Visiting Portlandia

After two and a half years, I finally managed to score a trip that lays over in Portland, Oregon! Since I started running, I’ve always dreamed of visiting the Nike Campus with hopes that I may catch a glimpse of my favorite endurance runners and Olympic athletes: Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher. One of my classmates, Nami, lives just minutes away, across the border in Washington state, so I called her up. As fate would have it, she was off duty, so we agreed to meet up for brunch! After an absurdly late evening the night before due to weather surrounding Minneapolis-Detroit-Chicago, I threw caution to the wind and held onto my plans for dear life. Some how, the forty degree weather in PDX (Portland) felt refreshing to the limb-numbing negative seventeen the night before in MSP (Minneapolis-St. Paul).

IMG_1986Pardon the under-eye baggage. Twas a long night…

Despite my drive to visit Portland, I’m relatively unfamiliar with what it offers in terms of sightseeing aside from Voodoo Doughnuts and The TARDIS Room at The Fish & Chip Shop (courtesy of the travel musings of Chris Hardwick). I have yet to watch the TV series Portlandia, but after the visist, it’s been added to my Netflix queue. Before we even left the parking lot, I must have hugged Nami at least twice. Well over a year had passed since we last saw each other. Since we transferred out of NYC-base, my classmates and in-flight friends became scattered across the country. You’d be surprised how integral social media can be in our line of work with regard to professional and personal ties. We hopped in her car and when I mentioned hitting up VD for a famous pink box of their doughnuts, she was gracious to acquiesce to my complete acts of tourism!

IMG_2023  How is there NO line!?

Those on the quest for the unholiest and tastiest spoils of glory that is the Voodoo Doughnut be warned: CA$H ONLY! VD does have an ATM in the lobby for your cash vending desires, but plan ahead and bring your own greenbacks (minus the ATM fees), also RTFM (Read The Fancy Menu) before you go. I didn’t, and nearly folded over in panic as my eyes gazed over at the dancing rows of doughnuts in the display case. I’m fairly certain I almost pressed my nose against the case like when I was a child visiting our local bakery in Jersey. Again, I counted my lucky stars that there was zero line because I didn’t have a clue as to which ones to select. I figured that bringing home four would be enough as half were going to my sis (the Vegetarian) and her awesome hubster, but I should have known better.

IMG_0794A dizzying array of confectionery bliss!

IMG_1994Behold! The PINK Box!

IMG_2025Overwhelmed, I had the clerk surprise me!

They have a pricing scale with varies on the type of doughnuts selected and how customized you’d like the selection to be. Figuring that a whole dozen may not survive the trip back from the west coast, I opted for four, and the clerk behind the counter took mercy upon me by plucking out a selection of some of the local favorites. Clockwise: Miami Vice Berry (Blue w/Pink Sprinkles) McMinnville Cream (Moustache), Butterfingering (Crushed Butterfinger Bars) & Dirty Snowball (Peanut Butter & Coconut).

Had I been a smart cookie, I would have bought extra to share with my crew who suffered with me through the night before and were preparing to work all night from LAX (Los Angeles) to RDU (Raleigh-Durham). They gave me hell about hording the doughnuts later, but all in loving jest. Any time something went wrong on the rest of the trip, someone inevitably said, “Man, I could really use a doughnut right now.” 😉

Nami-chan, Arigats-yo!!

After a quick tour around the city, we wound up in a cute shopping area, where we decided to stop and have brunch at Besaw’s. As luck would have it, Nami had yet to enjoy this establishment, so without a second thought, we breezed in and managed to get a table. The service staff at Besaw’s are nothing short of seasoned professionals. Taking one look at my exhaustion, the server smiled as I croaked my request for a bucket of coffee. The breakfast menu had so many wonderful selections that coffee was necessary prior to selecting my order.

IMG_2026Fly Ladies who Brunch in PDX…

IMG_2029Classy Dine-in Kitchen Atmosphere

Knowing that doughnuts were on my horizon, I opted for the savory masterpiece that is The Hella Burrito. Trust me when I say, upon presentation of my plate, I audibly mumbled, “That’s one hellovaburrito!” I had to pace myself because I knew that a bodacious brunching bonanza was staring me down. Try as I may, I was trumped by HB, and took the second half with me for dinner during my sit in LAX prior to our red-eye back to the east coast. The great thing about establishments like Besaw’s is the pride they take in selecting ingredients and pouring their passion into their food. If I find myself in Portland again, I most definitely want to come back here and enjoy dinner and drinks!

IMG_2030That’s one Hella Burrito! Brunchtastic Bliss!

During the flight to MSP the night before, I agreed to help a deadheading Flight Attendant with a project her niece is participating in: a postcard rally. Lucky for her, Oregon and North Carolina were still missing from her niece’s collection, so I agreed to post cards during both layovers. Nami took me through downtown Portland to Powell’s Books for our hunt for fun (and elementary school appropriate) postcards.  On our way, I got a great mini-whirlwind tour of the city itself.

I thought only Austin, TX liked “Keeping it Weird”…

IMG_2031The Crystal Ballroom: A Local Legend

Powell’s Books, where do I start? Be grateful that I don’t live in Portland, or I might become a permanent fixture in your stupendous labyrinth of literary grandeur. You’d have to send a search party for me, seriously. Since leaving The Swamp that is Gainesville, Florida (Go Gators!), I have yet to find another cluster of independent booksellers that I would love to forsake the world over. I felt like the same way about The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles. Don’t get me wrong, I love my B&N Booksellers just as much as the next girl, but there’s something about the brick and mortar, mom & pop book shops that hits this literary gal right in the Dewey Decimal System.

I really loved their Penguin Drop Caps‘ hard-bound monogrammed books display, and I am kicking myself for not buying the ones that had my initials (K.A.P.): Sue Monk Kidd’s Secret Life of Bees, Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, & Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way. I’d love to prominently display in my office, an inspiration I gleaned from my gal pal Meghan and her awesomely monogrammed crafting den. (Turns out, various online retailers carry this line, so I may not have to schlep these beauties across the country! More room for doughnuts!!)

IMG_2034I may need these for my Literary Lounge!

IMG_2022 One for the kids! Two for the family!

After mulling over the post cards for the a few minutes, I picked up some to send home to my family, too. It has been a while since I’ve laid over in a new city, so I haven’t sent home post cards to my parents or my sister’s family. If I’m going to lay in bed, sipping tea and writing letters to a class of complete strangers, I would be remiss if I neglected my own family. I really need to get a list of which locations they have, so I can prepare to add to their collection without doubling up on locations they already have! I know I’ve had conversations with my friends how handwritten correspondence has fallen to the way side with the rise of digital media and e-mailing, so it’s nice to go a little old school when the opportunity presents itself.

On the way back to the hotel, Nami and I caught up about life and traded stories we didn’t have the chance to share during our time in training. These are the sort of layovers I truly enjoy, ones where I can not only explore the cities I am in, but to strengthen the relationships with the people in my life. Though some weeks it feels like every other night I’m in a different city (and I potentially can be), the constant of friendship keeps me grounded when I’m up in the air and comforted when I’m feeling lonely on the road. I’m thankful that many of my friends understand my job, and after a stressful disastrous night, having ones that have also endured it, helps clear my head and face the next flight head on with a smile.

IMG_2032Mount Hood is the same height as Mount Fuji!! True Story!

IMG_2036I promise not to let another year pass by before we meet again!!

Next time, I will visit the Fish & Chip Shop on a TARDIS Room night! Scouts Honor!

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