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Travel section

Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2010 9:02 am
by dorajar
We don't have a travel section, so I guess I'll make a travel thread!

I'm off to Portland in a couple of days--performing a wedding for a couple of my friends, then free to gallivant about the coast for several days. The Northwest is the one corner of the country I've never been to. Anyone have suggestions for things to be sure to see or do while I'm out there? :D

Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2010 11:38 am
by praecorloth
OMFG! Amtrak it to Seattle. It's a 3 hour train ride, but it's TOTALLY worth it. To picture Seattle, imagine if Uptown was an actual city with skyscrapers.

First and foremost, you've got your International District. Best. Chinese food. Ever. You will never see PF Cheng's in the same light. There is a little hole in the wall Chinese place at S Jackson and S 12th Ave. Their serving portions are family sized just like PF Cheng's, except they're tastier and cost about the same as the generic Chinese places here in Minneapolis. That's past the edge of downtown Seattle and in to the International District.

Moving back to downtown Seattle, find the library. It's a work of art. You go in, there's comfortable reading chairs. Then you go up the escalators and in to the library itself. As you walk along the shelves of books you may or may not notice the incline. The whole thing spirals up to the top where there are more reading chairs and photo ops. Fricken awesome.

The rest of downtown Seattle is awesomesauce. There's a shopping district I didn't get to hang out in for very long, but at Pike st and 7th ave there's a sort of covered mall like area.

You can either walk to get around or you can take the bus. From any point to any point within downtown Seattle is a free ride.

Oh also there are a lot of mom and pop shops. Seattle has the big box stores like we're used to here, but they tend to shy away from them.

Aaaand all of this is based on the idea that you'll get a day to blow in Seattle while you're visiting Portland. If you can't, I've got nothing for you. I've only been through Portland once and I didn't really get to stop for anything. I will say that if you can, go out for a drive (or a hike, even better) 'cause the scenery once you get away from the city is awesome-tastic.

Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2010 11:42 am
by dorajar
We've definitely got Powell Books, hiking in the Columbia River Gorge, visiting Cannon Beach (where they shot the final scene in The Goonies), and eating delicious seafood on the docket of things to do. So excited! Don't think we'll have time to make it up to Seattle--that might have to be its own trip at another time. :)

Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2010 12:12 pm
by citizenx
There is a great Chart House restaurant just outside of Portland. Amazing views and typically awesome Chart House food.

5700 Southwest Terwilliger Boulevard
Portland, OR 97201
(503) 246-6963

also if you like Steak, try Gaucho

El Gaucho Portland
319 SW Broadway | Portland, Oregon 97205 | 503.227.8794 ... dinner.pdf

Posted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 10:33 am
by dorajar
Well, we had a fabulous trip. I'm going to do a quick re-cap/review of some of the highlights.

The first day we went for a long hike in Forest Park, the largest forested natural area within city limits in the United States. We wandered around the famous Portland Rose Garden for a bit, then had an impromptu wine and cheese picnic in the parking lot across the street from the Vietnam Memorial by the Arboretum. Lovely! That night we went to a bar called Rontom's (quite the website, eh?). The service was like the website. Conspicuously absent and kind of surly. Ah well. On we went for a late night meal at Le Bistro Montage, where the menu includes such things as frog legs and gator bites, in addition to crawfish jambalaya and spicy creole mac n' cheese. This meal was to die for. The dining is all at big, long, communal tables, so you have to get cozy with your neighbors (this seemed to be a popular trend in Portland), but we didn't mind a whit. The frog legs were scrumptious--who knew??--and the bill was shockingly reasonable for such delicious and exotic fare. Highly recommended. That night I actually dreamed of chasing down dozens of froggies to chop off their delicious legs. It was disturbing and mouth-watering, all at once.

The next morning we went to The Tin Shed for breakfast, per a friend's suggestion. Holy mackerel, was this delicious. At this point we were starting to understand what could possibly make all that rain and Pacific Northwest gloom withstandable--awesome food and better Bloody Marys. The wait was long, but they had a darling outdoor seating area with benches, chairs, trees, tables, and nooks, along with free coffee while you waited! Once we were seated (at another communal table), we dove into the bloody marys (swoon) and the highly touted potato cakes, biscuits, scrambles, and mushroom rosemary gravy. I think this might have been my favorite meal of the trip.

That night the groom's dinner (we were there for a wedding) was held at The Kennedy School--an old elementary school that had been converted into a hotel, shops, bars, restaurants, and even a movie theater. It was wild. The bars and restaurants still had remnants of the school--chalk boards lining the walls, etc. Very kitschy and fun. And great beer. Here's the deal with Portland--there are more wineries and micro breweries in the area than you can shake a wet cat at, so you're never in want of a refreshing adult beverage.

And then it was wedding day! The ceremony (performed by yours truly, thankyouverymuch) was held at Bridal Veil Lake in the Columbia River Gorge. All I can say is, if you're getting married anytime soon, you might want to book this spot a couple years out:


We got to the site early to set up, and my lovely boyfriend was in charge of picking up lunch for the set-up crew. Lunch was from an inspired little place called The Whole Bowl. They serve one thing and one thing only. And it is delicious. And we need them to open up shop in Minneapolis, stat. From their website:
The Whole Bowl is a comforting and healthy medley of brown rice, red and black beans, fresh avocado, salsa, black olives, sour cream, Tillamook cheddar, cilantro, Tali Sauce and trace amounts of attitude.

Tali Sauce is The Whole Bowl's secret weapon. Referred to by many as "crack sauce", this lemony-garlicky blend has been building local addictions in the Pearl, Downtown and at the new Hawthorne location, for over 8 years. Sauce devotees have been known to experience a prolonged sense of well-being and tremendous relaxation upon consumption.
I could've eaten 3 of 'em, is all I'm saying.

The next morning found us checking out of our very comfortable Portland Airport hotel and wandering toward downtown in search of brunch. Happily, we found ourselves at The Cricket Cafe. I think it was at this point we decided we could die happy eating every meal for the rest of our lives in Portland. More sensational bloody marys, generous portions, plenty of veggie options, friendly and engaging service. Happiness. After breakfast we wandered down the street to one of Portland's hundreds of coffee shops to wait out the rain and seize our chance to go hiking at Multnomah Falls:


which of course left us famished. :wink: We grabbed an afternoon snack at Pambiche, which is something like Victor's 1959 Cafe's west coast cousin. And after enjoying some live bluegrass at Laurelthirst bar, we ended the night with an amazing, cheap, delicious sushi meal at Saburo's.

The next day found us meandering out to the coast, visiting a couple of wineries (David Hill and Montinore) the Tillamook Cheese Factory (vaguely creepy and smelled like Iowa), and eventually stumbling upon our home for the next two nights: The Wheeler on the Bay Lodge. After you book your wedding at Bridal Veil Lake, make sure you reserve yourselves a suite at this place. It's right on the water and offers rooms with fireplaces and spa rooms, complete with jacuzzis. They have free video rentals, kitchenettes with fancy wine opening gadgets, and kayaking right on the bay. It was magical. And when you stay there, you get 10% off at area restaurants, of which we sampled only Tsunami (serviceable and affordable) and the Sea Shack (great sunset views, odd ambiance, good food in an unholy amount of butter).

And thus our trip was concluded. Foodies, lovers of fine drink (be it beer or wine), hikers, photographers, and waterfall appreciators take note: Portland may very well be your mecca.

Grand Marais!

Posted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 9:29 am
by dorajar
We're going camping in Grand Marais the last weekend in July. Anyone been before?

What should we do, eat, see, explore?

Posted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 4:32 pm
by citizenx
eat=lots of smoked fish
do=enjoy the cooler weather compared to hot and humid city life
see=Minnesota's ocean - lake superior