beyond that, we did plenty of wandering around the city, checking out as much as we could in two days.
Christian, outside of Powell's, the most incredible bookstore I have ever been in:
The open-air market that takes place every Saturday (and Sundays during summer months). It is somewhat like the French Market but with a larger selection of food and art:
Me outside of Kenny & Zuke's deli, eating potato pancakes and beet soup. Mema would have been so proud:
We both loved Portland and will definitely return. There is so much that we did not get to see (great outdoor activities and incredible wineries) and will have to wait until next time.