Monday, September 29th, 2014

Monday was our one and only rainy day on this trip. We were watching the forecasts for Portland and Seattle with great interest in the weeks leading up to our departure, and right up until the final days they confirmed that what anybody and everybody will say to you if you tell them you’re going to the Pacific Northwest on vacation: “I hope you like lots of rain.” In both cities, no less an authority than the National Weather Service said that we could expect rain and not much else. The icon over every single day was a dark cloud with rain falling beneath it, and sometimes a lightning bolt or two.

And then, the day before we left, the forecast changed to “partly cloudy” and all the icons were switched to blue skies full of puffy white clouds. Huh. How about that?

It wasn’t all sunshine and lollypops while we were in Portland. On Monday, we stepped into the streets from our B&B to meet with gunmetal skies and a light drizzle that became more like actual rain once or twice later in the day, but for the most part it just drizzled on and off, mostly off.

We ate breakfast in Old Town at a diner that called itself The Good Earth. Sounds a little like it ought to be one of those places filled with hippies eating granola sourced from only farms that are certified organic and guaranteed non-GMO, right?  Nothing of the sort. Just a pleasant diner serving good food. The staff taking orders and bringing out the food were really nice people, too, which counts for a lot in my experience. Serve the greatest food in town, but if your customers don’t like the staff, your place isn’t going to last long. Happily, The Good Earth is not going to have any problems in that regard. After they brought our food they came back to check on us with coffee pot in hand to refresh our cups. Bonus points.

After breakfast and before we hit the streets to go exploring, B wanted to buy a pair of good walking shoes. The slip-ons she had been wearing were giving her some trouble. A Google search told her that there was a good shoe store in a mall nearby, so off we went.   went shopping for walking shoes & ended up buying the first ones she tried on, walked about five blocks before she was sure she hated them, and she kept on hating them for the remainder of the trip.

How To Pee at Powells Books Portland ORBecause it was still raining, we went to Powell’s Books next to hang out for a couple hours, because it got us out of the rain and besides, who can get enough of Powell’s? People with meat for brains, that’s who. I kept wandering the aisles even after B retired to the coffee shop with a novel. I think I may even have visited every room on every floor. Not one-hundred percent certain of that.

Did you know there is literally a book about any subject you can think of? I don’t know if they have all of them at Powell’s, but while I was perusing the books in the section of the store reserved for books about Portland, I ran across a copy of “The Best Places To Pee: A Guide To The Funky & Fabulous Bathrooms of Portland.” Somebody had to think of writing that book, someone else had to agree to publish that book, and then Powell’s agreed to sell that book. I wish I’d been a fly on the wall at the meeting where the author’s agent pitched that book, just to see how he pulled that off and whether or not alcohol was involved.

We almost went to Voodoo Doughnuts today, but only almost. Not that we were craving doughnuts; it just seemed like one of those things we were expected to do while visiting Portland, but after waiting too long for a bus that never came (twice), we switched our plan up and instead headed north to the train station to buy tickets for our trip to Seattle tomorrow morning. Here’s a stupid thing: the buses and streetcars make a loop that passes within a hundred feet of the train station, but they don’t stop there. They stop about a block and a half away, and you have to get off and walk from there. Thanks, Portland. I’ll remember that when you come to Madison.

When we got off the bus, a guy stretched out on the pavement asked us for twenty bucks. The train station is where the high-rent hobos hang out, apparently. No spare change for these guys. I’ve got to give him credit for aiming high.

Riding the train from Portland to Seattle is stupidly cheap, thirty-six bucks for each of us. The bus may be cheaper, but if we went with that option, we would be on a bus and not on a train. A train is way cool because it’s a train and not a bus. If that seems like a circular argument to you, it’s probably because you’re not a train nerd. All the train nerds are nodding and saying to themselves, “Yes, that makes perfect sense.” My Darling B is not a train nerd but she went along with the train idea because it made me happy and because it wasn’t a bus. She’ll get on a bus for some things, but mostly she doesn’t like bus travel all that much, so maybe you don’t have to be a train nerd to understand our motives after all.

Beer Menu Henry's Tavern Portland ORI was about three o’clock by the time we got back to the Pearl District, so we were ready for some local beer and noshies. Henry’s Tavern was handy, so B & I ducked inside to put our feet up for a little while and relax with the delicious cold brews they brought us. We also shared a plate of the most unhealthy fries ever conceived by the mind of a man: waffle-cut, deep-fried and smothered in gorgonzola cheese, but sooo good, and they made our tummies very happy. B’s feet even felt better (although that could have been because she slipped into her old shoes under the table).

There was one last special place B had on her must-see list, and we wended our way there next: The Oregon Wines tasting room on Broadway. We each got to try a splash of three different wines and, of course, B snuck a little snort of each of mine while I grabbed a few of hers. That’s the way it is in this family.

Aerial Tram Portland OR

We had an early train to catch, so we started back to the B&B, but on the way we stopped for the last item on my to-do list: A ride on the aerial tram. Again, it’s a nerd thing, sort of. For me, it was a way cool ride on a mode of transportation that we don’t have back in Madison, but it’s got the added bonus of giving us a terrific view. Even B seemed to enjoy hanging over the rail at the top and having a long look.

pacnw day 4 | 10:00 pm CDT
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