We’re leaving Madras, Oregon, where we watched the total solar eclipse, and the traffic is unruly. I’m traveling with my girlfriend Thyme and one of my best friends and chef, Dave. The three of us drive for around 7 hours through eastern Oregon, a drive that would normally take less than three.
Arriving in Portland late, we’re ready for some delicious Thai food at Pok Pok Noi by Chef, restaurateur, and traveler Andy Ricker. While Thyme and I have eaten at the Pok Pok in Los Angeles, we decide to try this smaller and more authentic-to-Northern-Thailand version of its big sister restaurant.
Thyme and I went to Thailand last year and indulged in all the culinary delights of Chiang Mai–Pok Pok is the closest thing to authentic Thai food from the north of the country. Meeting our friend Tanner, who recently moved to the city, we order some cocktails and imported Tiger beer I’ve only found in the country of its origin and Pok Pok.
Going all out with our first night in Portland, we order the market-priced fish fried and slathered in chilies and garlic, a mushroom and herb salad, sai ua Thai sausage, fish sauce chicken wings, a bowl of khao soi noodles, and some delicious sticky rice. It is a magical meal. If you have never taken the time to really explore northern Thai cuisine, especially the salads and noodles, you are missing out.
Before bed, we’re off to Rogue Distillery and Public House in downtown for a night-cap. Though I’m very familiar with Rogue, I’ve never been to one of their breweries. The revolutionary atmosphere is prevalent in the decor and atmosphere of the tap room. We all order flights, and I particularly enjoy the imperial brown ale and brandywine. I also get the oatmeal stout, which I’ve never had on tap. We drink on the patio and enjoy each other’s company.
The group is headed to Dave’s house for some sleep before a long day tomorrow, but if you want to party all night, Tanner tells me that across the street at Ten Barrel Brewing they do a flight of ten beers for ten dollars. That will be a must-try when I return.
Showering, reading, sleeping, and waking to coffee, it is time for an awesome day around Portland. We’re driving because we want to get around the city and get outside of it easily, but if you have more time I would definitely go for public transportation. First things first: breakfast.
Dave suggests Pine State Biscuits, which is in a complex with the infamous and ubiquitous Sizzle Pie. We’re joined by our friend Brigitte. I go out on a limb and order the special, a spicy chicken biscuit sandwich. But upon my first bite I regret it the choice. The others have traditional biscuits and gravy. I have a bite of Dave’s fried chicken and gravy biscuit sandwich and it’s fantastic. I definitely recommend going the traditional route at Pine State.
Full of dense food, it’s time for some coffee at Heart. I’m in the moody for a sissy drink so I order a vanilla latte. I’m not disappointed, it’s really delicious. Then it’s time for what you now as one of my favorite things if you have read my blog at all: books.
Powell’s City of Books is a Portland tourist cliche, but I love it unabashedly. It is a huge complex for book nerds like me. I peruse for about an hour, picking up the ones I want and narrowing my selections down based on the quality of the used books and the price of the new. Definitely make some wise choices with what you buy. I get four book for cheap, including Aldous Huxley’s The Perennial Philosophy and The Essential Allen Ginsberg. I’m excited. Then, before we leave, we hit up Buffalo Exchange to buy some sunglasses. If I had more traveling money, I would definitely go to Patagonia across the street.
We get back to the car and head out of the city for some nature. If you’re not into driving out to the Gorge, you can also enjoy the Japanese Garden that’s supposed to be very pleasant.
Thinking about the drive through the Columbia River Gorge, writing this I am sad at the idea that most of it burned in September’s wildfire. But how lucky was I to see it before it burned. For now it is beautiful and lush and green. We stop at the trail for Wahclella Falls. The trail is perfect. Not to easy, not too hard, but very rewarding and totally beautiful.
Green moss covers the trees ascending to the heavens. A river flows parallel to the trail and the water smells fresh and looks clean. You ascend over rocks and through all kinds of foliage. At the end when you get to the falls, lush water dives into the the river with force and violence. The green all around is every shade recognizable to the human eye. We sit and listen to the falls for a while and head back only when we are content.
On the way pack to the city, we hit up Multnomah Falls. Another tourist main staple, I have skipped the waterfall in the past for the obvious reasons. It is very touristy: people everywhere, a snack bar though the hike to the bridge is short, and coins thrown into the river below. That part makes me sad. The water fall itself is week this summer, and under-whelming though we take the short hike up to the bridge. The first falls we visited were much more thrilling. If I had to do it again, I would hike all the way up the falls in the early morning before any tourists arrive.
Then we make a quick stop by an art store and the girls, both artists, buy some supplies.
Heading back to the house, we’re showering and getting ready for our dinner tonight at Departure. I won’t say much about it because I wrote a review already, but drinking on the roof and eating the food is a great time. We talk and laugh and enjoy ourselves.
We want to go to Salt and Straw for some ice cream, but is just too late. If you get the chance, try it. I hear it’s amazing.
The three of us on the road are leaving for Olympic National Park tomorrow, but before we visit Brigitte at Coava Coffee, where I have an awesome honey latte. It was a short stay in Portland, but everything went very smoothly. Couldn’t ask for better.