I only had ONE rainy day in the infamously rainy city of Portland, Oregon! My other three days here were gorgeous and cool, sunny with a breeze, absolutely perfect.
I stayed with a friend of a friend, JM, who I'd only met once before, for literally 3 hours. She was incredibly welcoming, treating me like an old friend, and by the time I left, I felt like we were old friends.
The first two days I wandered the city and surrounding neighborhoods on my own, popping into shops and getting a feel for the energy that inspires "keep Portland weird" bumper stickers. I love the wide-porched brightly colored houses, screaming their own sunshine into the often dreary skies.
Powell's books (a mansion maze of a bookstore! I could've spent hours in there!), and down city streets, I was struck by how friendly everyone was; obviously LA has dulled my expectations of human decency. Sitting outside in the sun with a beer, a stranger saw me looking at a map and stopped to ask if I needed any directions and give me his favorite sights to see. Later, sitting at an old cafe bar, Besaw's, having a coffee & a delicious "potato pie," every person who sat next to me struck up conversation. I think it'd be easy to make friends here. And speaking of coffee, I had the BEST coffee of my life, Stumptown Coffee (local!), with JM in a french press at Mother's Bistro. Mmm...
(they had a funny little booth set up to take your picture with the store & your name on the marquee - I should put this on my vision board to imagine I'm a famous author doing a book signing there!)
On JM's day off, she took me over to Multnomah Falls, the third highest waterfall in the world. It was breathtakingly serene and powerful, framed by the lush forest and bright blue sky. We hiked to the top (actually the trail takes you above the top of the falls), on steep switchbacks, and my out-of-shape ass, not used to such elevated and angled trails, was winded by the middle, heart beating like to break through my sternum yelling, "save yourself!" I felt so lame. But we made it, me still clutching my coffee cup (dork), sweating despite the cool weather and cold spray, dizzied by the height and feeling like a part of something magnificent just by being there.
Then we drove under skies cozy under quilted clouds to a lookout point where you could see almost 360 degree views of the river and gorge. It was gorge-ous. Ha ha. We stopped at the botanical gardens to smell the roses (I've been doing a lot of that lately, literally and figuratively), and then to Widmer Brewery (which JM found magically, magnetically, like a pro!) to sample some delicious beer and shriek - each revelation louder than the last! - at all our similarities. We both loved Elijah Wood growing up (shriek!) because of Huck Finn (shriek!), were obsessed with Newsies (shriek! and a bit of not-so-quiet singing) and many, many other much less predictable parallels that confirmed us as soul sisters. Drove back under the quiet gaze of Mt. Hood, changed, and somehow - we are rockstars! - nabbed a table by the window in the highest restaurant in Portland, overlooking the whole city.
The next day was her goodbye party (she's moving to LA! Funny, huh?) at McMenamins Edgefield, which is one of the neatest places I've ever been. It's an old poor farm turned mental institution turned hotel/spa/bar/restaurant/golf course/outdoor concert venue/gardens. It was lovely and quirky with tiny little themed bars that pop up like garden gnomes as you wander the grounds. I took a picture in Jerry Garcia's Icehouse for my brother, who follows jam bands.
About 20 friends of JM's met up with us, and we had an animated lunch then a rowdy game of shuffle board (is that possible? yes.) and drinks before I had to catch my plane for the red-eye out of there to NYC.
It was a phenomenal trip. Thanks, Portland (and so many heartfelt thanks to JM & her kitty Abby for putting up with me!) for showing me a lovely time.
I am so happy and grateful for:
~ beautiful weather
~ a dear new friend