It’s 3:00 p.m., a lazy Saturday afternoon, and no one is really sure what to do for fun. Jet’s visiting, and probably would be completely fine with spending the rest of the day on the living room futon. This quiet reverie is suddenly and loudly interrupted by the abrupt arrival of kakumei, who pounds on the door and dictates that we will be going somewhere today, or die.

The word of the day, kiddies, is Portland. Oregon, that is. Curse and salvation.

Flashback to January 2000, when Jet, LKT and I made an ill-advised trip to visit Mount St. Helens. Anyone who has an iota of brain will realize that January is possibly the least appropriate time to visit a mountain range.

Assaulted by the early onset of dusk and terrifyingly huge snowdrifts, we started our retreat, and in an attempt to salvage the day turned south to Portland.

In a nutshell, we got there around 7, ate dinner at a pizza restaurant, dessert at Häagen-Dazs, and headed back to Seattle. And it was fantastic.

So now, armed with the backstory, you realize that the present-day trio had a lot to live up to.

The trip to the Rose City is about 170 miles one way, so we crossed the state border at around 6 p.m.. Of course the longer hours of the summer allowed us some nice vistas of Portland, which is really a beautiful city; an elegant skyline rising organically out of the Willamette River and surrounding hills. The group of two years ago unanimously agreed that this would be an ideal place to retire to some years in the future. Can’t say that my feelings are any different by the light of day.

First stop was Powell’s City Of Books, famously huge and situated in a section of town filled with boutique bookstores and record stores. Powell’s is definitely king of the hill here, taking up an entire city block and housing (according to their website) over a million new and used volumes under its roof. I probably could have spent hours there, but was a little conscious that my tripmates weren’t quite as enthralled as I was. I did pick up John Christopher’s The Pool of Fire, a nice trade paperback of Jim Bouton’s Ball Four (the 1990 edition), and Heinlein’s The Cat Who Walks Through Walls (terrible, but totally a guilty pleasure for me). All used. Then we were off again to look for dinner.

Let me tell you something about dinner. Jet and I resolved, two years ago, that the next time we went to Portland, we would try to replicate our experience of 2000, for nostalgia’s sake. By nostalgia, of course, I mean that there was a certain pizza waitress involved: a “Jet-factor”. The problem was, we didn’t know which restaurant it was. We’d gleaned the name, Pizzicato, from his credit card records (fortunately remembered from a random IM conversation from earlier in the year), but couldn’t narrow it down from the large list of that chain’s locations. I jotted down a couple of likely candidates in the few minutes before we headed out the door, but of course none of them was the one. So here we were, driving around the streets of Portland with no particular idea what we were doing. Suddenly, Jet says that something “feels right” about the particular street we’d turned on to; I was doubtful at first but a minute later, I started to feel the same tug at my brain. Before we knew it we were outside the restaurant.

23rd and Glisan. 23rd and Glisan. Remember it well.

Pizza was good, a “Quattro formaggio with Sausage and Mushrooms.” Yum. We learned that S. Pellegrino Aranciata is no substitute for Orangina. As for his search for the waitress, it ended ambiguously.

The Häagen-Dazs was history, and in its place was something called the Moonstruck Chocolate Bar. Can’t argue with that. Now, I’m not a chocolate person, but it was easy to forget it in there. No need to do anything more than follow the link to understand.

Chocolate labs and toffee cats!

Tired, but satisfied, we returned to the friendly environs of Seattle. The trip? Sure it was insane. It was also tons of fun.

Song of the day: Papaya, “Hero” (from the DDR 2nd Remix)

  • A long belated "Amen" to that.

  • Your sojourn is proof that its not the destination, but the journey that matters!

  • Wistfully, I long for that kind of freedom again.

  • mlee

    "Ended ambiguously"? What the heck does that mean? It wasn't a Borys incident was it?

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